Here are some clever ways to lift your tech game – and deliver better service to your business clients.
Technology has revolutionised the way we travel, shop, interact and manage our money. And because of the convenience digital services offer, our expectations for fast, seamless experiences have never been higher – putting every business under pressure to deliver.
Staying relevant in a tech-happy world
Sholto Macpherson is the editor of accounting technology blog DigitalFirst. He was also a keynote speaker at the 2019 Count Annual Conference.
He says it can be tough for accountants to stay ahead of the digital curve, especially if they’re working with outdated desktop-practice software. He also believes, that to stay relevant to clients, accounting businesses will need to embrace technology.
But rather than comparing themselves to other accounting firms, they should seek to recreate the experiences their clients have on their smartphones and social media platforms.
“Consumer grade is better than business grade when it comes to digital experiences,” Macpherson says. “And there are ways to emulate that, but it takes money, time – and commitment to change.”
The right app for the job
Many businesses already use online accounting software – particularly those with more than 20 employees who were the first to fall under the ATO’s single touch payroll (STP) requirement.1
But accounting software on its own can’t always cover the needs of a business. For example, those with complex stock requirements may also need an inventory management solution that integrates into their accounting software.
Helping small businesses choose the right apps and tools to manage their business is one way accountants can add extra value to their clients, says Macpherson. They can simplify the time-consuming task of comparing solutions, and create more efficient processes for their clients – as well as saving time and money for their practice.
“If you have a say in the software your business clients are using – and you can make sure it connects to their accounting software – it should reduce the amount of data entry you need to do.”
Mapping data to gain business insight
Macpherson says that by using the operational information provided by integrated apps, accountants can move beyond financial data and KPIs when providing business advisory services. Some are already taking the lead.
“Late last year we saw this emerging – with some firms getting into data engineering,” Macpherson explains. “They connect the operational software with the accounting data, then automate it to collect it on an ongoing basis – and then map it all in real time.”
By connecting operational and financial data, accountants are able to provide their clients with deeper insights into the way their business operates – building deeper and more valuable client relationships.
“Only a handful of firms are doing it now,” he says. “It’s clearly going to be something we see more of in the future.”
3 tips to better serve your tech savvy clients
Creating a better digital experience and service to your clients doesn’t mean undertaking a large IT project. Here are three clever ways you can update your approach to surprise and delight your tech-savvy clients:
1. Switch from email to faster, easier-to-use messaging platforms like Slack or Microsoft Teams.
2. Ensure your clients are aware of tools and apps for expenses like Receipt Bank, Xero Expenses, Expensify and Squirrel Street, which let them quickly photograph receipts and save them into accounting software.
3. Attend an event like the Accounting Business Expo or Accountech Live, to catch up on the latest tech developments impacting the industry.
1. ATO website, Single Touch Payroll, 2019.