Accountants and consultants often find themselves in the role of a teacher, explaining technical concepts to clients. The concepts could be asset protection strategies, tax-effective structures or – increasingly these days if you’re a cloud-savvy advisor – data flows between cloud-based accounting apps such as Xero, bank accounts, and other apps.
A verbal explanation can be quite abstract and bewildering to your clients. As I’m sure you’ve experienced as an adviser, it helps to explain concepts and advice with diagrams.
Sure, you can use pen-on-paper on the desk across from the client, or stand up at the whiteboard and explain the concepts, but here’s an easy way you can wow your clients and add greater value.
Using cloud-based diagramming tools you can explain a concept clearly and visually, and also easily share it with clients. You can even use it as a collaboration and communication tool where the client can later ask questions about the diagram online and you can answer them within the diagram.
It’s a living, breathing tool for better client-adviser communication. Gotta love cloud apps.
Let’s say you have a client who wants to understand the ins and outs of an asset protection structure you’re putting in place for her business and family. If you’re prepared, you’ll have a generic template you can modify easily on the screen right in front of the client. For best effect, draw it in front of the client, so they can see how it is built and understand the strategy and structure one step at a time.
You could even record a screencast (video) of the screen as you build the diagram, along with the audio of your commentary and their questions, and later send them the link to view ‘the replay’. Tools for recording screencasts include SnagIt, Camtasia and ScreenFlow.
Through your use of clear and collaborative communication tools, your clients will feel better advised. They are also more likely to tell others about their experience and how wonderfully tech savvy their accountant is, not to mention your more effective communication and the better understanding your clients will achieve.
We’ve road-tested and used a number of diagramming tools over the past few years but the tool in this space that we use and love at Paradox is Lucidchart. Anything you can do with a pen and paper you can do with Lucidchart, and then some. Some of Lucidchart’s strengths include:
- Real-time collaboration: You can easily share your diagrams with co-workers, clients and supervisors. Changes are synced instantly and multiple collaborators can work on any document at once.
- Lucidchart is integrated into various platforms including Google Drive, Box, Jive, JIRA, and Confluence. These services are geared towards the enterprise market, and you might find that your clients are already plugged into one or more of them, particularly the first two. Integration gives advantages such as single sign-on (quick to login in) and easier centralised document retrieval (e.g. see your Lucidchart creations within Google Drive when you search).
- You can access shape libraries and community templates too. So whether you need to draw a structuring diagram, Venn Diagram or just a basic flowchart, Lucidchart makes it simple. Unlike your whiteboard, you also benefit from a full revision history which is handy when collaborating with others. Sometimes changes made by others need to be reversed later.
- You can also embed diagrams on your website or in your client portal. That’s a great value-add for clients when you’re teaching them important concepts that help them build and protect their assets and improve their cashflow.
So dive in and experiment. Happy diagramming! Your clients will thank you for it (and be wowed by it).
A version of this post first appeared on the Practice Paradox blog.