Without your clients, your firm wouldn’t exist — they’re the lifeblood of your business. Most CPAs understand this concept, investing time in creating marketing campaigns and acquiring new accounts.
However, some then run into the pitfall of not investing the same energy into retaining the accounts, and the cycle of acquisition begins once again.
Retention has proven to be more cost-effective (and often simpler) than acquisition. Firms, therefore, need to focus on building trust with new clients to ensure a long-lasting, successful relationship.
Continue reading to learn five effective strategies on how to build a trusting relationship with a client.
As with any relationship, open and honest conversations go a long way to building trust with clients.
There’s no such thing as too much communication. As a CPA, discuss costs and deadlines openly, explain the measures in place to guarantee data integrity, and set clear expectations for the work.
As experts in the field, accounting jargon may be on the tip of your tongue in client meetings but using complex terms could result in you alienating them. Most people will appreciate it if their accountant speaks a language that makes sense to them, so stick to clear and concise wording.
In addition, it’s important to create an environment where your clients also feel comfortable sharing their views and feedback with you. Two-way communication helps to establish mutual trust, which is key to any accounting firm’s retention strategy.
Sometimes clients seem to fall off the face of the earth and go radio silent. The easy thing would be to wait and see if they ever contact you again. But the best thing to do is reach out and let them know you’re still there and thinking of them. Delivering work is one thing, but being proactive and sending clients updates and useful information will lay the foundations for a trusting relationship.
By keeping in frequent contact with your clients, they will also be more inclined to take your suggestions on board. This will help any future collaboration, as your clients will know that you’re willing to go that extra mile.
If your client doesn’t understand the ins and outs of auditing, budgeting or taxes, they may not know the effort that goes into the work. By explaining the technical aspects of the problem-solving part of your job, your clients will get a glimpse into what’s going on in the background, placing a higher value on your work.
There are several ways to share knowledge with new clients. You can fill them in during one-to-one meetings or over an email, for example. Another modern approach is to share knowledge via a monthly newsletter or social media posts. Here at INAA, we share our knowledge with you via this blog and some in-person events to connect with you and establish a stronger relationship. If you have the time, why not do the same?
Exchanging knowledge with your clients is the perfect way to demonstrate your skills and expertise, while making them feel more confident in your abilities, more knowledgeable and better prepared to make smart business decisions. You will quickly evolve into a reliable partner and not just a service provider by offering this kind of informal training.
A big part of building trust with new clients is letting them know that they can count on you. The easiest way to prove this reliability is to get your work done on time, be thorough and accurate, and give both small and large tasks your full effort.
If unexpected problems arise, follow strategy number one — be transparent. Explain the issue as soon as you can to your clients and assure them that you have a plan to overcome it.
Ultimately, the most important thing is that the work is delivered and is of a high standard. It gives clients peace of mind and will make it easier for them to trust you with bigger tasks down the line.
In the same vein, being available to your clients is a sure-fire way of adding value to your relationship. Respond to their questions promptly, but within reason. Most clients understand that you’re not on-hand 24 hours a day. Make it clear you have other duties and responsibilities but that you want to be available to them.
If you receive a lot of general questions to your inbox (FAQs), consider setting up a chatbot on your website to help provide round-the-clock answers to clients. This way, they’ll always feel supported and invest more trust in you.
Although your relationship with clients is of a professional nature, acknowledging that you see them as a person and not just a paycheck can go a long way.
In the age of virtual communication, it’s easy to forget that there’s a real human behind the screen. Emails with generic greetings that get straight to the point are fine in some situations, but when building trust with new clients you might want to change tactics.
It can be as simple as addressing them by their name, asking about their family, their work, their interests, or sending them a personal message on special occasions like Christmas.
Including these personal touches in your retention strategy will help build a stronger connection with clients, fortifying trust and paving the way for successful, long-term relationships.
Build Stronger Client Relationships with the Help of INAA
Here at INAA, we connect accounting firms who aim to deliver quality professional services around a shared vision to make global business personal, and take personal business global.
With every industry change, our collaborative association of international businesses is committed to being a part of the conversation around auditing and accounting.
Join today to start building powerful business relationships.