How Glasscubes Helped One Of Accounting’s Most Well-Respected Firms Strengthen Client Relationships And Target New Businesson 3 April 2023
Johnston Carmichael is the largest independent firm of chartered accountants and business advisers in Scotland, with more than 16,000 clients and locations across the UK.
With its existing client portal no longer fit for use, Johnston Carmichael selected Glasscubes to enhance its communication and collaboration workflows with a modern solution that met the needs of its fast-growing business and growth strategy.
Glasscubes proprietary technology helped Johnston Carmichael transform key internal processes and further digitise critical services. New functionality to execute electronic document approvals and bulk information requests was quickly adopted, amongst other mission-critical data governance tasks that returned positive results immediately.
Vast improvements to audit trail documentation filing and other sequential reporting duties were introduced, along with a best-in-class client portal solution to better support the needs of the advisory and accounting service functions.
The efficiencies gained enabled Johnston Carmichael to strengthen existing relationships, win more business, and significantly enhance the work of its audit business line and clients.
Headquartered in Scotland, Johnston Carmichael is one of the most trusted names in business services. Since 1936, it has built a reputation for delivering exceptional value, and providing detailed, trusted advice from a network of offices around the UK.
The firm has over 650 employees, and advises more than 16,000 clients across a range of sectors including audit, tax, personal finance, and other key areas.
Johnston Carmichael has grown its business around people, but as the size and complexity of its operations expanded, so did data management problems both internally and in client-facing functions.
The increased demand for digitised services meant operational silos and inefficiencies were appearing as the business took on more whilst remaining reliant on outdated communication and collaboration tools.
“Our existing client portal was very basic, clunky, and not intuitive for users,” said Yvonne Irwin, Director Client Service & Projects, Johnston Carmichael. “As a result, less than 10% of our client base used it, and instead often found workarounds or reverted to email.”
Customers had complained that information was hard to find within the existing portal, which operated with legacy software from a previous generation. The data held within had little structure and had evolved to become an unwieldy, disorganised list of folders containing various types of information.
“The lack of adoption by clients to engage with us digitally, resulted in inefficiencies and increased costs,” said Yvonne. “We felt we could potentially lose clients if we could not provide an easy way of doing business with us.”
Communication data, client information uploads, draft and final documents, along with completed returns, were not classified in an efficient manner. Duplicate files were also saved until identical names, which resulted in version control issues.
The firm felt continuing on the same path could not only harm the bottom line, but damage Johnston Carmichael’s strong reputation as a business that cares about the client experience.
The firm embarked on a selection process for a new client portal with a list of requirements that centred around the need to improve the user experience and update data governance workflows.
“Providing basic sharing of information securely was a given, but we also wanted to enhance client service and improve our internal processes to support the digitalisation of our services,” said Yvonne.
Stakeholder engagement, from both employees and clients, was a key aspect of approving a new vendor, as the team wanted to know it could trust the solution to successfully migrate sensitive data of varying quality.
“The ease of internal and external user management, single sign-on for our staff, and a comprehensive API to seamlessly integrate with our other systems was also important to us,” said Ewan Bolt, Head of Digital Solutions. “In addition, we hoped for a marketing capability, which would allow us to target information and updates to clients based on their industry.”
Glasscubes was identified to provide a solution that could meet all the deliverables, with the flexibility to provide further enhancements as necessary.
“The project team was unanimous in the decision to select Glasscubes as our partner,” said Yvonne. “Glasscubes met our requirements, but were also chosen based on the credibility of their team and the passion they have for the platform.”
Implementation and delivery
Glasscubes’ migration team analysed the requirements of Johnston Carmichael’s various business lines to identify unique pain points before presenting a range of implementation options.
“We worked closely with them throughout the planning and execution of our migration,” said Ewan “Careful consideration was given to the impact on clients that were users of our current portal facility and we agreed what should be transferred, to ensure the quality of data that was migrated.”
Stakeholders were constantly engaged and educated in the portal transformation project to ensure they embraced the incoming Glasscubes solution, while Johnston Carmichael’s Business Intelligence Team aided the implementation into existing systems.
The implementation was swift, complete in a matter of weeks.
Post-delivery, the business could make electronic document approvals and bulk information requests, as comprehensive audit trail and detailed reporting workflows were centralized. Enhanced client collaboration processes were tailored specifically to help Johnston Carmichael’s advisors meet customer demands.
Feedback from staff and clients has been overwhelmingly positive, while Johnston Carmichael has also leveraged Glasscubes to generate efficiencies and target new business.
“Since the launch we have seen an increase in the uptake of both clients and staff, compared to our previous system,” said Ewan. “It has saved our firm time, is easy to use, and has been especially successful for our audit business line and their clients. Glasscubes is a feature rich product that allows us to interact with our clients in a better way.”
The Johnston Carmichael team was particularly appreciative of how Glasscubes methodically understood the challenge of dealing with its various business lines and how each team would require different use cases and levels of support.
“We feel very positive about the future and that Glasscubes will continue to evolve with our business to deliver what is required by our firm and clients,” said Ewan. “More and more data is being processed and passed between stakeholders digitally. A best in class system is critical to successfully engage with your stakeholders and client base. For that reason, we would recommend Glasscubes."