In 2023, effective communication is more important than ever for firms looking to increase client retention and satisfaction. According to a report by Project.co, a project management software, 99% of people say good communication is crucial for businesses across all industries. Yet 46% of businesses have lost clients due to poor communication, costing up to $75 billion annually.
This is where live chat can be a game-changer. According to Invesp, a user research company, 73% of customers find it the most satisfying way to engage with a business. With capabilities for instant, automated and insightful connections, live chat can transform accounting client service, boosting productivity, strengthening relationships, reducing costs and driving revenue growth. In this article, we’ll explore the many benefits live chat offers.
What is a live chat?
Live chat refers to real-time, text-based communication between clients and service providers on websites. Through live chat platforms, clients can get instant answers to questions without waiting for email or phone responses.
Key features of live chat systems include:
- Real-time messaging with clients
- Video, audio and screen sharing
- Automation of common inquiries
- Chat records and transcripts
If you’re planning a sophisticated approach to live chat, be sure to compare Sendbird and Stream when evaluating options. With the right solution in place, accounting professionals can enjoy a wide range of benefits that transform client communication and service. Let’s discuss the most impactful ones.
1. Deliver instant answers
In the fast-paced world of finance, time is often equivalent to money. Clients seeking advice about finances, taxes or investments want immediate help. According to HubSpot, 82% of customers rate an instant response as important when they have a sales question and 90% when they have a customer service question.
Imagine a client who is struggling with the complexities of tax filing and needs urgent help. Through live chat, they instantly connect with a pro, avoiding delays and building trust based on quick, reliable communication. This real-time connection has a profound impact, boosting client satisfaction and retention as such services respect their time.
2. Streamline client management
Tax season brings a flood of client questions, concerns and document submissions. Efficiently managing these interactions is vital for professionals to optimize time and resources. This is where live chat can help.
It enables handling multiple clients simultaneously, ensuring no one feels overlooked. By streamlining communication, live chat helps professionals thrive during their busiest times of year. For more strategies on how to prepare your accounting firm for tax season, check out our guide.
3. Build trust with secure communication
The sanctity of client information is paramount in the accounting sector, where sensitive financial data is routinely exchanged. Live chat platforms can provide the security features needed:
- End-to-end encryption to safeguard chats and files
- Secure protocols for transferring documents
- Access controls and permissions to limit exposure
- Authentication requirements for chat users
This level of security is critical for building client trust in today’s high-risk data environment. It shows accounting professionals prioritize client well-being as much as their own interests.
4. Automate assistance
Automating routine queries via chatbots ensures clients get swift answers. A chatbot armed with tax knowledge can provide instant guidance on common questions, checklists and forms.
Blending automation with human expertise, chatbots improve workflow so clients get accurate, timely service. They empower professionals to allocate their talents where clients need them most.
For example, one accounting firm implemented an AI-powered chatbot to streamline auditor access to materials. As a result, this self-service channel created the scalability of audit knowledge, improving engagement and operational efficiency.
Navigating financial documents might be daunting for clients. Live chat platforms enable real-time document sharing and collaboration to enhance this process, so clients and accountants can work closely.
Through chat, documents are shared instantly, revisions occur in real-time and approvals are secured right away. This not only speeds up review and approval but also ensures both parties stay aligned, minimizing errors and maximizing accuracy.
To further streamline document management, consider integrating tailored software into your practice.
6. Reduce costs
Live chat offers numerous ways to decrease operating costs for accounting professionals:
- Preventing issues with call quality: text-based chat avoids problems with accents, background noise and poor connections that harm phone support experiences
- Reducing callbacks: chat transcripts provide customers with written records to reference, decreasing repeat inquiries
- Enabling upselling: chat has proven conversion rate boosting abilities, allowing agents to increase revenue through special offers and cross-sells during sessions
With these savings, live chat delivers a high ROI for tax professionals seeking cost-effective client communication.
7. Onboard new clients
Live chat provides an excellent channel for efficiently onboarding new accounting clients. Agents can rapidly answer questions, provide forms and resources and guide new clients through setup in real-time chat sessions.
Having a knowledgeable agent immediately available to address needs and concerns can increase onboarding success—clients get up and running faster with fewer frustrations.
For tips on structuring a thorough new client onboarding process, see our checklist for onboarding tax and accounting clients. Combining these best practices with live chat support results in optimal new client experiences.
8. Gain data-driven insights from chat analytics
Live chat platforms record conversations and provide analytics, identifying:
- Common questions, showing knowledge gaps to address
- Pain points around tax prep, accounting, etc. to improve
- Service preferences, revealing new offerings to explore
- Lead qualification metrics, highlighting sales process weaknesses
- Customer sentiment, pointing out frustrations to resolve
For example, if data shows clients struggle with a tax filing aspect, firms can use this to improve resources in that area or hold workshops to increase mastery.
Essentially, chat analytics supplies a wealth of data to refine services, boost client satisfaction and increase sales. Instead of relying on guesswork, firms can take targeted actions informed by data-driven insights from chat interactions.
The digital age demands a meaningful evolution in the way accounting firms approach client service. Live chat serves as the answer—a transformative technology providing instant, automated and insightful communication, heightened security and robust analytics. These capabilities align powerfully with the priorities of accounting firms and their clients.
And for those seeking to maximize automation across accounting processes, our guide on accounting process automation provides key steps and real-world examples to get started. Combining live chat’s efficiency with broader automation strategies can future-proof any firm.
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