Data silos within accounting firms are a huge issue. Staff spend too much time searching for documents in multiple places, scanning endless email strings to find out what a client said, or what was promised to a client, and the number of places that data is stored in a firm has just exploded over the past few years.
Many firms now have the following “data repositories” to contend with when they need an answer - and none of them “talk” to each other:
- Their own email inbox
- Their colleague’s email inboxes
- The firm’s secure portal
- Google Drive / OneDrive / Dropbox / Box etc (yours and your client’s)
- Social Media (yes, lots of information is exchanged this way!)
- Personal cell phones (clients texting or leaving VMs)
- Paper documents
- and many more sources
Now QuickBooks Online is getting into the game with a feature that allows the accountant to ask the client to upload a document via QBO. On the face of it, this seems like a great solution and one that is designed to solve a very real challenge - getting documents securely from clients, and on a timely basis. The only issue with this is that it creates yet ANOTHER data silo. You’ll have some documents in QBO, some in your portal, some in email - YIKES!
How should busy, forward-thinking practitioners be thinking about this problem?
Well, it boils down to taking a good look at where, when and how you ask your clients to communicate with you (including sending sensitive information and documents) and then work to optimize and streamline the experience for staff and for clients. And in this area, it is good to take a lesson from your Online Banking App.
Your banking app puts almost everything you need to deal with the bank, in one secure quiet space. You can securely upload documents (checks, wire transfer requests, etc.) and download what you need (statements, tax forms, etc.) all from one convenient place. You can also communicate securely with the banking team, as well as conduct normal banking business like transferring funds and checking balances. The payoff is huge for both the bank and for us, the customers! We love it, and they save a TON of labor and time helping us work with them. But the biggest point here is that the bank has created one central place for us to communicate and do business with them. The other relevant point is that the banks have enabled this delightful experience to be mobile!
As you think about the upcoming year and the changes you want to make in your firm, “data silos” should be on the top of your list as a problem to solve.
Banks changed the game forever by providing an all-in-one app that we now use (and love) to conduct business with them. They literally become the “bank in our pocket” and we would never even consider using a bank that did not have a fully-featured app. An added bonus? No data silos!
Give your clients an Accountant App!
Do your clients and your staff a huge favor, by giving your clients an intuitive “accountant app” that they will be delighted to use to securely communicate and exchange sensitive documents with the firm. With all client communications and documents running through the app, data silos disappear, staff have full visibility into the communications to and from each client, and documents are centralized in one secure, quiet space so everyone can collaborate properly.
It's an affordable way to solve the data silo issue. It also delights clients because as we all know, once you’ve experienced the ease and convenience of using a good banking app, you’ll never go back to the old way of dealing with your bank!
The best firms are in their client’s pockets and have become a seamless part of their day. The firm moves faster, provides better client service and quicker response times, and clients are delighted with how easy it is.
That’s Client Experience 2.0 and at Liscio, we know a lot about helping accountants and bookkeepers become a seamless and welcome part of their clients’ day.
If you would like to see how Liscio can help you break down data silos, delight your clients and help staff get more done in the process, please book a personalized demo here.