The way that accounting firms use technology to manage client engagements is increasingly fragmented. Many industry players believe that quality suffers from increasing time constraints and the need to juggle multiple applications to keep work on track.
This is the main finding of a new study released by Huddle, including interviews with more than 250 partners and senior executives across the United States to understand how companies are using technology to work with their customers.
The results reveal that although 88% of the United States accounting firms have implemented a customer engagement strategy, 35% of respondents believe that their organization is far too slow to adopt the right technologies to meet customer requests.
As a result, employees are tired of the large number of technology solution options available to them when working with customers, which results in fragmentation of current workflows, slower productivity and risks .
The research continues by pointing out that with so many different systems at their disposal, 31% of employees are forced to switch between several applications to keep up with customer updates. 35% also agreed that it was becoming difficult to maintain control over document reviews, with a similar number (33%) also reporting difficulty keeping track of tasks.
As a result, 27% cited increasing cases of missed deadlines and 24% reported inefficiencies caused by duplication of effort, with several people working unknowingly on the same job.
“American accounting firms are accelerating their digital transformation initiatives. However, the results suggest that teams are now being transferred between different applications to manage their customer commitments. Combined with ever-increasing customer demands, it can be difficult for teams to stay in control. Productivity is rapidly degraded and the activity audit trail is immediately broken ”, explains Huddle CMO, Tim Deluca-Smith.
One of the risks presented in the report is that confusion leads accounting professionals to use less secure methods for working with their clients. For example, 36% of associates and executives admitted to using a personal file sharing application at work.
This can put sensitive customer data in immediate danger. Others are pushed to use new technologies such as Microsoft Teams for customer engagement, despite fears that this could present a number of problems when working externally with customers.
Other key findings from the report reveal that 38% believe that the quality of engagement with customers is suffering from increasing time constraints, while 27% say that deadlines are frequently missed due to customer delays.
Another area of dismay is time-limiting tasks, with 19% spending more than an hour a day on file administration (searching, backing up, sharing electronic files).
Meanwhile, 32% agree that their IT policy makes effective collaboration with customers too restrictive, and 35% think their business is too slow to adopt the right technology to transform themselves digitally.
“It should be the role of the customer portal to manage customer engagement,” adds Deluca-Smith.
“However, research shows that many legacy accounting portals are little more than basic file sharing services without the ability to manage and track tasks, approvals, or file version management. In fact, only 65% of employees had the ability to track customer activity and tasks through their portal solution. Given these findings, we believe that the need for a more holistic and collaborative approach to managing customer engagements is paramount to delivering the customer experience and protecting the business from potential data breaches. “
The study published by Huddle is based on interviews with more than 250 partners and executives across the United States to understand how companies are using technology to work with their customers.