This episode is sponsored by Liscio. Learn more at https://liscio.me/

 

Episode Summary

Liscio joins the DM Disruption! Join Dawn as she chats with Chris Farrell, the CEO of Liscio, and Alison Ball, the Director of Marketing and Influencer Strategy at Liscio.

In this episode, you’ll learn the importance of maintaining proper cyber security in your firm, how Liscio can be the sole communication hub for your clients, and what new features are being released soon!

Listen now to learn why Dawn uses Liscio in her firm, and how their software can save both you and your client time!

 

Episode Notes

Why Security Needs to be Automatic

Chris, Alison, and Dawn start their conversation by noting how important it is to keep your firm’s data secure. Alison notes that many cyber attacks are now hitting smaller firms and that it’s crucial that everyone practices proper security measures.

Chris notes that many firms leave clients’ EIN or Social Security numbers in their inboxes, and that can lead to a leak of your client’s data. Alison adds that implementing security measures needs to be automatic; if it’s too hard to put into practice or too inconvenient people will not do it.

 

How Liscio Keeps Communication Clear

Dawn expresses her admiration for Lisicio and says she loves how all of your client’s data can be found in one place. Not only that, but in case she is out of the office, her team members can easily access each client’s string of data without needing her to forward any emails or text messages. Dawn even shares a story about how much time she saved by adding all of her clients to the Liscio app.

Chris joins in and says he wanted to create Liscio for every sized firm. They don’t charge by the client, they are fairly priced, and they are easily accessible for clients and firm owners.

 

Why You Should Separate Your CRM from Your Project Management Software

Alison also notes that having all your clients on a separate CRM platform can be very beneficial. It can take a long time to get all your clients to start using certain software, and having to switch them to a new application can take even more time. If you utilize Liscio, you can change your project management software as often as you like without disrupting your client’s relationship.

 

How Liscio Can Save You Time

Chris talks about how Liscio can save you time, especially while you are on vacation. Many practitioners find it difficult to turn their email off during vacation because they need to forward certain clients’ information to their team members. With Liscio, all of your team members have access to each client’s data, which allows them to access any information they need without emailing for support.

Dawn says she appreciates how Liscio functions like “texting” but she doesn’t have to give her clients her personal phone number. She appreciates the ability to be able to close the app when she is out of the office, and it saves her time from answering “quick questions” when she takes time off.

 

Learn more about Liscio: https://liscio.me/

 

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Transcript:

Dawn Brolin
Hi everyone, my name is Dawn Brolin, I’m a Certified Public Accountant, Certified Fraud Examiner, a president of powerful accounting, Inc, and the author of the Designated Motivator for Accounting Professionals. I’m here today to talk to you about one of my favorite new application implementations. And that’s with Liscio. We were finding that we were chasing clients and wasting a lot of administrative time chasing them for documents for information for answers to questions as we’re going through tax season. And we found that we’ve really could be working a lot less hours if we could solve for that pain point. So we found Liscio. And because of implementing liscio, we were able to save hours of time every single week, chasing clients, not only wasn’t the time that we were spending, but it was the frustration of trying to get in touch with them. And for them to securely send us documents and information so we could prepare their tax return in a timely fashion. No more picking up and putting down tax returns, because we don’t have everything we need. What I love is that it’s one central place for us that all of us in our firm can see all of the communications, whether it’s via text, or email, or a document that we’re looking for anyone in the firm can go grab that document or that communication and know exactly what’s going on with that client at all times. What’s even better about it is that it does integrate with our project management and workflow solution, as well as our accounting software. So we’re entering contact information for our clients in one place and pushing it out to other other solutions that we use. And I find that application integration is critical. But being able to save us that time, so that I can be on the ball field coaching in the spring, or whatever else it may be being with my kids, whatever it may be. But we found that we were being so unproductive, doing that administrative chasing that we were just like it’s not the clients fault, it’s our fault, we have to offer them a solution that’s going to work for them. And what we found with as we were implementing Liscio with our clients, the best feedback we would get in this was almost every single client was wow, that was easy. And that’s what we need it to be in order for our clients will get us what we need. And it’s got to be secure. We need cloud to cloud secure document exchange and secure communications. We no longer give out our personal cell phones, which is awesome. I don’t want to hear from a client at midnight. If I happen to hear from them through my liscio app, then that’s cool. Maybe I respond, maybe I don’t, but it gives me that flexibility and that time of peace and quiet when I’m not in the office. So I’m telling you go out, get yourself a demo of Liscio, implement it for your business so you have a successful upcoming 2021, 2022, 2023 and beyond tax season. Thank you so much for listening. And I wish you the best as you move forward.

Well, hello everybody and welcome back to the DM Disruption. My name is Dawn Brolin. I’m a CPA and a Certified Fraud Examiner. And I just want to help you and your firms have a better experience and or whether it’s busy season, not busy season, how about just daily, maybe we could have just a great experience daily. And so who better to bring to the DEM disruption if we want to talk about experiences and client experiences, then listen to themselves Chris Farrel and Alison ball two of my favorite people ever. If anyone’s ever had a conversation with me, you can say sorry, Chris. But I think really Allison is probably the favorite person of the year when it comes to the accounting profession. And it doesn’t mean that you’re any worse. She’s just unbelievable. So I want to thank you guys for taking some time with me because I know Lucio is out there kicking butt. And I want to we want to hear all about it. Talk about some great examples that we’ve been experiencing ourselves here at powerful accounting. And so welcome. Welcome, and thanks for coming, Chris. Hello.

Chris Farrell
Hello, Dawn. How you doing? Good to see you again.

Dawn Brolin
Yes. Great to see ya.

Alison Ball
Hi, everybody. I’m just so delighted to be here. Two of my favorite people. Chris and Dawn. Dawn you and I go way back. Oh my gosh.

Dawn Brolin
Like way back. We have so many conversations. We were at ‘Appy camp, and the conversations around which was nice to be able to sit down and just have some time together and be able to just kind of really visit for real and not like crazy conference running by saying hello to people like on the fly. We’re actually able to talk to each other. And you were a major topic of conversation throughout the weekend.

Alison Ball
Oh, yeah, yeah, we really, we really had a tough call there because I was a speaker in Calgary, right, a different conference. And so it was kind of like couldn’t you know, yeah, yeah. So I had serious case of FOMO seeing seeing you guys on social. Yeah, we had a lot of liscio users there, there were a lot of people who use liscio in their firms. And so that was kind of interesting. I was like, you know, I wonder what the conversation was right? You know, about Lisicio?

Dawn Brolin
Well, it was positive, I can tell you that and really understanding that concept of the integrations, and certainly security is so gotta be in the forefront. And a lot of people are still forgetting that Chris, you were gonna say something I want, I want to let you say what you have to say. And then we’re going to just rip it.

Chris Farrell
Rip it. Let’s just get right into it.

Dawn Brolin
Yeah. So that’s a great segue. Because the conference, a lot of conversations were around that client experience and the security of exchanging information, which I think people’s information is more valuable now than it’s ever been before. And people are taking it, they will take it whenever they can. I’m cautious about it. Just as matter of fact, I had a colleague was a client actually out of out of Rhode Island. And she was I said to her, Hey, I need to, we need some documents. You got audited, we got to deal with this. She goes Well, right now I’m in the middle of solving for a problem. I got, I got side angled by some scam, she got scammed, and to the tune of $85,000. Oh, so she was like, I really can’t think about that right now. And I said, Well, you kind of need to because you owe 30 grand after the audit. So now you’re at 115. So we might want to talk. But that’s really important, right?

Alison Ball
Heartbreaking, heartbreaking and serious, serious cash, and they’re going after the small firms now. And, and, and business email compromise, I think is the big one. That’s the one you got to worry about. Right? As a practitioner.

Dawn Brolin
Yep. So Chris, that’s, that’s one of the things that I find for myself, as we’re trying to educate our clients to at the same time, you know, for them, it’s not at the front of their mind till it till something like this happens. And so to educate them to understand that, not just with us, you should never be emailing your stuff to us period. I don’t care if they’re if the social security number is masked, there’s enough information on an insurance document, a W 2, obviously, or any of these other things that even just those last four are those socials, addresses, maybe where you bank or whatever appears there. And that becomes gold to those people who are stealing it.

