Not what you want to hear from a client, but it happens.
If you are a relationship partner in a professional service firm, learning that a client is firing you is probably the worst way to start your day. What happened? How did the mutual admiration you both experienced in the courtship go afield?
Competition is always fierce for professional service firms
There may be many reasons, but the most significant catalyst is probably your competitors. They are constantly trying to upset our client relationships. Like it or not, it is easy to lose some of the initial luster as a relationship transitions from courtship to marriage.
Inflation is a growing concern
Today, inflation may also be a catalyst to cause businesses to review their professional service partners. As increased costs threaten profitability and higher fees are met with resistance some clients may look for cheaper alternatives. Especially if there have been any unkept promises made during our pursuit or the client isn’t seeing the original value they expected from the relationship.
Thought leadership builds trust and retains clients
It can be hard to find true differentiators in a professional service firm, but “thought leadership” is the one area that can set us apart. Our firm’s expertise is usually a leading cause why we win a new client, but how many firms track thought leadership engagement with their clients? Not many, but consider that most executives are readers. They read about their industry, tax updates, and wealth management topics, among other things. If they aren’t reading our publications, they are probably looking at our competitor’s publications. If it is a valuable client, wouldn’t you want to know if a client isn’t reading your thought leadership?
Measure engagement through Marketing
The marketing team can help! While the marketing technology engine is usually focused on prospects, coordination between the relationship partner and the marketing team can create a “listening” dashboard for client executives and staff to measure engagement.
Using CRM, the targeted executives can be identified, and automation routines set up to interrogate the marketing data to gauge active engagement. This can be summarized annually for the relationship partner to see areas of interest and any lack of attention. This information can inform part of the annual client service meeting.
Retain by converting to active subscribers
If a client isn’t engaged with our thought leadership, we can create an action plan to convert them into active subscribers. Some ideas might include:
- Sharing the results of our analysis and asking clients for ideas on content that would interest them
- Asking the client to participate in a thought leadership piece, perhaps as an interviewee.
- Having the relationship partner email executives when thought leadership is published to make them aware of the published piece
- Engaging staff with Internal campaigns to get their client teams signed up for firm publications
- Gathering information that the client finds relevant by utilizing tools provided by Introhive and others, then map the information to our thought leadership and look for matches and holes
Marketing in a professional service firm can help keep clients happy
A marketing department can help revenue teams in many ways. It’s not just about building awareness and assisting them through the funnel, a marketing group’s wide-ranging assets can help keep existing clients from looking elsewhere.
Assigning marketing resources to monitor the data and participate in client retention efforts is much more cost-efficient than spending money to find new clients. It may challenge the normal marketing dynamics, but engagement partners have never been busier, and firm investment in client retention tactics may be just what the doctor ordered to make sure we retain our best clients.
Learn more about tools that can make your CRM the driver of client retention.
Discover how to become the Accounting firm of the future, today with our guide, Becoming the Accounting Firm of the Future.