4 Strategies to Create the Best Client Experience
Given that whenever you’re dealing with someone’s finances, you’re stepping into sensitive territory, yet the client experience is a vital part of the accounting business. You always want to ensure that your clients feel as though they’re being understood and treated with respect, while also receiving top-of-the-line service.
As an accountant, it can sometimes be tough to manage particular clients, but creating the best experience for all of your clients doesn’t always mean sending fruit baskets or calling them on birthdays (though both those things are nice touches!). It can be about showing your enthusiasm for their business, understanding their goals, and communicating in an informative way.
Start building a better experience for your clients now with these four tips:
1. Understand the Client’s Journey
Whether it’s a huge company you’re working with or a small business, no client wants to feel like they’re getting the cookie-cutter approach from you. They want to be reassured that your firm understands them and their unique challenges. Once you’ve got a new client in hand, it’s time to probe deeper in order to get a fuller picture of what they expect from their CPA.
On the outset, do some early research to understand the typical cycle of a business in their industry, taking into account factors like the company’s size, the market geography, and so on.
Next, research the client’s industry and set up Google Alerts for the particular industry, the company you’re working with, and its direct competitors; this will allow you to hold better conversations with your client. It will also show that you’re taking an active interest in their business.
Then, when you get to the initial meeting, ask about the company’s long-term goals and how they plan on getting there with funding, revenue growth, marketing strategies, and more. This will help you get a better sense of what the client’s expectations are for both the present and the future, which will, in turn, assist you with putting together the best possible accounting program for them. Showing that you’ve done your research can earn you more loyalty from your client.
2. Respond With Timely, Clear Communication
Speaking of loyalty, it’s important to show that you’re listening to your client – everything from what they expect from you, to their accounting pain points, to their budgeting – and that you’re open to communication. The focus needs to be on open communication from both sides in order to make sure no cases of misunderstanding or “broken telephone” happen – plus, keeping in touch helps a client feel special and cared for, which is a huge boost to their experience.
On your end, there are two pieces of initial communication that are vital:
- You need to be upfront about their budget.
- You need to inform a clear understanding of deliverables. The last thing you’d want is to be caught without documents that your client needs, or to be stuck waiting on information that you need to get from your client.
Discussing deliverables is a good thing to tackle in the initial meeting, along with establishing the type of communication style and frequency the client prefers. Some clients may want to be kept informed on everything from additional services to new technology, while others would prefer to keep contact on a need-to-know basis.
Either way, it’s wise to always have a same-day response (or at least within 24 hours), even if you’re just letting them know you received the email and will get back to them later. This demonstrates that you value their business and that you’ll be there for them as soon as you can. (On the topic of email, be sure that you read through what you’re sending. Given that you’ll be representing your clients on occasion, sending emails that are full of grammar and spelling errors can cast you in an unprofessional light.) Above all, make sure you touch base with your client regularly, and encourage them to do the same with you, because silence from clients isn’t necessarily a good thing.
3. Work to Build Trust
Think of it this way: Out of all the firms out there, this particular client chose you to be their CPA. That shows a huge amount of faith in you – but be careful not to rest on this initial trust. You’re still going to need to put some work in to maintain that faith that you were the best CPA choice.
Show that you’re eager to grow and learn along with your client. After 30 days of service, solicit feedback from your client, and make a point to check in with them periodically to welcome constructive criticism on what more you could be doing. This conveys that you want your client to have the best possible experience, and that you’re capable of modifying your approach or style to achieve that goal.
As we mentioned in the previous section, once you’ve established how often your client wants communication, it’s good to determine what kind of industry tips or regulation changes they’d find pertinent, and pass along that information as needed. It’s also worth keeping them in mind when you come across news that could be valuable to their account.
Being proactive shows that you’re thinking of your client outside of normal tasks, and having them top of mind goes the extra mile toward making them feel special and valued. In addition, it demonstrates that you’re staying on top of industry trends, which reaffirms a client’s faith that you’ve got the most up-to-date know-how – and that they don’t have to look anywhere else.
4. Be Invested
In the pursuit of supplying top-of-the-line customer service, a CPA needs to make a client’s trust the highest priority, and that can be achieved by providing open communication and understanding. Creating a great client experience is all about showing that you are invested year-round in the financial well-being of a company, and that you’ll be proactive about their expectations. Going above and beyond what a client asks is the key to being an excellent CPA – and with a little guidance, even a tough client should be a snap.
Have you used any of the above-mentioned tips when interacting with your clients? Tell us about it in the comments or feel free to post your own blog about it.