We all know that happy clients stay for longer… And happy clients normally mean word-of-mouth referrals, which is the foundation from which many...
5 Steps to Ace Accounting Firm Client Management
Accounting firm client management can be tough. Make excellent customer service your MO when dealing with the clients you want to keep around.
Most accounting firms encounter two types of clients: clients that add value to their business and clients that don’t. These are known as high-value clients, which are typically low maintenance, and low-value clients, which are high maintenance. There’s a lot of grey area between the two, but generally, it’s worth separating them into two categories and creating client management strategies for both.
I’ve written about how to attract high-value clients before. Once you’ve got them through the door, keeping them around is an important skill in itself. That’s because high-value clients tend to bring in more revenue, bolster your reputation, and refer you to other high-value prospects.
Today, I’ll tell you how you can better serve these clients in the long term and become better at client management. In doing so, you’ll make sure that the high-value clients you attract are also the ones you keep.
Identifying your high-value clients
Most people tend to think of high-value clients as the ones that bring in the most money, but that’s not always the case. Sometimes a high-value client can be a well-connected nonprofit that’s an excellent source of referrals or a loyal client that you love working with.
It’s up to you to decide how you want to define a high-value client. To start, take a moment to think about the direction you’d like to take your accounting firm in. Which clients are moving you in the direction you want to go? Those are the ones that will deliver the highest value.
How to better service your most valuable clients
When dealing with high-value clients, make sure that they consider your service to be high-value, too. That means consistently delivering exceptional customer service that sets you apart as the best choice to handle their business’s accounts.
Here are our five top ways to ace client management at your accounting firm and delight your high-value clients:
Offer business advice
As accounting technology has evolved, so too have client expectations. With comprehensive financial analytics at everyone’s fingertips, clients now expect business advice in addition to financial reporting. That can include strategic advice like:
- Planning for company growth
- Maximising profit on sales
- Ways to cut overhead costs
Just like your best clients move you in the right direction, you should think about ways that you can return the favour. Helping your clients navigate their business landscape is one great way to make yourself essential as they forge their own path.
Go above and beyond
Richard Kleiner, CEO of Gerald Edelman, recommends going beyond what the client expects to surprise them with a new level of service. Business insights are one example of this, but added value can also look like:
- A unique welcome package for new clients
- A portal that keeps their information in one place
- Specialised services for their industry
Offering excellent customer service is one thing, but delivering unexpected additional value can make an even better impression. Think outside the box, and you’ll offer value that your client can’t get from another firm.
Focus on building a genuine relationship
When you think back to the clients you’ve enjoyed working with the most, chances are that it wasn’t just the job you enjoyed. They were probably also people you connected with in some way. Building those connections is one of the foundations of great customer service.
Effective communication starts with creating a centralised place to store all the information your clients share. Storing both their financial goals and personal details in the same place will help give your customer service an added personal touch. For example, it’s easy to forget that international clients have different holidays. When you’re dealing with remote clients, set reminders about their regional holidays, so you know when they’re celebrating.
Similarly, when following up on an email, don’t jump straight to brass tacks. Take the time to recall a personal detail or anecdote they share with you. At the end of the day, the person on the other side of the inbox is a human, just like you.
Create a dedicated team
Another hallmark of great customer service is consistency. If you have a client services team, create a dedicated team for each client to keep your services consistent over time. A team invested in a client’s financial goals over the long term will be in a much better position to spot patterns in their data and offer relevant advice.
When your client has a single point of contact in your organisation, they’ll also know exactly who to reach out to if they have questions or concerns. For clients, it’s much less intimidating to ask questions when they already have a rapport with the person they’re looking to speak with.
Ask for feedback
Finally, asking for feedback is a great way to improve your customer service over time. We all have blind spots, and there may be some issues you can easily improve once you’re aware of them. A few ideas for questions could be:
- How likely would you be to recommend us to someone you know?
- Why did you choose us over the competition?
- Is there anything about our service you’d like to see changed?
Remember to let your client know if you act on the feedback they gave you — closing the loop is one of the key ways to let customers know you’re paying attention and value their opinions.
The easiest way to be the best
If there’s one principle you should stick to, it’s this: you’ll deliver your best customer service when you make doing so as easy as possible. For example, automated emails, task reminders, to-do lists and centralised client portals all make the task of looking after your clients as simple as it can be. You can find everything you need to better service your most valuable clients and more within Pixie’s practice management tool.