Suddenly I See: Using Lucidchart To Draw Diagrams For Clients, In The Cloud
As an accountant or consultant, you’ll often find yourself in a role where you’re the teacher, explaining technical concepts to your clients such as asset protection strategies, tax-effective structures or—increasingly these days if you’re a cloud-savvy advisor—data flows between cloud-based accounting apps like Xero, bank accounts, and other apps the client is (or could be) using.
These topics can be quite abstract and bewildering to your clients if they just sit and listen to a verbal explanation of them. As I’m sure you’ve experienced as an advisor, it helps to explain concepts and advice with diagrams.
Sure, you can use pen-on-paper on the desk across from the client, or stand up at the whiteboard and explain the concepts, but here’s an easy way you can wow your clients and add greater value.
Using cloud-based diagramming tools you can explain a concept clearly and visually, and also easily share it with clients. You can even use it as a collaboration and communication tool where the client can later ask questions about the diagram online, and you can answer them within the diagram.
It’s a living breathing tool for better client-advisor communication. Gotta love cloud apps.
Let’s say you have a client who wants to understand the ins and outs of an asset protection structure you’re putting in place for her business and family. If you’re prepared, you’ll have a generic template you can modify easily on the fly via dragging and dropping on the screen right in front of the client. For best effect, draw it in front of the client, so they can see it build and understand the strategy and structure one step at a time. (To take it to the next level again, you could even record a screencast (video) of the screen as you build the diagram, along with the audio of your commentary and their questions, and later send them the link to view ‘the replay’. Tools for recording screencasts include SnagIt, Camtasia and ScreenFlow. We teach our Academy members how to use tools like these.)
Through your use of clear and collaborative communication tools, your clients will feel better advised and are also more likely to tell others about their experience and how wonderfully tech savvy their accountant is, not to mention your more effective communication and the better understanding your clients will achieve.
We’ve road-tested and used a number of diagramming tools over the past few years including Visio, Gliffy and others, but the tool in this space that we use and love at PARADOX is Lucidchart. Anything you can do with a pen and paper, you can do with Lucidchart, and then some. Some of Lucidchart’s strengths include:
Real-time collaboration: You can easily share your diagrams with co-workers, clients, and supervisors. Changes are synced instantly and multiple collaborators can work on any document at once. This video gives a quick overview of Lucidchart.
Lucidchart is integrated into various platforms including Google Drive, Box, Jive, JIRA, and Confluence. These services are geared towards the enterprise market, and you might find that your clients are already plugged into one or more of them, particularly the first two. Integration gives advantages such as single sign-on (quick to login in) and easier centralised document retrieval (e.g. see your Lucidchart creations within Google Drive when you search),
Lucidchart’s flexibility allows you to share and collaborate with the technologically challenged, as well as more savvy types. Teamwork is easy due to it being cloud-based.
You can access shape libraries and community templates too. So whether you need to draw a structuring diagram, Venn Diagram or just a basic flow chart, Lucidchart makes it simple. Unlike your whiteboard, you also benefit from a full revision history which is handy when collaborating with others, in case some changes are made by others that need to later be reversed.
Pushing the envelope further, if you want your firm to be perceived as (and actually BE!) more up-to-date than most other firms, you can also embed diagrams on your website or in your client portal. That’s a great value-add for clients when you’re teaching them important concepts that help them build and protect their assets and improve their cashflow.
Through Brad Hanks at Lucidchart we’ve organised an extended free trial. Nothing in it for us. Just sharing the love. And cool tools. So dive in and experiment with Lucidchart. Happy diagramming! Your clients will thank you for it (and be wow’d by it)