Clients front and centre in tech debate

Young businesspeople using digital tablet in lobby

Amazon has got it so right. You can argue about the impact of its entry into the Australian market, but you can’t argue about a business model that wholeheartedly devotes itself to its customers. Every investment is viewed in terms of its ability to improve the customer experience.

In assessing the deployment of technology, businesses can fall into the trap of focussing on the upfront cost, the risk and the potential short term returns. The path can seem littered with conflicting advice and options, particularly when most business owners aren’t tech experts.

If we instead work back from the client outcome and the impact that technology can have on our service delivery, then the decision-making process becomes clearer and less cluttered. It’s not about “clever tech for clever tech’s sake”. It’s about what technology delivers in terms of driving efficiency, building new revenue streams and improving margins. All of which is eminently achievable when our services are meeting the expectations of a client base that is increasingly value-focussed.

For many years Redchip has actively pursued opportunities to drive efficiency, automate low-value administrative work and deepen the engagement we have with our clients. The recent launch of estate planning platform, Yodal, is proof in point.

Going back to Amazon… I am a fan of the attitude it takes towards investment in pursuit of its vision to be the world’s most customer-centric organisation. Back in 1997, Jeff Bezos outlined the company’s manifesto in his letter to shareholders:

“We will continue to focus relentlessly on our customers. We will continue to make investment decisions in light of long-term market leadership considerations rather than short-term profitability considerations…”

What concerns me is that many professional firms are looking at investment in technology purely as a means to drive costs down and reduce client fees. I would argue that our goal should be to utilise technology to drive improvements in the value we deliver to our clients. To help clients better understand the value we provide to them.

We should view technology through the prism of an enabler for changing work practices in a way that allows our professional staff to utilise their creativity, insights and expertise to solve client problems without the hindrance of manual work that could easily be automated.

Let’s not make the mistake of “tech knee-jerking”. Of developing and deploying systems as a perceived quick fix to make clients happy in the short term. There is no point in investing in technology if it only results in a race to the bottom on pricing. The benefit for the consumer will be short lived as the supplier of the service goes broke.

Play the long term with the client firmly in focus. As Jeff Bezos once again so elegantly puts it:

“…customers are always beautifully, wonderfully dissatisfied, even when they report being happy and business is great. Even when they don’t yet know it, customers want something better, and your desire to delight customers will drive you to invent on their behalf.”

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