The Digital Opportunity For Professional Services

 

The way we work is changing dramatically under the influence of digital technologies, and this change is disrupting how clients engage with all styles of professional services. Expectations are changing in numerous ways, and the way services are provided must change in response.

Reviews and ratings for everything

What does it mean to be a professional in the digital age? In the past that might have been associated with professional qualifications or long experience, now it is more linked to measurable, demonstrable expertise and publicly-available ratings. It’s not just apps, restaurants and hotels that receive ratings from their customers, disgruntled or delighted, but increasingly all areas of activity are being opened up for ratings. This means that service providers of all types must become aware of their digital profile and, ideally, manage it to ensure the best possible results.

The expectation of response

Demonstrable expertise is perhaps best captured by the notion of a portfolio of work, but the concept applies to all kinds of work. Some professions cannot post pictures of the gorgeously finished end result of their work, but they can post credible testimonials, and, perhaps most importantly of all, respond quickly to messages.

Perhaps the most dramatic change brought in by digital is the expectation of rapid interaction. The leading digital providers have set a high bar for both responsiveness and a broad range of ways of connecting. Whether it is customer service via Twitter or same-day delivery from Amazon, we have all become spoilt for instant gratification.

And this goes beyond reviews and support into the way jobs are executed. Agility is a core word for modern software development, with flexible, lightweight processes being a key part of ensuring that projects deliver what is truly needed by their customers. Agility is part and parcel of the digital world, and service providers must ensure agility in their work, which really means a willingness and ability to change in-flight to meet evolving client needs.

New tools for more responsive communication

Supporting this need for dynamic, rapid change is a whole portfolio of tools. Service providers must be ready to use a range of new approaches, everything from instant messaging to file sharing to web and mobile based private channels. Email may have consigned the paper memos to the waste bin of history, but a variety of instant messaging approaches are replacing many emails. Borrowing practices from social tools such as WhatsApp and SnapChat, work tools such as Skype for Business, Slack and Workplace by Facebook provide a rapid and easy interaction between teams and individuals.

Where a project team is composed of both internal staff and staff from service providers communications must be shared. This means that the external employees must be able to access the messaging system, even when working remotely. One side of this means that enterprises must be able to adopt open, internet-based schemes and not require everyone to be using the same corporate system. On the other, this means that service providers must be flexible about using the preferred tool of the client, be it Slack or whatever.

Gaining competitive ground

More traditional providers struggle with this kind of approach, more comfortable with slower communications and response times. This obviously creates a huge competitive advantage for providers who are ready to embrace these new techniques.

Leaders in service provision are even moving to provide custom tools to support how they work with their clients, bringing messaging, asset sharing, planning, and logging tools together in dedicated web and mobile apps. The digitally-enhanced workplace is a CAF speciality, and we would be delighted to discuss how you can outpace your competitors in delivering customer delight by digitally enabling the workforce. In many ways, it can be regarded as bringing the convenience of consumer apps together with the security of enterprise systems. It is this combined expertise that has attracted companies such as KPMG to entrust their digital workplace initiatives to CAF.

Cup of Tea?

Somethings in work don’t change including the value of a purposeful chat over a cup of good, hot tea. So come in for a cuppa and see how we can help you be the digital professional service provider that your clients need.

 
 
Richard Marshall