Flexible client service starts with mindset
Making a successful shift to working remotely isn’t linked to the size of the practice. It’s more about mindset, writes Wolters Kluwer, Tax & Accounting UK MD, Matt Crook.
For firms that have spent recent years investing in their IT, the transition to remote working during the coronavirus lockdown has largely been business as usual.
Ten years ago, this might not have been the case, but with better internet connectivity and cloud-based applications, the operational transition has become more manageable.
There has been a geographical aspect for some firms – perhaps those living in rural areas who may not have great internet access – but once those more rudimentary challenges were remedied, most of our customers have been able to function at the same level because their internal infrastructure is already equipped for effective remote working.
The new working environment imposes some challenges on internal working methods and processes, but one of the biggest culture changes has been around communication internally and externally.
We’re all familiar with live YouTube sessions and Zoom meetings, but there is a danger that many of these virtual events turn into passive “show and tell” sessions that leave attendees feeling disengaged.
Connect with clients
More importantly, we’re hearing more from customers about how critical it is to connect directly with clients – and give them answers in the moment. In previous face-to-face encounters accountants usually relied on a physical file or set of accounts that would then be discussed at the meeting. With remote interactions, clients expect to be able to access shared information on-screen and to have meaningful discussions about specific numbers and transactions.
If I’m a client, I want to have one meeting to answer my various questions. If you’re able to see all the detail in one place and query data live, clients get what they need from their accountant on the spot. They also have a more satisfying experience and achieve real value for money.
Faced with the pressures and emergencies of the coronavirus outbreak, business owners and managers are turning in larger numbers to their accountants for wider business advice, such as how to manage cashflow, prioritising payments to suppliers, establishing what government assistance is available to them and so on.
This surge in demand for advisory work has pushed many accountants into new advisory territories. Yet as the volume of client queries has surged, the accountants who were able to have those conversations with clients were able to drill into fine detail and the minutiae of transactions and trends in a speedy, efficient manner.
This is where technology can help with end-to-end digital processes for document access and practice management to support those advisory conversations. More efficient systems free up more of the accountants’ time to deliver what their clients really need from them right now, which is great advice. It’s all about being a trusted business partner.
Ultimately, our customers are showing incredible resilience in these challenging times and I greatly admire the part they are playing in keeping society running. At Wolters Kluwer Tax & Accounting UK perspective, we’re committed to being their partner and helping them and their clients through rapid and fundamental change in the days and weeks ahead.
The Best Kept Secrets webinar series from Wolters Kluwer Tax & Accounting UK includes sessions on document management and workflow along with twice weekly 5min Bite Size hints and tips videos.
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Managing Director for Wolters Kluwer Tax & Accounting UK, Matt is responsible for the strategic direction and operational excellence of the UK business. He is dedicated to ensuring that customers are the top priority and that Wolters Kluwer Tax & Accounting UK delivers excellence through software and services at every touch point.