Our US-based Account Manager Daniel Shively recently sat down (virtually) with guest speakers Michael Jones, Senior Account Manager for Xero, Melisa Beauchamp, Aprio's Nonprofit and Education Leader, and Darren Cioffi, Business Coach, Bookkeeper 360. Together, they discussed their own experiences in working with clients, the strategies they've implemented, and how the business world has evolved—for the better.
To watch the full webinar, click here. Otherwise, here are a few of the points they touched upon:
Realigning KPIs: from transactional to goodwill
As businesses across the world begin closing their doors for good, the best way to ensure that your firm remains viable is by helping as many clients as you can weather the storm. To this end, it's a good idea to put aside the transactional relationship you have with your customers, and instead focus on becoming a partnership.
As someone who genuinely wants their not-for-profit clients to succeed, Melisa Beauchamp understands the importance of human relationships, and how impactful they can be. When a client of hers, who ran a charity for animals, contracted COVID-19, she began reaching out daily to see how she was doing. Her client began to worry about the future if something happened to her, and Melisa's role became reassuring her, helping connect her with other partners, and making her feel as comfortable as possible throughout the ordeal.
Similarly, Darren Cioffi's team have gone above and beyond to make sure that they're helping as many people as possible with government loan schemes, not just their own clients:
"Instead of capitalising on the situation from a monetary standpoint, we're capitalising from a goodwill standpoint. We've consulted with businesses who aren't even our clients on the PPP stuff for free," he says.
Wondering what KPIs your firm should be tracking? Check out our whitepaper: Smart KPIs for Accounting Firms
Networking for survival
Networking is often the key to business success, and right now it could prove essential to business survival. If you can’t help your client with a specific problem, chances are you know someone else in your network who can. Why not partner with other professionals in order to collaboratively tackle client problems? This may be in the form of a referral, or even a joint webinar Q&A session, covering the same topic from different angles. Creating a community of professionals now can only strengthen your own firm in the long-term, as relationships forged in difficult times are usually rock solid.
Take the opportunity to grow older relationships as well. If you haven’t reached out to your software account managers, now’s the time to do so. Most software companies have been working overtime to create resources and new technology to help their clients get through the crisis. Both Xero and Spotlight Reporting are determined to see their customers succeed, and are only an email away. Find out what they can do for you.
Similarly, use your clients’ networks to their advantage. When reaching out to your clients, remind them to check in with their own customers and vendors, and ask what you can do to help them. Without customers, your clients wouldn’t be able to operate, so anything you can do to help them will help you in the long run.
Advise your clients to offer their communities support and understanding. When the crisis dies down, they’ll no doubt be able to reap the rewards of their own goodwill investments.
Patience and understanding in unifying circumstances
In some ways, the current crisis has been a unifying force, by encouraging cooperation both globally and locally, and highlighting our similarities over our differences. Now that much of the workforce has been sent to work from home, we’ve all become more patient with each other, as we understand the difficulties this crisis has created.
Dan Shively begins the webinar by asking each guest speaker how they’ve been over the last few months. Darren said that his firm was a virtual one, so moving from the office hadn’t been too difficult—the trick was getting his team used to working from home. Melisa responded that while Aprio had been set up to work remotely prior to COVID-19, she’s had to find a way to balance communicating with clients with being a mum to two kids. And Michael’s answer was interrupted by his young, crying daughter, who had wandered into the room. He picked her up and comforted her, to broad smiles from the rest of the speakers.
“This is the new normal,” he said, with her on his lap, “this is how we’re working today.”
Interruptions and the unexpected have become commonplace over the last few months, but many of us have learned to work with them. This kind of adaptability and resilience is something we should aim to carry forward with us, as an example of a change for the better.