Has COVID-19 transformed client engagement forever?

22 October 2020 image

"Technology decisions need to be aware of the changing dynamic between teams and their clients, and respond accordingly."


A recent report from McKinsey & Company has confirmed what many of us in the tech industry have been seeing – the global COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated digital transformation and brought about years of change in just a few months. 

While many commentators have focused on the changes in the consumer sector (with fewer visits to retail and entertainment venues), McKinsey's findings actually show the biggest leaps to have been made in sectors such as Professional Services (i.e. Accountancy and consulting firms, and more). The digitization of customer / client interactions is driving much of this change, with 58% of interactions now occurring though digital channels (opposed to 36% in December 2019). Another key driver has been the obvious shift to remote working. 

Impressively, respondents to McKinsey’s study stated that their organizations had moved 40 times more quickly than they thought possible before the pandemic, with an average of 11 days taken to build a workable remote working solution. 

Of course, much of the acceleration can be put down to simple business priorities. Driven by government mandates for social distancing, putting in measures to support remote working and digital client engagement became an overnight priority for many organizations. 

In turn, fears that rapid changes to established ways of working would be damaging have quickly melted away. 

Will these changes remain in place?
Accoring to the McKinsey report, 62% believe that digital transformation as a way to meet customer / clients’ changing needs or expectations will remain beyond the recovery, and 54% believe that the increase in remote working and collaboration will also remain. 

For professional services firms such as accountancy and consulting organizations, these two shifts are inextricably linked. How a firms’ internal teams work together while geographically dispersed, has a profound impact on the way they manage client engagements. 

However, many of the study’s respondents expressed fears that a wider, long-term move to remote working could negatively impact the firm’s ability to meet customer / client expectations. This is something I’ve written about before. 

More than anything, clients want to be reassured that you can still adequately service them. They need confidence that a remote working strategy will not compromise the quality or productivity of work, nor will it put data security at risk. 

Never has the need for collaboration between teams and their clients been greater. 

Unfortunately, the acceleration that has taken place towards greater remote working may indeed impact the client experience if the wrong tools and security policies are implemented. Many collaborative apps are built primarily for intra-team collaboration. One great example of this is Microsoft Teams. Despite being a fantastic tool for internal collaboration it has some major limitations when working externally with clients. We’ve published a complete guide to these limitations here. 

The way firms engage with firms has changed forever

You’ve worked hard to build a credible client experience. Being able to deliver on that now is key to giving your clients the reassurance they need that your business is capable of meeting its commitments through digital channels. 

Fortunately, fundamental advancements made by firms since the start of the pandemic across data security and cloud technology have laid the groundwork for continued transformation; but technology decisions need to be aware of the changing dynamic between teams and their clients, and respond accordingly. It’s why solutions like Huddle (which enable seamless collaboration beyond organizational boundaries with clients) are becoming so important.

Huddle is the leading client collaboration portal to the accountancy, advisory and professional services industries. To learn more about how organizations like yours are using Huddle to digitally transform how they manage client engagements, request a demo below. 



The full report from McKinsey & Company, "How COVID-19 has pushed companies over the technology tipping point - and transformed business forever", can be read here