Vendors Can Make a Difference
As a 33-year-old accounting firm also providing various consulting services for clients, Parente Randolph must maintain strong networks of consulting professionals to which we may refer clients. Keeping client information uniform and accessible across all our business models, housed in 19 offices in three states, is also imperative, but until June 2001 was not easily possible.
Traditionally, Parente Randolph employees and principals shared information about client business by blast emails or in meetings. This method was hardly a fail-safe [behavior], and more than once we found ourselves approaching clients for business when another division had already done so. Or, despite our best efforts to provide clients with new information about tax laws, clients got more than they wanted as multiple senders emailed the same information to them.
There was even one case in our firm in which one of our offices fired a client; the client then went to another office and the firm rehired the client. The first office wasn't aware that the client had been fired--a major embarrassment.
As embarrassing as this incident was it helped prove that we needed a solid CRM solution--one that dealt primarily with the tracking and service tasks specific to accounting and consulting firms.
After reviewing various applications we settled on Interface Software's InterAction product in early 2001. What followed next was selling the solution to Parente Randolph's principals. After final approval we were on track to a June 2001 rollout--then disaster struck. In a case study on what could have gone wrong with a CRM implementation, we could very well have been the subject.
The software integration firm that we hired to implement InterAction for us went bankrupt and abandoned us. I knew the launch couldn't be delayed one single day or the company's faith in the new system--and its necessity--would be drastically damaged.
Luckily Interface itself worked with us to walk us through the implementation and provide on-site help as needed. We were able to roll out the system, and today we can track all the particulars relating to a client and, more important, understand where our client business comes from and when leads actually evolve into wins.
Today we are in the midst of rolling out the most important part of the InterAction solution: a referral tracking module. This module was coproduced by myself and the Interface team, and was launched this past August.
Through a very easy list of questions we are now able to determine where our client referrals come from and where they are going to. This enables us to tell our partners how many referrals we gave them in any single time frame, or by business line and estimated fees and vice versa.
Previously, there was no extensive way to slice and dice this data or to definitely demonstrate the business value we provide partners in hard numbers. Because we garner a great deal of business through partner reciprocity, it is crucial that we keep a handle on our referral system.
The InterAction product has provided business value on many levels, but the most important has been by allowing us to get a handle on our internal processes.
Plus, Interface Software stands by customers. It would have been easy for the company not to get involved when its integration partner abandoned us. Thanks to Interface's deep commitment, however, we rose to the occasion.
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