Top Five Takeaways from AAM Emerge 2021: Reimagining the Client Experience

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I had the pleasure of participating in the Emerge 2021 conference presented by the Association for Accounting Marketing (AAM). The event’s thoughtful combination of live studio recordings, prerecorded sessions, break-out rooms, quality content, and its fantastic host, Ace Callwood, made for one of the best virtual events I’ve ever attended.

Emerge 2021 covered a wide range of topics, including many ways in which client experience is evolving. Here are my Top Five takeaways from the event.

1. Employee Experience is Where Client Experience Is Won (or Lost)

Promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) within your firm is critical to the quality of both the employee and client experience. Working in a safe and respectful work environment, your employees are more likely to reflect those same values when serving clients. In a DEI-aware organization, even small interactions — answering the phone, responding to email, scheduling client meetings — become more inclusive and respectful of the diverse clients your firm serves.

To truly build a DEI-friendly work environment, you must listen to and understand different points of view. Savvy accounting firms are accomplishing this through a number of tactics, including reverse mentoring, where junior employees provide senior employees with fresh perspectives. Others have developed formal DEI programs to further promote change and set measurable targets.

2. Data-Based Insights Are Critical to Client Experience

Firms collect an exorbitant and often overwhelming amount of data; however, when leveraged and structured correctly, firms can use this data to create truly impactful experiences. Accounting firms can review key performance indicators (KPIs) such as CSAT scores or process-specific metrics to improve service delivery. For example, data related to the invoice payment process can indicate the level of client satisfaction. Similarly, click-rate metrics can help your marketing team better understand and improve campaign performance.

To properly manage KPIs and metrics, you must invest in a CRM that’s customized for the way your teams operate. Using a CRM purpose-built for accounting firms, you’ll be able to centralize data and easily identify trends within your dashboards. By measuring these datapoints, you can see where your firm is succeeding and where it needs to improve.

Make sure not to overanalyze your data. Set a monthly or quarterly cadence to review KPIs and know what metrics are most important to the processes that drive client experience. Consider consulting with your marketing team, as they often have key insights into the way your clients interact with the firm.

3. Automation Technology Promotes Higher-Value Work

Although the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the adoption of automation tools, the need to implement this technology was already apparent to many firm leaders. Firms that leverage applied AI and automation tools — including robotic process automation (RPA) — to reduce the burden on their employees and clients almost always gain a competitive advantage. Automation technology lets professionals spend less time entering contacts into a CRM or updating invoices in a financial management system, instead helping them focus on value-driven client work.

Technology providers are constantly innovating automation solutions, so be sure to work closely with your IT team to review which tools will best meet your firm’s current and future needs. Investigate how each automation solution will give time back to your busy teams and allow them to focus on improving the client experience.

4. Leadership Buy-In Influences Client Experience Programs

During Emerge 2021, numerous presenters discussed how leadership buy-in is an essential component of successfully implementing client experience initiatives. Having the right data and marketing capabilities can provide a catalyst to improving the client experience, but firms can’t move forward with any changes or new initiatives without the support of their leaders. Accounting firms must, therefore, ensure their leaders are aligned with any client experience initiatives and that they will serve as champions for these initiatives both internally and externally.

5. Integration with Key Systems is Core to Client Experience

Because accounting firms often leverage many different systems and processes, it’s critical to map an integration plan to ensure everything runs smoothly. Firms must identify the touch points they want to connect with the customer experience, as well as the ways in which they will integrate external survey data. Firms need to connect webinar information from tools such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams to their CRM, and determine what data from financial systems should be available to practitioners in the CRM.

Integrating data, systems, and processes creates a better and more connected experience for both your employees and clients. However, developing a successful integration plan requires upfront planning and architecture modeling. Investing in a purpose-built CRM for accounting firms will let you easily organize information and workflows, and ultimately drive better outcomes and experiences for your clients.

Intapp is proud to offer CRM for accounting firms that features deep relationship and experience intelligence. You’ll be able to develop key-client plans, identify new business opportunities, and effectively deliver events and marketing campaigns.

Intapp is thankful to AAM for the opportunity to sponsor and participate in Emerge 2021. If your firm is interested in learning more about our zero-entry capture, dashboard-first marketing and business development CRM solution, please schedule a demo.

Written by:

Joe Pensa

Practice Group Leader for OnePlace Marketing & Business Development, Accounting and Consulting

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