It’s safe to say that the cloud has had a transformative effect on the accounting industry.
Despite this, there are still some who have their doubts–whether this is due to security, thinking it’s overly complicated, or simply not understanding its many benefits.
To mull over how to build a cloud-friendly culture at your firm, Lauren Harvey, Managing Director of Full Stop Accountants, and Nadine Chetty, co-founder at Ecomm Accounting Solutions, chaired an Orange Select Discussion with our partners.
It was a great discussion, with plenty of great contributions. Here are our pick of recommendations on how to foster a cloud-friendly culture with staff and clients.
How do you convince a client that the cloud is not the “big bad place”?
Shaleen Christie hit the nail on the head with this comment, describing how many clients initially feel about the cloud. However, Lauren was quick to dispel this common myth.
“For us, this was always about focusing on the positives of this much more ‘joined-up’ way of working, and the time savings and efficiencies that will be visible almost instantaneously” states Lauren. Once you do that, “To be honest, this conversation soon disappears.”
For some, the very phrase “the cloud” seems to put them off. According to Steve Maginnity, “I no longer point out that things are cloud-based–rather, I just say this is the software you will be using… the fact that it’s the cloud doesn’t even come up. Secondly when a client does interject, I politely explain that things like their Gmail account are cloud, and they have been using cloud software for years.”
Any tips on dealing with older clients who are set in their ways?
For Nadine, it’s all about education: “I always show them how easy it is to use the mobile apps–that normally works. But you also need to make the decision that if a client does not want to change their ways, you might need to part ways. It’s difficult, but to grow your business it has to be done. With Receipt Bank, we show them how easy it is to take pictures–older folks are always taking pictures of their grandkids, so it should really be a piece of cake for them.”
On the other hand, Andy Branson, Director at WBD Accountants Limited, takes a more personal approach: “We try to find out what is important to each individual and then explain how using cloud solutions helps meet their needs.”
Clients would rather just collect all their documents in a box and bring them to me–any advice on how to convince them to change?
It can be hard when certain clients are so set in their ways. Are there any instances where it’s worth just relenting and letting them dictate terms? For Lauren, this is an absolute no-no.
“First and foremost, be clear on the process that works for you and stick to it”.
Nadine focuses on making the client’s lives as simple as possible, “We only introduce the relevant apps to our clients. They don’t need to know about the apps we use internally if they’re not actually physically using them.”
Even when she does need to educate her clients, it’s usually “a painless and enjoyable experience”–but she stresses that “Patience is definitely key”.
Lastly, it’s worth highlighting your expertise–Lauren finds it helpful to remind clients that their preference for using the cloud comes from their vast experience of working with hundreds of clients.
How do you get reluctant team members on board?
Emily Deakin raised the point that certain, more senior staff members may well say “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” when asked to suddenly migrate to using the cloud.
In reply, Damien Greathead was quick to point out that it is in fact broken:
Manual processes are time-consuming and limit our ability to provide a valuable service to our clients. Our clients will leave if they don’t feel like they’re getting value. Unfortunately, a client leaving is a lagging indicator–once they’ve left, there’s very little we can do to win them back.
Nadine’s approach is to employ a tech-savvy bunch from the get-go, and hopefully therefore sidestep these issues.
But this obviously doesn’t work with existing employees–so how can you ease their transition, building a firm-wide cloud-friendly culture in the process?
According to Lauren, “Training seems an obvious one–but more than that, it’s getting them to see the bigger picture (like with your clients) and what is possible with the time savings. For us, this has meant salary increases, increased responsibility, closing the office for two days for Xerocon, more training, etc.”
Most of all, “Make sure the training works for them–time, place, and content”.
In short, it’s about being clear on your business’s purpose and how your team will benefit from this unified way of working.
We hope that you’ve learned some valuable ways to help build a cloud-friendly culture at your firm. A massive thanks not just to Lauren and Nadine but to all our partners for their invaluable insights–it was great to discuss this issue at length.
Want to hear more about important industry issues from our partners? Join the next Orange Select Discussion from the 12th–22nd November.