Chris Farrell
We don’t meet anybody to be honest, who when we asked them how many social security numbers or how many ein do you have in your email? Right? It doesn’t say too many. Right, everybody’s done. I think it’s probably one of the big, you know, dirty, not so secrets probably in the profession. Right. And what’s interesting about it is, you know, the IRS education, I’m super glad you’re talking about this, because you know, and you’ve seen it and too many people get impacted their businesses. And even their, you know, their peace of mind, right? When somebody’s been in stealing from you. It’s like somebody’s in your house, right? But what’s even worse is in your house with your client. And you know, that that part’s actually frightening. But we look at what’s been happening, whether it’s the NIST or the IRS, right, you have all these bodies, the AICPA? Everybody’s been talking about this for how long? A decade? Yeah, the problem is this. Probably more right. Yeah, probably more doesn’t for at least a decade. And every year, it gets worse, right? It used to be big firms, that’s middle size firms. Now it’s everybody, everybody gets a dose because you can get a Bitcoin or two out of it pretty effectively. And it’s become big business. Right? So, you know, we can get as a consumers, we can get any little thing a cat food shipped to our home, inside 24 hours services everywhere, right? Because businesses are figured out to scale. These criminal organizations are no different. Right? This guy’s for Bitcoin, just like we can get a small package. That is just amazing, right? Yeah. And that’s happening left and right. And unfortunately, we hear a lot of it because a lot of people come to us say, hey, look, I’m client experience means security. They become synonymous. Right? We’re talking about how to do this little differently. And I think that’s, we obviously want to get to everybody before that happens. Sure. But yeah,

Dawn Brolin
Yeah, we want preventive maintenance if we can, right, Allison?

Alison Ball
Yeah, security’s got to be you know, in addition to what Chris has said, security’s got to be automatic, right. And it’s got to be easy. And so, I everyone out there, all of the practitioners that I talk to, they all have secure systems. But the problem is, is that there’s such a, there’s so difficult to use, right? Like, and who stops who even knows how to encrypt an email? Like you do, but does your client, your clients, your clients? That’s not enough, right, but do your clients know how to encrypt an email so it’s like, like, you start putting these barriers in so when you make it sort of as easy seamless, and, and and part of your day like you think about like an online banking app, right? How easy did the banks make it for us to have security and ease and on the go all in one, and would anybody bank at a bank now that didn’t have now like, you’d be like, Oh, I don’t think so. I’m not using that bank. I’m not using it. No.

Chris Farrell
I see the billboard now, bank with us over email.

Alison Ball
Or fake with us only in person. Right? Yeah. All you have to come here. Bring bring us your bring us your checks. Yes, your

Dawn Brolin
Deposit slip, I’m bringing it. Yes. And it’s like, well, it’s so funny too, because the clients, I think, and one of the things I find interesting with with with us, as practitioners, we want the ease of use, I want the ease of having an app that my clients can communicate with me. And sometimes I’m just like, I just want to be easy. I don’t, I’m not even thinking the security side around it. We think about it, we just want ease of use. But that’s the mistake we make. That’s a mistake, because we’re not putting the real priority in front of it. Now, we love that product. We love that client experience. We want it to be easy for them. But we have to, for our side of it, it has to be secure. And so I mean, if I never could go to have to go to an email again, I would be in heaven. I could just never be an email again. And I I can’t wait for that to actually happen when we get rid of email. And we’re communicating the way we should be, which is more direct, like you said, and I was, you know, kind of prefacing a little bit earlier about my experience with this client who I’ve had since 2011. She’s a phenomenal client when it comes to paying. Like she’s at the top. She’s the number one client in our firm when it comes to baby number two, one and two, when it comes to paying their bill never complains. But I can’t get stinking anything from her. I can’t get her to respond. I’m like, I’ll text you historically, I would text her. Help me help you. Hey, I really need that document. Hey, and I was it was a real struggle for us, I think primarily because, you know, in every client’s so different for her. We couldn’t get her to upload to SmartVault, we couldn’t get her to get her documents in she could wouldn’t. She’s not doing it. And so we were just so frustrated, but we weren’t frustrated with her. We were frustrated the process. So we knew we had to do something different. And until liscio came along, I was like, I’m just gonna drive to her house. I’m doing drive bys. She’s in the parking lot. I’m gonna go in and get what I need. It was almost at that point. And then we put her on Liscio. And this is how I explained it to her, which I think is a really great tip for people who are maybe struggling getting clients to, to, you know, jump on board and buy in, which it’s just because they’re humans. But I said, Lisa, I’m going to put this on your phone. And this app is called Liscio. I bought liscio I’m subscribing but I tell her it’s my app. It is Dawn Brolin. Why did I call it Liscio none of your business is called Licio. Put the thing on your phone. And then when you get in the look, turn on leave your alerts on for the app. And when you see an alert on your phone from this app, put it on your homepage, you think, you know it’s coming from me that means I need you. And when we did that with her, it has been night and day with her tax season was smoother because of it. We were able to message through the app. And it was funny because she’s got five or six entities that she running. She’s running three ice rinks, a racing horse company, she owns two rental properties. She also like a coach, she’s a she doesn’t 7 million things. So I’m able to go into her profile. And when I’m in Liscio, I can go Lisa, Lisa, blah, blah, blah, Lisa. And then I can pick which account we’re talking about. We’re talking about the race horse, I need a copy of the printout from companion or whatever the app, the thing is, they used to track the revenue and whatever, I need this report. So she can go into that, that task or the message or whatever, and be like, bang, here you go. Now it’s in the files. Yeah. And the best part is it’s a scanner as well. And we’ve I’ve talked that about the I would say it’s not even the it’s not the client experiences the professionals experience when they get a PDF of the 2048 coming back to you and not a JPEG. That’s usually blurry and the IRS doesn’t accept it. Like, those are the things that sometimes we that’s an example of where I love the convenience. And the in the client experience I get I get responses from her right away. Right, yeah.

Alison Ball
And it’s organized so that your team can actually go in and collaborate on her documents and put them where they need to be for your back end systems or what have you. But and also the team can see the whole string of all the communication. So if you’re out of the office, you know, Tracy or Nicole can pick up and you know…

Dawn Brolin
Yeah, and it’s perfect. So like, obviously, as we’re all so busy and in the fall especially super busy with conferences. I’m not here a lot, but I want my clients to get the answers they need at any time. Right. So from a second hear the perspective, that’s awesome. And I think, I think another great practitioner experience, since I said, security is really important. There’s two letters in that word that will freak anybody out. The SEC. Security was cut off some of those letters, say the SEC. So we have an experience. Right now we have a client who’s a hyper Liscio user. But so we have a client experience now where this is a company that has multiple entities, who was doing quite and this is this, these people came to us late, but they were doing a lot of loans. So they’re taking in investor money, a lot of millions of dollars of investor money, and the SEC caught wind of it. I don’t know how they do that. So he’s now under an SEC investigation. And so we got subpoenaed, and we gave him most of the financial information on the first subpoena, gave that to them. And now they’re like, We want everything. We want all of your communications. And I said to Nicole, I said, Nicole, you know what is awesome. It’s all in Liscio. Every bit of it is in Liscio. So we can just download what we need, throw it on a flash drive along with the financials, and send it off. And then we’re totally covered. Like, we didn’t have to go to Oh, emails, we gotta go find all the emails from him. And then we gotta go over here and find all of this and text messages and all, it’s just all right. And Lucia what? What a way for us to send it to the SEC so that we look professional?

Alison Ball
Because are you gonna are you gonna go also with the bat? You’re gonna go in with the bat.

Dawn Brolin
Always. I’m always got my softball bats right over there. Just I need the I need to be on defense every once in a while. So, you know, but yeah. So I mean, it’s just that these things that I think this message is we don’t think we don’t think forward. Right? We really don’t. We’re always thinking about this moment. And today, which, you know, our philosophy is that isn’t a motivator is what’s important. Now, the when philosophy What is important now, and I get that, and there’s time for that. But there’s also time to reflect and think, Hey, what are we prepared for? What’s coming next, if anyone told you that the pandemic was going to happen, and you needed to be prepared? Would you believe it? No.

Alison Ball
Well, we thought it’d be a couple of weeks, right? When it did have and we were like, Oh, I’ll be home for two weeks, you know, flatten the curve. Yeah.

