Illustration by Ivan Haidutski from Ouch!
Uku is striving to relieve the burden on our accountants. It’s why we believe in using a client portal so customers can interact on their own accord.
You could call this self-service; the ability for customers to serve themselves.
But self-service is more than that today - it encompasses finding answers online, educating others within a community, uploading documents, to even returning goods and purchases.
A popular example of digital self-service is a client portal where customers can access and interact from any location and either obtain information or upload additional information.
What is customer self-service?
Customer self-service uses technology to provide online support to customers without any interaction with a live company representative.
Wouldn't you like access to your business info at your accountants office but only now online?
The most frequent channels of self-service include FAQs, Help Centres and online discussion forums. The latter examples are forms of digital self-service solutions or client web portals.
All this can be done without the need to engage a representative of a business.
Why is a client portal important for businesses?
Forbes states that 88% of companies believe 'self-service' will be the fastest-growing customer service channel by 2021.
Client portals have become the key to deliver powerful customer service.
Many fintech companies are transitioning into using client portals, allowing clients to decide how they obtain information and manage their businesses.
Self-service is a vital cog for many businesses' for two primary reasons - it creates efficiency and more time for other tasks, and it shortens the feedback needed to provide customers.
The first is self-explanatory; with client portals able to handle many simple tasks, accountants can address more immediate and value-adding jobs.
The second reason is that with portals able to receive documents, clients can rest assured that their documentation is securely stored without having to chase them, interrupting both your workflows during the day.
Furthermore, the accountant is notified, decreasing the time taken to post directly or call to check which documentation needs to be sent in the first place.
Advantages of client portals
The principal advantage of client portals is allowing customers to engage with services on their own terms.
In other words, it will enable people to peruse information on their own time without feeling pressured or rushed and understanding what is required through the client-accountant relationship.
Overall, this results in a more positive user experience and more significant potential for the client to return.
Concerning documentation, client portals offer more convenience to clients. It grants more freedom to access information more expediently than finding and consulting with an accountant directly.
Client portals - lack of human interaction or more?
A disadvantage of using a client portal could be that there is a lack of human interaction, which isn't ideal in every environment or for every user.
Within accounting, having soft skills is on the rise, as more human involvement is required when cases are more complex to deal with. For example, even the most detailed Help Centre will not provide detailed answers to client questions.
In these circumstances, clients will need to speak directly with an accountant as each case is identical to the person or company concerned.
So a client portal should be adopted to remove the less valuable tasks - for example, publishing online articles on when to complete tax returns and how to complete them.
Accountants can then provide better value to their clients, so increasing the right type of human interaction that generates more business revenue and customer loyalty.
Look out for part II tomorrow
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