Client expectations in accounting are undergoing a profound shift. Beyond financial reports and tax filings, clients now demand personalized, always-on services and strategic advisory.
This evolution from a services-based to a relationship-based industry underscores the importance of the client experience. To truly differentiate their firms, accountants must create an experience that leaves a lasting impression.
Technology can play a significant role in helping firms delight clients. But it’s not about adding more tools to your tech stack, which is a common practice. Instead, firms should start by defining their ideal client experience and the role technology will play to roll out that experience.
What’s wrong with the client experience today?
- Too many single-solution tools in your tech stack. It’s easy to look at technology as the answer to better client experiences. But, when you have a different app for each step in the customer lifecycle, this complexity forces clients (and employees) to constantly switch apps throughout. It’s time-consuming, frustrating, and slows down workflows.
- Clients are doing more work. There are accounting firms today that still rely on manual, paper-based processes. Without tools to automate or streamline, manual tasks fall on the client. Tasks like filling out their personal information over and over; manually downloading and uploading forms; signing documents with wet-signatures and mailing them back. Clients are increasingly taking on the “little things” that make their experience feel dated and time-consuming.
- Your employees also want the technology to work for them. In a recent study, 57% of accountants said they’re able to do their jobs effectively, but not efficiently. That’s why firms would prefer to streamline repetitive and time-consuming tasks so their people can focus on doing their best work. Adding to this, 95% of accountants say automation will enhance the service experience they provide.
Find a better solution by putting client experiences first
Instead of rushing to buy new software every time a bottleneck or problem arises, take a step back. Start the conversation by defining the kind of client experience your firm wants to be known for. Because while technology is ever-evolving, it will never replace the need for human relationships. Employees nurture client relationships, not apps.
When you approach solutions with a client experience-first mentality, it helps you
- Define where and how technology can help your team deliver those essential personal touch-points
- Find tools that work with existing workflows, creating real efficiencies that can empower your team to provide better service
- Eliminate costly tools purchased too quickly that don’t support this broader approach
How the right software can improve your client experience
When selected strategically and thoughtfully, technology can meet the needs of your clients and the accountants serving them. So, how can you be sure your firm is choosing the best solution? Look for these attributes:
- Makes the experience ridiculously easy for clients. Accounting involves a lot of paperwork, so look for a solution that can streamline those document-centric workflows. Features like cloud access, auto-fill, e-signature, and a client portal put all of the tools a client need to complete their document-specific tasks in one centralized place.
- Automates low-value tasks. By automating repetitive tasks, employees are more efficient, freeing them to focus on meaningful client interactions and providing strategic insights (not to mention, making them more satisfied in their jobs). Look for a digital solution that streamlines processes that are known to have bottlenecks. For example, PBC lists or new service agreements.
- Integrates with your favorite tools. Whether you love Outlook or Gmail, find tools that fit into your existing tech ecosystem. This way, the solution you choose doesn’t require your employees to change the way they like to work.
- Consolidates multiple tools. Prioritize a solution that helps consolidate (or at least streamline) the tools you use into a single platform so clients don’t have to use multiple applications to get things done.
- Can accommodate your existing workflows. If your technology doesn’t consider the ways in which your people work, it ultimately won’t work for them. Accountants need solutions that streamlines repetitive tasks, like onboarding, so they can focus on better quality service.
Delighting clients and employees isn’t as hard as you think
Finding the right technology that uncomplicates your tech stack shouldn’t feel impossible. With solutions like ShareFile for Accounting, you can create an effective balance that not only increases client engagement but also enhances employee efficiency and productivity. That’s a win-win for everyone.
For more tips on choosing the right collaboration solution for your firm, download the ebook