As accountancies become increasingly digital, they’re likely to choose to use some cloud-based services to increase efficiencies and to streamline communication with their clients. However, some firms may fear that a move to the cloud could introduce a level of IT support not required for paper-based accounting, or with on-premise digital accounting systems.
The reality is that a move to the cloud should simplify daily operations if managed correctly. With the right online resources and support, accountancies should find themselves dealing with fewer IT woes rather than more, and end-user clients should notice immediate improvements in their user experience. In this article, we discuss several hands-on practices that vendors are using to ensure all end users can make the most of the cloud.
The new roles supporting users in the cloud
Today, in addition to the traditional software support roles, we’re introducing new roles to help make the transition to the cloud seamless. These new roles are often very community management-focused or digital experience oriented, offering a new element of support that works across both the customer support and professional services teams. In fact, those who take the lead in digital experience or community management often link all areas of the business back to supporting the customer, establishing strong relationships with product teams and the product ideation process along the way.
Community management has matured as a concept, and businesses are now introducing forums where customers can speak to other customers about how to get the most out of cloud-based functionality. This element of shared experiences and transparency is very much in keeping with the ease of communication which users should see when they start using cloud services.
That’s not to say that vendors shouldn’t provide knowledge base tools and other ‘flavours’ of traditional support, but quite often, users simply enjoy having the opportunity to speak to other customers. Offering this type of open atmosphere for customers to engage is simply one more option of many. Chatbots are another. While they may not answer every question, they can provide speedy answers to simple queries, which is often all the support a user needs. The key to every channel is making content as accessible as possible to both accountancy customers, and their clients. This may mean making content available outside of customer login areas to ensure all end-users have equal access.
Data analysis and measuring the content gap
It’s one thing to make your content easily available, but it’s also critical to make sure it’s hitting the mark. Vendors need to go beyond providing customers with support and take the next step in analysing that support and how it is being used. It’s the only way to ensure that support is enhanced on a continual basis and stays completely relevant over time. It’s also the only way to ensure that you’re providing support to the questions your users ask.
Measuring the ‘content gap’ is a useful exercise. The content gap is the percentage of searches that don’t return suitable content. A 15% content gap, for example, would be quite high (a maximum of 5% is where vendors should be aiming.)
How do you reduce your content gap? This is usually achieved by looking at the search terms customers enter and adapting systems and content accordingly. Ultimately, vendors want to get to the point where they are quite accurately predicting what end users will search for, but to get to this point, it takes careful analysis.
Introducing user guiding
Good customer support should a range of practical, seamless options for the user. We’ve already mentioned chatbots, but there are more recent applications offering assistance by way of ‘user guiding.’
User guiding refers to popups within the screens of your actual product environment. It can help to guide users through the product as a form of contextual help. If they click on a popup on a specific screen, they will get the help that is relevant to that screen. It’s removing the barriers to getting help and delivering learning in the flow of work. This type of user guiding is frequently seen in cloud-based products, and it is helpful in terms of providing direct access to content or help, from a source that knows exactly where you are on your user journey.
Encouraging community onboarding
The reality is that more and more people are becoming so accustomed to using cloud services that they are now the norm. From ordering books online or streaming the latest season of your favourite TV show, the cloud is quickly becoming an ingrained pillar of everyday life, and second nature to many of us.
Cloud accounting should be no different. With a thoughtful approach to support and encouragement to onboard users to use that support, accountants shouldn’t have to take time away from value-generating activities to provide IT support.