Practice Management Tech Trends

How Successful Accountants Are Solving the Communication Challenge

Written by Mike Page

How many times a week do you hear the words: ‘I didn’t get your email’? Email was once the most effective way of communicating with clients, but now emails have a way of ending up in their junk folder where they are unlikely to see them, let alone open and read them.

Our own research suggests that the open rate for emails is very low at just 23 percent, and as email applications employ more machine learning, this is likely to fall even further. Even if the subscriber has signed up for emails by a company, more are being re-routed to spam folders as predictive technology determines whether the user will want to receive that message.

How are successful accountants solving the communication challenge?  They are increasingly finding that the best way to reach clients is with consistent messaging across multiple channels, and part of this strategy is to use a mobile communications platform that becomes the ‘go-to’ place for all communication.

Businesses are now spoiled, with lots of channels to choose from and everyone has their own favorite, but here are our top 5 that are returning great results for the accountants using them as part of their communication strategies.

1.    Text messaging

Texts have an excellent open rate of 90 percent so if you want to get a client’s attention and ensure they see your message, this is an effective option. The downside is that the cost of sending can be high.

2.    Chat-based apps such as WhatsApp

Chat-based apps are beginning to gain an advantage over email when it comes to business communications. Companies that need to be able to  rely on efficient and streamlined communication systems have started to use them – and smaller businesses are following suit. WhatsApp, for example, provides a simple, multi-platform and ultimately free solution.

When it comes to easing communication, apps win out over email, as they can provide a way of texting, calling and checking voicemail over WiFi, even when you have no phone signal. However, a disadvantage to their use is that they cannot be linked to other practice systems or joined up with other connection methods.

3.    Push notifications

These pop-up notifications can be used to help communicate with clients and contacts quickly and easily, and delivery can be automated to individuals and groups. These notifications almost immediately ‘ping’ onto the home screen of client’s mobile devices and have a 93 percent open rate, which means that these messages are almost always read – typically, within minutes of delivery. This presents firms with the opportunity to automate the distribution of content, ranging from reminders about an upcoming meeting to news on services and invites to webinars, and because they can be automatically triggered by sending an email, push notifications are a huge boon to productivity.

One of their advantages is that is easy to track and identify whether clients have received messages, and our mobile platform makes it is possible to automatically link to emails. How does this work? If an accountant sends an email to a client to remind them of a meeting or something they need to do, the email is automatically converted to a push notification message, so they receive both – and the chances of getting your voice heard increases significantly.

4.    Facebook messenger

Today, businesses are increasingly connecting through a powerful, personal new medium: messaging.

Business messaging is gaining a measurable edge over more traditional communication methods as client expectations evolve. The immediacy of messaging wins hands down in terms of appeal as time becomes an ever more precious resource.  It also meets the demand for personal client interactions and a streamlined experience.

5.    Pick up the phone

Don’t forget that picking up a phone to talk to a client can be a very powerful act. With so many different channels evolving, making a business call has fallen to the bottom of the list and yet, the simple act of making that call can be perceived as requiring real time and commitment and that your firm is offering a greater level of care.  

A mobile communications platform

Ultimately, it’s not about one channel being better than another; it’s more about employing consistent messaging across multiple channels. One client may respond to texts while another will prefer push notifications, so as with most things in life, it’s down to choosing the right channel to ensure the best levels of response.

Employing the appropriate communication channel can be achieved more easily with a customizable mobile communications platform. Every connection goes through the firm’s app, giving the accountant the flexibility to customize the method of communication according to client preference. This approach can help future-proof the firm’s communication strategy, and above all, cuts through all the social media noise and ensures the accountant’s voice is still heard.

About the author

Mike Page

Mike Page is Head of Product Management and Customer Experience strategy at MyFirmsApp™, developers of the largest global App platform for accountants. As a qualified accountant himself, Mike appreciates the challenges faced by the profession in a world where always-on clients are demanding instant answers and he firmly believes that Apps can help put accountants at the heart of their clients’ mobile lives.

As App stacks and App Add on Communities grow, the role of MyFirmsApp as the leading App integrator for accountants will become increasingly critical. Mike's goal is to put an App in every accounting firm in the world.

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