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In today’s episode of ‘From the eLearning Trenches,’ we asked one of our learners, an administrator in public practice, to identify and consider how the administrative team can best contribute to client communication and engagement.

Learner Reflection

I have considered this question for a while trying to figure out the best way to put this answer.

Our administration team do the following client-related tasks:

  1. Sorting mail and organise the posting to clients
  2. Reception calls / passing on messages
  3. Preparation of reports for clients
  4. Follow up calls for our DocuSign usage (calling clients that haven’t signed)
  5. Follow up calls for tax clients (if they haven’t signed and paid)

Within the firm, our services as an admin side are quite limited. All calls go through the PA, along with workflow and follow up from clients. We have no control over workflow, engagements, pricing, and follow ups. Our only follow ups are when we send out clients’ tax returns, ASIC documents, minutes etc have not been signed and the PA asks us to chase them.

I have been with the firm for nearly two years which has not been that long, but due to the high admin staff turnover, I am the only senior (experienced) administration member. Due to this, the PA has taken over a lot, but even before we were still in the dark with some aspects of the Customer Service. We have been told that our main job is the first point of contact, ultimately to take the call and pass it on to whoever necessary. that is the jist of it.

The PA handles the workflow, following up clients for information is missing information for jobs, managing the Partners calendar, manages the admin team and other tasks that we may not know about. I think the ‘Proactive Communication’ has to be handled within the administration team first before we test it off with the clients. Again, another meeting needs to be held, as we get a lot of calls stating they have not heard back from the Partner / PA as their emails are backed up. Possibly need to re-think the way we take messages, or delegate time in workflow blocks of time to contact clients back.

As a team, we have to sometimes chase the PA for our queries, as we get left on read or calls ignored. This delays our client interaction leaving them quite frustrated. Our administration team feels really left behind from everyone else, like we are less important than the accountants. I have no proper answer from my own experience as I have less than 2 years of knowledge and have not been able to have my input relayed on any occasion. Since starting this course and having all these assessments come up in regard to communication etc, I have noticed how much it lacks as your presentation is very detailed with aspects of the job that just aren’t done here.

I believe a sit down needs to happen in relation to possibly changing the way we take messages, having the administration team do a bit of basic training on possible ‘FAQ’s’ so we don’t have to take a message, and actually feel like we play an important part in helping a client directly ourselves.

Feedback from our experts

It can be quite frustrating as an administrator to know that you can add value to client communication but lack the opportunity as managers and partners keep client relationships tight. As accounting and advisory firms progress, the role of Client Service Administrator or Client Concierge becomes even more important as non-technical aspects of the relationship are delegated to non-technical staff. Of course, this needs to be led by senior managers and explained to clients.

The benefits are significant to both the firm and the client. The firm is more proactive, the client feels they are being managed by a team and workflow is more efficient. Time is freed up for managers and partners to have richer and deeper conversations with clients about their financial needs and goals.

Here are 5 actions that the learner could consider helping the firm’s leaders understand the value of a client-focused administrator:

  1. Propose Regular Team Meetings for Feedback and Ideas: Suggest setting up regular meetings where the administration team can provide feedback and ideas on improving client communication and services. This can help highlight the valuable insights the admin team gathers from their daily interactions with clients.
  2. Develop a Training Program on Basic Client Queries: Create a training program for the admin team to handle basic client queries. This will reduce the workload on accountants and partners and improve response times, demonstrating the admin team’s capability to handle more than just receptionist tasks.
  3. Implement a Client Feedback System: Propose a system to collect client feedback specifically about administrative interactions. This can provide concrete data on the admin team’s impact on client satisfaction and areas for improvement.
  4. Present Examples of Successful Client Interactions: Collect and present case studies where proactive communication or problem-solving by the admin team led to positive client outcomes. This can showcase the potential value of expanding the admin role in client relationships.
  5. Suggest a Pilot Project for Expanded Admin Roles: Propose a pilot project where admins take on additional client-related responsibilities in a controlled environment. This can serve as a proof of concept, demonstrating how expanded admin roles can benefit the firm and its clients.

By implementing these actions, the administrator can effectively demonstrate the potential value of a more client-focused administrative role, paving the way for enhanced client satisfaction and efficiency within the firm.

Key takeaway: As an administrator, it’s important to take every opportunity to show how you can contribute to client relationship management.

This assessment task and response is taken from the Client Service Administration eLearning course. Click here to explore this course

Also, take a look at the Client Concierge eLearning Course.

Discover the pulse of our eLearning community as we unveil daily feedback from enrolled learners. Exciting times ahead as we share this valuable information with the accounting, advisory, and administrative experts in public practice!