At any given moment, about a third of accounting firm clients are considering switching firms, according to a recent survey by the Aberdeen Group. A whitepaper that was just published by Wolters Kluwer, Focus on the Client: Developing a Client-Centered Firm, points out that your firm’s clients will less likely be among the third that are looking to move if you know how to strengthen existing client relationships while forging new ones.
Here’s an overview of how they advise achieving this:
- Make room for more profitable clients.
Unresponsive clients – those who are less likely to respond to requests for information without multiple contacts – drain resources. It takes longer to serve them than responsive clients. This takes you away from cultivating more profitable clients and prospects. Set metrics to determine whether a client should be fired.
- Embrace your role as a client advisor.
While most accountants aren’t keen on selling, being a client advisor isn’t really about that. It’s about building relationships with clients by making a concerted effort to understand their business and how you can help them make it better. It takes firms beyond the CPAs who handle the taxes to trusted advisors.
- Know your clients and their preferences.
Use the rich data you have in your firm to learn about clients and discover where there may be opportunities to cross-sell. For instance, are there tax customers who work for organizations that may also benefit from your accounting and auditing services?Charlie Burns, a CPA and partner at Reid, Hanna, Johnson, grew her firm’s revenue 33% in 18 months. Half of that growth is attributed to existing clients. They achieved this by creating client profiles and making them accessible to the entire firm. This mean anyone could easily serve any client, not only the CPA assigned to their account.“Everyone has their client base where they do the same thing over and over,” explained Charlie in a recent Accounting Today webinar. “However, each client is growing and changing every day. We try to look at existing clients, not just run them through the mill, and have conversations about what they are doing and the services we provide them. We couldn’t have done that without a deep understanding of the information we hold about our clients.”She added it was key to have the ability to easily share that information within the firm. For instance, if a partner manages 300 clients, it would be hard for him to effectively serve and manage them all on his own, so if he isn’t sharing information, one client ends up better served than another.
- Learn to speak your clients’ language.
That means making sure your clients know that you understand and can address their needs. After all, it can be difficult for them to see the differences between accounting firms, especially if their only exposure to you is to complete their taxes. They need to view your firm as an advisor that can help their business better than the competition.
While it’s easy to dole out advice, you may be wondering how can an accounting firm execute these ideas on top of all its other challenges. Just take advantage of customer relationship automation. This technology makes it simple for your team to share information while always having easy access to a complete, accurate picture of the client. It works with your CRM to:
- Continuously enrich client information from external and internal sources with no data entry.
- Make that data easy to use and act on. It’s delivered directly to your team wherever they are – on their laptop, mobile device, or tablet. Plus, it’s packaged in the format they prefer, such as Word or Excel, so they can effortlessly see client issues and opportunities, including:
- Internal communication
- Relationships within the organization
- The strength of those relationships, and much more
- Elevate client service. By instantly transforming data into actionable insights, CRM automation can easily provide the details you need to engage clients more effectively by proactively addressing their needs. In fact, it can provide unexpected insights that point to new opportunities. To achieve this without CRM automation would be extremely challenging, if not impossible.
Curious about how this would work in your firm? Find out with a 20-minute demo.