If your business is not delivering its services on mobile device, it is missing out on a market that is set to reach £500m this year. Accountancy practices need to embrace apps or risk becoming inefficient, but more importantly, damaging their relationships with clients

Business owners have embraced mobile technologies. Indeed, according to research from Constant Contact, 66% of small business owners now use mobile devices to help them run their enterprises, with half using apps for accountancy and invoicing. What is abundantly clear is that accountancy firms that don’t support their clients via mobile technologies will become more of hindrance than a trusted commercial partner in the eyes of business owners.

Developing an app strategy is also a commercially time sensitive exercise that all accountancy practices need to be developing now, or risk losing valuable clients, who will move to other service providers that can fully support them via the mobile devices they now use to manage their businesses.

According to research carried out by NewVoiceMedia £12 billion is lost by business with poor customer services. NewVoiceMedia’s CEO Jonathan Gale said: “Customers have a stronger influence on a business’s success than ever before and it’s surprising how many organisations still aren’t getting it right. Customer experience is a key differentiator. By doing it well, organisations can drive the customer acquisition, retention and efficiency that make leading companies successful.”

What is stopping your business?

The use of apps on smartphones and tablets has continued to expand. According to Portio, 1.2 billion people globally are now using apps regularly with this number expected to expand by nearly 30% in 2017.

In addition, expansion of smartphone ownership now stands at 72% of UK consumers aged 16 to 64 compared to 58% just ten months ago according to research carried out by Deloitte. In addition, research by ExactTarget reveals that six in ten consumers have downloaded a business-specific app in the past six months, and of those who have, 65% say it’s a more convenient way to access information.

Thomson Reuters’ Scott Fleszar commented: “The mobile app enables practitioners to bring their clients a whole new dimension of functionality while maintaining their own branding and identity,” he said. “It’s a way to collaborate and stay productive without being chained to a PC, to automate the delivery of information and build better relationships, and to provide a level of service and sophistication that wasn’t possible for small and mid-sized firms in the past.”

The impact of poor customer service on business
Device ownership in the UK
Accountancy firms that can develop a compelling app to connect with their clients can expect a number of key benefits including:

  • Client loyalty
  • Increased practice visibility
  • Closer working relationships
  • New client communication channels
  • Enhanced levels of customer service
  • New marketing opportunities

For all business owners any way they can streamline the financial management of their enterprises is welcome. With business now transacted on the move thanks to digital mobile communications devices such as the smartphone and tablet, accountancy firms that can understand the stress points their clients are feeling and relieve these with new mobile services will be able to reinforce and expand their commercial relationships with these business owners.

Developing an app to make that connection is a cost effective and efficient strategy all accountancy practices should be developing now. What is clear is that accountancy firms with app support will be favoured over those with no app strategy.

The power of push

One of the most powerful aspects of developing an app for your accountancy practice is that the app delivers an always-on conduit to your clients. The use of mobile email and SMS messaging has been mainstays on mobile devices for several years. However, using push notifications opens a whole new channel of communication that all accountancy firms can take advantage of.

How does your accountancy firm currently communicate with its clients? Is your business able to connect with each business it services on a personal level, delivering timely and professional services when they are needed most? Developing an app for your business is an ideal way to engage with your clients to build deeper relationships that ultimately result in loyalty and long-term stable commercial partnerships.

In their 2014 Mobile Behaviour report, ExactTarget state: “Whether it’s push notifications, text messaging, emails, or something else, brands must provide overt explanations of forthcoming value, respect time and frequency of consumers’ communication preferences, and ultimately be honest about what consumers will receive in return for messaging privileges. Once the opt-in is garnered, consumers will warm up quickly if the benefits are tangible—just look at the 91% of consumers who subscribe to brand text messages and agree that they’re useful.”

Consumer action when receiving a push notification
Actions taken after receiving a push notification
Urban Airship also point out: “There’s no denying that push messaging helps overcome “appathy”—the term we use to describe how most users abandon or delete an app within 30 days of downloading it. Urban Airship’s Good Push Index found that users who receive push notifications are retained at nearly double the rate of users who don’t. In the first critical month after download, 55% of opt-in users are retained versus only 29% of opt-out users.” They summaries the results of their research:

  • 93% higher retention rate for users receiving push messaging in the first month after download.
  • Long-term retention is on average 92% higher each month for users opted in to push notifications.
  • Opt-in audiences are much more engaged: average monthly app opens per user are 26% higher than opt-out users.

To ensure that push notifications are leveraged to their maximum benefit, they must be placed within the wider context of your company’s marketing activity. An app can make a direct and personal connection with a client, but the messages sent and the communications made must all have their value clearly defined.

Time poor business owners see apps as a way to run their businesses more efficiently. Accountancy firms that develop apps and then use them to deliver timely information and services will leverage this channel to their clients to its best advantage. Conversely, if your firm does not leverage an app to its maximum level, it won’t be used as intended. With app development, it is not a ‘launch the app and forget’ exercise. Business owners expect the apps they use to grow with them and take advantage of the latest financial planning trends.

App accountancy

Apps that began as simple tax calculators can now have a plethora of useful features built into them. Accountancy firms that can understand how their clients are using apps will be the leaders in their market sectors.

Business owners want to use app across their businesses, and can see how the financial aspects of their enterprises could be better managed via a well-designed and implemented app linked to their accountancy partners.

The percentage of smartphones used regularly
The ExactTarget concluded: “The brand with the easiest-to-access content wins. Eighty-three per cent of consumers said that a seamless experience across all their devices is somewhat or very important; they want the content they want where and when they want it. Deliver it and you’ll be the clear leader. Push messages are opened immediately (only 8% ignore them); use this immediacy wisely, but don’t abuse it.”

With Vibes, the mobile marketing solutions provider also advises: “To achieve next-level mobile marketing, you need to integrate your mobile strategy into your overall marketing mix. Mobile should complement and work in concert with your other marketing channels such as email, direct mail, advertising and social media. Additionally, it is important to define your objectives, establish key performance indicators and build a long-term plan. Your mobile strategy should not be an afterthought; it needs to augment your other marketing activities.”
There is no doubt that an app can transform how your practice connects with clients, but an app offers much more than simply another communication channel. Having the ability to offer help, advice and practical financial tools, enables your practice to foster a deeper relationship with every client. Not having an app strategy places your firm at a disadvantage that your competitors will be more than happy to take advantage of with their app.

An app is the perfect platform onto which other services can be built. And with the app economy continuing to expand and diversify, the app is now a major differentiator between accountancy providers. Business owners now use app support when deciding which services their enterprises will partner with for financial and accountancy services. What’s your app strategy?

Accountancy firms need to be smarter with their marketing and client communications. Discover today how an app for your firm can be created quickly and economically to allow your business to take a quantum leap forward with customer services, and how an app can future-proof your enterprise.

In the next post we place apps into the context of wider business operations, and illustrate how apps can aid financial planning, but also develop a closer working relationship between business owners and their accountancy service providers.


Categories: Apps, Blog