Digitised customer service is no longer a customer experience nice to have; it’s an expectation.
Customers from all demographics are increasingly digitally-empowered, but this doesn’t necessarily translate to a digital-first customer service approach in the accounting and advisory sector. At MYOB we’ve seen from our own customers that the most effective customer service approach includes digital channels, but our human element is what sets us apart.
Here’s four reasons why despite increasingly sophisticated technology, great customer service must still be human-led:
1. Accounting and advisory customers don’t consider digital to be the most important channel
At MYOB, around 90% of our service interactions are self-service. Customers prefer to use digital channels for the basics, but when considering it against other channels they rank it quite low in terms of importance. When we asked customers what they thought was the most important channel, it is still overwhelmingly the phone. Add in the other “human” channels like email and live chat and the total accounts for 90% of customer preference. Look beyond what customer service channels are available to your business to see where your customers actually seek out information and how it is provided to them, and make these channels a priority.
2. When it comes to “the important stuff” customers still want to speak to somebody
The low ranking of digital compared to other channels can largely be attributed to the specifics of this sector. The accounting and advisory industry is complex and the penalties for getting things wrong are high. While customers are happy to seek out information or context online to help with day-to-day queries, they want to know when it comes to more critical questions they can speak to somebody and gain trusted and contextual advice. They don’t need it all the time, but they need it when it matters - so continuing to invest in human-led channels that can provide that in-depth and personalised detail is crucial for successful customer service.
3. Automation can support customer service, but shouldn’t drive it
Automating the simple things can make a huge difference for customers, and technology is now doing the heavy lifting in many areas of the accounting and financial advisory sector. This shouldn’t come at the cost of human involvement in the customer service strategy - in fact, it should free up more time for practices to spend with their clients.
We launched an artificial intelligence powered tool called MYOB Advisor after learning that 70% of the accountants and bookkeepers we spoke to said they would like to offer more advisory services to clients, but didn’t have the time to do it. MYOB Advisor digs through the data to create automated management reports, enabling a practice’s advisory services - still a human-centric skill - to scale.
4. Human relationships are just as important in a digital age
From messaging to chatbots to voice, digital channels will continue to drive new opportunities to provide customer service across all industries. However these new channels won’t eradicate the need for businesses to build human relationships with their customers - in fact, it’s more important than ever.
With more information than ever before at their fingertips and with more and more channels to connect, customers today expect a highly personalised experience. To deliver that, draw on digital channels to support your customer experience strategy, but put humans at the centre of your business. Take advantage of the opportunities digital tools enable to automate smaller tasks so you can free up time to deliver a truly personal service, helping your customers to focus on the important things that can truly help their business succeed.
As a nation, we’re not as digitally sophisticated as we might expect
As new tools emerge to help us strike the perfect balance between automation and customisation, in many cases, Australian small businesses are yet to adopt the basics. The MYOB Business Monitor investigates the performance and attitudes of Australian business owners. The June 2018 national survey indicates that Australian small businesses are lagging behind in relation to the adoption of digital tools.
Only 18% of Australian small businesses connect with their customers using a website and social media, with a further 17% adopting external communications tools (for conference calls etc) and just 20% using customer relationship management tools for marketing and after sales support. Retail and hospitality operators and manufacturing and wholesale companies lead the way in relation to use of online sales platforms (24% and 28% respectively) and adoption of instant payments technology (36% and 30%). Rural businesses are amongst the most likely to be technology laggards with up to 60% operating without any online presence whatsoever.
In competitive, global markets, embracing digital technology can make or break a business. When it comes to providing superior customer service, if human-led digital encounters are the way forward, it is time for small and medium sized businesses beyond the advisory sector to take up the tools.