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Stepping our partnership up a level: A more beautiful and rewarding experience

Posted 4 years ago in Advisors by Doug LaBahn
Posted by Doug LaBahn

Over the last decade, Xero has connected small businesses with their information and advisors in ways that might have seemed unimaginable to most when we first set out. And we’re still changing, pushing the boundaries of what’s possible and finding new ways to help our partners and their clients succeed. The next chapter is about to begin – and for our partners, it’s set to be the most exciting one yet.

When Xero launched from Rod Drury’s New Zealand apartment back in 2006, there were no iPhones, YouTube had only just been launched, Facebook was two years old and only 14% of the world’s population were connected to the Internet.

Still, Rod had a vision to make accounting easier for accountants and bookkeepers, and small businesses and their advisors. He wanted to eradicate every receipt-filled shoebox, every convoluted spreadsheet, and most of all he wanted accountants, bookkeepers and small businesses to have access to real-time data about their business so that they could better manage their business.

He could see that building financial data in the cloud offered the avenue to do just that – and that the key to success lay in creating great partnerships.

A new decade, with an even stronger partner platform

In just a decade Xero has become one of the leaders in cloud accounting with more than 717,000 subscribers around the world and many financial institutions connecting to Xero’s platform to enable small businesses to have a single, accurate view of their financial standing to make better business decisions.

Xero has also built a thriving ecosystem of more than 500 apps and integrations, with more than 28,000 registered developers working with its open APIs. These integrations are built specifically for the needs of small businesses.

By bringing our partners, ecosystem partner apps, financial institutions and all of our small business customers together using a single ledger, enabling real-time financial data flow and automating bank reconciliations, we have been able to achieve some of Rod’s vision. Today, 89% of small businesses using Xero connect to advisors and 29% connect to apps in our ecosystem. We believe we’re just at the beginning of the next wave of innovation.

Embracing the automation revolution

Today, the pace of technological change is even faster. We thought we’d seen dramatic change in the past decade but we haven’t seen anything yet. As we have grown our customer base, we have needed to look at how we continue to provide a beautiful accounting experience as we scale, while delivering new products and reducing the potential for service downtime. Our recent move to a new Amazon Web Services platform provides us with the potential for even greater innovation as we look to grow to 1 million customers and beyond across more than 180 countries.

Automation offers a massive opportunity for the entire accounting and bookkeeping industry to step up and into strategic advisory roles, providing their deep knowledge and expertise on driving the business economy. Automation means accountants and bookkeepers can begin to specialize and focus on value-added services – and let machines take care of the monotony of data collection and classification.

The next chapter of our Partner Program

With this first phase of cloud accounting nearing completion, we have learned a lot about the very positive impact of advisors on small business success.  Our Signals Insights have shown that businesses who use advisors grow net profit 23% faster than businesses without advisors.*

We started this new chapter by listening closely to our partners to better understand how our partners define success and the tools they need to achieve it.  After 3,000 survey responses from partners, 300 one on one workshops from 5 countries, and 350 users involved in Xero HQ beta, we identified six opportunity areas and undertook a large project to dramatically improve our Xero Partner Program. We’re excited to share that the project is nearly complete and will be ready for Xero partners to enjoy soon.

Here are the six key improvements you can look forward to in the Xero Partner Program:

1. Attract new clients with better visibility on the Xero Advisor Directory

The Xero Advisor Directory has been redesigned to make it easier for the 20,000+ people globally who search for help every month to find partners, and see partner credentials, experience with industries, Xero certifications and achievements. We have also enhanced Xero HQ to help partners tag their clients’ industries so as to appear more often in search results and to give prospective clients more interest and confidence in selecting partners to be their Xero Advisor.

2. Beautiful new tools to help you work the way you want to

Make prioritizing client work a breeze with Xero HQ the open platform for practices. Connect the practice apps you love, streamline your work, and bring all your clients together in one place so you can see what they’re doing and what you need to do next. What’s more, you’ll be able to gain insight into how your clients work using explorer to see the apps they use and the industries they’re in.

