Ascent Financial is far from your typical consulting agency. The company serves the agricultural community with business and transition planning. They currently assist over 3,000 clients in seven U.S. states.
It's important to them to ensure client satisfaction by providing thorough reports and granular visibility into projects and tasks.
Though Ascent Financial has held onto a steady client base, Britt Waibel, who has worked at the company for almost three years, found that employees were frustrated with the amount of time they spend on manual work each month. She also found that this major pain point was beginning to trickle down to their clients.
"We didn’t know where each case was in the process,” Britt recalls. “We couldn't see where our clients were at, which was causing issues."
Britt was tasked with finding a solution. Prior to using Accelo, Ascent Financial relied on a home-grown, legacy system, but quickly found that it lacked what the company needed.
"The system was outdated and wasn't very user-friendly," she says. "It doesn't have the nice, clean workflows we needed.”
Britt is responsible for sending invoices to clients, receiving payments and tracking consulting hours. Before Accelo, she was spending 12 hours per month manually entering information into Ascent Financial’s previous system.
She remembers a particular situation where a sales consultant sent an email to a client that she was not CC'd on. The consultant was out-of-office, the client was struggling to find the email and there was no other way to pull essential details to complete the task. They had no choice but to contact the consultant again, causing frustration all around.
For a company that prides itself on providing excellent customer service, this lack of visibility was cringeworthy.
Britt found Accelo after doing extensive research on alternative solutions. Right away, she noticed how easy it was to use. She was impressed by its crisp, clean interface and the promise of improved visibility.
"We work with some senior consultants, so it's important that they can figure it out and there are as few steps as possible — as opposed to the 16 steps you need to take for the same result in the old system. We needed something more user-friendly."
After doing extensive research and sampling five other solutions, she chose to move forward with Accelo.
The Projects and Retainers products have been particularly helpful for Ascent Financial, as they eliminated the need to record hours and payments in Excel and equipped the company with new budget-tracking capabilities.
Britt and her team can now collect upfront payments instead of doing work first and sending a bill later. Because this is the primary manner in which Ascent Financial does business, the Retainers functionality stood out.
Since implementing Accelo, Britt has seen measurable, company-wide improvements.
Accelo has helped me immensely with organizing and knowing right away what's been done yesterday or the day before. I can also plan ahead and check what's coming up in the next month or two.
The time Britt dedicates to monthly invoicing and reports decreased by 67%. And as a company, Ascent Financial now saves 25 hours per month.
Client and consultant happiness are also on the rise. Invoices are paid on time, which results in contractors being compensated on time.
Britt sums up the change: "Almost everything is done in Accelo. We no longer have to do things manually, and it has given us a lot of time back."
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