Mobility: A powerful tool for stronger client relationships

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When you woke up this morning, where was your mobile phone?

The chances are that you are one of the nearly 50 percent who had their smartphones snug, secure and in their hands within five minutes.

Mobile devices are ubiquitous. Whether people are texting, checking e-mails or calendars, watching videos, paying bills digitally or posting updates, smartphones and tablets have woven themselves into almost every daily process. This reliance is so absolute that it manifests in physical discomfort. One study showed that people get actively concerned when they are separated from their devices – a phenomenon referred to as nomophobia.

Why do we love mobility so much?

On a basic level, mobility makes it easy for us to connect. Our smartphones provide us with answers and allow us to complete nagging tasks. They give us the ability to share our lives and conversations. They have transformed our lives as consumers.

It isn’t the younger generations pushing the mobile trend. A recent survey done by Big Four firm Deloitte found that most of the smartphone growth in 2016 occurred in the 45+ demographic.

All of this is to prove a point – mobile usage isn’t going away. It’s going to get stronger. Your clients of all ages rely on it every day. It’s a valuable tool that can be used to build strong relationships with your accounting firm and clients.

Why is mobility important to businesses and firms? I recently completed a series of interviews with Bill.com customers about mobile access. I wanted to have a better understanding of how they use mobile technologies to run their businesses. The central question was this: Besides e-mail and texting, what apps do you use on a mobile device for business?

A majority of those I spoke with prioritized collaboration and cloud document storage apps. For example, more than half said they use Slack. A comparable amount said they turn to apps like Box, Dropbox, Google Drive and iCloud. These services provide seamless access to all your valuable data – Word docs, PDFs, spreadsheets and any other digital assets – from wherever you are. Finally, a majority said they use mobile apps to scan documents.

What does this mean for your firm? And how can your firm leverage mobility to forge meaningful and lasting client relationships? Let’s see how these preferences relate to your accounting firm.

Mobile advantage No. 1: Productivity

My productivity is far better. I can do things when I am not sitting in front of my computer. I can pay client bills at 10 a.m. or before going to bed.” (Customer comment)

With mobility, you remove paper and hassle from tasks and add components like automation, access and collaboration. As a result, productivity increases exponentially. By opening a mobile app, you accomplish what you need to do in a fraction of the time usually required.

For example, imagine expense reports. With a mobile app, you scan receipts, and it automatically creates and categorizes the expense report. That’s hours of wasted time consolidated into a few taps.

Simply put: Mobile apps allow your clients to shrink the time and effort involved with everyday accounting tasks. By offering that capability, you create more productive and appreciative clients.

Mobile advantage No. 2: Self-service

Sheer convenience – you can attend to things more quickly.” (Customer comment)

Do you have an urgent matter that needs to be handled ASAP? How easy is it to open an app and fix it? In a few taps you can, for example, see a payment history, invoice, status and audit trail. You can resolve day-to-day questions without having to wait for a call or e-mail response.

Mobile advantage No. 3: Timeliness and accuracy

Gives you real-time information.” (Customer comment)

When an accounting firm creates an ecosystem of accounting tools for its clients, integration between the solutions means information is updated in real time and accurately. When a client opens any mobile app associated with this accounting system, that individual is viewing information that is up-to-date and clean.

There’s no guessing or extra labor involved.

Your client can open an app and see exactly what he or she needs to see. What’s the cash flow? Open up the QuickBooks or Xero mobile app to find out. Has a customer paid an open invoice? Open up the Bill.com app to see. Your client isn’t waiting for data entry or the reconciliation of paper checks.

Mobile advantage No. 4: Focus

Mobile [access] allows us to focus on our core business by not wasting time on tedious tasks.” (Customer comment)

Focus is a result of all the previous benefits. Mobility gives business owners the important financial information they need quickly, accurately and conveniently. They can easily ascertain an overall picture of finances and make important decisions without enduring groan-inducing and time-intensive tasks (for example, signing physical checks or mailing invoices). Now, businesses can recapture that time and labor and devote them back into the company – focusing on the components of the organization that make it profitable.

OK. I get the mobile advantages. How do they relate to my firm?

Imagine a new client that is understaffed and drowning in inefficiency. It views accounting and bookkeeping as a chore – ones that take quite a bit of time to accomplish. If your firm can streamline these processes and give this client the ability to handle them via a smartphone or tablet, your firm is the hero.

More importantly, these mobile technologies make internal operations much easier and more efficient for your firm. Technology and its mobile counterparts allow your firm to rise above the trenches of work and become trusted accounting advisors to clients. The conversation elevates from, “Is this bill approved?” to “Let’s discuss your pricing strategy,” or “Here’s how our firm can help stabilize your cash flow.” That’s the true value of mobility in the long run.

Another added bonus: Happy and impressed clients refer more clients.

How do accounting firms get started with mobile apps?

Mobile apps are already available for accounting. You don’t have to build one specifically for your firm. Turn to the technology providers you already use. They most likely offer both iOS and Android apps for their solutions. Adopt the mobile aspect for the firm and its clients. Remember: Almost every age group is already familiar with mobile apps and how they work.

Setting up and training for mobile apps can be simple endeavors with big payoffs in the end. By adopting mobility options now, you can position your firm for long-term success, happier clients and growth.

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