Dec 2016

Clients won’t queue … Lessons for Australian Accountants from Australia’s Restaurant scene …

By: Odyssey General
Tags: compliance, Offfshore, Outsourcing

In a news article last month, Sydney diners were increasingly unwilling to stand in line waiting for their dinner. With more options for dining out and online booking at people’s fingertips, fewer diners were willing to queue for restaurants. As the article notes, people are becoming less and less patient. And “People don’t even want to wait for their coffee in the morning, let alone for a restaurant”. The same might be said for Australian tax compliance work.

The average time people are willing to wait for a table is 18 minutes, while one in 10 refuses to wait at all. “As lifestyles become busier, diners don’t have valuable time to wait for a restaurant table”.

And whilst there isn’t yet a system whereby Accountants can rate their clients, there are systems in place whereby clients can rate their accountant. Certainly this must be one change that we can all anticipate – mutual ratings by clients and accountants.  Looking at the Australian restaurant industry which has been undergoing some massive changes recently with restaurants increasingly harnessing the power of big data to up their game, certainly to identify their clients and sometimes to refuse bookings for “no-shows”. Using Linkedin to pre-check out your dining customer is becoming the norm, and Australian accountants are wise to invest time in digital research on their prospects/clients.

In the Australian outsourcing world, there has been scarce offshore compliance resources for the past 3-4 years, which has manifested itself in massive wait times during busy seasons. Whilst automation and the cloud are smoothing out some of these peaks, there are still busy periods. Some offshore providers try to finesse the long lead times during busy times by fibbing on their lead times then accepting client complaints when job times overrun. Some offshore providers substitute quality, but using freshly hired staff to work on jobs that require 2-3 year experienced staff. The better providers don’t ever compromise quality.

Certainly the ongoing compliance shortage has manifested itself by the recent gold-rush like stampede over the Philippines. However, this overheated market can’t rustle up 5 year experienced Australian compliance staff out of nothing, so the options at the moment are to hire and train. A long term strategy that might not bear fruit given the ongoing rush to the cloud and massive automation that is on the horizon if not already here.

For those accountants that can’t afford to wait, investing in longer term fixed-resource compliance resources might be a risky investment with the future of compliance so unsure.

And if you are banking on growth through training your own offshore full time resources, then you are effectively putting silos of clients into queues, and we don’t know any client that wants to be down the back of the queue (Hi Mr Smith, you are down the back of the queue… we’ll be doing your tax return in June… of next year).

But the real question is, will your clients wait?  The Restaurant scene would seem to suggest Accounting clients are highly connected and will only wait for an exceptional experience, which with the commoditization of compliance is virtually impossible.