[IMGCAP(1)]I want to take the opportunity in this week’s blog to focus on vendors, and clearly vocalize the needs of today’s progressive accounting firms—the NEW generation of CPAs. First, this new generation is nothing like your legacy clients—we are cloud-driven, mobile, and focused on creating a true collaborative environment to work with our clients. Vendors: this means we need you to update your processes and provide the level of service we require and expect.

Over the summer, I had the opportunity to work with the three big legacy vendors— Thomson, Intuit and CCH. My collective experience was that I was treated with a traditional “service” approach. So vendors, even though you have kept up and stepped up to offer cloud solutions, you continue to sell and support your solutions the “old” way. From my experiences this summer, these are the questions on my mind:

•    Why can’t I purchase online?
•    Why can’t data migration be painless when I replace your cloud solution with another?
•    Why isn’t set up intuitive and fast so I can hit the ground running right away?

The ability to purchase cloud applications online, a pain-free data migration process, and quick and easy solution set up—all desired benefits of working with cloud solutions, and all must-have features that the start-up vendors have mastered. So why haven’t the big vendors?

I totally respect the move to the cloud and providing firms with the tools they require to serve clients with ease and convenience—portals, online document management, etc. It’s all good! However, it’s time for the big guys to make the full leap and become true cloud vendors—complete with how solutions are supported and sold. Here’s my (and many other firms’) wish list for change:

1.    Offer online subscription-based sales and pricing. It’s convenient and cost-effective. I don’t really need to “see” you to purchase tax and accounting software.

2.    Offer transparency and ease of set up (and more importantly, disengagement). Data migration should be quick and painless. Charge me for it if you have too…just make it easy for me.

3.    Provide a rich user experience overall. As a new-generation business owner, make me feel like a first-class client and not an afterthought. So many of your processes treat me like an old legacy customer.

It’s a new world. It’s no longer a profession where the “landscape is changing.” It’s already changed. Firms want to work differently. The new generation of professionals want to work THEIR WAY. And that means, vendors, that you have to change how you sell and service your solutions as well. It’s the way you build long-term loyalty. Stellar features and functionality are no longer enough…we need better service and a better experience. It’s time to wake up and smell the new generation of CPAs.

Jody L. Padar, CPA, MST, is a Certified Public Accountant experienced with Complex Federal & State Income Tax Compliance for Business & Individuals. Jody is an adjunct professor at Oakton Community College, where she teaches Taxation and QuickBooks Courses. She is part of Intuit Trainer Writer Network and speaks nationally on various Technologies and Taxation. She can be reached at www.newvisioncpagroup.com.