Losing clients can threaten the profitability, and possibly even the survival, of your accounting practice. Retaining existing clients is a lot less expensive and labour intensive than finding new ones. To reduce the chances of having any of your clients jumping ship, implement a multi-faceted program to continually nurture your client relationships.
When you handle a client’s books, you have a lot of their important information on file. If, for example, a client wants to compare last year’s revenue numbers with current numbers, they may need to get that information from you. Similarly, if they need cash flow projections to decide if they can afford a new employee, they may need that information from you. If a client contacts you asking for such information, you need to be promptly responsive. The faster you respond, the easier it is for your client to efficiently run their own business. In contrast, if you take a long time to respond, then your client may feel frustrated or disregarded. If they feel disregarded enough, they may take their business elsewhere.
Clear Communication Channels
It can be challenging to easily and efficiently field numerous questions from clients throughout the day. One thing that can help is establishing clear communication channels. For instance, if you have a standing monthly meeting with your clients, then they know they have your undivided attention during that time slot, and can arrive prepared with any current questions they have. You may want to set up your schedule with time specifically set aside to respond to all client emails or calls. That predictability in regard to getting a response from you can be valuable to your clients.
If you have an accounting firm with multiple employees, you may want to assign a point person for each client. That way, clients know exactly who to reach out to when they need something. Alternatively, if you want everyone in your firm to be able to collaborate on client accounts, you can benefit from using client relationship management software that enables anyone in your practice to access and record information on each client. The key is to make sure that your responsiveness to client inquiries indicates to clients that you value them as customers.
In addition to just answering questions and providing your clients with the services they request, you can impress clients by going the extra mile beyond just providing services they specifically ask for. Be proactive about services and information you provide your clients with. For instance, if an update to the tax code is likely to affect your client, then reach out to them and let them know how it may affect them. If a client can benefit from additional services that they aren’t currently receiving from you, let them know that you offer those services and explain how the services can benefit them.
Seek Constant Improvement
To ensure you’re meeting all of your clients’ needs, always be looking for ways to improve client service. If your retention levels are high and clients always seem to be referring new customers to you, that’s a sign that you’re handling everything well. If that’s not the case, then seek out ways to improve your service to the point where you do see referrals or other positive feedback that tells you clients like what you’re doing for them.
Consider using client surveys to pinpoint ways your business can improve. Talk directly with some of your top clients and ask them for feedback on what they like or don’t like about your services. Ask the question, “What else can I do to help you?”
If you want to hang onto your clients, work hard at interacting with them in ways that continually show that you value their business. Do all you can to avoid client frustration, and always be striving to improve the delivery of your services.