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How Munro & Partners introduced more proactive client communications by automating them
Nobody likes to be chased! Discover how Munro & Partners introduced more proactive communications with their clients
Nobody likes to be chased.
Especially when it's the client chasing you (their accountant) for updates on their various different jobs.
It creates additional pressure for you and your team, and also leaves the client feeling like they're not quite getting the experience they should.
As part of our #learnfromyourpeers series, we recently caught up with David Munro from Munro & Partners to learn how he's introduced more proactive communications with his clients by automating them.
You can read or watch the interview below.
Tell us about yourself
Hi, I'm David Munro. I run Munro and Partners, an accounting firm based in Farnham, Surrey. We are a team of five and we advertise ourselves as specialists in three areas, which is professional services, the creatives, and on software development, basically software companies.
How important do you think proactive communication is with your clients?
Well, it makes a huge difference. It's really, really important and possibly more important in terms of the impression that you're giving your clients. Because there's so many people who come to me as prospects saying, that the problem is that they just have an accountant who's reactive to all the situations. And I know that's a difficult thing because everyone's busy, but Pixie does help you to plan that sort of process. So you are scheduling in that saying, "Please let us know where things are" well before those things are too late. And before they are asking you, you're asking them. So, that makes a big difference. People feel then that you are thinking about them and that you care.
How have you implemented more proactive communication with your clients?
Probably the first thing that really worked, and it was a great success was setting up schedules for VAT returns. So before Pixie, VAT returns were happening right on the last moment, on the seventh of the month after the quarter or the month after the month of the quarter. And it was stressful, both for our team, as well as being just not great for anyone really. And so we started sending out emails on automated emails, on schedule in Pixie, saying basically, please, because we have quite a lot of clients who are doing their own bookkeeping, we then will test that and run the VAT return for them. And so we would send these emails out on the first day after the quarter. So it's like really early and say, "Please, we've got to the end of the quarter, please, can you get on top of your bookkeeping by the 10th or 12th of this month and our VAT person will be in to do your VAT returns and should have it done between 14th and the 21st."
So, the great news is that straight away that actually worked. And I was quite surprised because I thought, people are people. But we actually, most times we get our clients VAT returns in two to three weeks before the deadline, which was fantastic.
Second thing that's been working well is I have certain clients that have an email that goes out two months before their year end that says, "We're coming to the end of your year end, if you're happy, if you want to, schedule an appointment here, there's my calendar link. They can make a meeting appointment with me and we can discuss what's coming in the next two months. So that if there are decisions that need to be made, they are made before it's too late, rather than after."
And I'm finding more and more. I do that, the more people are appreciating the value in our relationship. Plus, we are getting to a position where, by the end of the year, the accounts are already in quite a good state. So that then going to do year end accounts and corporation tax returns and self-assessment tax returns in many cases, that process is starting to become easier and earlier. So, that's really good.
What has been the response to using automated emails with your clients?
Well, interestingly, kind of the opposite has happened in that because they come out looking like a normal email people have thought that they are just a standard email. They don't come out looking like a newsletter or as something that's just generic. And people have actually been responding to them quite well. And they appreciate that. The kind of interesting bit there is, during the whole COVID thing, I was sending out newsletters and I actually had to deliberately send them out from MailChimp so that people would know it's a newsletter. Whereas if I sent it through Pixie, I would probably get all these people thinking, "Oh, this is great. Dave's talking to me and I'm going to respond." So I would have had far too many interactions, more than I really anticipated or would have wanted.
So it's interesting. It works really, really well. You can create these emails to look exactly how you want it to look. And if you want to individualise it, you can. So for example, you can have a template where there's a particular email for that return, for example, that is kind of generic for all of your clients for that. However, you might have certain special clients where you need to change that email a little bit and you can create a different template for them. So it's really, really flexible. I love the way Pixie is so flexible and you're able to kind of adjust to what your clients need and what you need.
Do you want to learn how Pixie has helped Munro & Partners to standardise and scale up their firm?
We were looking for a way to build more automation into our systems and processes to scale up the business without becoming too heavy on staffing.