Over recent weeks one of the key topics of conversation with so many accountants has been the need for better processes around client segmentation. Driven mostly by the implications and concerns of MTD albeit before the revisions to the finance bill ahead of the general election and subsequent changes in the cabinet reshuffle. More and more practices look to improve their client cloud conversion process, onboarding and upselling of advisory services.
With most acknowledging that MTD is a case of when – not if, it has highlighted that practices need to dive deeper into their client base to ensure that they’re as efficient as they can be. Practices need to actually understand their customers, the industries that they are in, the services that they subscribe to and a potential myriad of other elements of useful data. The hard truth for a lot of firms is they’re just not capturing this information in the level of detail that they should be.
“If you want something you’ve never had, you must be willing to do something you’ve never done”
Why segment our clients?
If we are to be successful, we need to consider ways in which we can gather this information, then find a process whereby data can be interrogated so that we have a much more refined targeted approach to marketing, communication and of course, engagement with those clients. Many practices have historically employed an extremely broad ‘scattergun’ approach which results in increased costs, wasted resources, lost time and less than favourable returns on investment along with unrealised outcomes. In short; client segmentation saves your practice money.
How do you segment your clients?
When we think about customer segmentation, we’re looking beyond the basic premise of categorising as ‘A, B, C, or D’ based upon payment history or any other category that define how we like the client. We need to look for patterns, how are our customers grouped, what are the commonalities that they have?
One of the easiest ways to start segmentation is to use a spreadsheet and think of common elements that your clients have for instance Year-End, Industry, MTD Tranche, Entity type, No of Employees, LTV and so on. You can then start to think about adding in elements of what services the clients subscribe to and fee level. For a lot of practices, your customer data can also be fragmented over several systems and databases even multiple spreadsheets, this is the right time to centralise all of that data and maximise your opportunities.
DIY or outsource the process?
Be aware; it is, of course, possible for you as a practice to undertake this entire process on your own. However, it will take time and will need to be carefully planned and executed – the key here is preparation – this list is as long as you decide you want to make it. My advice to start with – keep it straightforward and elaborate as part of an ongoing process. Plus it makes it easier to spot where the gaps are and fill them in.
I also had a great conversation on segmentation with Matt Flanagan of BlueHub on his last visit to Newcastle – Matt and his team have been working with many practices on Microsoft Power BI and helping them segment and visualise their data as a starting point. For an example of what they can do, please watch the short video here
There are so many ways that you can segment your data to make your workflows, internal processes and sales and marketing more effective. Tools such as Excel can be a great starting point, or you can look at more functional practice management solutions or indeed industry standard CRM applications such as Insightly, Capsule, Salesforce or even WorkFlowMax. Irrespective of your solutions, capturing all the useful, relevant information must be built into your daily processes otherwise it’s going to be garbage in and garbage out.
If you have any questions about data segmentation and how we can make this work for you, please do feel free to drop me an email firstname.lastname@example.org or give me a call on 07557 441 045.