At this year’s Xero Roadshow, one thing was clear: the way we live and work has changed for good. Following the arrival of the pandemic, the accounting and bookkeeping industry‘s transition to digital has only sped up. All of which means that mastering your practice’s digital experience – the journey from the moment a potential customer discovers your business online, right up until they commit to coming on board – has never been more important.
The events of 2020 haven’t just changed our digital habits; they’ve lifted our expectations. And while I wouldn’t mind if I was never invited to another Zoom ‘party’, the convenience of Click & Collect groceries and Telehealth appointments have made my life infinitely easier. In the same vein, as small businesses embrace digitisation, they’re increasingly open to looking beyond their local neighbourhood to find the advisor that best suits them (something that Xero has acknowledged with our new and improved Advisor Directory).
Shaping the digital experience journey
Suddenly, having a digital presence is no longer optional; it’s critical to your practice’s survival. As I highlighted in my Roadshow session, it helps to consider your website as your ticket to the game. Consumer research shows that 93% of people start their local business searches online – and if you’re not meeting them there, you may as well be on the bench.
But it isn’t just about meeting them; it’s about the entire digital experience. From the moment a potential customer finds you online, right up until they book their appointment, the journey from discovery to commitment is yours to shape. The good news is, you can improve your business’ digital experience without spending a cent.
It all starts with inhabiting your customer’s mindset. By taking on the role of an outsider looking in, you’re perfectly positioned to give an honest appraisal. Consider it like a mystery shopping session that will allow you to spot any opportunities for improvement (the best part is, you don’t need to be a marketing expert). So join me below as we walk through three stages of the digital experience.
Step one: Discovery
Assuming a prospective customer has heard of your practice, the first thing they’ll do is type it into a search engine, such as Google. A business listing will come up in response – go ahead and review it from their perspective. Are all of the necessary details there?
Take Melbourne’s On The Money Bookkeeping; their Google listing is well completed and covers everything from location to customer reviews and up-to-date opening hours. It sounds simple, but you’d be surprised by how many businesses fail to take advantage of this crucial (and free) tool. The same approach applies to social media. For instance, if a customer has been referred to you by name, they may want to check you out on LinkedIn – so now’s the time to ensure your profile is ready.
Beyond having their Google listing sorted, On The Money Bookkeeping have gone one step further and added a direct booking capability through Calendly. Follow their lead, and you could be one step closer to getting that all-important customer commitment.
Step two: Consideration
Remember, all roads lead to your website. Its number one job is to represent you and your business, allowing customers to find you around the clock. For this reason, you want to ensure it captures who you are and what your practice stands for (this is where an ‘About’ page comes in handy). Consider, from a customer’s perspective, does your website inspire trust? Is the content easy to understand? If a business can’t get the basics right on their website, it’s hard to trust that they’ll deliver on the bigger stuff.
Your website’s second, equally important, job is to provide your customers with the information they need. So, just as you did with your Google listing, review the page and check all of the details are there. Beyond this, it’s integral to consider the main functions that customers are likely to search for (or where you want them to go).
For instance, do your clients often seek out Xero conversion services? If so, is this front and center? So you can review how user friendly the entire experience is, take note of the amount of clicks it takes to perform basic tasks and keep an eye out for any dead ends. If you don’t have one already, an FAQ page will allow you to answer any common questions (saving you valuable time).
Step three: Commitment
Now that you’ve earned your customer’s trust (or know what you need to do to win it), it’s time to move towards your end goal: commitment. What this looks like will vary for each practice. Perhaps you’d like customers to call or, better yet, you have an online booking system.
Whatever you want that action to be, make sure your website is optimised to drive it. You can check this by walking through the entire process step by step. If you offer booking, use a private email address (or have a friend do it for you) to observe how well it works. Was there a confirmation email (this small step goes a long way to instill confidence)? How long did it take for someone from your practice to reply? This way, you’ll know firsthand if any details need fine tuning.
Now that we’ve come to the end of our digital experience health check, you should have an understanding of what needs to be finessed. The wonder of an exercise like this is that it costs nothing, but has the potential to expose opportunities that can drive new customers your way.
Xero partners, you can watch the ‘Future-proofing your practice: from marketing to people’ session with myself and Rebecca Gravestock from Roadshow Day Two here.