Onboarding: helping clients transition their tech

Alan Giffard is the co-founder and owner of G2 Accounting, based in Victoria. Recently G2 helped award-winning regional bakery, Kyneton Bakehouse, make the switch to Xero. Here he shares the onboarding process.

Q: How did the Kyneton Bakehouse react to the idea of switching?

A: When I suggested to Brendan and Coreena that they should switch to Xero, they were open to the idea, but still a little cautious. They had 10 years experience using Banklink so change wasn’t a top priority. But they knew Xero could help with faster coding and more efficient backend operations, and I knew how much time they’d save behind the scenes if they took the leap. We made the call to start them on Xero from the start of the current financial year with effectively a clean slate, and add in the gures from 1 July to get everything up to date. Then we made sure they were comfortable doing reports in Xero, so they could review how they were going in real time.

Q: How do you manage client expectations when changing to a new platform and making process changes during this time?

A: We’ve found it useful to acknowledge that there are things that Xero does differently to a previous system. Clients who’ve been using the same software for a long period of time generally find shortcuts and workarounds, so adopting new software can feel like a backward step at first. Being realistic about what to expect can build credibility that really helps during the process.

Q: How do you manage any client objections to undertaking such a change?

A: We used to be concerned about client objections, but it’s not a big focus for us any more. New clients tend to come to us because they’re unhappy with the service they’ve received from their previous accountant. We present Xero, as well as our expertise, as the solution.

But even for existing clients, we don’t encounter many objections. It can be easy to forget that we’re the trusted advisor in this space, and if we recommend software that can make our clients’ lives easier, most clients will trust that recommendation and go with it.

Q: When moving a new client to Xero, where do you start and what’s important to get right the first time?

A: We recommend focusing on three core functionalities in the initial stages.

  1. Once bank feeds are up and running, work on reconciliations. Most of our clients get comfortable with reconciling really quickly, which eliminates extra work for us down the track.
  2. If the client pays wages, focus on payroll. We get positive feedback about the ease of Xero payroll, so jumping right in gets the client off to a great start.
  3. Get the conversion balances spot on. This is so much easier at the time of conversion than trying to do it later, but importantly, it means the client can rely on the accuracy, and start making the most of their reports.

Q: How can you deliver instant value to the client to ensure they’re happy with the decision to change?

A: Those first few meetings with the client after they’ve adopted Xero are the most important ones, particularly when we’ve really driven the move. When we meet with a client to do their BAS, for example, it’s important to be ready for that meeting, have minimal work to do to actually complete the BAS, and then spend most of that meeting reviewing their figures rather than discussing the activity statement. That’s a big part of what we sell to the client as the benefit of adopting cloud software, and it’s important to make sure we realise those benefits early on.

Top tips for onboarding new clients

  1. Win trust early on
  2. Manage expectations upfront
  3. Let the clients do the talking.

Alan’s story is taken from the new issue of Partner Pages – a magazine of beautifully curated content, written by partners, for partners. Get your free copy at the Roadshow Australia 2018.


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