Dawn Brolin
And that’s, it’s so funny to say that because we were in like, 2020 20, we’re at practice. In we get the news that the seasons shut down. And we go over, we put them on the bleachers. And we have this, we have the diagram that they put up where it was like, we’re here, and we got to, we have to flatten the curve and all this. And the kids were like, Coach, how long do you think we can do? It’s like, what if it’s only a couple of weeks, can we still have a season and like it was this whole unknown thing? But if you look back, and you’re like, if we knew it was gonna last like it has, would you have done something different? So as you’re making decisions on your workflow, so one of your clients, they, they somehow hack into your system and your clients information is compromised? What is showed up coulda too late. And I think from a security perspective, that’s what we miss. We miss that. We’re not thinking about what could happen. And we think about oh, well, it hasn’t happened yet.

Alison Ball
What if that you know of that, you know, that’s the interesting thing that people that I know that have gotten business email compromise, compromise, they figured that those scammers were in there for like, months, like just lurking, watching their patterns.

That’s the thing, Chris?

Chris Farrell
There’s a perception thing we’re talking about here, right? Because everybody knows we’ve all known hey, look, we’ve got those three numbers in our email. Okay, it just kind of how it is right? Right. Or no, hey, we should probably think about maybe using a system where we can work better with the client, or you know, we kind of know these things kind of tangentially, but solving them all together. Like if you wanted to create an online banking app look like big banks, big banks have great apps. Super great. Look, small banks. They don’t have good apps that have good website stuff, right? Yeah. So it’s like, it’s kind of like a hey, look, that sounds great. It sounds totally idealistic and totally impractical. Right? Because I don’t have the money for it. The time for it. I’m busy. Right? I think, you know, I spent 12 years in accounting. And I think the work ethic is always I’m gonna get through it. I’m gonna pound my way through it. I’m gonna keep working, keep working, keep working. And it’s really, really hard to like, pick up, you know, the eye, you know, the perspective, if you will, and say, I should actually do this, and maybe it won’t be as hard as I think it might be. Right. I think what we try to do is, you know, the price has to be incredible, right? Like super inexpensive. The service has to be impeccable. We’ll do you know as much as we can for you, make sure you’re successful. And ask the dead simple for the clients so we can still keep on working. right not have to get totally distracted. Right? It has to be approachable. And I think that’s probably the biggest gift is I think we think about what the world where the world is today versus even just a couple of years ago, the way SAS software is delivered, we can make the price point super amazing for even the smallest companies like nobody’s priced out. And nobody’s under serviced. Right, I think that’s really that was the key insight we had, you know, a couple of years ago is like, look, accounting profession, we know, we know, these people, we love these people, we know these people, you know, we come from, you know, this group, it has to be a kind of a $40 a month kind of price point, right? Yeah.

Alison Ball
And, and not by client either, like, you can’t charge by client, because what ends up happening is it ends up getting just really massive. And the other thing, the other thing I think is don’t try to find one system for your, for your clients, and for your staff back end like that. The front end, that’s what the banks did. That’s what they created something really awesome for us to use. But the banks use a totally different system on the back end to manage things, and it’s probably really ugly. Like we wouldn’t, we wouldn’t, as mere mortals be able to work with that system. Right? Like, right. So your practice management stuff should be separate from your, from your clients stuff. And if it’s not, the problem is like hurt. Heather, Heather Satterlee said this a while back, she said, you know, the practice management suites always, they think a certain way. And they and they, they they create, like, they want you to do your workflow in a certain way. And maybe you want to do it differently. And then you decide, oh, I don’t want to do it this way. And then you go for a different system, you’d have to change all your clients again, right? So keeping them on something like Liscio is like, we don’t care if the banks change their back end system, they’re probably changing them every few years, right? Or upgrading them doing what have you, right. But it doesn’t affect us as consumers, right? It doesn’t affect us as customers. And so that’s kind of the philosophy, I think of having a separate, really affordable solution for your clients, that your team also gets a lot of benefits from, right, but not tying it to your sort of like your soup to nuts entire workflow, because your clients aren’t involved in most of that stuff. Right?

Dawn Brolin
Right, exactly. And I think that’s one of the pieces where we don’t we typically think the opposite exactly what you’re just saying, but realizing why not have it for best best of breed for both the client and your firm. And you’re so right about how practice management works. Because it’s, what you need to do internally is very different than the way you need to, you know, communicate and work with a client. But what better than to have both, if you can have both, you’ve got your practice management, and you have the ability for Liscio to update Karbon in which we use Karbon. So I’ll just throw that out there that we do. So liscio, working with Karbon is an awesome way for us to only enter data about the client in one spot, which is liscio. And let liscio push it to Karbon, let Liscio push it to my accounting, you know, QBO, because we just use it for everything so that from a firm functionality, perspective is seamless. And we’re not having we’re not having to enter in three places, which is what we would have had to do. So now we’re entering it in one and it ends up in three. And so that’s really important to me, but I just look at it, if you’re trying to evaluate, like what’s happening with that communication with your clients that you are getting it from all of these different places, and I kind of compare it to ADP. So like I’m an ADP user, because it does everything I need. It gives me client insights that I could never get an any other way to analyze payroll, whatever it may be. But what I love about is I’m going one place, I’m going into all of my payroll clients are there. It’s the same thing. I want all of my client communications in one place. I’m all about, listen, I’m getting older. I know you don’t believe that. I’m getting older. So for me to remember, oh, this person only uses email, oh, this person just text me, oh, this person does this, this person does something different. They want to call and you’re sitting there going. I just especially Oh my goodness. Okay. blow me away about texting. So let’s just talk about texting for a minute. Right? A lot of people want to text. I love the functionality of texting for my personal life. It’s great. I can communicate with my kids. I can whatever you know, play, you need to get a hold of me. On my private side. I don’t want any text messages coming in from a client ever. I don’t want I don’t take my phone for you to text me while I’m at dinner. So but if I if I see if I get a notification from my firm dash on my phone. Now I can choose whether or not I want to communicate with them. Yeah, you give them that full blown access to you through a text. They’re gonna expect an immediate response. You have to control that right, Chris?

Chris Farrell
Absolutely. I mean, I think you know, nobody wants to use email, right? If you try to email you know, somebody who’s a you know, Um, you know, born sometime, but you know more recently, they’re not going to look at the email, right? They’re gonna text, or they’re gonna use an app. So we have to have the app experience, I think, you know, the world has changed. I think it’s fair to say the number of texts sent per day between important clients. Don’t want to be careful with this, because there’s a lot of volume and email. But the most important conversations we have in our personal lives are happening on text. Most important conversations we’re having are on text. So I think it’s actually a little bit of an honor to be invited by a client to text them means we’re close, right? Yep, means you’re close. They’re not they’re not really getting us to email with all the spam and all the junk, right? That’s a great thing. And why would you ever want to say no, like, hey, no, I don’t want to text you basically say, we’re not close.

Dawn Brolin
Let’s have this client relationship. But yet, you have to really get in touch with me somehow.

Chris Farrell
Yea we’re gonna do this over email. I mean, come on. Right, which I think I could put practitioners puts us all in a really awkward position, right? Because we were service oriented, right? And we’re people oriented. And so I think that that puts a lot of people to buy. And I think that’s precisely why so many, so many people in the profession are texting. I think when we look at it, we say, hey, it doesn’t have to be FHS. There’s a lot of people who are doing things over WhatsApp, for example. But that’s even better. And we start to compartmentalize it to start to be a little more in network. It’s not fully a network, right? We’re moving towards being a network, which is really what people want. How can you bring them in network in the right place? And then give them all the tooling? Because I think when we look at it, we say, okay, yeah, you want to tax but we can’t text, large files, I can’t get a QuickBooks Desktop file on it. We can’t text things to be signed, we can’t text a lot of different things. It’s a second, we say, inside the firm, we’ve got 10 different systems. If we’re using five different systems to communicate with the client. We know we can’t balance a 10 internally that easily. We certainly shouldn’t expect a client to juggle five things to work with us. Okay, we’re gonna tax but now go check this portal or now go check this signature thing are now go check something that blows them up, so they can’t find anything. The second we blow them up, what happens? They start texting us again, hey, can you send me? You know, we have to be thinking like, hey, just like we want to consolidate everything for us, we have to have the same same lens for our clients. And once we do, then we win. Right? Then we have the Bank of America, the chase experience, and then we’re just in the habit of hey, I just go here, for Bank of America, just…

Alison Ball
That one place. It just makes all the difference. Doesn’t that one place? Yeah. And a habit.

