While most firms focus on the power of the technology itself in explaining return on investment, Billy Johnston, CPA and office administrator at Adams, Jenkins and Cheatham CPAs and Business Consulting (AJC), expressed the firm’s great joy with SmartVault’s exemplary customer support and overall responsiveness.
“For me, the biggest value is the support,” explained Johnston. “Their [SmartVault’s] team is incredibly helpful, friendly, and responsive. They are so quick to jump on resolving any issue that might come up for us. It’s been a great working experience overall.”
AJC has been a SmartVault user since late 2014, making the move from Intuit DMS to SmartVault. And while the timing corresponds with the start of their busiest season, Johnston was already looking into new technologies that could handle document sharing and storage and also offered client portals.
“There was a push from the top to have a portal system in place that integrated with Lacerte. SmartVault met this criteria,” Johnston explained. “I started to investigate technologies and eventually sat through a demo of SmartVault and really liked the system. I was so impressed the first time I saw it, I even signed up for a second demo to ensure it’s what that firm needed. And it was.”
A firm that handles approximately 2,500 tax returns annually and is a leading force in audit work, AJC was in great need of moving to a more streamlined workflow, and knew that moving to a digital environment was the first step.
The path to digital
In a digital-driven world, Johnston was more than aware that clients wanted to be online. In fact, he stated that very few clients requested paper copies of their return anymore, which is why the firm needed to find a portal solution.
“We used to spend hours and hours printing out very high-end looking tax return packages, only to have our clients ask for an electronic copy. This is simply how clients want to work these days, and we don’t want bog down our staff with time-intensive manual tasks like printing and binding paper.”
Today, with SmartVault in place, the majority of clients receive their tax documents within their secure, private client portal. 24/7 online access has been a big hit with the firm’s client base—who can now access prior returns and source documents any time they need, which further elevates the firm’s service level to clients.
“Clients love the transition to online,” Johnston explained. “One of our clients is the head of the world’s fourth largest electric co-op, and he thought it [SmartVault] was very advanced and user friendly. Coming from someone in his position, that’s a true seal of approval.”
Training on the system went quite smoothly as well, according to Johnston. “I introduced SmartVault to our entire staff, one small group at a time. I would set aside about an hour to train a group of about three to five people. The system is so intuitive and easy to use that staff caught on quickly and there were few questions.”
Johnston also shared the firm’s aggressive move of implementing SmartVault right before the kickoff of tax season. “It’s always risky to launch a new system right before busy season, but we needed to get a portal system in place. It went incredibly smooth.”
Johnston also stated that the move to SmartVault was the impetus to mass firm-wide change. “It was the kick start we needed to examine all processes across the firm and look for areas where we could be more efficient, and that’s what we did. We continue to make improvements in an effort to automate and streamline our internal processes.”
While Billy Johnston was focused on return on investment in terms of better client support and ease of implementation, he also shared some hard cost savings as a result of the move to SmartVault.
“I estimate that we easily saved about 15 minutes per tax return. If I multiple this by 2,500 returns, I would say that we saved about $10,000 in labor costs. And that’s a big win!”
Johnston’s example of ROI doesn’t include the printing and labor cost savings of delivering returns electronically, so there’s additional savings in this area as well.
Johnston went on to say that, “I have to also consider the rapid response time of the SmartVault team. Any issue that came up, I could call a dedicated point of contact, and they would help me resolve it. That saved the firm even more time. We could not be more pleased with the entire experience.”
Overall, Johnston reported great success this year in terms of staff productivity and client satisfaction
“Our clients response was exceptionally positive to the use of a client portal. They loved receiving their tax documents digitally and the convenience of accessing when they needed them. Our staff also enjoyed a much more streamlined process.”
Advanced cloud-based solutions aren’t all created equal. While most claim ease of use and implementation, SmartVault clearly delivers on both. It certainly did for the firm of Adams, Jenkins and Cheatham CPAs and Business Consulting.
Johnston summed up the SmartVault experience as such, “I’ve experienced both the good and the ugly with client support in terms of technology implementation. There is a ‘right’ way to respond to user issues…with timeliness, genuine interest, and a focus on a resolution. SmartVault is better than good…their team is exemplary!”