Delivering Client Care With a Wow — The Case For Outsourcing
Outsourcing important business functions such as marketing, HR and IT to attract cost savings, leverage expertise and gain greater competitive advantage has long been normal practice for accountancy firms – so why have so many been reticent to outsource aspects of client service until now? And how can firms be sure everything is on brand when they do?
Louise Wilson, Business Manager - Corporate from Moneypenny, which provides telephone answering and live services to many UK accountancy practices — including five of the Top 30 — explains more.
Traditionally, the biggest motivations for outsourcing were cost-savings or a requirement for a particular skill set not available in-house. Now, however, there’s an acceptance that outsourcing can also be about innovation and collaboration with a view to improving business functions and even integrating new products and services.
This acceptance has stemmed from a change in terminology. Now, outsourcing refers to agile partnerships, where strategic relationships help firms to address their challenges and take advantage of new services, technologies and thinking they otherwise wouldn’t have access to. This is particularly true of the field we operate in, with telephone answering and live chat services, and it means we can offer firms of any size the artificial intelligence powered solutions that they wouldn’t be able to build in-house.
Much of this change in attitude around outsourcing can be attributed to the impact of ever-evolving new technologies in the accountancy sector. With greater competition from cloud-based software and a clear need to stand-out, recruit the best talent and allow accountants to do what they do best instead of getting sidelined by admin, it is now crucial for firms to rethink how they deliver value .
Research shows that 86% of customers would pay up to 25% more for a better customer service experience and by 2020, customer service will have overtaken product and price as a key differentiator. Today’s clients are informed, demanding and often without brand loyalty and that’s why client care is coming to the fore as a business-critical discipline worth outsourcing. Outsourcing presents a huge opportunity for accountancy firms and the benefits are clear.
Meet clients’ needs and expectations - In a 24/7 age, clients do not feel the constraints of traditional 9-5 office hours and will reach-out to potential accounting partners at all times of day and night. This is particularly true of small traders and micro businesses who typically catch up on their admin in the evenings and at weekends and want answers to their questions there and then. These clients know what they want and if they don’t get it, they will find another practice that can deliver. Outsourcing call handling and live chat means that you don’t have to worry about meeting these demands with in-house resource and can offer a consistent 24/7 service using clients’ preferred channels.
Quality, professionalism and consistency - Tardy responses to phone calls are among the regular gripes levied at accounting firms and small practices, but they don’t need to be. Outsourcing client care guarantees consistency and a high quality experience, smoothing out the bumps that occur when front-of-house teams are busy, and calls are redirected to other departments. Many accountancy businesses underestimate the amount of calls they miss by 30% and wrongly believe that voicemail will provide the back-up they need during busy times. In fact, 69% of callers choose to hang up rather than leave a voicemail message.
Protect the front-of-house experience - Reception and front-of-house teams work incredibly hard. They typically handle the switchboard and greet clients – two tasks that can be at odds with each other. Outsourcing switchboard handling, even if just at peak times, can enable the front-of-house team to give the warm and personable face-to-face welcome that gives visiting clients a positive first experience. This also avoids calls being diverted to employees in other departments, which can compromise professionalism and customer care.
Make your website presence work harder – A well-timed live chat pop-up can help to turn website visitors into potential new clients at any hour of the day. Then there are other unexpected benefits - enquirers via live chat tend to offer more personal information than through any other marketing channel, which presents an opportunity to improve client understanding and nurture prospects through the sales cycle. Outsourcing live chat makes it easy to provide 24/7 client care, meet changing consumer demands and make your website work harder too.
Flexibility and agility - Outsourcing doesn’t have to be an all or nothing option – finding a partner that offers overflow support or resource which you can turn on and off as your needs flex, is a huge part of the value of having an outsourced solution. Outsourcing also provides a means for smaller practices to make use of tech-led services such as AI powered telephony, that would normally be outside their reach, creating greater organisational agility and giving competitive advantage.
Ensuring a positive partnership
Building a successful partnership with an outsourced partner starts with agreeing the parameters of the relationship and should include identifying the business challenge to address, what success looks like and the breadth of services and support required. It’s also helpful to clarify the brand tone of voice and client care commitments up front so that a clear brief and day-to-day operating manual can be agreed.
Then, you should look for a partner which employs sector specialists and can demonstrate a real understanding of your sector. Excellent client care relies on a true understanding of clients’ needs. A dedicated team with accounting sector experience will be able to work as a seamless extension to your team — already familiar with terminology, the need for efficiency and the value of professionalism.
Outsourcing pivotal business functions and building strategic partnerships with experts, will give accountancy practices access to the tools and skills they need to adapt to the modern world of business. For client care in particular, telephone answering, live chat and switchboard services support firms on the front line – shaping first impressions, engaging clients, bringing brand values to life and dramatically increasing the likelihood of a referral, repeat business or good review.
Whether you call it outsourcing or a strategic partnership, the business value is clear, and it represents a huge opportunity for the accounting sector.
To find out more about outsourcing telephone answering or live chat services to Moneypenny, visit http://www.moneypenny.com/uk/accountancy-answering-services/
 Temkin Group research as quoted in Forbes: https://www.forbes.com/sites/danielnewman/2018/04/10/want-better-custome...
 Forbes research: https://www.forbes.com/sites/danielnewman/2018/04/10/want-better-custome...
 Moneypenny’s legal intelligence insights 2018
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Moneypenny, the world’s leading provider of outsourced communications, delivers 24/7 telephone answering and live chat services to accountancy practices of all sizes, helping them to capture every lead and improve client care.