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Remember your competitor is just a mouse click away

Joel Oliver explains how your app will help you both keep your existing clients and attract new ones

Today’s accountancy practices face an uphill challenge to keep their customers loyal. With the ‘Google effect’ meaning that competitors are only a click away, instilling loyalty among existing clients is the new imperative. It also makes economic sense, as it costs up to seven times more to acquire a new customer than keep an old one.

The role that apps can play in boosting client loyalty in today’s increasingly mobile world cannot be underplayed. Globally, time spent using apps has nearly doubled in the past two years and, on average, consumers spend two hours a day using apps.

Mobile apps are now the primary channel for many of us, and it’s clear that mobile is presenting accountants – and other businesses – with an unparalleled opportunity to engage directly with their customers. They are easy to access through an icon on the home screen; no URLs are required, and they currently provide the best experience on mobile devices.

Managing app stacks and add-ons

Your app does not have to be a single offering – there are many useful apps in the thriving add-on community. Xero, for example, has over 500 to choose from and by incorporating the really useful add-ons in your app, along with Cloud Accounting login portals, you can make sure that your clients see you as the main link between them, the principal software accounting companies and the add-on community.

Having the firm’s own branded app protects the accountant’s status as it provides the mechanism to link to the others from within the app. It also helps to alleviate confusion for clients as their home screens become more streamlined and your icon becomes the place to go for all financial and tax tools. Being able to own and serve the digital relationship with your clients is paramount and giving clients everything they need within a single App environment is great for both firm and client. A recent BBC Radio 4 Today programme interview highlighted how we are 62% less likely to do something if we have to go to multiple places to find that information.

How do apps affect customer loyalty?

Mobile apps provide a highly targeted channel for open communication that can be a powerful driver of customer loyalty. For example, with your own branded app it is much easier to send individual messages that are called ‘push notifications’ in this new digital world that are tailored to your specific client. Evidence suggests that triggered push notifications in particular deliver remarkably high ROI and, according to ZipStripe research, it takes an average of 6.5 hours to view an email but only 15 minutes to view these direct messages. Across the MyFirmsApp platform, we’ve learnt that firms sending just one push notification a month are experiencing a 50% uplift in engagement. When you focus that message on an individual or a segmented group, that engagement increases further.

When users see that a business is going the extra mile to speak to them personally, it can make all the difference in terms of their loyalty. Then, armed with data on what works, it is easier to continually optimise to make messages more and more effective.

Making your app platform, the centre of your client’s business activities also helps to drive customer loyalty and is made easier with useful tools that become part and parcel of their day.

Information from smartphone cameras can be integrated and processed within a native app and used to record copies of receipts and invoices, which can then be sent directly to the accountant and help provide a compelling user experience for the business owner. Everyone likes that feeling of achievement and of a job being completed and the receipt management tool really helps to deliver that all-important connection between the client and accountant.

The mileage tracker is another highly popular tool made possible by the native app ecosystem. It utilises the GPS functionality found in smartphones to detect the user’s location, records the business mileage for each trip and stores the data in a file that can easily be exported to the accountant. Because it only requires one push of a button to start the tracking device, it soon becomes second nature and solves an age-old administrative issue that has frustrated businesses and employees for years.

Drive new behaviour

One of the challenges of introducing great new apps and cloud software to clients is getting them to actually engage with them, and so by bringing them into the firms OneApp, it allows them to use push notifications to more easily lead and drive that new behaviour.”

How access is managed is a major consideration in this new digital world and it is important not to give away trusted adviser status. It is all too easy to be cut out of the loop and also for the efficiencies which should be gained by using the right cloud software, to inadvertently create a disparate and sub-optimal environment for the client.

With adults spending most of their time on their smartphones on apps, accountants have it in their grasp to boost customer loyalty by delivering a tailored app experience that reaches out and makes the client feel valued.

  • Joel Oliver is CEO of MyFirmsApp

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