Signing up a new client is exciting, but why go to all the effort of attracting new leads only to have to start all over again?
Acquiring new clients can be labor intensive and expensive for a small business, especially if you have an accounting firm where word of mouth referrals are key to attracting new clients. If you’re failing with your existing customers, forget about acquiring new ones.
Your accounting firm is uniquely positioned to retain clients due to the seasonality of its services (e.g. tax returns, audits). And unlike other professional services, your business often has a reason to re-engage (annually) with an existing client.
Why are repeat customers important?
Building your business through customer retention guarantees long-term success. Repeat customers regularly use the services, spend more on your product and service lines, and are more likely to recommend you, which helps your business grow organically.
According to the age-old Pareto principle, which still holds true in 2022, around 80% of your future business will come from 20% of your existing customers. If you’re just starting out and aspire to become a successful business owner, build your relationship with existing customers who are potentially your highest source of income.
So how do you continue to wow your customers and keep them coming back again and again? This is where the importance of customer experience (CX) comes in. A good customer experience leads to repeat sales and, potentially, more referrals.
In this article, we discuss five ways your accounting business can turn one-time customers into repeat customers by improving customer experience and satisfaction.
1. Make the first interaction memorable
The process of making a buyer your regular customer begins with the first purchase itself. Of the many reasons customers keep coming back, the most obvious is that they had a great experience the first time.
Providing a memorable first interaction could include having the best of accountants on your staff, providing up-to-date information to customers, reassuring customers when needed, providing prompt and quality services, providing individual customer attention and providing resolution. quick to queries or complaints.
Maybe clients like your high quality audit, consulting services or profitability – the reasons may vary, but the idea is to always provide reliable, responsive and efficient services to keep clients coming back to you.
2. Create low-effort self-service channels
Providing a high level of service quality is a table stake in accounting. Improve your customers’ satisfaction and experience by giving them easy access to their financial statements, accounting books, audit reports, and more.
Customers these days want more control over their experience and decisions. According to Gartner, you can build brand loyalty by making it easy for them to do business with you. As much as 96% of customers with a high-effort experience reported being disloyal, compared to only 9% of customers with a low-effort experience.
Design your systems so that customers can easily manage their accounts on their own. Here are some steps you can take:
On your digital customer-facing channels, answer any questions your customers may have.
Give customers the ability to download on-demand financial reports and immediately resolve any support requests.
Give customers access to an interactive dashboard showing their business statistics in real time.
Use self-service portals and automated chatbots to allow customers to use your services without always requiring the intervention of a sales or customer service representative.
3. Dig deeper to identify repeat customers
Match the service needs of your existing customers with those of your typical repeat customers. This will help you identify current customers who are most likely to use your services again.
Identifying and securing repeat clients is especially important for independent accountants who work with multiple clients. On the contrary, accountants who serve a specific business usually have an established clientele.
Use customer data analytics to identify your most valuable repeat customers and ask these three questions at once:
- Did the customer like your service the first time? If a customer is satisfied with your service the first time, your chances of delighting them again increase.
- How often does the customer buy your product or service? A frequent customer is a clear indicator that your business is the place to go for them.
- How much money does the customer spend on your business? The more a customer spends, the more likely they are to be satisfied with your service and to entrust you with more business.
Quick tips for repeat customer analysis:
Use dashboard software to get a broader view of your customer funnel in one place. Merge customer data from multiple sources, such as marketing channels, average customer spend, and email performance, onto your dashboard.
Develop customer personas using your knowledge of their goals, behavior, preferences, and more. Consider segmenting customers based on characteristics such as company size, revenue, number of employees, geography, and technology used.
4. Conduct a customer experience audit
Once you’ve identified potential repeat customers, entice them to stay by improving their experience with your brand. It’s basically analyzing every communication a client has had with your accounting firm.
To perform a simple “customer experience audit,” put yourself in your customers’ shoes and reflect on how they experienced your services. For accounting clients, these five aspects of service providers matter a lot: professionalism, quality of service, availability, reliability and personalized attention.
Identify which aspect of your accounting services brings customers back. Is it customer service, discounts and perks, clear and consistent communication, or a combination of these? Once you understand your strengths and challenges, transform your processes to deliver a superior customer experience.
According to Gartner research, here are some challenges you may face when planning to deliver a great customer experience (full report available for customers):
Inability to anticipate and respond to industry changes and megatrends
Misreading customer behavior
Reluctance of stakeholders to focus on repeat customers
Struggle to build consensus on appropriate channels and services to offer
5. Stay connected and offer more services
As the popular expression goes: Out of sight, out of mind. Stay in the memory of your customers by staying connected with them.
This will force your accounting firm to look for creative ways to reach clients through an ongoing and helpful communication strategy. Here are some simple but effective tips for staying in touch with your customers:
- Send reminders that you’re around. Send customers a thank you email to returning customers, send them their printed tax returns, call them to ask if they need anything. The idea is to show them that you are there to help them.
- Share important developments. Notify in advance of developments such as a fee increase or a special offer period. You can also share relevant accounting, tax and financial news for your clients.
- Use technology for communication with customers. Resolve customer support tickets on the fly, reach customers where they are, and always be available with software tools like customer service and live chatbot.
- Ask for repeat business. Just ask customers to do more business. Although it’s pretty obvious, many companies don’t. End a conversation with a client with, “If you liked our accounting and tax services, can you send us more business?” This can be in the form of referrals or the same client taking more advantage of your services.
- Expand your portfolio of accounting services. Today, accountants offer much more than standard tax and auditing services. Aim to also offer consultancy and advisory services, wealth management, financial reporting, cash planning and other similar services.
Take customer experience to the next level
Customer loyalty starts when customers feel truly valued and perceive your services to be of high quality. Using the right technology tools for your accounting firm can help deliver personalized services with less effort. To do this:
Identify the business area (file sharing, chatbot, mobile app, etc.) that you need to improve to optimize the customer experience.
Learn all about customer experience software in this comprehensive buying guide.
Discover the best customer experience software at Software Advice FrontRunners.
Take the opinion of internal stakeholders on the pre-selected products.
Contact software vendors to set up a demo or free trial.
Take the stress out of your software search with real advice from real people. Chat one-on-one with a software advisor who specializes in your industry and get software recommendations that fit your needs and budget. Chat with an advisor for free now or schedule a call.