Business Continuity Oversights – How Accountancy Practices Can Plug The Gaps Quickly

20th Apr 2020
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Louise Wilson from Moneypenny

The best business continuity plans consider all scenarios that could seriously impact a business. But what happens when a crisis was completely unforeseen? Covid 19 has forced accounting businesses, and countless others, to rethink and reorganise their operations almost overnight.

The slightly-more prepared companies may have planned for power outages, data breaches, fires and floods and even terrorist attacks; but not a pandemic and almost certainly not a scenario where remote working has essentially become mandatory, movement is compromised and face-to-face business is off limits.

According to research released last month, 55% of UK workers had little or no experience of working from home[1]; until now. With change the new normal, there are four main challenges which many practices have suddenly found themselves unsure how to address. These are:

How can we collaborate remotely?

As the majority of the UK workforce is forced to work remotely, finding ways to collaborate digitally, rather than face to face has become imperative. 

For those without collaboration technologies or experience of video calls, it’s time to maximise some of the Cloud-based low cost tools such as Skype, Google Hangouts and Zoom or project management tools such as Slack, which has the added benefit of replacing internal emails. In fact, many of these providers are currently offering their tools free, in the hope they’ll become the norm after lockdown. Each of these provides a relatively intuitive experience for even the most un-tech-savvy and helps teams to work together at the click of a button.

These tools also get employees talking, which can help to address some of the wellbeing concerns about isolation. It also provides a perfect opportunity for businesses to stress-test a variety of different technologies to see which they might adopt in the longer term.

How can we make sure quick, efficient and professional client care isn’t compromised?

Ensuring calls are answered professionally and quickly is a business necessity, particularly in uncertain times when people look for more advice, reassurance and guidance.  Under normal operating conditions we know that missed calls cost business – 45% of calls result in a new enquiry[2] and 69%[3] of people won’t leave a voicemail message.  Right now, it’s realistic to think that people’s patience is compromised and that new business queries about furlough, tax relief and the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme abound.

For most accounting businesses, customer service starts with reception, but with many telephone systems dependent on having someone in the office to operate them, it can be almost impossible to manage client calls remotely.

The quickest and most efficient solution is to put a blend of telephone answering and live chat services in place.  Telephone answering systems can maintain a professional welcome with receptionists taking messages and directing calls to remote workers as appropriate. Alternatively, you could use a free digital switchboard service which uses AI voice technology in the Cloud to allow callers to ‘self-serve’ without the need for a receptionist. Working in tandem with live chat improves things further, triaging web enquiries quickly in order to keep volume away from the phones.

What tools can my team use quickly and without hefty upfront investment?

With little time to plan, many accountants will be struggling with the realities of paper-heavy practices and how to share digital documents securely. Some of the quickest solutions involve using a secure Cloud provider for server hosting, Google documents for collaborative documents and secure file sharing sites such as Egress, Diligent and Dropbox, as well as calling on the services of document and information management specialists.

While use of these solutions would ordinarily require time onerous due diligence, there are clear benefits to speeding up this process. Prior to Covid 19, the two main barriers[4] to the adoption of new technology were cost and concern about business disruption. But we’re now in a fight or flight situation and disruption is forcing companies to act or run the risk of long term, potentially irreparable damage. 

How do I keep my team motivated and bring our company culture to life?

Maintaining company culture and camaraderie has never been more important.   Pre-Covid19 figures reveal that more than half of remote workers felt disconnected from in-office employees[5] and that 19% of remote workers reported loneliness as their biggest challenge[6].  During enforced lockdown, these feelings will heighten. 

Simple tools include setting up departmental WhatsApp groups and using Workplace by Facebook, which provides one platform for employees and managers to share news and achievements. Quickly deploying technologies like these can help to reinforce company values, bring employees together virtually and create a sense of ‘we’re in this together’.

Covid 19 will change the world of work irrevocably. It’s forcing accountancy practices of all sizes to think about agility and how they use technology in order to survive, let alone thrive.  Prior to Covid, 47%[7] of business professionals felt that the most important attribute for a business leader in the digital era is the ability to react promptly.  This has never been truer.

It is the accountancy firms that think on their feet, put faith in their people and embrace new technology, that will thrive.

By Louise Wilson, Business Manager – Corporate at Moneypenny

Moneypenny provides telephone answering and live chat services to hundreds of financial services businesses and is trusted by the UK’s top accounting firms, including five of the top 30. 

Established in 2000, Moneypenny is the world's market leader for telephone answering, live chat, outsourced switchboard and customer contact solutions. In total, more than 13,000 businesses across the UK benefit from Moneypenny’s mix of extraordinary people and ground-breaking technology.

For more information about Moneypenny’s work in the financial sector visit: 

www.moneypenny.com/uk/accountancy-answering-services