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  • Writer's pictureAlik Mock

Automate Client Onboarding in 2024

Client onboarding is a critical process for accounting firms, but it often presents challenges due to capacity issues, outdated systems, and costs associated with a disorganized approach.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 your first chance to build a strong relationship and set the stage for a successful partnership. It starts with lead generation and ends with a welcome email. 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.

Why you need client onboarding Automation:

Analyze your shortcomings and make the change you need.

  • Are your clients not responding to you?

  • Tired of them asking for a million revisions?

  • Worst of all, are they ghosting you?

If any of the above answers were ‘Yes’, then you are in the right spot. Before we move into client onboarding automation, let’s learn what not to do.

What client onboarding is NOT?

It's important to understand what client onboarding isn't to ensure you're implementing an effective and impactful process. Here are some key things to avoid:

  1. A one-size-fits-all approach: Every client has unique needs and expectations. Do not follow the same procedure to accommodate all the clients.

  2. An extensive paper trail: Don't overwhelm clients with endless forms and documents. Automate the whole process and prioritize only the essential information.

  3. A tech-heavy nightmare: A technology-intensive approach can streamline onboarding but you need just the right balance. Prioritize user-friendliness on all the platforms involved in the automation cycle.

  4. A stressful experience: Rushing through onboarding can lead to missed steps, confusion, and negative experiences. Allocate sufficient time for each stage and ensure clients feel comfortable and well-equipped before moving forward.

Power dynamics of Client onboarding Process:

Mutual benefit: Close the clients with a Win-Win approach. Mutual benefit sets the stage for a successful, long-term partnership.

Pick Clients that are aligned with your values: This is a great time to offer value upfront. Give them insights and advice on their issues, and showcase your knowledge and expertise.

  • Who they are? Dig deeper into the discovery call!

  • What do they need? Awareness is essential to the process. Do they know what they are looking for?

  • What do they know they need? Is your client familiar with their strength and weaknesses? __Saves you a magical time.

‘No’ is a complete sentence: Loyalty is a two-way street. Learn how to say ‘No’ if they are not a perfect fit for you or if you are not rightly aligned for them.

Choosing the Right Technology

Choosing the right technology is paramount when automating the client onboarding process. In collecting client information, various options are 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

Implementing automation requires careful planning and execution. Here are the steps involved in automating the client onboarding process:

  • Identify 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.

  • 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 it 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.

  • Transparent communication: Set up automated emails and notifications. Welcome greetings, progress updates, and milestone reminders keep clients informed and engaged.

  • Facilitate Knowledge Transfer: Provide comprehensive overviews of your products, services, and processes. Offer educational resources and provide the knowledge they need. FAQs, tutorials, Deploy AI-powered chatbots or virtual assistants. Use automation to monitor client interactions with knowledge resources.

  • 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.

Long-Term Benefits of Client Onboarding Automation:

In today's tech-driven world, automating your client onboarding process can be the game-changer your firm needs.

Improved Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC): By retaining customers through successful onboarding, you reduce the need for constant customer acquisition, lowering CAC and boosting profitability.

Brand Image: Image is everything! Positive onboarding experiences are significant in customer perception. The initial experiences contribute significantly to word-of-mouth marketing and establishing a favorable brand image.

Why Automate?

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. You can reduce administrative workload and increase billable client work by choosing the right technologies and software, implementing efficient workflows, and training employees.

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.

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