Customer service is something every firm has to deliver and is also one of the things most accounting firms think they offer better than their counterparts. However, with the rapidly changing technology, client requirements, and the way business is done are also changing.
In the process of building a successful accounting firm, it can be easy to overlook the needs of the clients who help you grow.
As the firm signs a new client, the focus sometimes shifts onto the new one. However, in the existing business environment, clients are not willing to be associated with the firm just because they’ve always been a client.
According to research by Bay Street Group, 70% of clients wanted to change their CPA firm because of bad customer service. Even your long-term clients may look for another firm if they feel that they’re not being valued. This may cost your firm in terms of revenue as well as potential referrals.
So, how can accounting firm strengthen their relationship with their existing clients? Here are some strategies for improving customer service which would help your firm and clients.
1. Communicate Regularly With Your Clients
If you’re not aware of your clients’ requirements and perspective, you might have wrong assumptions about things they may need. It’s important to interact with your clients regularly and understand what their expectations from the relationship are.
Do your research and ask them questions so you can learn about them as much as possible. This would help your firm deliver the right offerings and experience and also earn their loyalty.
Business owners should maintain an open line of communication among the team and the clients. This would help them understand things which are working and things which need improvement. Understanding your clients’ current experience would help innovate services and develop a strategy to match your client’s goals and expectations.
2. Be Proactive in Offering Services
The default approach for most accounting firms to customer service is to respond to client issues once they occur. While this approach may satisfy your clients but won’t please them. The analysis shows that relying on reactive approach would no longer help accounting firms move forward and compete.
Adopting a proactive approach is one of the most efficient ways to improve your accounting firm’s customer service. With this approach, you are letting the clients know about their potential issues in advance and sharing what you are doing to solve them. Providing regular updates during the process is also critical.
Advice your clients about the latest tax changes, compliance updates, or other general developments in the accounting sector. According to research by Bain and Company, firms offering proactive customer service showed an improved client retention rate by around 5%, which increases further.
3. Leverage Technology
For great customer service, it is important that all available resources, including the latest technology, are fully utilized to make sure that the client’s requirements are met. With the latest technological innovations, it has become easier for accounting firms to interact with their clients.
Long waiting time and slower response from customer executives are no longer acceptable by the clients. There are many ways your firm can utilize technology to improve customer service:
- Cloud Solution: Utilizing cloud technology to store information can help improve customer service. Cloud hosting of accounting software allows easier collaboration, increased security, and your data is always accessible from anywhere.
- Mobile App: Clients are always looking for easy ways to get the needed information and interact with the firm. A mobile app is a must-have tool for accounting firms. Not only would a mobile app provide information, but also streamlines communication. It increases reliability and makes your infinitely accessible for the clients.
- Social Media: Social media, today, is transforming the face of customer service for any firm. Clients immediately go to Facebook or Twitter if they aren’t satisfied with the service. Therefore, if your firm isn’t active on social media platforms or don’t respond to client queries instantly, the issue may escalate.
4. Build Trust
Building trust is one of the important aspects of good customer service. Clients would not want to stick to the firm they don’t trust. It may sound obvious, but it’s not easy to overstate the value of creating a strong base of happy clients.
No matter how good your service or product is, one of the things clients would remember is the kind of interaction they had with the firm.
Therefore, it’s not just about the impression you made in the first meeting, but it is also imperative to focus on your client’s needs, respect them, and provide relevant service. Instead of rushing to get things done, ensure that each of your existing client’s needs is met.
Your clients should have multiple options to share their feedback. It can be done through a feedback form or telephonic survey. A complaint system can also help your clients raise their concerns.
5. Offer Timely Response
Good customer service comprises of many things, and speedy response time is one of the key factors. A casual approach isn’t an option. Clients don’t want to wait, and they want it – fast.
When a client contacts your customer service department, they have some expectations. They want their issues to be resolved immediately.
There are few tricks your accounting department can use to improve their response time:
- Make use of the ‘Quick Reply’ option, an email tactic used by most accounting firms. Such emails are pre-written emails with common responses to general problem-solving advice.
- Set up an automatic response to the client emails to let them know that their email has been acknowledged.
- Set time-based email alerts to avoid losing emails in the system.
Efficient Customer Service for Long-term Success
There may be many strategies that help you achieve success for a shorter period. However, if you want your success to sustain for long, it is imperative to keep the customers satisfied. Happy customers are loyal customers and remain with you for a long time.
What are your ideas for great customer service? Share with us in the comments below!
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