Adding value to the customer experience; lessons from the trenches
For many accountancy practices, the relationship with customers is changing from process-driven tactical accounting and bookkeeping to one of added value and strategic financial consultancy. And it’s not only accountants driving change: IRIS continues to transform its own customer experience to support every aspect of the compliant end to end digital journey.
Just as we are encouraging accountancy practices to create a seamless customer experience, we’ve been improving our technology, processes and mindsets to support accountants as they revolutionise their businesses.
For the last few years, our customer service expertise evolved in silos: great for specific requests which required in depth knowledge, but these queries needed to be transferred to the correct expert which inevitably delayed solving some problems quickly and efficiently.
In the industry, accountancy practices field a variety of questions from clients; many are asked questions outside the core accounting remit, so to reflect the changing nature of the industry IRIS has restructured its customer service team.
Over the past year, we’ve implemented an extensive development programme for colleagues in customer service to become experts in a variety of subjects. Just as accountants have the comprehensive knowledge to respond to all manner of enquiries, we have extended the guidance accountancy practices seek, from essential accounting advice to wider business recommendations.
This change reflects the transformation across the industry and enables IRIS to provide strategic financial consultancy. From guidance on GDPR (general data protection regulation) and customer relationship management, to complete visibility of business performance; our focus is to resolve problems so accountants can focus on attracting new clients and growing their practices.
Businesses thrive from the relationships developed with customers and at IRIS we have extended customer service to include a website ‘chat’ function. Many have experienced huge benefits – from the time saved, the responsiveness of the customer expert and the ability to multi-task while online. We also recognise accountancy professionals have demanding days and are likely to spend time working out of hours, so have extended our telephone opening times to provide additional support.
Challenging every aspect of customer service is the basis of continual improvement. Alongside coaching customer experts, leadership skills are challenged and developed, teams are reorganised and deployed bringing different departments together. The goal is to ensure every element of customer service is seamless. It will always be work in progress – but as Frank Zappa said, “Without deviation from the norm, progress is not possible”.