How to Help Clients Clear the Four Key Hurdles of Technology Adoption

Client portals, cloud-based document management and collaborative workflow solutions are important tools that increase your firm’s efficiency—but what if your clients are reticent to use them?  It’s likely that both your firm’s productivity and the quality of your overall client experience will suffer. Tax season can be a painful reminder of this, especially if your firm gets hit with a mountain of hard copy documents from clients who are not integrated into your firm’s paperless workflow.

According to Metric Lab, a user experience and online research company, there are four key hurdles that impact technology adoption: low perceived value, shaky confidence, lack of trust and poor accessibility. Let’s look at how your firm can help clients clear them.

Hurdle 1: Low Perceived Value

Researchers at Metric Lab report that the perceived value of any technology is the central factor in its adoption. Based on this philosophy, if your clients are resistant to using the tools that your firm provides, it is likely they feel that the technology doesn’t have enough value to warrant the effort of changing the way they do things.

How to Help Clients Clear the Hurdle

Notice that the emphasis here is on how the client—not your firm—assesses the value of a specific technology application. A proactive onboarding program that shows the value of cloud-based document management and how using it will have a positive impact on your client’s life (i.e. security, convenience and time savings) will help to clear the hurdle of low perceived value.

Hurdle 2: Shaky Confidence

In this case, we’re talking about the level of confidence your clients have in a particular solution that you offer—not the confidence they have in your firm. For example, if your clients have never used their client portal to access a tax organizer, or they’ve had problems logging in and using it (due to user error), it’s likely their confidence in this particular tool will be low.

How to Help Clients Clear the Hurdle

To combat the hurdle of shaky confidence among your clients, consider soliciting and sharing testimonials from other clients who are similar in age and technological prowess. To combat low client confidence due to lack of experience with a particular platform, try providing a step-by-step video tutorial (if you have one). If you find adoption is still low and it’s a confidence issue, you could also provide personal instruction one-on-one or in a group setting. While this may take some time upfront, ultimately you’ll save time by having more clients who are integrated into a more efficient and secure workflow.

Hurdle 3: Lack of Trust

It’s a fact: some clients have a general mistrust of technology which drives them to use it as little as possible. Assuming that you’ve fully vetted the solutions that comprise your firm’s technology infrastructure, you should be able to help your clients clear the trust barrier to technology adoption relatively quickly, especially if you’ve already helped them get over hurdles 1 and 2.

How to Help Clients Clear the Hurdle

Clients who have fears and lack of trust about solutions that store data in the cloud need concrete reassurance that the application in question is safe to use. You can address this, and other trust-based issues directly by providing facts about the security of the cloud in general, elaborating on the information security protocols your firm follows and the specific data safeguards of the solution you are using.

Hurdle 4: Poor Accessibility

The hurdle of accessibility relates to the degree of convenience and usability of the solutions that you ask your clients to use. Your firm has a greater degree of control over this hurdle than the others we’ve discussed, since your firm can make its own decisions in regard to the technology it uses.

How to Help Clients Clear the Hurdle

When evaluating potential new technologies for your firm, keep your clients’ needs top of mind to ensure that they can quickly and easily make use of any solution you choose. You can bet that if you and your staff struggle to use a solution that is also client-facing, asking your clients to adopt it will be a struggle too, so look for a better alternative if you run into this problem. When asking clients to access a third-party solution, centralizing a link to it, and other applications, in an easy to find location on your firm’s website will increase the convenience factor, thereby promoting greater adoption of your firm’s chosen applications.

As an accounting professional, you can play a pivotal role in helping your clients clear the hurdles that may be preventing them from adopting technologies that will benefit them, and help your firm be more productive during tax season and beyond.