The relationship between an accountant and a client is instantly intimate. Because the client is exposing their financial information, including their purchase history and the current health of their finances, the client often feels vulnerable and even cautious.
As an accountant, your goal is twofold: First, you must gain your client’s trust, and then you must maintain it. Doing your job is only part of the equation. It’s also important that you communicate clearly with your accounting clients so that they feel comfortable exposing their financial information to you. If you fail to communicate effectively and within the expectations of your client, you may lose both their trust and their business.
Your accounting firm’s success depends on your ability to communicate early and often with your clients.
Let’s discuss how to improve your communication efforts and start building long-lasting and successful relationships with your accounting clients.
Transparency is one of the pillars of great communication. When you are honest and authentic in your communication, you instantly become more trustworthy as an accounting firm. Clients respond favorably to firms that openly share information. This starts during the consideration phase before you’ve successfully converted the prospect to an accounting client. You can build trust with your prospective accounting client by explaining in detail what services you offer and how much you charge.
Yours may be the first and last accounting firm that a prospective client considers, so be thorough in your marketing communication. Don’t assume that they already understand what an accounting firm can do.
Improve Your New Client Onboarding Process
After you’ve successfully converted a prospective client to an actual one, continue to make communication a top priority. For starters, when you welcome a new client to your accounting firm, set their expectations on your communication standards.
Should they expect to hear from you every week regardless, or only for events that require their direct participation?
How often will you meet?
What type of meetings will you have? Will you meet online, over the phone, or in person?
How should they reach out if they have any questions?
How long should they expect to wait for a response from you?
In addition to answering the above questions, it can also be useful for you to enroll new clients in a getting started course with your accounting firm. This can be a short email-based course where you send out one email per day over the course of a week. In each short email, offer tips and information to help your client meet their goals and find success while working with you.Accountants, here's your guide to improving communication with your clients. #accountantsguide Click To Tweet
Don’t Wait for Your Client to Reach Out First
Ideally, you should reach out more to your clients than they reach out to you. Quietly establish trust by regularly communicating with your client. You can use email to stay in touch with your clients on a regular basis. A great way to do this is with email newsletters.
Email newsletters allow you to remain at the top of your client’s minds. Even though they may only interact with you a few times a year, your monthly or biweekly email newsletters can be a connection that constantly reminds them that you’re serving them as an accountant. It can also reinforce the idea that you’re working hard as their trusted financial advisor. And because your email newsletter will contain useful and relevant information that your clients need to know, it will also show your clients that you’re a valuable resource. These are all great benefits you’ll gain through sending email newsletters on a recurring basis.
Email newsletters are cheap to produce. They cost next to nothing. But the positive impact of sending out such newsletters is astronomical.
Also, email newsletters are easy to produce. You can repackage industry news and share it with your clients.
For example, consider the latest boost to Research and Development (R&D) Tax Credit in the Inflation Reduction Act. As an accountant who’s at the top of your game, you’re already aware of this boost. But it’s also important for you to communicate this information with your client. This will show them that you’re proactive, informed, and up to date on the latest news that will affect them. It also shows that you’re a reliable resource that continues to maximize the value that you bring.
Speak Your Clients’ Language
Unless your client is an accountant, avoid using accounting jargon in your communication. It’s easy to lose your clients when you start to speak in a way that they don’t understand. Don’t dumb down your communication. Instead, help your client understand by sticking to the facts and avoiding extraneous information that may overwhelm the listener. Sharing too much information may also have the unintended effect of making you appear like a know-it-all in a bad way.
Understand Your Client’s Goal
In every interaction, consider these two questions:
What does my client want or need to know?
What would be a successful outcome of this conversation?
Every conversation you have with your client should be solely focused on helping them succeed. To do that, you should know what your client cares about. With that in mind, share content that will matter to your client.
For example, when working with business clients, it’s obvious what they care about: Business clients care about their business and their industry. To excel in communication with that client, learn all you can about their industry. This way, you can share with them relevant news that will affect both their business and their industry.
Make Communication Easy for Your Accounting Clients
What’s one thing that both accountants and accounting clients hate? Sending files back and forth.
The process can be clunky and frustrating, but file sharing is an essential part of the accountant-client relationship. You can’t improve communication without improving the way that you share files with your client.
Having a secure client portal can definitely reduce the back-and-forth of uploading and downloading files, but not all clients prefer logging into portals. So how do you effectively share the information that you need your client to know without asking them to log into a portal?
With Mango Accounting Practice Management Software, your clients don’t need to log into a portal. Instead, file exchange can happen within their email. They can both receive and send documents through their email. The information remains secure with our bank-level, end-to-end encryption. The client can sign, share, and request files securely from their inbox without needing to log in. The file size is never an issue and storage is unlimited. This process gives you the security of a portal but with the ease of sending an email.
As a service-based business, your top priority must be your client’s experience. Every interaction you have will either impress or repel your client. The quickest way to frustrate your clients and ultimately lose their trust is by devaluing communication. Without clear and ongoing communication, your client may stress out and think that you’re not doing the job they’re paying you to do.
Apply the above best practices to improve your communication with your accounting client, and keep them around for the long haul.
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