Firms need digital partners who are up to speed, not just on what’s possible now, but what will be possible in the coming years. And to stay ahead, firms need to understand the opportunities and challenges these new advancements will bring.
Automation will create more agile business processes; artificial intelligence will cut down on human interaction, increasing efficiency and accuracy; augmented reality will bridge the gap between online and offline; and improved digital tech will transform internal engagement for organisations working across multiple global offices.
With a growing understanding of digital’s ability to build awareness, drive business development and growth, many now realise that the company website can be so much more than a digital brochure.
Websites are a manifestation of a company’s brand and as such, they offer a significant touchpoint for both new and existing audiences to engage in a meaningful and compelling way. For professional services firms, the main requirements of any digital experience are as follows:
● Articulate the breadth of their offering so visitors can qualify whether the firm can help them with their next initiative
● Offer a scalable consumer-like experience online that’s consistent with the brand’s offline experience
● Adopt a digital tone of voice, which is professional and in line with the personal tone of voice, and use language that is external-facing (rather than internal) but still reflective of the deep expertise
● Present technically complex information, often multilingual, in an easy-to-use, accessible and intuitive way
● Be responsive and hassle-free across platforms and devices
● Offer personalised content, with an end-to-end experience where digital conversations can be stitched to the offline
To meet these requirements it’s important that firms understand the benefits of, and engage in, robust user experience studies, but there is still some resistance to this. In fact, many professional services firms are still inclined to see ‘asking the target audience for direction’ as a sign of weakness, rather than a sign of commitment to delivering the best experience for their clients.
DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION IN ACTION
As mentioned earlier, by far one of the most important factors for a professional service firm’s website is for it to function as a tool for sales and lead generation, offering customers an easy, streamlined way to research and enquire.
IT consultancy Sungard AS recognised the opportunity to greatly enhance their lead generation capability through a refresh of their digital technology and approached Netcel to help with the transformation. By restructuring information architecture at a global level, optimising page layouts, and improving the ability to test, personalise and update content, Sungard AS were able to improve conversion rates and content downloads, achieving a staggering 60% uplift in qualified sales leads in the space of just four months.
BDP, an international practice of architects, engineers and designers, was another organisation that saw the potential of an enhanced digital experience. BDP wanted an online experience that could improve visibility and interest while reflecting the firm’s culture and services; visually stunning, technically sophisticated with the ability to demonstrate the value BDP brings to their clients.
Netcel worked with BDP to deliver a multilingual website and future-proof technology solution that would be accessible across all devices. Together Netcel and BDP created a browseable experience that ensures website visitors are taken on extended journeys across a wider selection of content, never reaching a ‘dead end’ and always experiencing something new with each visit. Within weeks of the new website going live, BDP saw a 10% increase in engagement, and the fully responsive nature of the website has seen mobile visits increase by over 50% year-on-year.
NO TIME TO STAND STILL
Regardless of the size or sub-sector, professional services firms who strive to get ahead - and to stay ahead - of new challengers and disruptors in the sector need to be committed to digital transformation to help them fulfil their business ambitions. But like any transformational process in business, digital transformation is a journey and doesn’t happen overnight. Firms need to invest in the future of their digital experiences to reap the benefits further down the line.
There’s usually some degree of trepidation for traditional professional services firms when it comes to embracing digital, but the sector risks falling behind consumer expectations. In order to validate the business case for change, firms need to develop a vision for digital success before committing to significant technological investment - something a digital consultancy can undoubtedly help with.
One thing’s for sure, it’s riskier for firms to stand still and do nothing.