Dawn Brolin
You know, it’s, it’s so this is such like, I don’t know, I just love talking to you. And you talk to the two of you for days, really. But think about what’s happening in the industry right now. And that’s really important for people to keep in perspective, the whole com… Ron Baker just did a great conversation at Intuit Tech Summit. Okay. And he talked about where everyone went from hourly pricing. And they even hanged himself at one point, value pricing has been the big conversation, though. I don’t think a lot of people have bought into that a lot. Some have some haven’t, regardless. But he’s he’s at a great place where he says, and I changed the term because I, you know, it’s about me. So he talks about subscription pricing. Okay, now I take a step further. And this is where liscio comes in. Because this is exactly what it is. subscription pricing, to me is like a Hulu account. So I don’t really want to call it that. And I agree with Ron Baker, and even had a conversation with him about it. And I want to make sure that I hashtag this and that I can this right, I have to trademark this because I want to win is relationship pricing. That’s what we’re doing. There you go. Subscription. There you go. Right. Right. You shouldn’t hit pricing. And I am Allison just launched relationship pricing. Tomorrow will be the firt. Well, I I had a couple people for October. But I’ve got four clients who are some have been at the $9,000 a year billing, jump to $18,000 a year because we put them on a relationship because…

Alison Ball
They they’re at but they’re getting more as well. And they’re getting a deeper relationship and the value there is for them because they don’t have to worry about picking up the phone. They know that it’s all included.

Dawn Brolin
And if I have an app like Liscio, they have a direct connection to me. They can’t get me on the phone, but they can message me through Liscio and I can go Yep, those are one of the about the relationship pricing clients. They’re getting first priority. That’s right. And so when we’re talking about having this new way of being a professional of moving forward in our practices, and so I worked really hard with giraffes. They’ve been instrumental in helping me get to this point, which has been great. Just like they’ve like we’re an extension of my firm and even helped me put my webpage together for it like, awesome. But they got me through the process in my brain of understanding what relationship pricing really is. And so if I can see, here’s an app for you, you’re on value pricing, you can get me anytime you need me. And I’m able to fulfill that promise, what if I don’t do that? Let’s step back from it. I’m gonna do relationship pricing. And we’re gonna be that firm for you. And you can call me anytime you want. But email me or text me or call me or leave a note on my door, or however you want to communicate with me now, what am I doing? I’m setting the relationship up for failure. Yeah. Because they’re not going to get me when they want me, they’re not going to get answers as quickly as they could have, because I don’t know where it went.

Alison Ball
And you won’t have the full picture either, you won’t have that full picture of what everybody said to that client and what they said to you and what they sent. And that’s where having that single source, single source of truth single place. And Chris, I think they call it now in larger firms single portal. So it’s like, you know, that one place for the clients to go.

Chris Farrell
There’s patterns here, right, we always looking for patterns. You know, in, in our lives, I think one of the patterns that a lot of firm owners fall in, it’s a firm owner trap. The firm owner trap is I can’t delegate to my staff, the second failure to my staff fully, I don’t have the complete picture. So what do we do? Now the complete picture, firm owners end up getting CC and BCC got everything. And then it got stitched together. Otherwise, you just don’t know what’s happening. I think every look at a different way. Which is a pattern that works, where you can actually get up to date on somebody really fast. We’re gonna go visit some some second cousins we haven’t seen in two years. Where do we go? Right? Go to Facebook, go to Facebook, go to Facebook, scroll down a timeline. Get up to speed. How long does it take you up to speed on two years to scroll through Facebook? Not long. Now you’re ready? How else would you do it? How else would you do it? So what we’re doing let’s see, this is a this is a feature we’re releasing in the next two weeks. But we call it timeline. Okay, in the Liscio timeline is going to have all your client requests, everything they sent you invoices, you sent out messages, everything files, everything is in a timeline. If you want to see the files, you want to see the requests, you can see it in one place. So anybody on the team to Dawn you can be out at the Super Regionals. Right there you’re doing anything. Anybody on your team could scroll through timeline. Hello, hey, yeah, great Dawn’s out right now. But the question, okay, great. And while they’re getting the input from the client, as they’re managing the relationship, they have all the data right there in front of them. Exactly. No handoff, I gotta go call, Dawn. You know, how much do we like getting routed? When we call an airline? Hang on Ron, department, we put you on hold. That’s not a relationship? That’s the pattern that we see that we’re really, really excited about servicing.

Dawn Brolin
And with that, if you think about it, just that what you just described, you can’t get from having a phone with a text, or an email over here, or files over here or whatever, your you’ve got these pieces everywhere. And I think that’s what’s gonna go.

Chris Farrell
What’s gotta go and the way you’re doing it, right? You have the other client, just horse racing and three strikes. Okay, calling in, I got a question about horses. Now, do you want to have to scroll through everything from that person? How many of us have done the search for search for client aid in Google or Microsoft, and you get a laundry list? Everything too much. But he can say I want to target the horse racing business. Now we have a timeline for just worse.

Dawn Brolin
Yes,exactly.

Alison Ball
Pinpoint everybody’s and everybody’s, I think the big thing is everybody’s communications are in there that have had that with that one client. So or about that client? It like everything that’s kind of like, you know, allocated to that, to that account. I can’t see inside Chris’s inbox unless he copies me. And even then, I can’t see everything that happened. That was just between Chris and the client, right? So you can’t man you can’t actually manage relationships based on email. Like, Chris, you gave an analogy, in a meeting we had last week about can you imagine like a customer service organization managing on email? It’d be just a mess or a sales organization managing without their CRM, like it’d be just a total mess. Yeah. And you just couldn’t imagine so why do we do that in the accounting industry, right,

Chris Farrell
Every every other business it’s Kelly’s. It’s really I mean, I love it. It’s just such an amazing part of the world to work in. But if you’re running professional sales team to use Salesforce or something like it right, how many companies are out there do we meet that aren’t using anything?

Dawn Brolin
Very, very few of them are using nothing.

Chris Farrell
And how many people or how many, how many people were just emailing into customer service? And it’s going to somebody’s personal email box or business email? Nobody. It goes to a help desk, right? Wherever we can collaborate. But accounting is this weird this really this really, you know, interesting adolescence? Well, yeah, yeah, we’re in search of that moment. And that’s really, that’s really what it is. So the patterns are super established. We know they work. We know clients adopt them like crazy, right? Because we do everywhere else. But it’s tougher to counter.

Dawn Brolin
Yeah, so definitely. So is that is this timeline, the this big thing that’s happening here? The next couple of weeks, we just kind of talked a little bit prior that there’s what’s happening at Liscio?

Chris Farrell
Absolutely, there’s a bunch of things that are coming out. But I think you know, two things, we’re putting out what’s called time one, which is simply look, while you have to speed up by accounts or by person come here. If you want to actually understand what you need to do we have another page inside of it called in focus. So you can go to a client and see, you know, how many tasks are waiting for for them? How many things have we received for them that we haven’t I mean, documents came out that we haven’t processed yet, how much money do they owe us? How many invoices are outstanding, all that through a single view. So somebody calls up, you can say, hey, I’m looking at your account right now looks like we have two requests waiting for you can go take a look at those for us yada yada, yada. But you will know, at a glance where that class dance mix aligns,

Alison Ball
or any member of your team will know, that’s the cool thing. Any member like so it’s not just you will know. Right? You have a team. Yeah. And they’re and they’re assigned, you know. And then the other thing we have is client service teams. So if you’re worrying that you have just everybody else to see everything you don’t you can assign clients to you can assign people to clients to segregate if you have a really large team. But the thing is, is that you create this visibility, right,

Dawn Brolin
which I love, because like I want Tracee to manage those communications communications as much as possible. I don’t have to so she can go. I’m excited about the timeline. She’s gonna be excited about that, too. Because she’s able to go in and someone calls She’s the face of powerful accounting. Thank God. So you know, if somebody calls, they’re usually calling Tracy. And they’re either looking, did you get this? Or did you get that? Or did this happen? She doesn’t have to be calling me or slacking me or whatever, at any point, because she can go in just look and see what needs to get done. Or yeah, it looks like Dawn sent you the 2048. You didn’t do anything with it.

