Clients all over the world demand client loyalty which means, greater personal attention in their shopping and service experiences and accounting services are no exception. For years now, there is talk on how the accounting profession is poised to be primarily driven by the explosive growth of digital technology. The survival mantra today is to make the necessary changes in accounting operations and delivery or get left behind.
This is officially the Age of Disruption, where changes in consumer behavior are converging with the advancement of technological tools, creating uncharted territory for businesses around the globe. Therefore, it is imperative to pay attention to what is happening, both inside your firm and outside, in the environment where your clients live. While this may seem pretty obvious, it’s also easy to lose sight of developing trends when you are busy getting the day-to-day stuff done.
It is key to develop a business model that addresses clients’ desire to have easily accessible services that are connected within a larger ecosystem by integrative technologies and tools such as micro-apps (small apps that do a single function, yet can be connected together to create a completely customized solution).
1. Ask more questions – Instead of assuming what clients need and talking all about your services, spend most of your conversations listening to what is happening in their lives or businesses or what they are seeing as trends that will affect them. This focus on their needs will build trust.
2. Do the little things – People do not always remember the day-to-day work you provide. They remember the tough times you stood by them or sent them a gift when they reached a goal. Never underestimate the power of a phone call returned on a Sunday or a handwritten thank you note. These are gestures of client loyalty which become the big things that keep clients coming back to your firm.
3. Automate, then test it – There are lots of ways to use technology today to make your life or your clients’ lives easier. Just make sure the automation actually results in less hassle, not more. From your client portal to your website, test the technology yourself to make sure that it is intuitive to the user and works as intended. Broken links or a slow page refresh or inability to upload or download can really affect your clients’ sense of personal convenience.
4. Meet outside the office – Some clients prefer to focus on business, but you don’t always have to meet at the office. Invite them to talk over coffee or lunch or happy hour. Share some food while you discuss their plans. It helps get to know your clients better and often relaxes them to reveal concerns or ideas you can support.
5. Get in touch more often – Don’t wait for the phone to ring. No news is not always good news when it comes to client loyalty. Put a note on your calendar to touch base with clients at least quarterly, even if you only work with them once a year. They will also feel important — the number one reason clients say they choose to stay with their CPA.
Ideally, we should be delivering service solutions that are simple, seamless and salient for our clients, while also providing the exceptional service that builds loyal relationships and an affinity for our brand. It may not be easy, but it is critical to success in the Age of Disruption.