3. Raising the bar in education and helping clients see partner qualifications

Partners asked for more interactive ways to train their staff, and we’ve answered with several improvements to our education section. This includes a personalised learning experience in Xero U and a richer Xero Certification process.  We’ve also designed the new Advisor Directory to showcase people with certifications, present the Certification badge more clearly and to let people searching for Xero advisors to sort their search results by the number of certifications partners have.

4. New points to earn a higher status, faster

Pioneered in Australia, Xero is introducing a new points based system where partners will now receive points for being invited into client subscriptions and providing clients Xero Payroll and Xero Ledgers in addition to partner-paid subscriptions which recognise the full range of partner commitment and will help partners gain status and unlock more rewards.

5. Be recognized with new distinctions and badges, drawing more clients to you

Many partners are investing to certify and grow their Xero client list. We’ve introduced a special distinction for partners demonstrating growth and a level up commitment to certification called Xero Champion. For partners demonstrating champion performance, we’re adding extra benefits to help you attract more new clients to show our appreciation.

6. Refreshed benefits, and a new Xero merchandise store

Not only have the benefits offered been updated, partners will now have a great ecommerce experience to order branded Xero merchandise and other marketing resources exclusive to partners through the new Xero Store.

Heading into the next decade together

Looking back, it’s easy to see how we’ve got here, and how simple the act of bringing our partners and subscribers together on one single ledger has transformed the accounting and bookkeeping world.

Together, we’ve been able to achieve a good chunk of Rod’s vision. We would never have been able to do any of this without you guys, so thank you.

There’s no way to know for certain what the landscape is going to look like in another ten years time, but we are certain of one thing: partners will continue to be an integral part of Xero’s success and we’ll continue to strive to provide the partner tools and benefits you need to achieve success, however you define it.

Our next steps put Xero at the very centre of partner success, connecting partners with the services and tools partners need and igniting the partner network even further.

*Source: UK Xero Signals, Oct 13-Nov 15, matched data n=317

6 comments

Cristina Garza
September 8, 2016 at 12.53 pm

This is awesome! I am so glad that you guys are making the partner program better and better! Great job!

Doug LaBahn
September 8, 2016 at 1.14 pm

@Christina, you’re most welcome, we strive to put our Partners at the heart of the program in everything we do. We’re looking forward to November when you and your team will have all the new tools and resources at your fingertips!!

Ruben Duran
September 9, 2016 at 7.12 am

I would prefer for Xero to give priority to pragramm enhancements

Megan Firkin (Xero)
September 9, 2016 at 8.12 am

@Ruben, rest assured, with 1,400 features and updates delivered in FY16, continuous development and enhancement of our products is still number 1. Warm regards, Megan

Heather Smith
September 9, 2016 at 7.26 am

I honestly don’t think clients care about badges, unless they are in the scouts – so its not something I will personally buy into as a KPI goal – sorry.

Requiring staff to use 2-step authentication – this does not work when you use touch ID on your iphone – when is that issue going to be fixed – so we can use this feature?

I think 2.3 needs to address the major issue of firms using a single generic email address – which really should have come before point (a) and is a security issue that many firms are adopting as the norm. The big firms are all doing this.

Does the word Client cover business partner. I have a relationship with a client – but the business partner has asked for access – but I have no relationship with him – but he is a legal member of the business – but my client has said no?

I would like to see something included here about Xero staff Code of Conduct and upholding their professional and respectful treatment of us as partners and clear guidelines of a course of action when this does not happen.

Megan FIrkin (Xero)
September 9, 2016 at 9.43 am

@Heather, thanks for your comments. It’s really useful for us to get this type of feedback and we will definitely keep it in mind going forward as we develop the Program and Code. First up I can confirm that IOS support is imminent. As you know, Data security is an industry-wide issue and it is a top priority for Xero. We strongly recommend all customers use 2SA as it provides an additional layer of security for all Xero user accounts and can help keep Xero accounts from being compromised by phishing and malware. In response to your question, under the Code, client means your client. In terms of a situation regarding your client and their business partner, please feel free to send an email through to support with the detail and we will be happy to provide guidance to the extent we can. Each situation is different and should be handled as appropriate by reference to the Code and Xero’s Terms of Use. Warm regards, Megan

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