When a new client comes to you, it is expected that they have many questions in mind and are looking for the best accounting solution.
The onboarding process for accounting clients varies greatly from client to client. For instance, the process you use when onboarding a client for tax planning will be substantially different from one for CFO services. Regardless, the initial process must be structured, and you’ll require a checklist with all the documents and information you need from the client to facilitate the process and collection of these, in an automatic and effortless way. By considering the importance of the onboarding checklist for new clients, your business will not only become productive sooner than expected but also ensure that the client is engaged and updated about the completion of all processes.
Accounting Firm Client Onboarding: 4 Key Issues to Overcome
When you are onboard new clients for your accounting firm, the process starts after the client gives the go-ahead. However, you should make a plan to guarantee a smooth and effective onboarding process for new clients. It’s simple to describe the ideal customer onboarding process, but it might be challenging to put it into practice.
1. Misinterpretation of expectations:
One of the most frequent difficulties you could encounter is the misalignment of expectations between you and your client. If you have encountered yourself in similar circumstances in the past, you’re not alone. Just like in other areas of your operation, you should have templates for your sales processes to avoid misaligned expectations and under-delivering.
Your entire team should come to an agreement with the client regarding the services to be offered, the number of accounts the client has, and the numerous software systems being integrated.
2. Delay in starting:
Time equals money in business. If it takes too long for you to begin a new service with a client, it’s likely that they will go to the next vendor. When you have your customer’s attention, your objective is to help them go forward as quickly as possible. A well-structured onboarding process can help your company get up to speed with your clients’ needs quickly.
3. Lack of resources:
When starting work for a new client, it is critical to have all the necessary documents, reports, and information from the customer at hand. An issue many companies face is having to deal with a long and tedious back and forth with the client to get all these documents in line.
4. Scope creep:
Have you ever dealt with a client that seemed to have higher expectations every time you spoke? Scope creep occurs when a project’s expectations, features, or deliverables keep growing over its existence. It happens frequently to accounting professionals all around the world, particularly when a uniform onboarding process isn’t in place.
In contrast, if you have a laid-out communication system that is open and understandable, you can keep such issues at bay.
As we’ve seen, a robust onboarding process can help your business largely avoid the pitfalls previously described here. In this article we will try to provide a concise list of every item or information you should ask, know, or obtain from your new client during the onboarding process.
New Accounting Client Onboarding Checklist
First, to provide excellent customer service, it is necessary to have all the basic contact information upfront. To that end, be sure to collect the following contact information from your clients:
-Phone number (cellphone and landline)
This will ensure that you can easily get in touch with your clients should any questions or issues arise. By having this information at the start of the onboarding process, you can avoid any potential hiccups down the line.
2. Business Information:
If this new client needs more than their personal accounting but there are looking for your financial services for their business, you may also need information about their company such as:
-Is this a new business?
-Incorporation/business formation documents
-Brief overview of your business
-What are your business goals?
-What do you hope to gain from our relationship together?
With this information, you and your accountant team will be able to accurately assess the needs and provide you with the best possible service.
3. Signed Contract
You may have all your client and their business information, but a signed contract is indispensable before you begin your business relationship to start any kind of work of services.
A complete, signed copy of the contract should be kept in your client file and be available for reference if necessary. The contract should specify the details of your arrangement.
4. Greeting Email
Send a welcome email to your new client after your initial kickoff meeting that explains the next stages, their expectations, and a timeframe for the project’s initial scope.
5. Having access to former accounting systems
You will require access to these documents regardless of whether your client employed manual accounting procedures or accounting software like Quickbooks or Xero. Even though you could have a general notion of the condition based on past conversations with the customer, this will help you and your staff assess the current state of the accounting records accurately.
6. Financial information
It’s obvious that you the most important items on your client’s checklist is their financial information:
-Access to online banking, credit card, loan, and bank statements
-Recent account reconciliations
-Copies of prior tax return
-Payroll information, if applicable
-Inventory information, if applicable
The customer could additionally include details about how these accounts are used. For instance, the company might use a bank account for receivables and a credit card account for transactions with suppliers.
7. Financial Statements
Financial reports for their operations are crucial tools for an accounting firm, regardless of how big or small the organization is. These statements comprise:
-Cash flow statements
-Income statements at the portfolio level
This is the essential data you need to start working with your client. Now that your checklist is done is time to figure out how to collect all this information.
The Best Alternative to Collect and Organizing Client Files
You could ask for these documents via email but finding the information you need in an inbox can be difficult, and things frequently get lost.
Another method for storing client paperwork is to use shared drives such as Google Drive or Onedrive, which most likely you’re already doing. The issue with them is that many of them demand that your customers register, adding additional barriers to their ability to send the required documents.
When you only require a few simple questions answered from your consumers, forms can save you time if all new customers will be providing the same information. With File Request Pro, you can create just such forms, allowing your customers to upload files and content, which can then be automatically uploaded to your cloud storage.
The documents can be automatically organized in your Google Drive and Google Docs thanks to File Request Pro’s smart integration. It works just as well with Microsoft OneDrive and SharePoint. Using this integration can spare you many hours of low-value labor, sending back and for emails and calling your client. Additionally, it will make it simpler and less error-prone to share client information with your staff.
Building Perfect Checklists for Every Client
You probably won’t ask every client identical questions because their situations frequently differ greatly from others. The onboarding process for accounting clients varies greatly from client to client. For instance, the process you use when onboarding a client for tax planning will be substantially different from one for CFO services. You require a checklist that is particular to the industry you are serving as well as the service you are offering.
A single, thorough accounting client onboarding checklist is therefore not practical. A better strategy is to create distinct checklists for each type of service you provide. Specific request lists for various services will be monotonous and tedious so using our form builder you can add Conditional Logic to your Upload Page for more effective forms. This is a great way to streamline your document request onboarding process and make sure that only the most relevant form fields are displayed to every client.
In this video, you will learn how to use conditional logic on your upload page to make sure that the right form fields are displayed depending on the type of customers that is filling out the form.
Onboarding new clients can be easier using our customize upload forms
We strongly advise you to integrate a file collection software into your business so that each time you onboard a new customer, you can just send them a form with all the fields you need and won’t even have to worry to remind your client or organize the document in different folders.
You’ll be able to focus your efforts on the objectives and demands of your clients and get a true understanding of the most effective strategy for solving their problems. By using this checklist, you can power up your employee onboarding process and obtain the most return on your investment (both in time and money).