Like it or not, simply doing your job well isn’t enough to stand out in today’s hyper-competitive marketplace. If you want to grow your accounting practice, you have to exceed expectations and deliver a client experience that will garner rave reviews. After all, nobody is rushing to tell their friends about a restaurant that was adequate but unspectacular. Why would you expect them to do the same for any other service? With that in mind, here are a few tips to go beyond the basics and build a personal relationship that positions you as a trusted business advisor.
Learn About Your Clients and Their Businesses
Client engagement is crucial in developing a relationship based on trust. Simply put, people want to work with an accounting professional who cares about them and their business. You should ask questions about the businesses you work with. Learn their mission, core values, and differentiating factors. Understanding that stuff may not be directly relevant to the work you do on a daily basis, but it goes a long in demonstrating that you are invested in the people you work with.
Furthermore, you should devote some time to building a bond with the people behind the businesses you work with. Usually, you’ll be interacting with one main point of contact, so it behooves you to have a real relationship with them. Even better is to get to know multiple people at a company and let them get to know you. Some people may prefer a strictly professional relationship, but you’ll be surprised how far a little human connection can go.
Make Proactive Contact
If you always wait for a client to initiate the conversation, you’re making a huge mistake. According to a study from consulting firm the Sleeter Group, the number one reason clients leave one CPA for another is that their “former CPA didn’t give proactive advice, only reactive service.”
As mentioned above, you want to be known as a trusted advisor rather than simply a service provider. To do that, identify ways that you can help the client run their business more efficiently. Remember that you’re in the trenches when it comes to a company’s financial data, which is some of the most telling information about their operations. When you can pinpoint ways to save your clients time and money, you’ll turn them into fans in no time.
Turn Referrals Into a Two-Way Street
Many accountants rely heavily on referrals from current clients as a source for new business, but when was the last time that you referred a friend or colleague to one of your clients? It’s not a big gesture, but it shows that you believe in the people you work enough to recommend them. Ideally, that gesture will be reciprocated. Once this cycle of mutual benefit gets rolling, it can be a valuable asset to both you and your clients.
Too many accounting professionals excel at doing their job without thinking about ways to add value to their clients’ businesses and lives. Seeking out ways to go above and beyond shouldn’t be an afterthought; it should be a fundamental component of your practice.
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