How Dawn Brolin Streamlines Client Onboarding at Her Firm
Onboarding new clients is a critical process for accounting firms. An efficient process sets the stage for a smooth relationship and allows you to get client work done quickly. But many firms struggle with having a consistent system.
When it comes to onboarding new clients at her firm, Dawn Brolin, CPA, CFE, has a major goal: “to deliver a consistent experience to my clients from the beginning,” she says. “And we want to be as efficient and productive as we possibly can.”
How does she do it? In a recent SmartVault webinar, Dawn shared exactly how she leverages technology to streamline client onboarding for maximum efficiency. Some of her top tips are below. You can watch the full webinar on-demand here.
1 – Have a standardized client onboarding process
When Dawn asked the webinar attendees what their biggest struggle is with onboarding, 46% of respondents said they don’t have a client onboarding process. This is where firms should start, Dawn advised.
Firms need a consistent process that every new client goes through. A clear step-by-step process eliminates guesswork and the frustration of constantly reinventing the wheel. Your team will know their tasks and exactly what happens next, which also helps everyone work faster and provide better client service.
2 – Introduce your document management system and client portal right away
A key onboarding step – that should happen early in the process – is introducing clients to your document management system (DMS) and client portal. Dawn uses SmartVault to securely collect client tax documents and store everything in the cloud.
During a new client’s initial call, her admin walks them through creating their SmartVault account and using the system. Dawn said that taking a few extra minutes upfront prevents headaches down the road. It also familiarizes clients with your digital processes from day one.
With a DMS and client portal, you’ll also benefit from standard organization. This makes it easy for any team member to quickly find what they need without having to ask. It also enables clients to self-serve documents like past tax returns.
Keep in mind, though, that not all DMS and client portals are the same. You’ll want one built for accounting firms. “If you don’t have the necessary tools in place, it’s going to be harder for you to serve your clients and harder for your clients to work with you,” Dawn says.
3 – Integrate systems and go paperless for seamless workflows
When you integrate your tax software and document management system, you can automate repetitive manual processes. Dawn shares this example from her firm: Syncing Lacerte Tax and SmartVault automatically creates her folder structure for each tax client. She said this integration “saves tons of time” compared to an admin manually creating folders.
Dawn also suggests going paperless as much as possible, noting how eSignatures help her accomplish this. Through her DMS with eSignature capabilities, Dawn’s clients receive links to review and e-sign engagement letters and tax forms. This eliminates physical paperwork and chasing down clients for a wet signature.
Power Your Firm with the Right DMS and Client Portal
“[SmartVault] is the most efficient, best tool that I have used in my firm,” Dawn concluded. “It is absolutely hands down the most critical tool that we have here at Powerful Accounting.”
To see how SmartVault can help power your firm too, schedule a demo with us.