BEHIND THE BREAKUP: COMMUNICATION AND WHY CLIENTS REALLY SEEK OUT ANOTHER ACCOUNTANT
It breaks your heart to lose a client to another accountant. You wonder: Is it them? Is it me? You may look at your business model critically, wondering whether your rates are too high, your approach outdated, or your services sub-par. Yet, most often a client will look for anew accountant because they are dissatisfied with something even more fundamental– communication, the basic ways in which you exchange information with them.
Communication is key between accountant and client, just as it is with any relationship – and more so than with most other services. You are not offering a quick, one-time repair, but rather an ongoing link that may span years and generations, dealing with a client’s highs, lows, precious assets, and greatest vulnerabilities. How you communicate around this is critical. A failure in communication means a dead-end, but done right, communication strengthens the overall connection. Invest in smooth communication with your clients and no one will ever want to stray again.
Here are three ways you can target the weak spots, where communication tends to break down between an accountant and client:
When it comes to language, it can seem that in line with the well-known comparison, clients are from Mars and account ants are from Venus. The processes and vocabulary that are commonplace to you are often alien to them. Part of your goal should be to break down accountant-speak in a manner that is understandable for ordinary folks. This creates transparency, so they know better what you are doing and what you are charging them for.
Possible solutions: Build a website that clearly lists your costs and explains your services. You can also post blogs or videos there in which you thoroughly explain more complex elements, like audits, filing an extension, or the latest tax laws, so that clients understand and better appreciate what you do.
There is nothing worse than being stood up or “ghosted” in a relationship – to be unable to get in touch, to try to make a date and not hear back for a long time. If a client is trying to get in contact with you or set up a tax meeting and you are delayed in responding, that kind of inaccessibility is frustrating. It appears to make light of their time – and we all know that time is our most valuable resource.
Open up communication in away that shows them you value their time.
Possible solutions: Automate the interactions that can be time-consuming and delayed. Have an online booking system that allows clients to see your calendar and schedule a meeting in real-time without a prolonged exchange of calls or messages.
This seamless and organized process will show them you respect their time and also demonstrate your efficiency. Even proactively reach out to clients, with automated meeting reminders and a heads-up as deadlines approach.
Make Them Feel Special
No one wants to be forgettable. If a client discovers their accountant does not remember their business or industry, or that they have misplaced their paperwork or tax returns they feel anonymous. Your client trusts you, so part of your communication must assure them that you do not see them as merely a number.
Possible solutions: Use a customer relations management tool to organize client information and paperwork, allowing you to take notes on their specific needs and to keep all their contact information and materials organized.
When clients see that you remember the names of family members, a tax hiccup from last year, or the details around an audit that took place five years ago, they believe that you are truly on their team.
Clear, accessible, and personalized communication goes a long way in a relationship between accountant and client. It’s also relatively simple and affordable to put into place with a system like 12Handz that offers multiple interlinked tools.
Remember, your actual accountancy services should be stellar, of course– but your clients must also feel good about you, your relationship with them, and the larger communication. With all those pieces in place, clients are sure to remain happy – and loyal – for the long term.
for your business
(not anybody else’s)