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Do Experiences Make A Difference?


If you’ve ever read a Yelp review—whether negative or positive—you know how impactful an experience can be for a customer and a business. The dreaded “one star; do not recommend” review can be a tough blow for a restaurant, hotel, or salon.

From another perspective, the same is true for employees. Everyone remembers their first job, their most exciting project, their worst boss, and their favorite colleagues. The experience can be just as impactful as the actual nature of the work.

But what about within professional services firms like accounting? Does the “experience” matter all that much? Isn’t it just about numbers, deliverables, and deadlines?

Not anymore. Clients are increasingly looking to their accounting firms for expanded service offerings, putting firms in the position of trusted, strategic advisor. There is great opportunity for firms willing and ready to pivot and serve their clients in new ways.

On the employee side, the younger generation of CPAs entering the field craves work/life balance, mentoring, and a clear path for career development. It’s not just salary and benefits that make one firm a more attractive workplace than another. Additionally, the CPAs who have been in practice for many years are looking for ways to advance in their career that don’t always include the assumed “partner track.”

In short: yes, even in accounting, experiences matter—both for the client and the employee.

 

What to Prioritize: EX or CX?

In speaking with firms, Arianna Campbell, Shareholder and Consultant for Boomer Consulting, Inc., is hearing the same question raised often: how can we prioritize both the employee experience (EX) and the customer experience (CX)? Recruiting and retaining people in accounting has been harder, and firms want to provide exceptional service to their clients. Is it even possible for a firm to do both with excellence?

Though there is this perceived tension between employee experience and customer experience, Campbell believes it doesn’t have to be either/or. “When you look at it through a people-first mentality, that will lead you to where your greatest opportunities are.”

 

Four Ways Your Firm Can Elevate the Experience

Here are four steps your firm can take to up the employee and client experiences:

  • Put someone in charge of CX. If your firm values CX, you need to have someone take ownership of it and take the lead on building your CX strategy. If your firm doesn’t already have a Client Experience Coordinator, consider creating the role and giving a Principal the opportunity to lead in this area.
  • Ask questions. If your firm doesn’t already do this, consider conducting exit interviews with clients that choose to leave the firm. Ask why they are leaving; ask what worked well, and what didn’t; ask what your firm could have done, if anything, to keep their business. Really listen to what they have to say. This can help your firm understand many of the pain points around the client experience so you can work to improve it.
  • Look within. Another key task for a Client Experience Coordinator is to check in with your firm’s service team to understand the employee perspective. If an issue pops up with a client, very often the service team are the ones who hear about it and are on the front lines of client relations. Their perspective is highly valuable.
  • Budget for innovation. Innovation is the ongoing process by which your firm should be investing in updates and improvements that benefit clients and employees. Constantly working to improve your business, of course, requires money, which is why “innovation” should be a line item in your firm’s budget.

A fantastic example of a firm taking these concrete steps to elevate CX and EX is Pinion, a Top 100, nationwide accounting firm. You can read in more detail about Pinion’s CX/EX journey and successes here.

 

Technology for the Human Experience

Technology has incredible and ever-evolving potential to improve the human experience at work. Thirty years ago, email disrupted the way businesses communicate; cloud-based computing has exponentially improved efficiencies in the last decade; and now artificial intelligence (AI) is forging new paths for humans to work smarter. Many top-ranked accounting firms are utilizing AI today by adopting Practice Intelligence™ into their tech stack.

Practice Intelligence is…

Technologies like Practice Intelligence are revolutionizing the way businesses are run—which really means the way humans get work done. Great tech can enhance the experience for both employees and clients:

  • EX: Technology can streamline processes, improve internal communication, and save employees time. All of this ultimately leads to increased productivity and job satisfaction—both crucial measures for driving employee retention.
  • CX: By leveraging modernized, easy-to-use software for critical but less glamorous tasks, such as bill pay, firms can spend more time providing higher-value services to clients. This can greatly increase client satisfaction and promote loyalty and longevity in the professional relationship.

It can feel daunting for firms to undergo a technological transformation. But, as Arianna Campbell notes, it doesn’t have to be all or nothing; a phased approach is best. The steps your firm takes now—such as streamlining back-office processes or gathering all your data and getting it into a centralized system—will make life easier for your employees and your clients, and it will put your firm in a better position to continue to capitalize on emerging technologies.

 

Aiwyn’s “Why”: Because ALL Experiences Matter

Aiwyn exists to elevate the employee and client experiences by providing AI-powered technology that saves firms time and money and delights their clients with its ease of use. We began with a common pain point for many accounting firms—the work-to-cash cycle—and built technology to alleviate that pain.

Aiwyn is the proud technology partner providing Practice Intelligence solutions to a growing number of firms—firms that are passionate about serving their clients and empowering their employees. If you’re curious how Aiwyn can help your firm elevate your CX and EX, schedule a demo with us.

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