Communications 101 – A Best Practices Playbook for Accountants and their Clients
Congratulations! You’ve made the decision to level your firm up to Client Experience 2.0! The next step is to bring your staff and your clients along in a way that they will enjoy and appreciate. This playbook provides everything you’ll need to reach your goals while adhering to the same best practices employed by thousands of accountants who have already walked the path to a world-class digital experience! Communications best practices playbook
Lead with “What’s in it for you”
Everyone likes ideas that improve their quality of life. So start there when rolling out Liscio to communicate internally and with clients. Here are the most common benefits for employees and clients:
The three primary pillars that most firms consider when changing their digital front office are Efficiency, Security, and the Image of the firm. Here are a few ideas to help with the messaging to your team for each of those topics:
- Efficiency: Ask the team how much time they are spending managing email, chasing clients, resending documents, and other administrative tasks related to client communication. Chances are that it is far more than they would like. In fact, research has shown that up to 40% of an accountant’s time is spent on precisely those activities. Now have them imagine their workday if they could recapture that time.
- Security: Ask the team how comfortable they are with their social security number and other personal private information being distributed via email and text messages. Now remind them that this is precisely what happens when firms email and text clients — even if the firm encrypts the data properly when sending information to the client, chances are that clients will send information back to the firm in an unencrypted fashion. This highlights the need for the firm to offer a platform that works securely in both directions (just like what banks do).
- Image: It’s hard to believe but millennials are already turning 40. Providing a world-class digital experience is no longer an option for most firms — it is a must have. Adding a mobile app with all of the features that clients need to work on the go is a strategic priority for firms planning to grow and thrive with a new generation of clients.
Clients want EASY. The three pillars below help communicate precisely what is in it for them. Before you draft any communications, be sure to review the rollout templates provided in the sections below.
- Mobile: Just about everyone has a smartphone and/or tablet. Liscio offers an easy way for clients of all ages to engage with the firm from the devices that they prefer to use. And the mobile app includes everything they need, including notifications, easy file retrieval, and even a built-in, intuitive, scanner app (think how easy it is to deposit a check using online banking – Liscio’s built-in scanner is that easy to use).
- All-in-one: Every client who can’t find a file or message knows that most firms’ digital experience isn’t organized enough for them to succeed. Bringing everything together in a single place is precisely what they need to always find what they’re looking for. So let them know that everything you do with them will now be in a single place, and available on the go securely, just like an online bank.
- Secure: Clients expect you to keep their information secure. Moving away from insecure channels such as text and email is exactly what financial institutions have done. Let them know that you take their information security seriously and are moving in the same direction.
Provide ample time to adjust
Everyone appreciates good, early communication. With this in mind, you’ll want to set reasonable transition goals for both you and your clients. We typically recommend 60 to 90 days. Consider setting this deadline for email and other client-facing portals, giving your clients time to pull down files they want to keep.
Let Liscio’s implementation team help you
You don’t have to be a Liscio expert to get started! We assign an Implementation Specialist to walk you through resources, training, and a rollout plan. You will also receive checklists and resources inside your Liscio account to help you stay on track during every stage of your onboarding. The “Need help?” tab on the left-hand side of your Liscio screen provides you and your team guided walkthroughs. From General Setup to Key Workflows, we help guide you on your journey to becoming a Liscio expert!
The client platform also features guided walkthroughs, helping them understand Liscio on their own. Create a test client to see them in action.
Use Liscio Tasks to keep clients on track
If you want clients to take action without your having to hound them, use Liscio Tasks. Due dates and automated reminders help keep your clients aware of action items they need to complete. Task trackability and transparency allows your staff and clients to always know what’s left to be done by clients, what the firm is reviewing, and what’s completed. Plus, it keeps your inbox clean.
Clients can also complete tasks on the go with the Liscio Mobile App.
Gently nudge your clients
The following tools and processes will help you nudge your clients to easier, safer habits. We recommend nudging because it is both easy and effective. In fact, it’s exactly what banks did to get us to use their online services. They never twisted our arms — instead, they were consistent in their communication with us and we eventually adopted their apps and never looked back. Here are our top recommendations to nudge clients:
- Use the Liscio for Outlook extension to respond to emails that clients send you. This keeps you efficient while redirecting communication back to Liscio.
- Use Liscio’s text messaging feature to respond to clients who text your personal phone. This will acclimate them to messaging the firm via Liscio instead of messaging your personal phone. And the added benefit of them using Liscio, is that they can use the built-in scanner to securely send crystal-clear PDF documents to you, instead of blurry pics of documents!
- Use an email footer, then add an autoresponder: Utilizing Firm Email Signatures
- Remind clients to download the Liscio mobile app: Invite clients to use the mobile app in bulk
- Use a template to send bulk messages for expired invites. Clients will receive a personalized message along with their invitation.
- Clients who want to work electronically are the main target. Clients who prefer to pickup, drop off, or mail can be given the option.
Have clients sign a security release form if they insist on using email
If a client insists on using email, request that they sign a security release form. Remind them that more than 90% of security breaches start with a malicious email and by signing the release they acknowledge that their data will not be treated with the same encryption standards recommended by the IRS and the AICPA.
Best practices for clients
Following these top tips will increase client success and satisfaction online. Be sure to highlight them as you meet and interact with clients both in person and online:
- Remind clients to associate their Liscio account with their email address. This will ensure that the client can quickly login to Liscio without having to look up passwords.
- Enable multi-factor authentication.
- Download the mobile app
- When communicating with the firm, limit the number of topics per thread to one. Creating a new message thread with an accurate subject line for each new topic will help both the firm and the client stay organized today and in the future.
- Encourage clients to immediately upload documents. Many of us are in the habit of collecting all of the documents we need before sending them to our accountant. This made sense when we were doing everything with paper. But with Liscio, clients can immediately scan snail mail using the Liscio scanner app and upload electronic docs via drag-and-drop the moment they are received. This practice will help keep clients organized and documents flowing.
By following these easy steps both internally and externally, you’ll be on a path to enjoying high client satisfaction, improved firm efficiency, and security. Let us know what you think and what practices you’d recommend we add. Thank you!