The shift to remote working is happening on an unprecedented scale as organizations look to shield their people, and even national front-line services, by closing their office spaces.

So now, a couple of weeks in, and you’re remote working like a pro. You have your Zoom account, VPN access, and an enterprise messaging app to keep you connected to your team. 

However, if you work in the accountancy or professional services sector, have you considered your clients? Will their experience of engaging with you change? Do you have the technology in place to continue delivering the client experience you’ve worked so hard to achieve?

In our recently published report “Client Engagement 2020: How team use technology to work with clients”, we learned that the way in which firms manage their client engagements is already fragmented, meaning now, more than ever before, the need for a consistent, firm-wide approach is paramount. 

1. Keep clients engaged (and confident in your ability to deliver)

Whether it’s an audit or a consulting project, it’s important to give your clients complete transparency into your team’s work. Remember, this is a time of increased uncertainty, and your clients want reassurance that your business is capable of meeting its commitments, on time and to budget. 

What you can do 

 

Email updates just won’t cut it. Instead, a robust Client Portal will provide an immediate connection into your team – offering access to the files they need, team updates, and the tasks that need to happen to meet the delivery deadline.

2. Be consistent in how you engage

In “Client Engagement 2020: How team use technology to work with clients” it was clear that firms are having to rely on a multitude of different apps to keep engagements progressing. This is often because legacy client engagement portals aren’t delivering the collaborative features required for today’s engagements. For example, only 42% of respondents were able to manage tasks through their portal, and only half (50%) could manage approvals. 

It means that teams often bounce between apps to manage different aspects of their engagement. This can create confusion, especially for the client. Updates get lost in the noise of cluttered email inboxes, approvals get missed and tasks ignored. 

What you can do 

 

Again, a modern Client Portal can help to overcome this noise and concentrate focus on your engagement. For example, alongside every document stored in Huddle is the ability to create a task against it. For your clients this means it’s simple to view the task details, accompanying comments, and the document to which it relates, in a single view. This mitigates any confusion and reduces instances of errors. This is also especially useful if your team members are on vacation, or out sick, and you have to step in. Rather than updates being hidden in their inbox, you can visit any file in Huddle and immediately see any completed, or outstanding tasks.

3. Use the right tech

Your IT team has worked hard to ensure you have the tools for your remote work. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean they are fit for purpose when working externally with clients. 

One great example of this is Microsoft Teams. Despite being a fantastic tool for internal collaboration it has some major limitations when working externally. We’ve published a compete guide on these limitations before; but you should note that scaling its use across multiple clients can make it difficult to identify which Teams channels your clients have access to. This can pose a potential security risk. If your client is also using their own Teams instance, they may also run into problems switching between “tenants”, and even miss your important updates altogether.

What you can do 

 

Look for a dedicated Client Portal solution that allows you greater control over client access and permissions, and reduces confusion for your client users. Complexity is the enemy of compliance. If the technology you use is too complex for your team and your clients, it won’t be used; and you risk stakeholders defaulting to less efficient solutions.

4. Don't let security slip 

Unfortunately, there are reports that cyber criminals are exploiting the disruption caused by COVID-19 through a range of phishing and business email compromise scams as well as malware attacks. This is why it’s so important that your clients don’t feel that a change in your working practices compromises the security of their data. Sharing sensitive files via email has never been a security-first approach (email is too easily compromised), but now, more than ever, it’s time to double-down on security.

What you can do 

 

A secure Client Portal can help to protect not only how you share files with clients, but also how you collect them at the start of an engagement. Look for means of making files available to stakeholders that offer an audit trail of activity, making it easy to see who has access and how (and where) files are being used. 

Business Continuity starts with protecting the Client Experience

You’ve worked hard to build a credible client experience. Being able to deliver on that now is key to giving your clients the reassurance they need that your business is capable of meeting its commitments. At Huddle we’re proud to be supporting our clients during this challenge time, enabling them to continue working productively and securely with their clients. 

If we can assist you too, just get in touch below. Huddle comes with free licenses for your clients*, giving you complete confidence to manage your client base with no hidden costs. 

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* not available on Huddle Starter plans

Tim Deluca-Smith

CMO


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