Today, accounting firms can’t get away with only doing accounting well. They have to offer a competitive customer service experience to ensure customers are satisfied. This way, their customer retention increases or is at least maintained, allowing the business to thrive.
The problem is many accounting firms don’t put enough emphasis on the needs of a customer beyond getting results through a job well done. These days, customers value transparency above a lot of other factors that were once relevant. 9 out of 10 customers will stop purchasing from a business if they feel they lack transparency.
Customers want to stay updated on the progress of their accounts, and it’s become easier than ever to switch service providers if they don’t get those updates.
It’s because of the abundance of choice, or even do-it-yourself software, that accounting firms need to take customer service seriously. To help you through the process, here are five customer service pain points worth addressing.
Access to real-time account information
Today, software makes it easy for you to keep your customers in the loop so they know what’s going on with their accounts. They no longer have to wait days and weeks or rely on phone calls to know the status of the service they’ve paid for.
Tools like customer-facing portals can make it easy for accounting firms to clearly communicate with customers at all times. Customers can log in securely and check out their numbers. If they have any questions, they can easily reach you without having to make a call or see you in person.
For instance, with ImagineTime, you can have peace of mind sending sensitive information through email because of the added security its plugin provides its users. Once installed, customers can safely access email information without worrying about identity theft.
One of the biggest perks of client portals? Not only does using them elevate the customer experience, it also reduces the time your accounting team has to spend chasing down customers for sign offs, forms or changes to their personal information.
Sometimes the customer experience suffers because customers aren’t educated enough on the subject to know what to expect or even what to ask. Whether they don’t have the time (they are outsourcing their accounting needs to you after all) or they aren’t informed for other reasons, making sure you educate your customers on expectations, timelines, and the cadence of your accounting services can go a long way.
This begs the question: How can you solve the customer education pain point without having it use up all your time and resources? A great solution worth considering is to revamp your client onboarding process.
Instead of just making it about gathering the appropriate signatures and forms, it can be worth it to add some informational content as part of the initial onboarding steps. That way, customers can engage with you from a more informed standpoint, instead of being left to their own devices.
It can be a useful idea to have clients sign off on a frequently asked questions form online. Either way, you’ll need software to streamline your onboarding process and refine it as part of your overall customer service experience. A tool like Mango can help you through any tax law changes you might need to be aware of for your onboarding.
Tracking billable hours
Tracking billable hours is yet another way to gain customer trust, but unfortunately it’s not something every accounting firm considers. Granted, every accounting team prices their projects according to their needs. But the idea here is that taking the time to track key data and showing it to customers is a crucial part of customer service.
It can be easy to think of customer service as an afterthought – something that only happens when you pick up the phone to make a call, or when they walk into your firm for appointments. But customer service is a pervasive part of any service-based business that starts the minute you connect with your customer and ends when you part ways.
Tracking key billing data, for example, can be a way to establish trust with customers who are new to working with you. If you need to recall anything, you’d have a reliable record of key data to refer to.
Customer trust and security
Many of your customers might be wary about how safe it is to exchange sensitive financial information online. This is where security becomes an issue. As the provider of accounting services, it’s on you to ensure the systems you use are well-equipped to weather security threats.
For instance, take file sharing. How can your customers be sure they won’t be subject to stolen data or hacked emails? When you use a software system that can help you bolster the security of your services, it helps ensure a smoother customer experience for everyone involved.
Specifically, ImagineTime’s suite of tools include a safe file sharing feature that you and your customers can use to securely share files and collect e-signatures with peace of mind. The process can be made easier for customers who aren’t savvy with usernames and passwords too. As you probably already know, ease of use is another piece of the puzzle that factors into the customer service experience.
A big pain point accounting firms can fail to address is more consistent communication. While this doesn’t have to look like being stuck to your phone with your customer around the clock, it can mean sending automated email messages when things have been finalized or when there are deadlines approaching.
The beauty of keeping ongoing and open communication with your customers today is that it doesn’t have to be a big time suck for you. WIth the right software, you’re able to set up systems that allow you to keep a finger on your customer service strategy and have the time to execute all your accounting tasks without the extra hassle.
Accounting firms must focus on customer service
Companies with a focus on customer experience tend to drive 4 - 8% higher revenue than their counterparts. This stat alone is enough to give you a glimpse into the transformative effect of overhauling your customer experience if it isn’t garnering the results you’re expecting.
A great place to start is automation. With the right software, accounting firms can make it so that their customer management workflow reduces bottlenecks and automates time-consuming processes.
Imagine Time equips you with the tools to take your accounting services to the next level. As a tool created by accountants for accountants, it comes with everything you need to create a powerful customer experience you can count on.
Time tracking and billing, due date management, secure file sharing, electronic signatures, and even payments can all be processed in one centralized system. And yes, Imagine Time also comes with a Client Portal feature which allows you to keep all your customers informed and engaged throughout the accounting process.
If you’re ready to try Mango Practice Management, request a demo here.
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