BLOG: The 'Age of the Customer' - 10 critical success factors

Five years ago accountants were happy to have a website at all. Today we're having conversations around lead generation, conversion rates and SEO.

BLOG: The 'Age of the Customer' - 10 critical success factors

Brooklyn Morgan

While accounting firms have typically had strong word-of-mouth referral networks, there's a huge opportunity to leverage these networks using a comprehensive digital strategy. And this works by putting the customer first.

Customer obsession

In the recent Forrester Research digital business survey, customer obsession is detailed as being one of the 10 critical success factors for business today. A customer-obsessed operating model means delivering differentiated, personalised customer experiences to add maximum value. It's well worth considering how you can apply these factors in your business. 

1. Personalisation is the new bar

Companies that can anticipate and personalise the needs of their customers have an advantage. Leaders are leveraging systems of insight to deliver customer intelligence.

For example, if your website is integrated with Xero Practice Manager consider segmented email marketing campaigns for best effect.

2. Small CX thinking will destroy financial results

Customer experience (CX) should be consistent with the brand promise. Small, tactical CX efforts will directly impact growth.

Consider surveys or implement NPS feedback loops. And make sure your website showcases your brand promise well.

3. Who leads matters more in 2016

The shift to a customer-led market favours digitally savvy executives over traditional business leaders. Leading companies will have people who can drive change and be responsive to rapidly changing market conditions.

We're seeing this in the accounting sector with the move to business advisory services. Leading companies are increasingly recruiting generalists (soft skills) and technology strong graduates (data analysis) alongside accountancy majors.

4. Culture is a critical path to business success

Culture fuels change, driving speed and efficiency to be able to respond to dynamic customers and disruptive competitors. Culture efforts can transform organisations and gain new levels of business agility.

Want to encourage innovation within your practice? Start with culture. 

5. Traditional companies stand up to disruptors

Disruption is the new normal, and traditional ways of doing business are gone. Traditional leaders are leveraging their core points of differentiation - market footprint, capital and customer data - to fight back.

We’re seeing this in the accounting sector as desktop accounting software incumbents step up to cloud platform disruptor Xero. Interesting times! 

6. Loyalty programs focus on participation

Customers increasingly value shared purpose with a goal. Loyalty programs are starting to focus more on adding value through doing things with their customer, as opposed to simply offering transactional value discounting.

There's more of a shift to service offerings in general, for example with assistance of executing content marketing strategy.

7. Analysis becomes a key competitive weapon

Analytics improves an organisation’s ability to understand, anticipate and act on data to drive customer value, business efficiency and growth.

Leveraging technology and taking a test-and-measure approach empowers kaizen, or continual improvement.

8. Digital dabbling is a fatal strategy

Leaders will embed digital into all aspects of their business. Digital is a core driver of digital transformation, but take care not to dabble in shiny front-end distractions (like Internet of Things experiments).

Exciting times indeed, but make sure you execute the strategy that will delight your customers the most. Stay focused on the outcomes you want to achieve.

9. Privacy is moving from niche to value prop

Well publicised security breaches, identity theft schemes, and socially devastating incidents have increased awareness of the importance of data privacy. Privacy protection needs to be at the core of any business offering.

Have respect for your customers and the information they share with you.

10. Operations become the nucleus of value.

Leaders are putting in place customer-obsessed operating models. Gain first mover advantage in your sector by obsessing about the value and personalisation of CX.

Competitive advantage

How can you leverage these success factors in your practice? The first step is becoming aware of your customer needs and wants - then consider the value and personalisation of their experience.

Your customers provide your biggest learning opportunity - dive on in. 



Michelle Polglase PracticePlus

As General Manager for PracticePlus, Michelle is inspired by innovation and on a mission to provide the best website solutions for accountants and bookkeepers globally.