Chris Farrell
You can take a proper vacation! That’s the whole point. Everyone takes a vacation. If you don’t do this, then we’re dealing with I used to sit at you know, I’d be in this is, you know, sad, but so true. But I think it’s relatable. And go on vacation. You’re sitting, you know, somewhere, great view, your family’s there. And you’re checking emails, you can route things, because I don’t route it right now. Even though I’m on vacation. I don’t router right now, the clients waiting. Right? I wouldn’t feel terrible in six hours when they don’t get service during the business day. Yep, that’s what we do. We became routers, right? That’s, that’s….

Alison Ball
Oh, it makes my head hurt.

Chris Farrell
They’ll come back and they’ll tell us, hey, look, I have control over my business. I can actually take vacations. You still they still we all still have the habit of checking things. But it’s not the same as when I gave Tracy’s out. You’re blind. Right? That’s not the case. Because you can be out. And you can say we got you covered. Tracy, you have a great plan. We’ll see you in a week.

Dawn Brolin
Right? Exactly. So so it’s been really a game changer for us. And for our clients. Like we’re just able to communicate better. And with relationship pricing, the way I look at it is I have to make sure that I have a tool that I can, yes, I can respond to timely anyone can respond to you, we’re all able to stay on top of things because we are shrinking our client base, that’s we want to laser focus a little bit better. So we want to make sure that experience for those that we keep that we did that by the way we decide to keep we’re going to we’re and we’re firing clients right now, as we’re going as we see appropriate, you know, those either those people who are constantly calling and asking the same question 10 times are still haven’t gotten us what we needed. And we still haven’t given them an app to be able to get us things. We’re not doing it anymore. You don’t want to adopt our processes, you don’t want to do the things we’re doing. It’s not going to work, the relationship isn’t there. So we and that’s what we’re establishing, which is really exciting. And if you haven’t gone through that process, it’s something to go through is to be like, You know what, like, we have this one client, this guy, he’s never wants to pay anything for anything. But once all the help in the world, and it’s like, okay, guy, guess what we’re done later? Well, you know, and we were telling them now, so they have a couple months, three months to find another practitioner and tax planning whatever they may need. But in order to have a relationship pricing model, you have to make sure you’re able to cultivate the relationship in a way that’s positive for both of you. And with Licio. You can do that. And I think that that’s really important for people to hear, and most importantly, that it’s secure. But we’ve got to get this we got two components we’re just trying to solve for and we’ve got one app that can solve for both and that’s what we need. Get out of email. You’re out of your mind like I can’t wait worse We’re working towards directing people to the app. And we’re, you know, we’re still trying to help them get over there. But imagine, you know, I think maybe it’ll take another six, maybe another tax season to get them all to be like, Okay. And then I won’t ever have to check email again. And because they’ll call and they go, don’t never respond to my email. Well, yeah, you’re supposed to be in liscio. member, and Oh, okay. And then they send a message, you’re like, Hey, welcome to the party.

Chris Farrell
It’s like, the two things we can do there. I mean, obviously, we integrate with email, too. So you always categorize email, and we’re actually working on one of the big things you’ll get in about 90 days is we’ll pull it in by clients. That’s what works. Audible just like Salesforce does. But where I think you’re going, where I think you’re going is so brilliant, what you’re saying is the right client super matters, right? And you’re changing, you’re changing how you’re working with them to make sure it’s not the right client, the right relationship it matters. We did a survey recently. And, you know, we asked people how important is getting the right client versus any client? You know, neutral sunlight, extremely Guess how many firms responded? This is hundreds first, because my firms responded extremely important.

Dawn Brolin
Half a percentage, obviously.

Chris Farrell
80! I’m saying almost nobody said not important. Almost no, it is somewhat or because I think a lot of volume shops, right, but the volume shops get burned, because people don’t pay or whatever, right. But four out of five, four out of five firm owners are saying it’s extremely important. Just what’s the game that everybody is competing for the best clients. Right? Right. And you’re just saying, I’m moving, I’m moving to relationships, I’m not selling a commodity, I’m not selling a commodity subscription. I want to work with the best people and I want to commit. I’m in on that. Right. So it’s really, really, I think what you’re doing is really,

Dawn Brolin
yeah, what’s great is I don’t have to have right now I have 250 clients, I would like 100. Because I would rather infuse my soul into those clients that want. And I’m just asking them, listen, with one two weeks ago, and I said, Listen, you know what he wanted to ask me some for tax planning, blah, blah, blah, we’re going through the questions. And I said, Listen, this is where we’re at this and I had prefaced the conversations, and we knew we were gonna talk about this. Listen, this is where we’re moving it, this isn’t something that you feel like your company needs right now. It is not a big deal. Let’s get you where you’re going to be the most productive, the most successful. And maybe that’s not with me. And I’m okay with that. I just want you as the business owner, to be successful in whatever way that means to you. And that just for you right now, doesn’t mean you want to talk to me every quarter, and talk about tax planning, help you run your business and all the questions you’ve been asking me on this call. Those types of things, you’re not worried about what I’m charging you, you just call let’s just talk, whatever you need, and call me whenever you need me not worried about whether I’m gonna bill you or not. And he was like, Yeah, I just don’t think I need all that. I said, Awesome. He goes, You don’t as a matter of fact, I’m maybe I’m gonna go local. Maybe I’ll find someone local. I go, that’s awesome. If that’s what you need, then get it? I would rather you do that than to stay with me and be miserable. Like we here’s the here’s what it is. I want to get paid on the first of the month. And I want to pay all of my employees, all two of them, including my Well, three, including me. I want to pay all three of us on the first of the month. Yep. Our bills are paid. We pay all our bills on the first of the month, we can move on. And then guess what we do? We Wow, we sat we Zazzle that’s even a word. We do we do? Are we go 110% to do whatever we need to do for those clients. That’s take a vacation. I don’t care. We don’t care if you’re off three months a year. You’re getting done. I don’t care. Yeah.

Alison Ball
And practitioners can have that we’ve, we’ve, I think I think the biggest thing that I see, when people move to when they when they when they when they get control of their client communications and stop that madness of having a look in so many different places. their personal lives improve. And where did we end somehow we all got the idea that you had to work, you know, 6080 hour weeks and you had to have tax season was you can never do anything extra in tax season. You’re just working, working, working. And really, Chris is Chris and me. I mean I once I once I learned about the problem and really saw the impact of it the knock on effect of it Using all these disparate systems, just the pain, the pain that everybody’s under, we can do something about that. It’s and there is a solution. And it just just requires just thinking a little bit differently about how you work with your clients. And, you know, bringing them into all that one place where, and then everything starts to calm down, and it starts to end you can have you can, you can leave the office at a regular time every day, and you can, you know, take walks during the day, and you can be healthy again, it’s like, it’s just a big deal. It’s really, really a big deal. And you can and then you can move to the relationship that you’re talking about. Yeah.

Chris Farrell
It’s inevitable, everybody’s, it’s all gonna end up here. Just a matter of who’s going to get on the bus when they when did they go choose to get the bus? Because the state of the profession is not sustainable, right? People don’t want to do it forever. People don’t want to join the profession, right? People have been doing all the same way forever. Why? Why are you doing this? Well, it’s how we’ve always done. We know that’s not sustainable. It’s totally unsustainable. It’s the whole point. The whole point of everything I’ll put in putting systems and all this is to make things enjoyable, right? 100% why we do that we should do our jobs make them enjoyable. So anyway, I think this is entirely entirely, you know, inevitable. It doesn’t matter will take another 12 months. 24 months 3640 of I don’t know. Yeah,

Dawn Brolin
I don’t know. I’m not waiting for it. I’m just going you can pay for it. Or you can go for it. And I’m just somebody who’s a go for it. Person.

Alison Ball
Go for it. Absolutely.

Dawn Brolin
Yeah. Any last thoughts? Any last thoughts from you guys?

Alison Ball
Love you pieces. I’m looking forward to seeing you in person again soon.

Dawn Brolin
we’re real excited to you guys and excited excited for the new things that are coming and you guys are always moving forward. And, and I just see, you know, great things for Liscio as we move forward. And hopefully people are smart enough to not get left behind when it comes to you know, having the client experience and in your firm experience. So thank you, Liscio for joining us. Allison, do you have anything you wanted to say?

Alison Ball
No, I was I was just I was yeah, thank you.

