Make Data Work for Your Clients
How to keep good data at the heart of your client relationships
By Helen Lloyd • April 23, 2020
While none of us want to be in this situation, it looks like COVID19 is here to stay for the foreseeable.
As business leaders and as client advisers the responsibility is on us all to do what we can to help each other and maximise the chances of every business making it out the other end.
As part of our Turn the Tide series, Xavier co-founder Helen spoke to a panel of cloud accounting experts experts about how they are using data to navigate through the COVID-19 crisis and beyond with their clients.
- Sharon Pocock (Kinder Pocock
- Aaron Sutton (Garbutt & Elliott
- Wayne McCormack (Zoo Accounting
- Kevin Salter (Glover Stanbury, 2020 Group)
Our panelists represent a range of practices, and a wide range of experience within the Industry, so we hope they have something to share for everyone. All our panellists are also active Xavier users.
We would recommend you watch the full webinar on our Youtube channel if you haven't seen it yet!
If you need a recap, here's 7 key takeaways from our panelists:
1) Be sensitive and keep the information relevant when engaging with clients; while two businesses may look the same from the outside, they may be going through very different journeys.
One thing our experts all agree on, is that no two businesses are going through this current global situation in the same way. Even our panelists took a range of different approaches to the crisis for their own Practices. Sharon's team contacted all of their clients to firstly listen to their experiences, before offering guidance, to understand their position fully.
2) While changes in communication styles and technologies have been thrust upon us, there are efficiencies to be had
While some of our experts weren't totally comfortable with video calling to begin with, there was a general agreement that when used correctly, it can actually be an improvement on traditional communication. For example, screen sharing can be used for effective troubleshooting, solving problems in a fraction of the time.
Communication has never been more important to keep your clients informed and in control. Embrace the time saved commuting and the speed and frequency at which you can contact clients without the rigmarole.
3) It's important to prioritise who needs your help first
Aaron recommends taking advantage of the tools you have to analyse the data. Making good use of the various Xavier Practice Reports such as targeting clients pre-emptively with low cash balance and high debtor days, can help you triage your clients and address those that need the most help first. This relies on keeping good quality, up to date data for your clients, which brings us to the next point...
4) Keep your data accurate and up to date - timing matters
All our panellists are Xavier users, but many have expanded their use of Xavier in the team to ensure all clients are keeping up to date with their data, so any cashflow forecasts and loan applications go smoothly and clients can be triaged effectively.
This is particularly important for clients that usually manage their own bookkeeping, as they tend to have lower Health Scores. By checking Multi-Coded Contacts, Kevin even recovered ~£6k of VAT for a client, freeing up essential cash from incorrect tax coding.
5) Take time to focus on your team. We're all going through our own version of this; speak with them as people
Sharon recommends taking care of the team as a priority, so they can then take good care of their clients. Speak to your team openly and honestly, so you know they have everything they need to be comfortable and supported. Make sure your team communication channels aren't just about productivity either, make space for a little bit of social time and fun too!
Kevin also advises making good use of downtime for upskilling with all the free online training resources available.
6) Consider offering additional services in the short term for nominal fees e.g loan applications
In this time, what we do to help others will be remembered, and much of it will be returned in kind. Whilst this might feel like a sacrifice now, it will likely result in increased and long term loyalty in the future, and the firms that look after their clients will be in a position to thrive. You might also find that some clients appreciate their health check or advisory experiences and want to continue with those additional paid services in the future.
7) The best process or practice to take away is...
We asked our panel what was their one best process or practice that they have used in their team. Unsurprisingly, there was a consensus for digital communication tools such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams, which are now essential for keeping communication flowing.
It's a good time for new tech solutions: Sharon and her team have found a huge amount of value in the G-Suite for internal document management, and Kevin recommends getting a portal set up for secure document transfer with clients, if you haven't already.
Wayne's goal is rolling out a Process Bible for your practice; acknowledging that it takes some time to do properly, it will be worth it with the structure in place.