For accountants & bookkeepers, an app stack is supposed to make your job easier, not harder. So, why does using some apps still feel like pulling teeth?
As I discussed in my last column, there’s a fine line between how useful the app is and how easy and fun it is to use. Obviously, creating something that’s delightful and easy straight “out of the box” is a lot more difficult than I’m making it seem. The difference, and what takes these apps to the next level, is great customer service.
A lot of people think of customer service in a couple of ways:
1. A 17 year old Starbucks barista just trying to get through the day without burning their hands or getting yelled at by caffeine lacking adults all day long
2. A faceless call center employee that puts you on hold for 9 hours as you slowly lose your sanity to scratchy elevator music
Obviously, there’s a lot more to it. Accountants & bookkeepers are dealing with people’s finances, which is possibly the most important part of their business’ operations. For us to serve our clients to the best of our ability, our apps, and their corresponding support, need to be as transparent, available, and knowledgeable as possible.
But, that’s a big ask. So, here are the top 3 things I look for in an app’s customer service offering.
No app is perfect.
There are apps and services that I use everyday and am absolutely in love with, and even they could use a tweak here and there. I often find myself or my clients struggling with an error message or some other issue with certain apps. But I know better than to get upset. Every app has its issues and, when I can, I do my best to troubleshoot the issue myself. When I can’t, though, is where the true value of an app reveals itself.
The problem with apps isn’t how many issues you experience, but how the team and their customer support respond. Fast, informative, and ultimately useful feedback is the real value of any app in your stack.
Accounting and bookkeeping professionals work with people’s money. So, any issue, big or small, can feel like the end of the world.
Once again, accounting and bookkeeping professionals work with people’s money. So, any issue, big or small, can feel like the end of the world. In a panicked situation like that, with a client breathing down your neck and someone on the other end potentially waiting for their payment, you don’t have time to talk to a chatbot. You don’t have time to wait on hold for 2 hours. And you definitely don’t have time for the wrong answers.
Sure, FAQs and support pages can be helpful. For little problems, I tend to surf these pages for answers before I decide to send off an email or dial the support line. But nothing beats talking to a real person, in real time.
Apps have one shot at a first impression. Onboarding is a huge part of how I choose an app for myself, and for my clients. If I can’t figure out how to set up an account and use the service the first time, you better believe I’m finding something else.
That being said, onboarding doesn’t necessarily mean onboarding yourself. While it is ideal to start your own account, enter your own information, and bring on your own clients, sometimes the platform doesn’t allow for it. Or, it’s not in your best interest to do it.
Onboarding is a huge part of how I choose an app for myself, and for my clients. If I can’t figure out how to set up an account and use the service the first time, you better believe I’m finding something else.
QuickBooks is a great example. You can self onboard, but you’ll probably make a huge mess. There are a few apps like this that require the customer support team to assist you in the process, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The only bad part is when the information isn’t correct, or if the support is lacking.
It’s not just about setting up an account, either. Many services have tiered pricing frameworks and other complicated steps required when bringing your clients along with you.
But, don’t hold my hand too much either. I know I seem like I’m contradicting myself here, but this is another important part of the onboarding and customer support process.
Most of the time, I’m not having an issue with my apps. I’m smarter than that. If I’m having consistent problems using something, why would I waste my time trying to get it to work? There are literally hundreds, if not thousands, of apps in any given app store. I’ll find another one.
So, ongoing support may be the thing I look to most when assessing customer support, and ultimately choosing an app to stick with. But, I’m rightfully picky.
I don’t want you sending me 10 emails a day. Even if they’re important (which they definitely aren’t), I don’t have the time to read them all on top of the other 50 I already don’t have time for. But, don’t be aloof either. Check in on me occasionally, send me something (I love that).
With Veem, my social media shout outs, referrals and client base haven’t gone unnoticed. I mean, you’re reading this article, right now, hosted by them because they care about what me and my clients do for them.
Ongoing support also includes partnerships and programs for accountants, bookkeepers, and referrals. With Veem, my social media shout outs, referrals and client base haven’t gone unnoticed. I mean, you’re reading this article, right now, hosted by them because they care about what me and my clients do for them.
Ongoing support means developing a long-lasting, reciprocal relationship. With Veem, I couldn’t be happier.
But, a lot of apps don’t offer partnership opportunities for their users, regardless of the amount of referrals, or amazing articles you write. For me, this is part of the core of customer service: serving the customer.
Like I said, there are thousands of apps out there that do the same things. Finding a replacement for one that doesn’t work isn’t the hard part. Establishing a rapport, and building a reciprocal relationship is. It’s rare, but with so many options out there, you might as well give it a shot. It takes time, and you’ll probably pull more than a few handfuls of hair out. But at the end, when you can look at your app stack knowing you have the best teams on your side, you’ll be glad you put the effort out.