Expanding Accounting Services During a Pandemic: How Automation Helps



Even in a disrupted market that changes daily, accounting firms are always looking to attract new clients, and one way to do this is to expand their service offerings. While businesses have always faced stiff competition, customer demands have increased and expectations have unexpectedly changed as the COVID-19 pandemic has added complexity. But demonstrating new value to customers in the midst of these changes doesn’t have to be an uphill battle – in fact, you may be in a better position to help them than ever before.

Small business clients often view their accountant as their most trusted advisor, and your expertise is probably more needed and in demand today than it was a year ago. Finding the right opportunities to expand your small business customer base means understanding the services they want the most, and when that means expanding your service offerings, choosing which ones you can provide using automation is essential.

In partnership with CPA.com and the Hinge Research Institute, Bill.com released a report titled “Where Opportunity Meets Value: Business Model Trends for Accounting Consulting Services”, Which identifies which services clients value most from their accountants and how automation helps accounting firms implement value pricing for those services. The report is based on survey responses from more than 650 accountants and business professionals across the country.

The pain points that small businesses struggled with when things were ‘business as usual’ certainly haven’t gone away as the pandemic has complicated the way we all do our business, according to responses. On the contrary, these needs are stronger than ever and represent a real opportunity for accounting firms to bring value to their clients.

What today’s small businesses want most

The most effective way to demonstrate the value you provide to your customers is to provide them with the services they want and need most. While it may seem obvious, many businesses don’t know what these services are and are therefore missing out on potential business opportunities that present themselves today.

To capitalize on this growth potential, accounting firms should focus on solving the biggest accounting challenges facing these companies. Nineteen percent of attendees said their biggest accounting challenges were getting expert financial information and planning for growth and expansion. Another 18% mentioned problems with cash flow and reducing overhead costs, and 17% said they had problems staying in compliance and lacking time to focus on accounting and financial matters. While these issues have long plagued small businesses even before the pandemic hit, they have only increased and expanded as businesses have been forced to operate with a dispersed and distant workforce while at the same time. tackling new challenges. It is to solve these new and existing problems that your business comes in as a trusted advisor.

Addressing key client challenges through strategic advisory services backed by automation – as automation will allow you to provide these additional services – is one of the best ways to prove your worth as an accounting firm in an era. uncertainty and remote work. When customers see this value, you’ll be in the best position to grow your business and attract new small business customers who need you to guide them through new challenges.

Automation opens doors to competitive pricing and better customer service

As you start to expand your service offerings, if you’re like most businesses, you’ll want to adjust your prices to reflect the real value you provide to your customers. While it might seem like an odd time to adjust prices, value pricing is actually good for your customers. It offers better transparency and fewer surprises at a time when they are already faced with uncertainty from too many other sources.

Automation is integral to the transition to advantageous pricing and better serving your customers. According to the survey, a firm’s level of automation correlates with the level of internal resistance to price appreciation that it experiences. Of the businesses that responded to the survey, 27% consider themselves to be highly automated, and these businesses reported experiencing fewer internal challenges than less automated businesses. Of these highly automated companies, only 25 percent reported internal resistance to value pricing, while 40 percent of those surveyed who identified themselves as less automated said they encountered resistance.

Automation is essential for accounting firms that wish to offer strategic consulting services as part of a value pricing model, as it allows firms and their clients to spend much less time on repetitive tasks of low value while producing more accurate results. Not only does this free up time to focus on the services small businesses value, but it plays a vital role in enabling businesses to meet the demands of today’s remote working world.

Why Customers Need Automation in Uncertain Times

Adopting automation internally is only the first step for accounting firms. They also need to explain the value of this automation to their customers. It’s only when your customers truly understand the benefits they’re getting from automation that they’ll see the value they’re getting for the fees you charge.

Engaging your customers in automation is essential when you want to start implementing value-added pricing. The survey shows that once accounting firms properly communicate the benefits of automation to their clients, those firms are 3.5 times more likely to be successful in increasing their rates for their accounting services. However, pricing value is not just about increasing income. It is also about improving service and customer satisfaction.

Using automated technology, accounting firms can harness the power of today’s technological advancements, including artificial intelligence and machine learning, to manage important but highly repetitive manual processes for clients. While for someone who doesn’t understand automation it can make it seem like you’re doing less work, in reality, you’re opening the door to creating much more value for customers. Automation is a game-changer for businesses and customers, especially in today’s remote work scenarios where many manual processes have been made impossible.

The time saved by shifting routine, lower-value tasks to automation can be redirected to focus on your customers’ biggest challenges – precisely the things small businesses identify as their greatest needs, like getting help. ‘Expert financial reporting, planning for growth and expansion, managing cash flow and overheads, and staying in compliance. Automation frees up time to spend on critical accounting and financial matters, rather than managing manual tasks, which is invaluable when many small businesses are worried about what the future might bring them.

Accounting firms should assess the technology and tools at their disposal to determine how those tools can be used to increase efficiency and automate the aspects of services that small businesses value most. Customers don’t always immediately see the benefits of automation, but when they find they get help with their biggest accounting challenges, especially during tough times, they’ll be willing to pay to keep you.

Today’s new challenges call for a new way of doing business. It’s easier to give small businesses what they want and need when you have automation on your side. Pricing your services to reflect the automation and the value they bring to your customers will help you retain your customers and attract new small businesses that want help navigating the post-pandemic future.



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