How can technology improve the client journey?

How can technology improve the client journey?

Louise Wilson, business manager at communications provider, Moneypenny, gives her top tips on how technology can improve the client journey and boost sales.

How can technology improve the client journey?

The ongoing proliferation of new technology over the last 10 years has changed consumer behaviours and expectations beyond recognition. Competition is fierce and consumers are more knowledgeable and demanding than ever before throughout the client journey. As a result, accountancy practices must begin to digitise and automate processes if they are to make time for innovation, find greater operational efficiencies and importantly, stay relevant.

An essential part of this process is to improve how leads are captured and to ensure that clients feel valued from their very first encounter. This focus on the customer experience will, in turn, help to improve reputation, grow the client portfolio organically and, boost the bottom line.

Despite being one of the early adopters of the Software as a Service (SSAS) model with programmes such as Sage, the accounting industry has not been a trailblazer when it comes to technology. However, following innovations with cloud-based accounting, integration solutions and analytics tools and, with the imminent arrival of artificial intelligence, robotics, augmented reality and more, practices are starting to see how they can improve efficiency and heighten their insights with technology.

So, just how can technology improve the client journey?

Capture every enquiry

No matter how clients and prospects choose to make contact – phone, email, social media or online form – maximum effort should be made to ensure that every enquiry is acknowledged. Moreover, they should be responded to in a timely and professional manner – you only get one chance to make a first impression, after all. Practices must prioritise important training in customer service and set clear boundaries and expectations with front-of-house staff as to how prospects and clients will be greeted, how information is captured and how leads are passed through the business.

Technology can add real value here and help to guarantee that valuable leads don’t go unnoticed at any time of day or night. Tools such as telephone answering services – whether it’s an over-flow, out of hours or fully-outsourced solution – can offer peace of mind that every lead is handled with the same level of care and professionalism regardless of when prospects get in touch. This technology also helps to free up valuable people-power, leaving in-house staff the time to focus on more value-added activities.

Collate meaningful insights

Accountancy practices are already getting to grips with big data and the opportunity it presents to improve the effectiveness, efficacy and efficiency of their work. But it can make a very real difference to the customer experience and client journey too.

Our research has shown that enquirers using live chat tend to offer more personal information than through any other marketing channel. They discuss their circumstances openly and share their concerns, fears and challenges with ease. It seems that the act of typing rather than talking helps prospects to be themselves and share the truth of their concerns, which presents a significant opportunity for financial professionals. On an immediate level, these insights can help to improve individual customer understanding and give useful cues as to the appropriate style, tone and content of further communication needed to take them through the sales cycle. On a more strategic level, these live chat conversations can help to identify wider trends and opportunities that can help to shape the future client experience.

Live chat goes beyond the factual, transactional and administrative aspects of customer communication to establish a more personal and affable connection. It has the ability to transform faceless websites into a personable and tailored communication channel that can deliver highly valuable customer intelligence and insights.

Provide outstanding service

Perhaps the most important determiner of the client journey is the quality of service a firm provides. It can set one practice apart from the competition and unlock referrals and repeat business. A firm that shows itself to be accessible, responsive, and client-centric from the very first interaction – is one that will do well in a digital, fast-paced and competitive market place. The world of communications is changing and so are client expectations. Research shows that the average person leaves a web page within 10 to 20 seconds if they don’t find what they’re looking for, so technology can play a major role in capturing these potential valuable enquiries.

Accountancy practices need to look beyond price and products to consider the whole customer experience and utilise the technology available to stand-out in a crowded market. Clients are looking for a reliable and brilliant experience every time, whatever channel or time of day they choose to engage. Those that continue to operate without a customer-first mentality, or the right digital tools, are at a significant risk of losing out.

Louise Wilson is Business Manager at outsourced communications provider, Moneypenny

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