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How To Automate Your Client Journey

As an adviser and a business owner, automation is one of the best ways for you to streamline your work and create a scalable practice. Automation can take a significant weight off your shoulders by:

  • Saving time
  • Helping with quality control
  • Reducing the stress that comes with figuring out what’s next
  • Setting expectations for your client services
  • Providing clarity to you and your team
  • Increasing productivity

Unfortunately, it’s not always easy for advisers to start automating their businesses—there are so many automation options out there, and it’s easy to get overwhelmed or not follow through. That’s why I’ve put together this guide that outlines how to get started and find automation success.

What Should You Automate in Your Business?

Are you wondering what to automate in your business? You can comfortably automate many different elements of your business, and it can be tough to decide where to start. I recommend that you kick off your automation journey in two key categories of your work:

  1. Technology
  2. Processes

It’s easiest to start your automation process here, then expand later on to automating specific elements of your business—like marketing, admin and more.

Leverage Your CRM

When you’re building out your workflows in your CRM, there are a few questions to think about:

  1. What is the goal of each workflow? For example, a prospect’s workflow goal is to walk them through the sales process and ultimately convert them to a new client.
  2. What are the steps you take in each workflow from start to finish?
  3. How can you identify the additional resources needed to complete each step? (Think: email templates, meeting agendas, financial plan templates, data gathering resources)
  4. Which team member will take ownership of each step in a workflow?
  5. What is your timeline for each workflow?
  6. Remember, every time you launch a workflow, you aren’t only getting a repeatable checklist, but a timeline on when to complete each step.

Integrate Your Tech Stack

Your next step is to analyze integrations that are available to your firm from each tech vendor on your list. When you integrate your tech, you’re finding ways for different systems to “talk” to each other and streamline your processes. One of your biggest tech integration tools is going to be Zapier. Zapier is an integration device that helps different systems “talk” to each other, when they otherwise wouldn’t.

Most common zaps to set up in Zapier are:

  1. Calendly (Meeting Scheduled) -> Wealthbox (Find or Create Contact) / (New Event)
  2. Precise FP (New Client/Prospect) -> Redtail (Create New Opportunity)
  3. Precise FP (New Engagement Complete -> Wealthbox (Start Workflow)

Look for overlap in features for each tech vendor. When you start to see different systems that overlap or consistently perform the same roles in your workflows, you can start to cut costs.

Your next step is to find the gaps in your current tech stack. Are there activities being done manually by your team that a tech solution could automate?

Remember, before you start looking for new tech to meet an integration gap, be sure to think about the impact it makes on your client experience and what makes sense for your team.

Monitor and Adjust

After you complete the steps above, it’s time to walk through your new automated processes! I typically recommend either walking through your processes as you onboard new clients, or taking the time to walk through them without a client with your whole team to make sure everyone is up to speed.

Once you’ve walked through your processes, you’re ready to start implementing in your day-to-day. However, no process is ever truly “complete.” Make sure to set up a time to do regular process audits—either annually or semiannually. During these audits, you can determine what’s working, what’s not, and how you can continue to elevate your client experience.

Charesse Hagan

Charesse Hagan helps financial planners work smarter, grow their firms and offer exceptional services to their clients. She holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration and is an operations consultant at Charesse J. Hagan, LLC, and an FPA Coaches Corner coach for technology and operations. Find more resources from Hagan here.


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Top Ten Tips to Implement CRM

Everyone would like to maximize the use of their customer relationship management (CRM) software to reduce the workload, track the progress on servicing and sales and ensure staff is productive. The best way to maximize the use of any CRM is to implement it properly from day 1. Here are our top ten recommendations to successfully implement and maximize the use of your CRM.

  1. Plan the migration. Plan out the migration of data into new CRM thoroughly with the vendor. Know which data is moving, where it is moving to (what fields), when it will move and how long you should allocate for auditing and cleaning up the data. There is nothing worse than being surprised at how long it takes to migrate, to find out data is missing months after you moved to the new CRM or that data was placed in the wrong fields.
  1. Map out integrations. List the types of software that you want to integrate with your CRM to reduce data entry. Examples of types of software could be: form filling, financial planning, email, dictation, custodian AUM data feeds, portfolio accounting system, client portal, robo, online questionnaire, document storage and more. Then ask your CRM and other software vendors if the specific types of integrations exist, how they work to save you time and what are the implementation steps.
  1. Assign only one cook. Assign one staff person to implement and maintain the CRM. Too many cooks in the kitchen causes a huge mess within a CRM. Having one project manager will control the quality and integrity of the data.
  1. Sell, sell and sell. Before implementing the CRM, someone on your team needs to champion the change and sell the benefits to the staff. Change is difficult so staff need to be shown the benefits. Utilize the vendor to sell the system. Utilize a staff person to also show and sell it (use a demo license to show it to other staff). And send a few emails listing all the benefits of the new CRM BEFORE you implement the software.
  1. Categorize. Categorize all your contacts in the old CRM before migrating to a new CRM. Any CRM will allow you to pull up a report of all contacts within a certain category; this ability makes cleanup and use of the data 10 times faster.
  1. Merge, merge, merge. Create mail merge and email templates for all the documents and emails you send out frequently. There is no need to waste time typing in names, addresses or creating the same message repeatedly, from scratch.
  1. KISS (keep it simple). When you build out your drop down lists for fields, keep the number of items to a minimum. The more choices you provide in a drop down list, the less likely your staff will take the time to choose the right item.
  1. Flows are key. Create at least two to three workflows immediately. Building custom workflows is a long process and an art, not a science. By building a few workflows immediately, such as opening a new account, you will get comfortable with building workflows quickly. This is important as workflows are the biggest time saver. They identify your bottlenecks and eliminate wasted time spent on communicating or tracking a repeatable set of tasks.
  1. Limbo land. There is a time period between using the old and new CRM—we call this limbo land. You will want to communicate a policy for where to document contact changes, new additions, task changes, new tasks and so forth while in limbo land. Any change or new item should not be placed in the old CRM after the data is backed up and sent to the new CRM. And you do NOT want staff adding changes and new items to the new CRM until the project manager has audited the data and confirmed it doesn’t need to erased and migrated again.
  1. Sell, sell and sell. After implementing the CRM, provide best practices training every few weeks for at least two months to continue selling the benefits of the CRM. Allow the staff to share tips they have learned and have the project manager or champion train everyone on the proper use and shortcuts within the CRM.

Planning the implementation of the new CRM, or any new software, is the hard work. If the planning is done properly, the implementation and adoption is easier and produces a greater ROI and high adoption.

Jennifer Goldman

 

Jennifer Goldman
Founder
My Virtual COO
Boston, MA

Editor’s Note: FPA members receive a $500 member discount on a My Virtual COO consulting engagement. You can find more information here