Technology. It may make life easier and change the world for the better, but in accounting, it can also be disconcerting (they don’t call it “digital disruption” for nothing). How will it – or should it – affect daily practice? What’s the best way to use technology to enable higher growth and profitability? And how can you harness it to enhance the client experience and ensure customer satisfaction?
Client needs are changing with technology
Accounting service offerings have often consisted of tedious number crunching and paperwork by accountants servicing time poor and/or confused clients who have traditionally been loyal and long-standing.
Technology has made it easier for many clients to take a DIY approach to their accounts, particularly when it comes to basic tasks such as tax returns. The result for the accounting profession? Fee compression in the face of growing competition1.
But there are opportunities for accounting practices as well
Accountants willing to develop a more holistic relationship with their clients and broaden their service offering, will find there is a real opportunity to ensure that clients not only rely on them for bookkeeping but also advice and consultancy (including wealth advice).
Technology can be an advantage rather than a hindrance when it comes to diversifying your offering by allowing you to break down barriers and provide clients with more targeted advice. By doing so and providing holistic relationships you can stay relevant and competitive.
The bottom line? Technology can be a win-win
As individuals and businesses increasingly use online channels for transacting and communicating, technology can be used to collect rich information at an increasingly granular level. Cleverly used, this information can both improve client relationships and expand or enhance your services in line with genuine client needs. Think of it as supply of information enabling you to meet the demand of a potentially new, high value frontier.
A new, high value frontier
That frontier might contain new or expanded products and services and a new world of automation.
If you’re a regional practice, forget the constraints of geography. Technology can surmount traditional barriers to expanding your practice by allowing you to communicate with clients remotely. In short, technology can free you up to pursue and perform a wider breadth of high value work to build your accounting practice and secure an ever more rewarding career.
How to make it work
Here’s an example. Inputting your existing client knowledge into the appropriate technology solution can help you get in first with trigger point marketing and seamlessly communicate with your clients, to keep ahead of the pack.
The aim is to deliver relevant content and solutions to a particular client. So, a client entering their 50s can be targeted with information about superannuation and investing for retirement, for example. Or a tax return exceeding certain bracket could trigger a client check-in call.
Technology for business strength
There’s no question that accounting firms offering such services have a much stronger value proposition than traditional firms. A stronger value proposition is exactly what firms need to give them the best chance of growth and success as they face changes from new technology and other challenges such as new competitors and ongoing regulatory reform.
There’s a first mover advantage in a traditionally conservative sector, a small but very open window that will favour those who embrace technology to get ahead of the pack.
1 Accountants Research Report, Bstar, 2015.