Your accounting firm is only as strong as your relationship with your clients. If you aren’t able to earn your clients’ trust and respect, they won’t be clients for long.
To build your relationship, focus on improving your client experience. Too often accounting firms focus on deliverables, but they don’t consider the delivery, i.e. the entire experience.
Your client experience is a composite of every interaction your client has had with your accounting firm. From your initial onboarding to your ongoing “Just Checking In” emails, every conversation that you have had with your client is either building your relationship or tearing it down. It’s also impacting your client’s perception of your brand.
When it comes to relationship building, one unique challenge for accounting firms is that your clients must constantly reaffirm their decision to stick around. You don’t have the luxury of client inertia, that phenomenon where clients can stay put for years without anything changing. Accounting clients are onboarded each year for the new tax year, and if they’re unhappy with your service or their experience from the last tax year, they may simply decide to go elsewhere.
This is precisely why client experience matters. Every part of your client’s experience can have an immediate and lasting impact on the longevity of your accounting firm. It can also affect your ability to grow your organization. Happy clients who have positive experiences with your firm are more likely to refer others to you. And they’re more likely to leave glowing reviews on sites like Google and Yelp. A few good sentences can mean a world of difference in your ability to pull in new clients organically through Google search.
In this guide, let’s discuss what you can do to improve your accounting client’s experience.
1. Map Out Your Accounting Client’s Journey
The first step starts with a map, specifically a map of your client’s journey from prospect to advocate. It’s important that you identify all of the key milestones in your client’s journey with your accounting firm.
This way, you’ll be able to show up at each milestone and provide valuable resources that keep your client engaged and excited about being in a professional relationship with you.
While there are many different types of client journeys, most contain five stages:
- Awareness – This is when your prospective client becomes aware of your accounting firm and the services you provide.
- Consideration – This happens as your prospective client learns more about your services and mulls over the idea of hiring you for their financial needs.
- Acquisition – This is the moment of victory when you finally convince your prospect to become a client.
- Service – This is the ongoing professional relationship where you provide accounting services to your client.
- Loyalty – After a period of service, the client will either leave or stay. If they stay, they will achieve the loyalty stage of their journey. The goal is to make every client a loyal one. Loyal clients give referrals, leave reviews, and stick around year after year.
By mapping out your client’s journey through these five stages, you’ll be able to identify where each individual client is on the map and be able to provide resources to help them along their path.
2. Go Above and Beyond With Your Customer Service
It’s not enough to provide service with a smile. That’s a great start, but it’s only that—a start. In addition to smiles, you should seek to be the ultimate resource to your clients, even before they become clients.It’s not enough to provide service with a smile. That’s a great start, but it’s only that—a start. In addition to smiles, you should seek to be the ultimate resource to your clients, even before they become clients. Click To Tweet
During the awareness stage, when prospective clients are most likely to stumble upon your accounting firm online, be sure to provide a treasure trove of resources. This may include calculators and a regularly updated blog with the latest accounting news that will potentially affect your clients. You can use your website and blog to provide complete answers to prospective clients who are searching for these very topics on Google. And the more you can satisfy the users that Google sends your way, the more you’ll increase your visibility for the future.
Customer service is also a must throughout the service stage of your client’s journey. Don’t just reduce your interactions to transactions, such as sign here or acknowledge there. Also, freely share information and expert insight that can help your client succeed. This may include upselling your clients on advisory services that can bolster their financial profile.
3. Simplify Client Onboarding
Client onboarding is one of those tasks that you’ve got to get right, especially because you’re in a constant loop of renewing your client’s information.
Make it easy on your team and your clients by simplifying the process. You’ll do that by using accounting practice software such as Mango Practice to save all of your client’s information securely in the cloud. This way, re-onboarding your client for the new tax year is hassle-free. All your client will need to do is verify that their saved information is current and correct.
4. Improve Communication
What’s the fastest way to derail a positive client experience? Poor communication.
Communicating clearly and regularly with your clients is an essential ingredient to your success. Without clear communication, your clients won’t know what you need from them. And if you don’t regularly communicate with your clients, you could be missing out on the opportunity to build trust and a solid relationship.
If you have a few clients, communicating can be easy. But if you’re dealing with increasingly more clients, it can be challenging to keep in touch with everyone. Important notifications can slip through the cracks, leading to missed deadlines and an antagonistic client experience.
Fortunately, you can use an all-in-one accounting software like Mango to maintain regular and effective communication with your clients.
Through Mango’s client portal, you can securely share files and request electronic signatures at the click of a button.
Struggle with using a client portal? No problem. The software also works directly from your email inbox and doesn’t require clients to download another app. As long as they know how to send an email, even the most non-techy client can send and receive documents and communicate effectively with your team.
This eliminates the frustration that comes from troubleshooting client portal errors. The ease of sharing resources through email will immediately elevate your client experience.
What’s even better? You can draft standard messages to your clients and save them to your accounting software. This allows you to automate your onboarding process and eliminates the need to manually write and send out onboarding messages every year and to every client.
Here are a few more ways to improve your client communication:
- Offer multiple ways to communicate, including email, phone, chat, and text message. Not everyone enjoys communicating via the same medium.
- Automate reminders using your accounting software to ensure that you meet deadlines and nothing slips through the cracks.
- Provide a variety of resources, such as frequently asked questions (FAQs), best practices, and in-depth articles to educate your clients.
- Communicate frequently to remain at the top of your clients’ minds so they don’t forget about you.
- Answer all client inquiries within 24 business hours.
- Send non-accounting-related messages, such as “happy birthday” wishes to show your client that you care.
- Take surveys frequently to get honest feedback and gauge client sentiment.
If you’d like to retain your clients and grow your successful accounting practice, focus on improving your client experience. How clients feel about your firm will immediately impact their decision to stick around. Implement the above steps to elevate the client experience at your accounting firm.
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