Part 1 – Launching a modern, tech-led accounting practice
When Matt Williams launched his Oxford-based practice, he wanted it to be digital-first, but with great customer service. In this two-part case study, we’ll take you through how Senta and Melu work together to provide Cypher with top-class workflow, client communication and contact management.
Q: Matt, tell us what your firm provides, to whom, and how?
A (Cypher founder Matt Williams): I’d worked in a top 50 firm, but it didn’t quite fit for me – I wanted to run my own practice. It launched in 2019, had 50 clients within a year and we’re now running at more than 400. We’ve been benchmarked as a high-performing firm by Xero, which is great. We work with lots of entrepreneurial people, but aren’t niche. We see ourselves as a service providing firm – the client journey is the key. We offer unlimited advice for a fixed price. This means discussions move beyond pure compliance towards business growth, cashflow and strategy. I see a barrier in more traditional firms because having a conversation means delivering a bill to the client. Things can get a bit crazy, but we have a strong team – we know it works because our clients keep referring us. Our inboxes are run by a practice manager, and we use WhatsApp a lot to have quick communication. This also means that if things become more complex then those issues are moved onto our team to resolve – our qualified accountants manage day-to-day tasks and that removes stress because of their quality and experience.
While we’re not a corporate finance business, the nature of a tranche of our client base is that they will go on to sell. We increase our fees to them as their business evolves and moves to that event – particularly as they will need more from us at that time.
Q: Explain why Senta and Melu were chosen at Cypher’s inception.
A (Matt): I had a nine-month notice period from my previous firm, which gave me time to organise my tech stack for Cypher. I had carte-blanche, with a brand new practice, to build it as we wanted. I attended the last Accountex before Covid lockdowns, in 2019, to look at Senta and its competition. Key for me at that point was linking in with onboarding tech GoProposal (which I was already impressed with). Senta did this, and the conversations I had about the product sealed it for me.
Melu is an online chat service that operates through practices’ website – it gives existing and prospective clients a 24/7 opportunity to make contact with us, and that information comes through to the practice to be acted upon. We already had Melu lined up as a client of ours from day one, and its co-founder Lee Rennie had helped us build our website. Our brand is digital, and so our website had to represent that.
Q: How does the tech make your practice work?
A (Matt): We had GoProposal chosen to lead our sales and onboarding; we were selling the idea that everything is tech-focused and efficient – Senta’s workflow allows us to take crucial client information and pre-sales data to win clients and then show them a seamless process at the start of their journey with us.
Melu are, as a first (or ongoing) point of contact absolutely crucial in winning clients and keeping existing ones happy. For example, a prospective client can chat with us through Melu’s teach and team very quickly – information then comes through to us at Cypher and we can quickly have a discovery call appointment in Cypher’s diary – when we look at GoProposal’s system then that information has flowed through as well. We want clients to think we’re ‘astonishingly good’, and Senta and Melu are early stage in terms of what a client sees of us. From the first live chat, through the capture of information and to the start of onboarding.
If you’d like to use cloud based practice management software to power up your practice, all the functionality of Senta has now been incorporated into IRIS Elements. You can take a free trial here.
And if you want to find out more about Accountants using MELU click here.