Give your accounting practice an edge in an intensely competitive marketplace by focusing on client relationships and providing a unique client experience. Make your accounting business stand out through more personal connections with your clients, getting to better know their needs, and providing services above and beyond client expectations.
Gaining a Real Competitive Edge
An increasingly crowded and competitive marketplace is making the approach of accounting firms to aggressively price services similar or identical to the services offered by other firms less and less effective. A survey conducted by the business research firm, Gartner, supports that idea. The survey reveals that nearly 90 percent of business owners believe that client experience, rather than pricing, is the primary key to winning and retaining customers.
To make a superior client experience a reality, you have to learn the specific elements that go into creating unique, personal client relationships, and actively work to incorporate those elements into your business model.
Tell Your Firm’s Story
Build strong client relationships by sharing something of yourself. Don’t just rattle off a price list of services. Instead, tell clients the story of your accounting business. How did your firm start and what’s your vision for where it’s going? By telling your business story, you invite clients to become personally interested in and invested with your firm. Your story is what truly sets you apart from all your competitors.
Explain how your story relates to what you offer clients. For example, your desire to provide every possible financial advantage for your clients is why you offer the most technologically advanced accounting software. Your vision of creating a dream team staff guides you in putting every team member in a position that maximizes the benefits of their individual talents and expertise.
Clearly communicate to your staff the idea of service that goes beyond client expectations. The famous Ritz-Carlton hotel chain is an example of this idea in practice. There’s a story of one guest who lost his sunglasses at the beach. The attentive staff became aware of this and actually sent someone scuba-diving to recover the lost sunglasses. That’s service beyond expectations.
Really Get to Know Your Clients
After relating the personal story of your own business, ask your clients about their story. Show interest in them as individuals, not just an account. Clients are more loyal when they feel they’re receiving truly personal service. Research their industry so you can better understand their business. Ask them about the challenges they face, which can open the door for you to suggest services to help them meet those challenges. Listen to them and show empathy. The bottom line: Show clients you care about their success, not just about billing them. That builds trust, and trust translates to the client being more open to accepting new services and less inclined to think you’re just trying to increase your billings.
Maintain Good Communications
Be proactive in communicating with clients. Don’t just wait for them to call and ask for something. Touch base with them regularly and ask if there’s anything they need help with at the moment. Again, think of going beyond expectations. Ask if there’s anything not related to accounting that you might be able to help them with. For instance, perhaps they could use a referral to a good printing or shipping service.
Always respond promptly to client calls or inquiries. Respond in the kind of timely manner you would to an urgent request from a friend. Doing so shows respect and demonstrates you consider their needs a priority.
Make your accounting firm stand out as unique by providing a client experience that can’t easily be matched or duplicated by your competitors. Build more personal relationships with your clients. Those relationships bind them to you much more effectively than low pricing can.