Change, change, change…

We all know how much the accounting profession is changing, we hear it all the time.

  • “The death of compliance”
  • “Advisory is the only way”
  • “Robots will replace you”

But despite all of this change, the one single truth for firms remains the same…

You’re in the people business.

Which means you have to focus on not just finding new clients but making sure the ones you currently work with are absolutely satisfied with the service they’re receiving.

And yet, in a recent study by Xero, it would seem that many SME’s feel like they’re not receiving the service they want or need from their accountant:

  • “70% of small businesses would not recommend their advisor to others”
  • “Over a quarter said they’re likely to switch accountants”
  • “One third of small business owners would even go as far as telling people to avoid their accountant”

These statistics are crazy.

And it would seem that now more than ever firms need to shift their focus to improving client satisfaction and also client retention.

There are many ways you can actively work to increase client retention and satisfaction in your accountancy practice.

But here are 6 key ones….

  1. Create an Amazing Client Experience

Loss of clients and customer dissatisfaction is far too-often blamed on pricing and competitors.

But the truth is, clients often leave because they simply weren’t happy with the experience they were receiving.

So how do you deliver an amazing client experience?

It starts by mapping out your entire client journey, all the way from the assess stage (where they first come across your website or your marketing), through to your sales and onboarding process and all the way to delivering the services.

Then, you need to focus on improving each of these interactions, at every stage of this journey.

For example, by using software such as Practice Ignition, you can automate your onboarding process, which benefits you, but also benefits your clients as they can sign things electronically and set up payments easily – saving them time.

To help you with this further, you can find ‘8 Ways To Deliver An Awesome Client Experience’ here.

  1. Increase your Service Offering

Often, practice owners think that in order to grow your practice you need to increase your client numbers.

This is true….kinda…but there are other, often much easier ways to grow first…

By increasing the services you offer your existing clients, you not only make more revenue, but you’ll also increase client retention as clients become ‘stickier’.

Which client is more likely to stay with you…

The one who you do accounts preparation, tax, VAT and payroll for?

Or the one who you do all of the above for + monthly management accounts, forecasting, budgeting etc?

Your current clients are 50% more likely to try new services in comparison to new clients. They already trust you, so it’s an easier sell.

It’s often the case that clients think they don’t need anything more, but if you ask the right questions you may uncover these additional service opportunities. You can find out how to ask your clients the right questions in this article here.

  1. Technology isn’t Your Enemy, Leverage It

The accounting profession has experienced a huge increase in technology and automation.

And although the new era of cloud accounting has sped up processes and increased efficiency there’s a risk of losing the human touch with your clients.

So, you need to make sure your use of technology enhances your client experience.

It’s important that technology doesn’t confuse or alienate your clients, so familiarise and educate them on any technology they’ll need to use.

Offering software training and support helps make sure they are happy, gives you the opportunity to strengthen your relationship with them and you can even turn it into a service you can charge for.

The technology you use in your practice should ultimately do 4 things:

  • Save you time
  • Improve process and systems efficiency
  • Add value to clients’ lives/business
  • Better connect you to clients

Video conferencing software such as Zoom is a great means of keeping the human touch with clients, allowing you to hold face-to-face meetings without having to leave your office. And is also useful for meeting new prospects and potential new business.

Other software such as loom and screencast-o-matic mean you can use video and screen casting to engage with clients in other ways than email. I saw a great post recently on Linkedin from one accountant who uses Loom videos to deliver the analysis on management accounts remotely. Nice!

Building a modern and tech savvy accountancy practice will help with recruiting young and ambitious millennials in your team, making you desirable among the young SME’s you’ll wish to work with.

  1. Touch base and seek regular feedback

How can you make sure you’re delivering the best client experience if you don’t know what your clients need or how they’re feeling about the service they’re receiving?

So, it’s important that you regularly touch base with your clients to make sure that they’re satisfied and any questions they have will be answered.

You can do this in a number of ways, some of them being:

  • Monthly courtesy calls
  • Quarterly review meetings
  • End of year surveys
  • Drop-ins and visits

Asking questions and actively seeking feedback from clients is the simplest way of identifying problems and finding solutions.

Feedback is invaluable. And it can be useful for training your team on the best practices, how to deal with clients and consistently work on improving their service.

Courtesy calls and regular reviews are also a great way of seeking new referrals. If a call with a client was particularly positive, it’s a prime opportunity to ask if they know of any other businesses who they’d feel would benefit too.

You can’t solve a problem you know nothing about, so make sure you ask away.

  1. Keep Your Team on the Same Page

Consistency is key.

The standard of service and work you deliver is one of the easiest things to control.

But if it isn’t under control your clients can be left feeling uncertain and questioning whether they can rely on your practice to give them what they need.

Every single member of your team must be singing off the same hymn sheet.

This way at no point will clients feel they are being passed from pillar to post.

And when clients approach you they’ll be 100% certain that any work will be done to the high standard they expect.

So, it’s a good idea to ensure there are specific performance standards in your practice that are regularly reviewed.

As they say, it only takes one bad apple to spoil the cart, and you want your clients to go away and say “I can always rely on them to do an amazing job”.

  1. Fire Bad Clients

You might think this is a bit counter-productive, we want to keep clients not lose them!

But firing the ‘D’ grade clients is actually going to benefit you in the long run.

Problem clients can be a huge drain on your time and money, are the most likely to complain and promote your practice in a negative light.

So much like your team, aim for A+, and spend the extra time you’ll save on making these amazing clients as happy as they can be.

When was the last time you fired a bad client?

You’d be surprised how important it is to do so.

The numbers speak for themselves

Attracting new clients costs around 5 times more than keeping existing ones.

And increasing client retention rates can actually increase your profits by 25% – 95%, so it’s a no brainer for me!

Winning new clients is great but focusing on improving your client satisfaction and retention is just as important, if not more.

For a more comprehensive guide to increasing client retention you can download my free cheatsheet with 33 ways to increase client retention here.

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