William Buck – Joining the dots
“We pride ourselves on being an extremely well connected organisation – but Client Sense showed us where we were falling short, and how much better things could be.”
Whether you’re a boutique firm focused on organic growth, or a large enterprise with your sights set further afield, it always pays to be open to new opportunities – and an increase in work through the door is a sure sign that you’re doing something right.
While achieving this kind of traction is exciting, it doesn’t come without its pitfalls. As client, referrer and staff numbers rise, maintaining visibility over expanding networks can become a challenge. Without a reliable picture of who is talking to who, attempts to coordinate external communications can quickly become scattered and messy.
William Buck are a leading integrated accountancy firm with offices across Australia and New Zealand. Communication has long been their backbone – having started out with just a handful of partners, much of their success can be attributed to their steadfast commitment to their core client base. But today, with over 100 directors, 900 professional staff, and a rapidly expanding list of over 80,000 contacts, there’s a lot to keep track of.
The firm’s business development team knew that as they continued to grow, their old methods of tracking relationships were no longer up to the task – and they were quick to respond. In search of a solution which could be relied upon to work at scale, they turned to Client Sense. They have since used the platform not only to capitalise on the growth of their networks, but also as a tool to transform the delivery of their services.
Communicating at scale
“We desperately needed a way of keeping track of who knew who, and to understand the depth of our key relationships. The main reason we turned to Client Sense was to get that visibility. Everything else was an unexpected bonus”.
As accountants and business advisors, William Buck are proud to operate an integrated ‘360 degree’ service model. In practical terms, this means two things. Firstly, the firm’s offering is interdisciplinary. Their services span a multitude of specialisms and locations – from wealth management to tax services – allowing their clients access to comprehensive, tailored solutions which often transcend divisions.
Secondly, the firm are all about long-term relationships. They rarely provide one-off services – instead, they tend to approach clients as ongoing partnerships, and look to offer value beyond the immediate problem wherever possible. Whilst incredibly valuable from a client perspective, this creates a highly complex web of relationships across multiple departments – one which the firm’s swift expansion has quickly made unsustainable.
In the days before Client Sense, staff across William Buck were using a whole host of different methods to track their key relationships – from excel spreadsheets to old fashioned pen and paper. The result was a siloed system, with staff only tracking their individual interactions with clients, rather than the firm’s relationship with them as a whole. There was no way of knowing who had last contacted any given client – or when.
After implementing the platform, the firm noticed a dramatic increase in this visibility. In a practice where it is commonplace for staff across tax, wealth, and property advisory divisions to all be working for the same client, the most noticeable change was an elimination of the need for firm-wide, “who last spoke to…?” emails. By capturing this information in one place, staff were not only saving time, but felt more secure in their client interactions, knowing that they were always up to date and on the same page.
Untangling the web
“For our incoming directors, Client Sense has been a godsend, because it allows them to build their networks as soon as they come on board. With over 80,000 contacts across the firm, that’s just not possible to do by word of mouth anymore.”
For a mid-market firm like William Buck, lateral expansion is often a key source of growth. Taking on new partners (each with their own established connections) often means extending the firm’s network overnight – which can be both a blessing and a curse. For both the new partner and the firm, getting up to speed on each other’s respective networks – let alone deciphering where the two overlap – can be a monumental task.
Because William Buck now acquire several new partners every year, the firm has experienced first hand how frustrating this initial integration period can be. With the organisation at its current size, it takes a long time just to introduce a newcomer to everyone in the partnership – and that’s before they can even start to consider sifting through their connections to work out who is already working with people that they know.
The impact that Client Sense made here came as a surprise to the team – so much so, that they cite it as its biggest benefit to the firm so far. With the system in place, new partners now simply input their contacts into the platform from day one. At the click of a button, they are then able to identify not only which connections are shared within the firm, but also by whom, and on which transactions. The business development team estimates that this alone has fast-forwarded the integration process by six to twelve months.
“Our teams use a lot of software. If they can’t see the benefit of a system, and understand how it works straight away, then it’s tough to get them on board. With Client Sense, this wasn’t a problem – because they were able to get value out of it from day one.”
As a firm operating across multiple specialties, William Buck use a lot of tech solutions in their work. Because of this, the business development team are used to having to put on the hard sell when they need to convince staff to adopt something new. When it came to piloting Client Sense, they were worried. If they couldn’t show people what was in it for them – fast – they were likely to lose interest.
To their relief, the firm’s directors reported a smooth implementation process. Through a tailored training scheme, they worked together with the Client Sense team to hone down exactly what was – and wasn’t – needed as part of the firm-wide programme. After a carefully monitored pilot, the firm’s directors felt confident enough to proceed with the rollout independently, doing so with great success.
Across each of the firm’s divisions, staff found the interface exceptionally user-friendly. Because they were able to populate data immediately, they were able to reap the benefits straight away without pushback. Nowadays, partners report being consistently impressed by the frequency of check-ins from Client Sense to offer ongoing support – although they have found that things are running so smoothly that this is rarely needed!
Asking the right questions
Never ones to sit still, the business development team at William Buck are already looking to the future, and finding creative new uses for the Client Sense technology. One of their favourite features of the platform is that, although it does not necessarily give them the answers to everything they need, they find that it raises the key questions which will eventually lead them where they need to go.
Next in their sights is the ability to track the reciprocity of their referral efforts. What is the relationship between their referral activity out to a particular law firm, and the level of revenue coming back in? Is the practice directing a disproportionate amount of effort towards firms who do not return the favour? Because Client Sense protects privacy, and does not track the content of communications, it does not currently offer a simple answer to this question.
However, the firm has found that the communication metrics that the system does provide can be used as a catalyst – showing the team where to direct further interrogation of the data, and which relationships to take a closer look at. They anticipate that this is an area which is likely to be extremely fruitful going forwards – and are excited to continue working with the Client Sense team to see what the future brings.
“Steve and the team have been an absolute pleasure to work with. From the pilot through to the rollout, they have over-delivered on every promise. Nowadays I sometimes forget to check in with them at all, because everything is running along exactly as it should!”.