Dawn Brolin
Yeah, so thank you. Liscio. And thank you guys for listening to them disruption Dawn Brolin here, and we look forward to seeing you in the next episode. Thanks, everybody. Take care. Bye bye.

 

The right tech stack can really alleviate stress, save time, and maximize your firm’s throughput, but only if you have a clear vision for each solution you are using. There’s a buffet of options out there, that’s for sure, and they all cost either time to implement or money to buy (or both) so it can be stressful to even think about which solutions to use. I get it and I want to help, that’s why I am sharing my softball strategy to help you build a tech stack that works with your firm not against it!

Imagine if hitting a home run when it comes to the profitability of your practice was as easy as watching a ball game. To me, it really is—running a profitable and highly efficient accounting, bookkeeping or tax practice is no different than coaching a softball (or baseball) team. Here’s a brief overview of how you can use softball strategy to knock it out of the park when it comes to your practice productivity and profitability, too. 

You see, in softball, you have positions on your team that you have to fill. In addition, you have players that you need to recruit to fill those positions.  Let’s stick with the defensive side of the game.  You have a pitcher, catcher, first baseman, second baseman, etc. Imagine if hitting a home run when it comes to the profitability of your practice was as easy as watching a ball game. To me, it really is—running a profitable and highly efficient accounting, bookkeeping or tax practice is no different than coaching a softball (or baseball) team. Here’s a brief overview of how you can use softball strategy to knock it out of the park when it comes to your practice productivity and profitability, too. nd baseman, third baseman, shortstop, left fielder, center fielder, and right fielder.

As a coach, you need to know what the positions are and you need to seek the most talented players to fill those positions.  From an accounting, bookkeeping, or tax  practice perspective the game really is no different. You have certain positions to fill in order to run your firm, to create an amazing client experience, and to complete client work.  

Every accounting firm has some positions that are necessary no matter what you provide for services. Then there are the tools you need that are specific to the services you provide. In other words, in order to pick the right software, you need to also accept that no one piece of software is going to solve everything.

Here are the solutions that I have chosen (Click on the name of each one below to get the overview of benefits):

ADP

Bookkeep

Canopy

Fishbowl

Jirav

Liscio

Smartvault

Swizznet

Truly Financial

Veem

However, you really need to choose your own based on your needs and by looking at the solutions and how they align with the problems you are trying to solve. Start by downloading the Team Brolin Starting Lineup Playbook here.

After you complete an After Action Review for your firm post busy season, it’s time to really figure out which of your processes work and which ones might need to be reviewed and improved. 

Below I have broken down all of the key action items you may have once you have completed your AAR and how to prioritize, plan, and progress through each one.  Once you identify and prioritize each item that needs to be worked on, then you need to assign a leader to each task. The best way to get something done, is to make it someone’s job, after all!

Step 1. Assign staff to each area that needs to be improved, and then have them take a deep dive into this specific area of your process, suggesting improvements along the way. Once a new process has been discussed and vetted, it is important to share this with the whole team. When you share this, it’s a good idea to do a dry run before the next busy season hits!

Completing this process right after your busy season (like tax season) is critical. This way, we capture everything when it’s fresh in everyone’s minds and we do something about it before 

We get stuck in a cycle of facing the same problems, challenges and frustrations each year.

Step 2. Identify the topics you want to address. This part of your process often takes the longest. Maybe you have missing documents? Or poor communication between client and firm? Or maybe there are too many places that you have to go to find all your information.

One of the more common things that can lead to late nights and stress is that you get to January 1st and you realize you don’t have the information you need, in order to do the 1099s. If you don’t have all your ducks in a row, it is a hectic scramble and that’s when mistakes are made. Now is the time to determine how you will avoid this!

Another thing that firms are often wrestling with, especially now that we are (mostly) all working remotely, is that data exists in silos.  This happens when data is coming in too many ways.  Plus, if you have data silos, staff have to check too many places for all the relevant information they might need. This causes lots of stress, and lots of wasted time.

All throughout this process, everything needs to be documented to make sure all the new procedures are easy to follow consistently and you can onboard new staff easily when needed.

And of course, the underlying theme with all of this is security – anything you roll out, change, or do in your firm must be secure. So emailing your clients, asking for their W9s won’t fly anymore.

 

Step 3. Look at best practices to solve for the issues you have identified. If you are struggling to solve an issue, it’s a good idea to expand your potential pool of solutions by seeking help from a peer (like me) or a reputable source such as a solution provider.

The first problem we used as a common example is one I can help you solve: your missing W9s. The easy response is to update your year end files as you go. Create a centralized, secure place for all your digital files, this way everything can be easily located while staying safe. I like to use SmartVault for this! Each month, make sure you receive your W9s from each client – Liscio templates make these requests fast and easy as well as giving clients a secure way to send them. Using the QuickBooks Online AP lists as a guide, you can ensure that you have a complete set of documents from each of your clients.

Another issue many firms find themselves wasting time on is getting their clients to communicate effectively. Most firms request documents are sent via email. Not only has email become a serious bottleneck in many firms, it’s also super unsafe!  

Here’s what I suggest instead: Think about the client’s day to understand why they don’t respond instantly. Many times, your client will receive your email via their smartphone. They don’t have access to the documents they need or a scanner and they definitely don’t want to try logging into your online portal using their smartphone. 

If they don’t receive your email while they are on the go, then they get it when they are at work. Good right? Wrong. They have their own clients in and out the door and on the phone all day. Their priority is on making money and serving their clients. Your email will sit in their inbox until the link to the portal has expired and they have to ask for help to log in. This stalls all your work on this client.

So how can we solve this? Think like the client thinks! If they are texting you, it means that they are more likely to do business with you via their phone. Many millennials ignore emails and don’t own scanners or printers. Your solution is to match their mobile lives.

Set yourself up for success by adopting some or all of the policies I have shared with you, and make dumping email a very high priority. 

There are a few easy solutions to some big problems your firm may be experiencing. Schedule a demo with Liscio so you can see how much faster your firm can move when you are working with your client’s needs. Get your documents sent in on time.

Now it’s time to put your AAR learning into action…

Repeating these steps with all of the areas you want to improve based on your After Action Review will help your firm become more efficient for next tax season and ensure your clients feel cared for and can provide what you need quickly and easily. That’s a win for everyone and another reason to do your AAR now.

If you’ve followed me for any time, you know I looove technology–learning about it, experimenting with it, using it to drive efficiencies and ROI, and, of course, sharing my experiences with it to help others.

There is one thing, though, that I try never to lose sight of and I think it’s a point that can never be made enough. Technology is the means to the end, not the means itself. This is all part of the process I lay out in my book, The Designated Motivator for Accounting Professionals, and in my Reassess Your Success courses.

An app, no matter how cool it is, is still a tool–and the effect of using it on people is what we should really be focused on when it comes to evaluation and implementation…not to mention the actual usage of it.  That’s why it’s so important to view technology as a critical touchpoint for your team and your clients.

With this in mind I offer the following considerations to think through when it comes to your firm’s tech stack and how effective it is beyond a tactical workflow standpoint:

  1. Who is using the particular technology in question?
  2.  Is your intended app client-facing?  If so, what are clients seeing when they use your solution? How are they feeling about it?
  3. If the technology tool is for your team to use, what pain points are they facing? Do they need additional training to get maximum benefit? What are their thoughts on the software?

No matter who is using the technology in your tech stack, be sure to take the time and make the effort to understand what their user experience is like and then consider if the internal experience differs significantly from the external one (i.e. your team loves it and your clients don’t, or vice versa). If this is the case, then it’s definitely worth evaluating a different tool. And if no one is happy…then it’s definitely time to reassess your success with that particular application, in my opinion.

Here is an example of a tool we chose, and why it works so well for us.  We needed a way for clients to securely send documents and sensitive information to our firm.  But we ALSO needed the tool to create transparency for staff and a “single source of truth” for all documents, esignatures, messages and discussion threads, and tasks for the client, and for the firm.  We chose Liscio to fulfill this “job” in our tech lineup.  Clients love it, and my staff can move faster because we aren’t having to chase clients for overdue items, or search in endless email strings, or look in multiple places for documents they sent.  We also don’t get texts anymore which is a  HUGE bonus because we can actually have our personal cell phones back. 

