CRM Software Effectively
Matthew J. Boyle
most CPA firms use Microsoft Outlook to manage their contacts,
Outlook lacks the capability to use the stored information
for business growth. When employees manage their own contact
information and share it unsystematically, data-quality issues
proliferate, and compiling and sorting correct, current information
becomes an immense task. This can result in a firm that functions,
from a marketing perspective, like several different small
practices under one roof instead of a cohesive whole.
managed, raw data can be pulled together using customer
relationship management (CRM) software and turned into cohesive
intelligence that can then be analyzed to—
forecast trends and firm revenue;
find growth opportunities within the firm;
make key management decisions; and
justify expenditures for marketing resources.
essential element of any CRM software is ease of use. End
users are often of different ages, backgrounds, and skill
levels with technology. The CRM software chosen must be
user-friendly yet flexible enough to be customized for the
firm’s long-range plans. It should also have the flexibility
to sync with and build on information already stored in
CRM software must be able to track current clients, future
prospects, and referral sources, as well as make that data
accessible company-wide with appropriate security safeguards.
Leverage for Growth
software should be more than an electronic address book.
A good CRM platform is the central point for leveraging
the relationship intelligence possessed by all members of
a firm. In addition to storing contact information, some
CRM packages, such as ContactEase by Cole Valley (www.colevalley.com),
track myriad details to help increase business and revenue
while reducing time spent on marketing endeavors.
are two avenues to pursue when using CRM software to grow
a firm: increasing business from current clients, and obtaining
new clients. The first step is to understand the firm’s
current clients; their additional needs, and how their satisfaction
and service can be improved. Once input is complete, the
firm can evaluate the type and volume of work done for any
given client—a snapshot of current and prior work.
That information can then be analyzed to determine options
for providing additional services.
information about clients and prospects should be tracked
as well, including clients’ interests and hobbies.
Keeping track of birthdays, expectant mothers, and who is
caring for an elderly parent helps staff remember to make
appropriate inquiries of interest about personal situations
when speaking or meeting with that client.
all contact with clients is tracked in the database, a tab
or section will show a user what everyone in the firm has
done regarding a specific client. If a holiday card was
sent, that should be noted. If a survey was sent, responses
should be tracked. If a partner has had lunch with that
client, that should be tracked as well. The text of e-mail
sent to a client should be accessible through the CRM file,
and so on.
system can provide accurate background information to facilitate
account-staff turnovers and other transitions. When bringing
a staff accountant up to date, tracking the entire history
of the client is vital. Any staff member can be brought
up to speed without a briefing from those who have previously
assisted that customer.
CRM software can help the marketing department track metrics
on all aspects of the individuals and companies in the database.
For example, running analysis on a client’s geographical
location can pinpoint areas to pursue. Entire marketing
strategies can be defined through the metrics extrapolated
by the software.
can lead to increased efficiency, effectiveness, and reliability
of information when sending out newsletters, tax alerts,
and other mailings. Instead of needing weeks to prepare
for a prospect mailing, CRM software can compile and track
all mailing lists, saving time and money. Following through
by tracking potential leads or new business resulting from
mailings in the database provides an advantage to the firm
on competitive intelligence and gives guidance for the next
round of marketing.
about new business that results from a referral should be
tracked as well. The entire firm then knows not only which
client is affiliated with which partner, but also which
banker or which attorney. The firm should also track incoming
recommendations, so that business can be referred back and
the firm can maintain a mutually beneficial relationship
with other professionals.
CRM software allows for modifications that will enhance
the pursuit of business. The firm’s IT specialists
should modify the software or create new processes for updating
information in the database. For example, e-mail requests
that include a link to the CRM database can be sent out
to clients, allowing the recipient to type in responses
to questions correlating to certain information in their
files, essentially updating their own information. This
improves data quality because it limits the chance of errors
on the part of the firm.
J. Boyle is director of marketing at Moody, Famiglietti
& Andronico, LLP (www.mfa-cpa.com),
a regional accounting and consulting firm based in North Andover,