Would Your Clients Recommend You?

Jan 19th 2017

As an accounting professional, sustainable revenue, growth, and work you enjoy doing comes from loyal clients and word of mouth.

These are the clients who are more likely to purchase additional services, to accept price increases, and to recommend your services to their connections. Loyal clients are also not found in the wild or trapped – they are developed.

Case in point: Remember that time you recommended the cable company that didn’t show up on time to their appointment window? Or when you raved to friends, family, and colleagues about a restaurant with mediocre service for an OK price? Yeah, me neither.

Building loyalty with your clients isn’t based on your deliverables or speediness. Although a minimum level of service is essential, you can meet all of their expectations and still be left with a disgruntled client spreading negative word of mouth about your firm.

So, what exactly gets clients to put their seal of approval on your service? It’s the very intangible, difficult-to-quantify client experience.

Throughout a client engagement, there are countless interactions that can be improved to maximize your client’s experience. Some of these interactions begin even before you know they are a client, through your web presence and reputation. All of them impact the client’s feelings about your service and whether they’re truly pleased with the deliverables and relationship.

Here are a few tips to create a great client experience:

1. Ask the right questions. Understand where common challenges arise and ask your client directly how to deal with them. How often do they want updates? Would they like to go through all questions and requests at certain times? What are their contact preferences? Learn how your client likes to operate and tailor your work around them.

2. Listen, listen, listen. The client tells you either verbally or through body language and tone what they want, and it’s your job to listen. If they are fidgeting through paperwork while you’re talking to them, perhaps they have something more pressing to share. Ask them about it. Small communication errors with the client or within your own team can lead to a poor experience for your client.

3. Build your relationship. Your client is more than a source of information to be tapped to complete their engagement. They appreciate the care and concern you have for them as fellow humans, just as much as your technical ability. Take the time to connect with your clients throughout the year, beyond your annual work on their project.

4. Solicit feedback. Asking clients directly for feedback is the easiest way to ensure you’re doing the best job possible for them. How can you improve the experience they have with you or your firm? Remember, feedback is only useful if you do something about it. Let your clients know that you’re listening by adjusting based on their concerns and following up on their feedback.

One challenge CPAs and accounting firms have with client loyalty is that there is a high switching cost to moving accountants. No one is excited to make the transition of years of financial history, which means some clients may be with you not because they love the service or experience, but because they can’t be bothered to switch.

This busy season, think about the challenges you and your clients have faced and what parts of the client experience could be improved to add your firm to their list of “would recommend” service providers.

For more ideas on providing an outstanding client experience, earn some free CPE and tune in to our upcoming webinar on Wednesday, Jan. 25.

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