Customer service is a vital component of long-term business retention. Service-based businesses like accounting firms realize the importance of top-quality customer service, but in the era of the ever-decreasing attention span, how do you keep your clients’ attention long enough for them to realize what a great experience they’ll have with your firm?
Here are four valuable tips that will guide you in evaluating your current customer service procedures, and help ensure that you’re providing your clients with the best possible experience.
- Evaluate front end operations — Clients understand more than you realize. Make sure you and your staff have the training and resources to provide top-notch service, whether face-to-face, over the phone or online. In the office, keep clutter to a minimum to avoid the impression that you’re disorganized, or not invested in your business. Employ the 30/30 rule: When clients walk in the door, they should be greeted either within 30 seconds, or 30 steps from the door. Make sure everyone on your staff knows to greet clients with positive body language and a cheerful tone of voice. Make eye contact, even briefly, to show the client that you care about them and their business. Follow the same practices over the phone: Answer calls within a ring or two in a positive tone of voice, and limit the number of times and how long you keep clients on hold.
- Be a partner in your client’s business — If your clients didn’t want you to be involved in their business, they wouldn’t be there. So take a proactive approach; become the advisor and partner they need. Clients — especially the millennial generation — want a quick response from their CPA. Be sure to check in with them regularly to ask how things are going, if they need anything from you or even to just provide them with a summary of what you’re doing and have done for them. Having a system that keeps you organized, sends reminders for tasks and generates client reports goes a long way toward showing your clients you truly care about them and have their best interests in mind.
- Take control of your firm — As a CPA, you should understand clients’ priorities and maximize service opportunities. A system that can track and store all staff and client information will help you provide the best customer experience. Every employee should be able to access client data through a centralized system, assign projects, monitor workflow and track client information and history. A system like this will make it easy to find information on demand, without searching through multiple systems.
- Evaluate back-end operations — It’s been proven time and again: happy employees = happy customers. When your staff is treated respectfully, has a clear understanding of their expectations and feel they’re a valuable member of the team, they’ll value their work and provide better service. A centralized location that lets staff see tasks, projects, goals etc. will help with workflow management and give clear expectations. A good way for staff to help hold each other accountable for their work is to start a weekly stand-up meeting at the beginning of each week. This can help them understand their weekly expectations, create open dialogue around projects and assignments, define priorities and motivate everyone to start the week off right.
It doesn’t take a formal study to understand that when a CPA doesn’t provide good service to his or her clients, the client will leave. Or, conversely, to know that increased client satisfaction equals increased staff and client retention.
These tips can go a long way toward setting up your business up for success, by helping you provide the best possible service to your clients, improve efficiencies around your office and boost morale for everyone. It’s worth the time and effort to make sure everyone is providing excellent and consistent service; great service speaks for itself and can make your clients more aware of the services you offer and the value they’ll realize in doing business with you.