The accounting industry is notoriously slow to adopt new technology. In part, that is understandable. Dealing with a client’s critical financial information requires the right tools at the right time, but also means that there is little room for noncompliance with industry rules and government regulations. However, some options deserve a place within your accounting office’s technology stack – your CRM, bookkeeping software, and more.
One more to add to the list is an accounting chatbot. Why, though? What can chatbots bring to the client relationship? Actually, there’s a great deal they can do that will ultimately help you deliver the best client experience possible.
What Are Chatbots for Accountants?
We should begin with the basics – what is an accounting/bookkeeping chatbot in the first place? Simply put, these are artificial intelligence (AI) designed to help you connect with your clients through natural conversation. They can answer questions, provide information, and a great deal more. Dubbed “conversational” AI, this technology fuses machine learning with natural language processing, or NLP, that helps chatbots continually learn and evolve, allowing them to process and understand client requests and then respond in a natural, human way.
How Do Accounting Chatbots Work?
Because chatbots are algorithms, they are integrated within your accounting practice’s technology stack. They live in the cloud, so to speak. That offers a host of benefits, including the ability to dovetail with a wide range of software, both client-facing, and programs designed for internal use.
When a client needs information – perhaps they want to set an appointment to speak with someone – the AI comes into play. The client could simply ask something like, “I would like to make an appointment to discuss my business’s bookkeeping needs.”
The AI would then respond with a greeting personalized to that individual, and provide options for dates and times. It could even help delve into other information to ensure that your team is well-prepared for the initial appointment – what type of business is it? What is the firm’s income range? Are there employees involved or is it a sole proprietorship?
The AI will guide the appointment-setting process, using natural phrasing no different than a human team member would. The client would then be able to set an appointment without ever having to interrupt your team. That means no time wasted while waiting for someone to become available, less time spent in the appointment-setting process because the AI provides instant responses, and improved customer satisfaction because they were able to choose the appointment that worked best for them.
Where Would Conversational Chatbots Be Useful?
While accounting firms are largely focused on delivering accurate, timely solutions, you cannot neglect the human factor. Your clients and even employees require accurate communications in a broad range of ways, most of which require time and effort, and take you away from what you do best.
- Appointment Scheduling – How much time is spent in your office simply scheduling client appointments? Combining conversational AI with a calendaring app can provide a simple, streamlined way for clients to choose their own appointment with support from a chatbot.
- Notifications and Reminders – Accounting offices spend a great deal of time sending out notifications, appointment reminders, due date notifications, and deadline reminders. Automated systems often depersonalize this process, but chatbots can provide human-like interactions without costing your team additional time.
- Billing and Payments – Every accounting office has one or two clients that are very slow to pay. Without regular reminders, those bills would probably go unpaid, but reminding slow-to-pay clients can be time-consuming and frustrating. Conversational AI could handle the situation with ease.
- Client Onboarding – How much time do you spend onboarding clients? KYC/AML documentation alone can require considerable time and effort. Conversational AI automates this process while providing clients with human-like guidance and answers at every step along the way. That frees you and your team up to focus on mission-critical activities.
- Updates and Reports – Your clients’ demand (and deserve) progress updates and access to MIS reports and other documentation. However, providing those updates and delivering reports requires your team to switch tasks midstream. With conversational AI, your clients can gain access to the reports and updates they need, while your team can continue to focus on the task at hand.
Of course, AI chatbots can also benefit your team. They’re not just for client-related needs. Some of the potential internal uses include the following
- Liaising with Outsourced/Offshore Teams
- Receiving Automated Reminders for Deadlines and Outstanding Queries
- Sending Regular Notifications to Team Members
- Accessing Client and/or Practice Reporting
- Automated Progress Reports on Jobs
- Internal Appointment Scheduling
Understanding the Benefits of Accounting Chatbots
The use cases above clearly illustrate the many roles that AI chatbots can play within your practice. We’ve also touched on some of the primary advantages – time savings, for instance. However, there are numerous benefits to be gained by integrating conversational AI.
Perhaps the single most important benefit found when integrating conversational AI is the ability to provide your clients with an omnichannel experience. Clients can communicate with your office in any way they wish, whether that is by phone, SMS/text, email, platforms like Facebook or WhatsApp, or something else entirely. Imagine being able to be there for clients when and where they need you, all without having to shoulder the burden of 24/hour, omnichannel staffing.
Accurate Information Delivery
It’s important to understand that chatbots integrate directly with your accounting/bookkeeping software, as well. This ensures that they can deliver real-time, accurate information to your clients based on live data. Clients enjoy an experience that goes far beyond having basic questions answered, or being able to choose an appointment time. They can request specific information and be provided with accurate, up-to-the-minute information in return.
At Valenta, we believe in the transformative capabilities of automation. Chatbots offer an incredible range of capabilities and benefits for accounting practices, from freeing up employees to focus on what they do best to providing a streamlined, omnichannel experience that boosts client satisfaction and loyalty.
Obligation Free Proof of Concept
Get started today and let Valenta build a PoC (Proof of Concept) obligation-free. Reap the benefits of AI and pilot the concept before you commit. And it only takes 4-6 weeks from the initial strategy session to the final concept, depending on the complexity of workflows. This is a great way to understand the capabilities and determine the value for your accounting business. What are you waiting for?