5 Customer Insights For a Quick Covid Recovery

11th May 2020
Brought to you by
moneypenny
Share this content

 

Louise Wilson from Moneypenny
Louise Wilson from Moneypenny
Here, Louise Wilson from Moneypenny outlines five key customer insights that will help accountancy practices to prepare for a quick Covid recovery.

 

As the accountancy sector readies itself for life after lockdown, it’s important to recognise some of the fundamental and new client behaviours that will inform and shape how firms respond - particularly when it comes to handling new enquiries.

1. People value human interaction

Call duration in the accountancy sector has increased by 10%[1] during lockdown – largely due to callers having more complex needs and wanting to feel more connected to others. 

The pandemic experience has created a new expectation of the brands and businesses we interact with. We want more authentic and personal connections so, while life after lockdown might see call durations and volumes return to normal, our desire for meaningful human contact will remain.

59% of clients consider being treated as an individual as more important than how quickly their needs were met or an issue resolved.[2]  During a pandemic, this need to be heard and helped is even more important and the accountancy practices that have been doing it well, will be remembered for it.

If someone isn’t available immediately, a friendly individual noting down a message offers a much more positive experience than reaching an impersonal voicemail. Before Covid, statistics showed that people do not like leaving voicemails and 69%[3] of people will hang up. Plus, even if someone does leave a message there’s no guarantee it will be answered.  A third of people only listen to voicemails from those they know and as few as 18% of people listen to voicemails from strangers[4]. After Covid, voicemail is likely to be an even bigger turn off.

This desire to talk to people also presents an opportunity, as longer interactions – be they over the phone or via live chat – can provide invaluable client insights. It is possible to gauge appetite for a certain offering, improve the understanding of audience segments and tailor products and services accordingly.

Accountancy practices with real people who show interest, empathy and urgency will stand-out and make clients feel important and valued.  

2. People will tell you a lot about themselves if you let them

Enquirers via live chat tend to offer more personal information than through any other marketing channel.

Live chatters discuss their circumstances openly, share their concerns and offer up valuable insights. It seems that the act of typing rather than talking is freeing and it presents a significant opportunity to improve client knowledge and nurture prospects through the sales cycle.

This might include specific challenges in relation to furloughing and the financial support packages that are available, to a company’s specific problems with HMRC.

Live chat also helps to make your website work harder by increasing the likelihood of turning visitors into enquirers.  It can also be used to triage enquiries to keep volumes away from the phones.

3. People prefer the phone for new business 

Despite a boom in the use of social media to contact businesses, the telephone still remains the most important communication method for customers.   In fact, 43% of UK businesses say phone calls are even more important due to the lockdown[5] and 31% of accountancy practices are receiving more calls than there were 5 years ago[6].

Google’s Click to Call is partly responsible for this.  Clients may conduct preliminary research online, but they still want and need to talk to a practice once they know what they want.  

Ensuring that calls are answered professionally and efficiently will be critical to speedy business recovery and ultimate survival.  10%[7] of all new phone calls in the accountancy sector are new business leads with an average value of more than £2,000[8] per call; so missed calls are lost lucrative opportunities.  

4. People want reassurance and expertise

The desire for reassurance is one of the top reasons why customers and clients call accountancy practices[9], especially during the economic uncertainty of Covid-19.

During the pandemic, people have relied on the support of professionals as qualified advice has been critical in helping individuals and business navigate unchartered waters. In a post-COVID world, it’s likely we will all turn to trusted advisors more readily. Reassurance comes from being human, contactable and efficient at all times.

For many accountancy firms this might involve the use of helplines.  Setting up an outsourced helpline shows commitment and expertise and means that accountancy firms are equipped to handle heightened demand, while maintaining the human touch. 

5. People are inherently impatient

Once lockdown restrictions are eased, clients will go back to expecting quick responses to their enquiries and calls, particularly as they adjust to a new reality. Unfurloughing staff, revisiting costs and restructuring businesses will be on the cards for many, so it will be vital for accountancy practices to put the resource in place, be that inhouse or outsourced, to meet renewed demand and enquiry volumes.  Being contactable is crucial to a fast recovery and that means answering every single call and live chat.

The pandemic experience has forced everyone to re-evaluate what matters. The accountancy practices that maintain a human touch and are accessible, friendly and caring, will continue to do well. It all starts with responding to clients’ expectations, catering for new behaviours and perhaps most importantly of all, answering the phone.

[1] Moneypenny’s own data

[2] Data from Gladly’s 2018 Customer Service Expectations Survey as quoted on Forbes.

[3] Taken from Moneypenny’s own research insights

[4] Research quoted here: https://www.cbsnews.com/news/are-you-still-checking-voice-mail/

[5] Moneypenny research that was carried out by 3GEM www.3gem.com between 3rd and 15th April 

[6] Moneypenny’s Financial Value of a Call Report 2020

[7] Moneypenny’s Financial Value of a Call Report 2020

[8] Moneypenny’s Financial Value of a Call Report 2020

[9] As per data from Moneypenny’s Value of a Call Report – the most common reason people use the phone is for urgent responses (48%) followed by the desire to verify online research (40%) and the need for reassurance (39%)