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Customer relationship management is important in running any successful business. For the world of accounting, the best customer relationship management (CRM) software goes beyond word-of-mouth, referrals, social media, and other traditional marketing methods by organizing it all into one consolidated database.
According to SalesForce, 26 percent of businesses adopted a CRM last year, and Forbes reported that small businesses who used a CRM system last year saw a 29 percent increase in sales. The benefits are clear, even the smallest CPA business can use the software to grow. Move out of the Rolodex and address book.
Generate New Business
The term “influencer” is thrown around quite a bit now with the rise of social media and Instagram celebrities. But the wonderful thing about influencers is that they’re not out of reach for small businesses. You can identify influencer relationships by using a quality CRM, and maybe turn customers into influencers as well.
A CRM allows you to look for relationships between existing customers and organizations, focus on developing new leads, or a mix of both. Some software now has a relationship discerning feature that evaluates the best prospects for what you offer from publicly available information like social media profiles.
Streamline Your Process
Most CRM software also has the ability to produce invoices and calculate client payment information directly from time-keeping applications. These features keep client records and expense histories right next to the communication information about an account, so it’s organized and cohesive.
Check to see if the CRM software you have in mind integrates with your existing accounting and time tracking software, and whether it will automatically include expense information as it’s processed.
Centralized account data gives you time to focus on managing the relationships. Modern business relationships rely heavily on relationships between customers and vendors. Although not traditionally thought of as gregarious, CPAs firms have to pay as much attention to relationships as the next business. CRM software can do that. When calls come in from a client or it comes time to prepare for a meeting, there is no need to brief colleagues, or refresh your own memory on their account history. Visiting the communication and accounting records in the CRM software become part of standard meeting prep.
State and national tax laws fluctuate often, and CPA clients need to know about these ASAP to ensure compliance. Some CRMs integrate directly with targeted email systems to send direct messages. Choose the specific client lists that need updates based on who they are, what their needs are, and, of course, what the news is.
Use this feature to spread news about your business’ newest offerings or services. It is a direct way to reach all of your clients in an automated, and more efficient, way.
Email alerts also allow you to stay top of mind for clients and prospective customers. They may not have needed you when you initially contacted them in the middle of the fiscal year, but they may find your news updates useful and attach a positive connotation to your business. When it comes time for them to need help, they will be sure to contact you versus the competition.
Internal Communication and Collaboration
A quality CRM ensures that all of your colleagues or members of your firm can use time more efficiently. Each team member can enter notes on client interactions, account needs, and potential upsell opportunities as they speak with the client. Any team member who follows up with that client can instantly access the entire account history.
Picking the Right CRM for a CPA firm
Choose a CRM that fits your business, don’t try to fit your business to the CRM you choose. For your first CRM, choose something with simple but powerful capabilities. Not doing so could result in disruption of workflow, the opposite effect a CRM should have on your business.
Ensure that your CRM works seamlessly with any other systems you may be using, especially your main accounting software. The point of this new software is to ensure that your business can flourish. Technical problems, and having to work differently on several different systems can only disrupt business.
It is unavoidable that there will be an adjustment period when you implement a new CRM. Most of the apprehension from colleagues will come from a lack of comfort with a new system. Avoid this by giving employees extensive training and ensure that they all work with the program in the same way. Build a plan for the employees to integrate the software into their existing workflows, and follow up with team members.
Implementing a new software can be scary. Take your time and do research to find the right software, and make sure you plan for internal training. The right CRM software is an investment in technology that will pay off in the long run.
Neha Tandon is a writer for TechnologyAdvice. She is a graduate student of journalism at Syracuse University. With a background in marketing, PR, and advertising, her true passion is for business journalism.