Client onboarding is a critical process for accounting firms, but it often presents challenges due to capacity issues, outdated systems, and costs associated with a disorganized approach. In today’s fast-paced business environment, it's essential to find innovative solutions to streamline and automate the client onboarding process. By utilizing the right technologies and establishing efficient workflows, accounting firms can overcome these hurdles and reap the benefits of automated client onboarding. In this blog post, we’ll explore the benefits to automating your client onboarding experience, like increased workload capacity and the ability to scale your business operations, which results in higher revenue and profits for your firm.
The Client Onboarding Process
The client onboarding process is not just about gathering documents, it’s an opportunity to build strong client relationships, while also setting the stage for a successful partnership. The onboarding process is the first interaction a new client has with your accounting firm, so by ensuring the onboarding process is as efficient and smooth as possible, you improve your business's success.
The client onboarding process typically starts with a new lead generated through various channels such as your website, advertisements, or referrals.
From there, a certified public accountant (CPA) schedules a meeting to collect important information and documents. This is followed by CPA qualification, discovery, and an introductory meeting to understand the client's needs.
The CPA then creates client folders and reviews notes, subsequently sending a proposal to the client. Once the client submits the necessary documents and pays the required fees, the CPA creates engagement letters and an organizer. Finally, the CPA reviews the organizer and sends a welcome email to the client. Because there are so many steps involved in the client onboarding process, it’s helpful to utilize online software to streamline the experience. It’s also important to consider how your technologies and processes work together and identify any missing links or gaps in your client onboarding system. We’ve found that accounting firms who test-run the entire customer onboarding process from start to finish have great success because it allows them to identify any weak sections, and then implement solutions.
For example, we’ve seen smaller accounting firms (under 10 people) save 1-3 hours per week by implementing single-flow automation. This includes automated client onboarding or automatic document export/import.
Identifying Pain Points
While the client onboarding process seems straightforward, there are potential pain points that can frustrate customers and hinder efficiency. Manual data entry, lack of standardized processes, missing client information, and delays in communication can all contribute to inefficiencies and errors.
By having an automated client onboarding process that seamlessly integrates software, technology, and workflows, you can eliminate these inefficiencies and errors while freeing up your staff to spend their time on billable work.
Benefits of Automating Client Onboarding Points
Automating the client onboarding process provides numerous3 benefits for accounting firms. We’ve seen accounting firms improve their workload efficiency, create an enhanced client experience, reduce errors and costs, and scale their client base without needing to hire additional staff.
By eliminating manual tasks and leveraging software, firms can redirect their valuable time and resources to more strategic activities, such as providing valuable insights and personalized services to clients, which results in higher revenue and profits. Clients benefit from a smoother onboarding experience, faster response times, and increased communication, which improves your client relationships and increases referral rates.
Choosing the Right Technology
Choosing the right technology is paramount when automating the client onboarding process. In collecting client information, there are various options available, such as Typeform, Microsoft Forms, or Google Forms. Each of these provides user-friendly interfaces for gathering client information online. When choosing technology and software for your onboarding process, it's essential to consider factors like ease of use, customization capabilities, data security, and integration with existing accounting software. It’s also important to ensure that your online form requests all relevant information required by your tax organizer, to eliminate back-and-forth emails to clients.
Seamless integration between the onboarding system and other software, such as customer relationship management (CRM) or document management systems, can significantly improve the entire process.
There are costs involved with implementing the wrong technologies and software that we’ve seen in various accounting firms. If the software isn’t implemented correctly, it may result in annoyed clients, missing documentation, delays in client work, and additional time spent by staff.
Implementing automation requires careful planning and execution. Here are the steps involved in automating the client onboarding process:
Create Customized Workflows: Map out the entire onboarding process and design visual workflows that align with your firm's specific requirements. Each step should be clearly defined, and responsibilities should be assigned to the correct employees.
Step 1: Identify the problems and limitations in your current system
Step 2: Design new workflows and find suitable automation software
Step 3: Assign the onboarding processes to specific staff members
Plan with Miro Swimlane Template: Utilize tools like Miro's Swimlane template to plan your client onboarding automation project. This visual representation helps map out all the steps and users involved, ensuring a clear, structured, and efficient process. To get started, you’ll need to open a free Miro account, then you can duplicate the template and edit as needed. For step-by-step instructions, click here.
Train Employees: Provide comprehensive training to employees on using the new software and familiarize them with the automated workflows. Emphasize the benefits and encourage active participation to ensure a smooth transition. Providing incentives or rewards to employees can help improve outcomes. A team is only as strong as its weakest link.
Start Small and Test: Begin with a pilot group or specific processes and test different automation approaches to see what works best for your firm. This approach allows for adjustments and fine-tuning based on real-world experience.
Hire a Trustworthy Team: As you scale up your automation efforts, consider hiring a reliable team specializing in accounting automation and process improvement. This will ensure a seamless client experience and provide your firm with ongoing support and innovation.
Automating your client onboarding process will help improve your overall client experience, improve workload capacity, and help scale your business to increase revenue and profits. These benefits make automating your client onboarding process a worthwhile investment of time and resources. By choosing the right technologies and software, implementing efficient workflows, and training employees, you can reduce administrative workload and increase billable client work.
Here at Genwise, we specialize in untangling accounting firms, automating their internal processes, and building customized online systems to help you grow your business with confidence. To find out more about automating your accounting firm processes, schedule a free discovery call with us.