As the CEO of Palo Alto Software, I talk to a lot of accounting firms about how they can grow and succeed. Something I’ve been hearing a lot recently from full-service accounting firms (who offer bookkeeping, tax, and compliance services) is that they are starting to add a new revenue stream to their service offerings — client email management.
You might think, “Why would I want to add more email to my life?” “Why would I want to be involved in answering a client’s email on their behalf?” But just pause, take a breath and explore the opportunity.
Why offer email management as a service?
Let’s start with why.
Firms that offer email management services do so in order to solve two critical problems:
1. Unresponsive clients
Clients are often unresponsive or fail to pass along critical information in a timely manner. Practices get stuck without key information they need to complete the very projects they were hired for.
2. Invoicing and payments
Firms can’t control how their clients invoice and collect payments, or how clients interact with their customers in regards to billing and payables.
By taking over all emails related to accounting and finance for a business, these firms truly become their client’s accounting department. Firms offer the service of dealing with everything related to their client’s books and financials and let the client focus on running and growing a business.
So what are these firms doing when it comes to email management?
Let’s first talk about what they are not doing. They are not managing all of their clients’ email addresses. They are only managing email addresses related to accounting, billing, and invoicing.
By taking over all accounting related emails, you can fully manage your client’s accounting. Your life will be easier and your client will no longer have the headache of dealing with emails related to AP, AR, billing, invoicing, taxes, etc. Plus, you’ll be able to add email management as a new service offering and revenue stream for your business.
The more embedded you become in your clients’ businesses, the more you’ll be able to grow a happy, loyal client base.
How to implement email management for your client
So how do you actually manage your client’s accounting related emails? How do you implement a service offering like this without getting entangled in a nightmare of email overload? It starts with clear, organized onboarding. Let’s walk through how to implement this new service offering:
- Your client likely already uses one or more general email addresses (like firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, or firstname.lastname@example.org) to communicate with employees, partners, vendors, or customers about accounting-related issues. If your client has these generic email addresses, then they are more than ready for your new service offering. If they don’t use an address like this, you can advise them to set one up as a best practice for keeping accounting communication in one place.
- Ask your client to provide login credentials for their general accounting email address(es) so that you and your team can gain access. Security is important, so don’t just share these credentials with team members across your firm. A shared inbox tool like Outpost will let your whole team manage multiple client email addresses in one place, without sharing passwords.
- Now that you have access, you’ll be able to easily manage those inboxes. If your client receives any other accounting-related emails directly, they can simply forward the email to their company’s general accounting email addresses. If you are answering and dealing with all their accounting related email they will quickly learn to forward anything relevant to the right email address.
- To streamline your work, you can also create email templates that you can use to answer frequently asked questions your client receives related to accounting. Your client can participate and help you with these templates. A tool like Outpost makes this simple and allows you to monitor your team members’ responses to client emails to make sure they are doing a good job.
- Agree to a service level with your client, which correlates to the added price you’ll charge for this service. You can also commit to how quickly you will answer emails on behalf of your client. As an example, you can commit to answering all emails within one business day. Outpost has a real-time email analytics dashboard that will help you make sure that you achieve this service level.
Offering email management as an additional service may seem daunting at first. But with a shared inbox tool like Outpost, implementing a service offering like this is easy, inexpensive, and will pay off with increased billing and more loyal customers. Depending on the client you can easily bill $1,000 or more for this service alone. Think about it, if someone took all your accounting related emails off your plate, what would you pay per month?
Your whole firm, working together in Outpost
Most teams struggle to manage their accounting@ inboxes and never-ending client email. Missed messages, duplicate replies, and inbox confusion are common because traditional email wasn’t designed for teams. That’s why we built Outpost: to make managing client email truly collaborative.
With Outpost, your team can work together in the same inbox, without sharing passwords or stepping on each other’s toes. Outpost is simple because shared email should be.
Take the pain out of managing client email so your whole team can see everything in one place, respond quickly, focus on billable work, and provide excellent service.
Posted in: Email