The most important takeaway here, one that I hope you will take to heart is that tech is just the tool–but it has become a critical touch point for the people who drive your business forward. Namely your team and your clients, so open up that feedback loop and make changes as necessary to ensure it supports the exceptional client experience and workplace culture you want to have!  Then choose the right tools for each stakeholder to use.  You will create delight and productivity like never before!

Episode Summary

Liscio’s Alison Ball joins Dawn Brolin to discuss how Liscio is your all in one solution for better communication with your clients, a hub to receive important tax documents, and a place to track all your messages and files in one place, all with top-notch cyber security! With more and more practitioners moving their firm to Liscio, listen now to see how they can help you and your clients work better together, and help achieve both of your goals easily and efficiently!

Get to know Alison:

Alison Ball is the Director of Marketing and Influencer Strategy for Liscio, Inc. She is passionate about helping firms to differentiate themselves by providing Client Experience 2.0TM to their clients. Before joining Liscio in August 2020, Alison spent 15 years leading accountant influencer programs at Intuit, and prior to that she was an accountant herself. In her spare time, she grows amazing backyard vegetables and loves hiking in the San Francisco Bay Area. She believes that life is too short to spend it with mean people, and any day she can help someone else be successful is a good day indeed.

What is Liscio?

Alison describes Liscio as “a collaborative environment for you and your team to work together along with your clients.” 

Liscio is an all in one communication platform for tax practitioners that makes communication between them and their clients incredibly easy. With both an app and browser based software, Liscio provides you with a messaging platform to communicate with your clients, and helps keep all the information they share with you in one place. They also make it easy for clients to share their tax documents with you, and even send reminders to your clients when they are behind on sending you important tax information.

Why Email Communication is Not Serving You

Alison and Dawn share their frustration when having to use email to communicate with their clients, and share how they have both been stuck digging through their inboxes to find the one piece of important information. 

When Liscio is implemented, you can completely avoid this, shares Alison. Liscio keeps all your messages and client documents in one portal, so you can access them from any place at any time! No more lost messages, and no more digging or sorting your inbox!

Liscio also offers integrations with your favorite apps such as QuickBooks Online, SmartVault, Adobe Sign, and more!

A Better Work Life Balance

Dawn and Alison share how many clients prefer to text their practitioners for information, rather than through email. Alison talks about how this can be a problem, and how texting can feel very invasive on the practitioner’s end, and make them feel rushed to answer their clients’ questions. 

With Liscio, clients can still have the convenience of contacting their practitioner directly through their phone, and practitioners can know that all of their client’s messages are already sorted, and will be easily accessible during working hours, rather than having to track the messages they receive while at the dinner table.

Learn more at www.liscio.me

 

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Transcript:

Dawn Brolin 0:05
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Hey, everybody, and welcome back to the Designated Motivator, DM Disruption today and our podcast, we’re really excited today to have one of the greatest people I’ve known in the accounting industry for so so long is Alison ball. And many of you know, Alison, Alison is with Liscio, which is an application that is solving for pain points with your clients. And I think the message that Alison I want to bring to you all today is that we as the firm owners, and in the practitioners, and the technicians sometimes need to step back and think about what the client is experiencing. And we love to solve for ourselves because that’s natural, but we really want to make sure we’re keeping the client in the forefront of our mind. And in order to do that, and in order to be successful in that experience, we’ve got to have tools in place to keep that experience positive. So Alison, welcome back. We’ve had you on before, and you’re always a blessing.

Alison Ball 1:28
Thank you, Dawn, it’s just amazing to spend a few minutes here here with you and your audience. I loved how you introduced this this chat that we’re gonna have today, because I think accountants and bookkeepers are so heart led, that you know, because you can’t you join the profession, because you want to help your clients be more successful, right. But somewhere along the line, you know, somewhere along the line and get bogged down in this friction with you and your clients. And I hear people say, you know, well, I, I’d like to fire all my clients, or I, you know, this is the year I’m gonna make, make my clients, you know, get their documents on time. Or, you know, you know, this is the year that I get to do things differently somehow, and then get we never do. And we endure these busy seasons, right? These busier seasons, and the stress mounts and things. And I think the reason I found Licio so incredibly fascinating is that Chris has uncovered a, a solution to a problem that many people just don’t even know exists. And that’s how they’re how they are allowing their clients or how they’re asking their clients to work with their firm in a digital fashion. So that’s what I’m really fascinated about. And that’s what I want to talk about today is how if you nail that, if you remove that friction, how all boats can rise?

Dawn Brolin 2:53
Absolutely. And, and I know obviously, as a practitioner, I hear from let’s say, even new clients that are referred over to us. We’re listening to them as they, you know, well, why did you and I asked the question, I think it’s a great question to ask a new client. Why did you switch to me? Like, why were you looking for another accountant? And I would, I would probably, I could say 85 to 90% is communication. Yeah, there’s a lack of communication. And I just got a new client from New Jersey who was like, you know, you’re in Connecticut, I’m in New Jersey, how are we going to communicate? And that was my biggest problem with my prior account, and I couldn’t get a hold of them. And, and certainly, we can go down the email road, Allison. We can talk about emails, because emails are the death of everybody. Right? And it’s, it’s really wasted time, no value there. And there. They are a standalone type of communication, we need a one face one stop one way to communicate with the clients. And that’s why we chose Liscio, we needed to communicate with the clients. And I and that said this before, they love it. It’s so easy for them to use. They’re all on cell phones. I think I have two clients with Star Trek phones, I call it their the flip, they still may text by hitting, you know, to get to see, to get three times. That’s that’s not the norm. And so I think a lot of times and I know people, oh, well, people aren’t going to want to add another app to their phone. People have a bazillion apps on their phone, they can’t even find half of them. They don’t know to put them in folders and things like that. Right. So that assumption, I think is a challenge for practitioners. Yeah,

Alison Ball 4:31
I think like Well, let’s start with the email thing because I think most people think of email as the best way to communicate. And it certainly is easy in the moment. You can type an email and kind of forget about it. But what you have to understand is what is the downstream effect of that email. So if I send an email, let’s pretend you’re my client. If I send an email to you with a long list of documents and a link to my portal because I want you to send them securely and you get this on you’re probably going to get it on your phone. You are probably nowhere near a scanner. And you’re in, you’re busy, you’re in the middle of your busy day. So what happens to that email, you open it, you go, Oh, Alison wants something, okay. And you immediately close it, you probably mark it unread. And then your day takes over and it goes down, down, down, down, down into the inbox, right? Now, eventually now, okay, then Dawn saying, hey, Alison didn’t send her stuff. Send me another email. Same thing happens. Oh my gosh, don’t you know now Tracy’s asking you “Hey, hey, Dawn, Alison didn’t send her stuff.” So, okay, now you got Tracy on you. So then Tracy starts emailing me. Okay, now Don and Tracy can’t see inside each other’s inboxes. Right? And so then okay, then I answer one of them. One of those emails that got sent, right. And so then I’m, and maybe I’ve got some questions in my email. And so everything is all like, and then there’s no way for your team to see in each other’s inboxes the client gets lost, they lose the string, they can understand what they’re doing. So what Chris created with Liscio, Chris and Sekhar the two co founders is a system of it’s it’s a collaborative environment for you and your team to work together along with your clients. And so what happens is that the client is, you know, at the closest analogy I have done is the way that you work with your online bank. Right? When you go to send a document to your bank, what do you do you just snap the picture, but you send it like your deposit a check, right? Liscio is that easy. So you just so you said maybe clients don’t want to put an app on their phone. Cool thing is they don’t have to just like a bank, they can log into their browser, right? But the magic happens when you bring everybody into that same quiet space. There’s no email, strings, there’s nothing, there’s no waiting through anything, the staff can see everything for that one client. So you and Tracy can see everything that you need from me. And it’s and it’s all like there. And then the system auto reminds if I owe you something, the system auto reminds so magic happens, and I think what’s really interesting is is that people need to walk in their clients shoes to understand what the experience is. And I just don’t think that email and the link to a portal is making anybody’s firm, more efficient, move faster or look good. And so I’m on a mission to change that.

Dawn Brolin 7:33
Absolutely. I wouldn’t even take it a step further. So we’re emails Absolutely, they those numbers, you know, on the daily they start dropping down no matter how much you make it be, you know, tag this to junk email, you don’t want to look at it. I find not only emails which I can’t stand emails more, which even becomes more of a problem. Texting. Oh, now we’ve talked about texting. Oh, yeah. The texting. The texting has turned into email, honestly. Yeah. And people are goosebumps talking about it, but it’s demanding.

