Why Scalable Accounting Firms Map out the Client Journey

Podcast

Summary

  • The Importance of Documentation
  • Mapping the Client Journey
  • Quality Control
  • Zooming In, Getting Started
  • Documentation Compliance

Additional Resources

Meet Adi Klevit

Adi Klevit is the leader and visionary of Business Success Consulting Group. Her twenty-five years of knowledge and experience as a trained Industrial Engineer, management consultant, and business executive give her a unique understanding of the challenges businesses face. Adi uses her practical know-how to successfully help organizations and companies of any size dramatically improve their efficiency and performance. Essentially, Adi helps businesses build an infrastructure that, when implemented, will help them grow.

The Importance of Documentation

Process documentation isn’t something that most people think is glamorous in any sense of the word. However, it is crucial to the health of an expanding firm. When you’re a firm owner and entrepreneur, time is a commodity and a precious one at that. “We will put time into the things that are important for us, into the things that we feel will give us the biggest ROI,” shared Adi. Firm owners have to make the decision that documentation is important. In order to do that, you have to ask yourself why it is or should be important for you and your firm. “You need to have a really honest answer to this question. Not just because you were told to or because your competitors have them. You need to figure out your why.”

Whether you’re acquiring another firm or running a marketing campaign, processes and procedures are vital to the consistency and success of your business. “Let’s say you have a key employee, one that if they don’t show up for work, you’re going to have trouble. If you had well-documented processes and procedures in place, the risk would be much less.” Your “why” has to be convincing and compelling. However, just getting started on documentation is a step in the right direction.

When some people get started, they get hung up on the thought that “it will take a lot to document these processes and procedures. Some start but they don’t have it well designed.” Adi’s advice? Create a high-level infrastructure of the processes and procedures that have to be in place. Once that’s done, you can identify which part of your firm would generate the most return on investment (ROI) because of those processes being set in place. ROI isn’t always about money, either. “ROI can be your goodwill and reputation… or the retention of key employees.”

Mapping the Client Journey

In terms of infrastructure, it can be helpful to map out your client’s journey. Where does that journey start? “It starts with your marketing. You’re reaching out to your prospective clients, and then it follows through to your client intake. After that, it’s onboarding, then it moves to delivery of the product. And then, your client journey should end with repetition.”

Each one of these is part of the client’s journey. Meaning, each one of them should be a process. Each one of these starts at a high level, at which point you’re able to focus on where you should start. “Obviously when you’re documenting your day-to-day activities, whether it’s bookkeeping or tax preparation or tax planning, Jetpack will fall into that because that’s a system you’re using.” Adi also recommended that you build out processes and procedures around the tools you’re using.

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Quality Control

David then asked Adi to expound upon the topic of delivery, production, and quality control. “There are many different ways to quality control, but the main thing is not being afraid to ask your clients how the service was.” Adi said that oftentimes when tax season comes, we become focused on getting the tax returns out of the door, but not enough is being done to ensure that the client actually had a good experience.

Regardless of whether or not you feel like tax season was good or bad, ask your clients how their experience was. Their answers can help you proactively look for ways to improve client experience. If you don’t reach out and have those conversations, Adi said that you’re simply sticking your head in the sand. The issues are still there, you’re just ignoring them. But by having those conversations, regardless of how hard they may be, you are ensuring a higher level of retention. “That’s where profitability comes in – when you’re retaining the same clients as opposed to every single time having to onboard new clients. So if you have a recurring stream of satisfied clients, you will also bring in clients that are similar to them.”

Adi said that quality control is also an internal dialogue. “How did we do? What happened this tax season?” Determining what went well and what didn’t go well is important. Once you’ve done that, you can pull out your processes and procedures and figure out where you missed, and then improve your processes.

Zooming In, Getting Started

David asked Adi how to make the transition from the high-level infrastructural overview to implementation. “If you have a team, use your team… your time is valuable.” Once you’ve identified the key processes and procedures that have to be documented, start delegating the responsibilities of each process to individual team members. “For instance, tax preparation. Who is going to document how you do an individual tax return? Who is going to document the business part? You can assign two to three procedures for each one of your preparers if you know that’s their strength.” Once each one is done, have the other team members review what the others have done to ensure best practices are being followed and recorded.

Before any of that has been completed, the larger question is, how do you document it? First, you have to lay out your infrastructure, map out your workflow, decide what processes and procedures have to be written, and then assign documentation to a team member. “When you’re doing, and performing, the actual task, you start documenting it because it’s essentially a big fill-in-the-blank.” Adi said that aside from written documentation, video documentation is also useful. Unlike technical writing, this isn’t merely putting down a step-by-step process, it involves discussing why you do things the way that you do. Explain your methodology. She also recommends that if you’re doing video documentation, you should use platforms such as SweetProcess, Whale, or Trainual.

No matter what format you decide to document your processes in, Adi said, “Tax season is the best time to document, because that’s when you’re actually doing the work!”

Documentation Compliance

“Implementation is super important, because otherwise what you’re going to have is a great file that nobody looks at.” Adi recorded a podcast discussing implementation and documentation compliance, and she summarized her main points.

Firstly, the use of your documentation has to become an integral part of running your firm. It has to be an organic part of what you do at your practice. “It starts with you having the mindset that the firm is going to refer to the processes and procedures whenever there is an issue, whenever there’s a new staff member coming on board, and even as a refresher!”

Secondly, Adi suggested that when you’re doing your end-of-tax-season review, you should rate how you did during the season. “Pull out your processes and procedures. Or log into your process documentation platform. See what you have and go procedure by procedure and see what worked great and what wasn’t followed.”

“Ultimately,” Adi said, “you have to be convinced that having processes and procedures is the only way to grow in scale, and you have to, by example, lead everyone to use these on a regular basis.”

Conclusion

We covered a ton of great information in the podcast. If you’d like to hear more detailed information, be sure to check out the full episode! If you’d like to learn more about processes and procedures, check out Adi’s podcast, the Systems Simplified Podcast. And, if you’re looking to connect with Adi, you can connect with her at Bizsuccesscg.com, via phone at 503-662-2911, or LinkedIn!

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