An Interview with Mazuma’s Lucy Cohen
With burn-out a key concern for business leaders after a challenging 18 months – one accountancy practice founder is harnessing technology to minimise disruption and protect the wellbeing of its employees, as well as improve its approach to client care.
Lucy Cohen, one of the founders of Mazuma, the UK’s leading online accountants for small and micro-businesses – says the answer lies in helping employees to focus and manage their time, rather than face a barrage of interruptions from emails and phone calls throughout the day.
Lucy says: “The distraction of a constantly ringing phone, a busy inbox and messages to call clients back can make it really difficult to feel in charge of your workload, which in turn impacts your ability to give clients the best service. Interruptions are very costly to personal wellbeing and our sense of accomplishment at the end of the working day too, so we knew there had to be a better way.”
Mazuma embraced online appointment scheduling software, Calendly, earlier this year to diary all client calls and it’s transforming both the client and employee experience as a result. Lucy adds: “If someone is unavailable, for whatever reason, this tool gives us the means to book a call back with a client and put it straight into the relevant accountant’s diary. It saves the ping pong effect of missed calls and messages and so on. For our team, it means they don’t have to worry about distractions and can concentrate fully on one thing at a time. For clients, it means they know they’ll have a specific time when they will have our full attention and focus. It’s win-win.”
Mazuma’s proactive approach to appointment scheduling is supported by their telephone answering provider Moneypenny, whose receptionists have full access to Mazuma’s team calendars and can book callbacks straight into diaries. This approach also leads to much quicker resolutions as Mazuma’s accountants have time to prepare for calls, instead of being caught on the hop. It requires discipline all around and Mazuma has worked hard to ensure that clients understand this approach too.
Lucy says: “It’s all about fairness. You’d be annoyed if you knew that the time assigned to your work was being eaten into or interrupted by others. Clients understand that while they might not be able to speak to their accountant on the spot, they will always get called back. Our commitment to giving clients our full attention is demonstrable and it leads to much quicker query resolution too.”
With Moneypenny’s help, it’s possible for Mazuma money to ensure that all client calls are answered, even outside traditional hours. Lucy says: “The combination of appointment booking software and call answering technology together is powerful as it means we are always available and can show that we see, hear and value our clients. It also shows that we really value our team and want them to thrive. We’re actively helping them to maximise their focus, minimise disruption, maintain our standards and protect their mental wellbeing. We’ve got rid of distraction and interruption for good.”
This approach is fundamental to Mazuma’s operating model, which can be likened to manufacturing because of its focus on efficiency. Lucy says: “Back in 2015 each client’s paperwork took an average of 60 minutes, by 2019 we’d reduced that to 42 minutes and now, for the year ahead, our goal is 20 minutes. Although those times have reduced, our ability to make this time meaningful, focused and more valuable for clients has increased significantly. This helps us to maintain our commitment to low prices and ensure that the cost of process inefficiency isn’t passed back to clients. It’s what sets us apart from other traditional practices.”
Progressive use of technology has underpinned Mazuma’s success since it was founded 15 years ago. It was the first to market with a low-cost online subscription model for accountancy in the UK and now has more than 2000 small business clients across the UK and a 33-strong in-house team. Even greater use of technology is on the horizon as Mazuma prepares to help micro-businesses with their increased filing responsibilities to HMRC.
Lucy says: “We’re in the process of integrating our own proprietary technology, Mazapp – which will act as an easy-to-use portal for clients to upload and view documents. The use of high capacity scanning and optical character recognition will enable us to extract the data we need from those documents super efficiently, which means our team will spend less time doing data, and more time giving good advice to clients.
“There aren’t many accountancy businesses who are interested in the micro bit of the SME market. While others may think it’s scrappy, we think it’s beautiful. It’s deserving of the best advice and customer care from accountants who are happy, healthy and thriving.”