Alison Ball 8:07
But it’s demanding, it’s it’s like it’s like it’s like email in your face. It’s like, Oh, my God, I’m gonna get, where’s my camera? I’m gonna get you right here in the face, like poke in the eyes email.

Dawn Brolin 8:17
And you know what? It’s like, okay, you text me. If I’ve read it, you don’t want to read it, the text. And now that text from somebody ends up over the weekend in 20th position. And I’ve replied to them, because I know that like you said, it’s in my face. And they want an instant reply. I go, but what…

Alison Ball 8:36
Which we love being interrupted and family dinners, and yeah, we’d love that. Right.

Dawn Brolin 8:41
Love that. And so, you know, clients expect to be able to text you. And they in so I actually this phone right here, this is my personal cell phone. Now only the special get this phone number, because this is my this is my personal phone, I have a phone in that office over there. That’s the business phone. And that does not come out of the office. That’s for authorization codes, that’s protected from clients. Because and I don’t give this to out to my clients. I have some friends, obviously, our clients by telling them if you text the personal phone number, you have been voted off the island. Oh, can note you’re gone, you’re out of here. So what Liscio will do for you and like like Alison was saying, it only has the important information in there. So you’re not having to, you know, sort through emails or go back to your text and go scrolling and looking for all the work you just promised you would do over the weekend. And you’re you know, now it’s Monday and you’re like, oh, did I text somebody over the weekend it was you know, football, whatever. So when having things in one place, you’re going to minimize that I just call it wasted time.

Alison Ball 9:53
A tremendous amount of wasted time to look for things and to search for things and to look across platforms. And the other thing Don is I don’t know about your clients, but I hear frequently from practitioners that their clients will text them documents, pictures of documents. Now, yes. Now, if you have a client who is texting you, and especially those that are taking photos of documents and attaching them to a text, they’re giving you a really clear message that they want to work with you using their phone. It is the clearest message you could have. So those clients that are texting you, if you move them off text, and you move them on to Liscio, they will be delighted. And your communications with them. And the way that you work together with that client will be elevated 100x And B, it’s so much better, because the client will be like, Okay, I have one place, oh, if I need done, I go here, right here, right here on my phone. And and again, people don’t have to use the phone app, they that’s that’s it’s just like dealing with your bank, you can use the browser or, or your phone. But we’ve found that that is a really big, a really big thing. And then what happens is when you’re getting those documents quickly, and your team is on the same page, and everybody can see what’s happening with that client, all those communications, the documents, the signatures, what else we talked about the tasks, the all the things that have to do with the with the tooing and froing, between your firm and your client. Everyone can can move faster. And your work gets more accurate. And and all these missteps that sometimes happen. Like you never have to worry about a foot refer as a firm owner about being blindsided by something. Because maybe you were out of the loop out of the communication loop because a staff member was dealing with them, and maybe they didn’t deal with them in the right way or, or they said something that wasn’t communicated back to you. And then you had a misstep, you never get those blind sides never happens. Because anybody can go in and review the history of it. Right, of that client?

Dawn Brolin 11:59
Definitely. And I think another kind of component that we don’t I don’t think we really think about all the time is that everything being in that one place, having all the firm have that access, eliminating emails, because people this is one thing that people don’t think about either. And that’s what this whole conversation is about is the client side of it. And on the client side, so many clients, especially if you’re dealing with individual tax clients, they don’t live on their email.

Alison Ball 12:26
No, they’re they’re doing their businesses, right. They’re running their businesses.

Dawn Brolin 12:30
And so you know, we happen to sit at a computer all day. So we have I’ll call it just carte blanche access to emails. But our clients don’t my contractors aren’t going home at night sitting down and reading my email with my questions. But if I text them throughout the day, previously texting them that I get an answer from them right away, I can keep moving in my work with you’re doing that with Liscio and tell them either notifications on by the way, because that those notifications aren’t going to pile up like an email notification.

Alison Ball 13:02
No, they just they just get it they just get a little ping with “Hey, Dawn has a question.” “Oh, Dawn has a question.” *ping ping ping*, and they answer back.

Dawn Brolin 13:09
And that’s, that they so here’s an I think that this is even more powerful than anything else. Right? They know if there is something that comes through, they know that that is their accountant, their tax accountant on a text, they don’t post you on an email, ding, they don’t know it’s you. And they and they get so many of those dings that they don’t care anymore. Where when you when you have one specific application that is specific to your taxes to your business, and direct access to your CPA, they are going to tell everybody about that. Because no one else has you know who else is doing it? Well, hopefully everyone is because everyone gets on Liscio.

Alison Ball 13:51
And we have had so many new firms come to us because clients use Liscio with a different practitioner. So we’ve had bookeepers, we’ve had them use, like for example, let’s say I’m let’s say I’m the client and I’m using Liscio with my bookkeeper. And then I go to my CPA firm and I say “Wait, you don’t use Liscio.” And then the CPA firm says, “Well, what do you mean?” And so and then they show it and then they’re like, oh, so we get so many referrals from the client actually driven from the client, because the clients really love it.

Dawn Brolin 14:21
Absolutely. And that that mindset of, and I think I’ve mentioned this before, I was wanting an app like this, I wanted to develop a powerful accounting app that do this communication with for years, I’ve wanted to do it. And now I’m like, well, guess what, I didn’t have to do it because someone else did. And now I like it.

Alison Ball 14:45
It’s very reasonably priced. And it’s very reasonably priced. So you don’t have to go through all the app development. Yeah. And I think the other thing done just you know, I’m mindful we’re going to be up at time pretty quick, but I I think the other thing is just the security and you touched on it. But the but email is such a scary place. And texting is scary. And you know people have to if you have a PTIN, you’ve you’ve had to fill in your Wisp and say that you have that written information security. Is it plan or protocol plan? I don’t want the P stands for. But you’ve actually verified that you’ve got that in place. And so if you’re using email, then you don’t have it in place.

Dawn Brolin 15:25
Yeah, the PTIN. is actually the preparer tax identification numbers what the PTIN is.

Alison Ball 15:30
With the, with the risk.

Dawn Brolin 15:33
And you’re checking a box, man, when you say, Yeah, I’m secure. I’m good. You know, people say, Well, you know, the IRS is never going to come ask for a copy of your plan. Well, you know what, never say never. Because you know, what they want the IRS right now they need money. And you know, how they’re going to get money by finding people, period. So, you know, be be aware, and and think a little bit more about it. I think that’s what we’ve got to do. We just got to step back for a hot second and say, what are the most important components of my firm? Number one are my clients because without them, I don’t have a firm. And so if they really are in the forefront of your mind, if your clients really are that important to you, then you’re going to want to take the steps that you need to implement in an application, Liscio to communicate with them securely. That because here’s it at the end of the day, they’re not thinking about security, they’re not they don’t think about it at all. They’re like, you know, I have somebody, oh, let me just shoot you an email with my W2. And I’m like, No, it’s like, you’re not thinking how you just want to get it to me. So we have to be at the forefront thinking of the security 100%.

Alison Ball 16:40
Yeah, and well you know, it’s just Liscio just makes it very easy for people to do that. And I think if I wanted to leave one thing with you is it’s just really walk in your clients shoes, when you think about the technology you ask them to use an email is probably causing a lot of hurt and harm in your firm. So rethinking mail for sure.

Dawn Brolin 17:00
Yeah, absolutely. And just think about what you hate it because I totally do. I totally do. Um, you know, everybody wants a clean inbox. Yeah, and including your clients, right, including your clients. So, but yes, Liscio telling you to collect communications, make it seamless, make it easy for people to communicate with you. Because if you don’t, someone else will. And that’s the that’s really the takeaway, just get it together. It’s not hard to implement. This is not like trying to implement some kind of new technology that we don’t even understand. It’s something you’re doing already. Do it in one place and do it with Liscio, period. So Alison, thank you so much. It’s always a pleasure to have you on.

Alison Ball 17:40
Thank you, Dawn!

Dawn Brolin 17:40
Everyone, we will see you on the next DM disruption, we’re going to continue to bring you insights, knowledge, practitioner tips and tricks and all the things that we can help you grow your practice to be more efficient, more effective, and most importantly profitable. Okay, so thanks again. We’ll see you guys all next time

 

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