If you’ve ever written a review about a product or service that you really loved (or hated), you probably know how satisfying it can feel to be a part of the conversation discussing that company or their offerings.
Whatever you thought about that product or service is now public: anyone, and everyone, can know your opinion and use it to make their own decisions. Whether positive or negative, you have become a spokesperson in your own right–and you didn’t need anyone’s permission.
The voice of the customer is the most powerful driver behind conversations about brands, and companies who embrace and take advantage of that, rather than ignoring the potential or shrinking away, will be far more successful in the digital age.
Customer Voice in the Tax and Accounting Industry
Let’s consider this within the scope of our world–tax and accounting practices. Whether you’re a CPA, Enrolled Agent, or any other type of professional in the industry, it makes sense that your clients’ opinions can be hugely important for your brand: just think of your referral pipeline.
While there are undoubtedly still clients that find you via traditional methods (like recommendations from friends and colleagues), overall, referrals no longer happen in a vacuum. There are many funnels that can lead prospects to your practice, and one of the biggest is reading reviews from past clients.
As customers continue communicating with each other more and more online, it becomes even easier for communities to form and for people to share their ideas, opinions, and yes–ratings and reviews. This has dramatically changed how information about your services, and the sentiment surrounding your practice, is circulated; but it has also shifted who holds the majority of trust.
These days, consumers trust ratings and reviews “more than any other form of supporting product information.”
So, rather than a prospect receiving all info about your practice directly from you, they are probably seeking out public opinion and are 12 times more likely to trust the opinions of past clients over any message you share yourself.
That being said, this doesn’t mean you have no say in the conversation surrounding your brand. It’s actually the opposite! The shift we have seen is that “consumers no longer want brands to talk at them; they want brands to talk with them, and much of that conversation takes place in the form of ratings and reviews.”
Stages of Growth and Engaging the Voice of Your Clients
In the process of growing your tax and accounting practice, there are two key stages you will encounter: 1) the “word of mouth and referrals” stage and 2) the “machine” stage.
Stage 1: Word of Mouth and Referrals
In the first stage of growth, you are building your client base one by one, referral after referral. Clients pass your name on to new prospects in their personal or professional network, and you slowly increase your reach. Because this referral process is nonautomated and involves more touchpoints on your part, you are limited in how much–and how quickly–you can scale.
Stage 2: The Machine
If you want to truly grow your practice, with no unnecessary restrictions, you must evolve from a business that is fueled slowly and manually by one referral at a time (stage 1) to a practice that grows via “the machine.” In this stage, your referral pipeline becomes more automated, and you can work on a nearly unlimited scale.
One of the most important pieces of building this “machine” within your practice is–you guessed it–reviews. However, there’s more to this than just asking clients to leave reviews for you on Google, TaxBuzz, CountingWorks, or other marketplace sites.
Your goal should be ensuring the conversation is two-sided.
Engage with your customers on both the positive and the negative reviews.
Showcase your openness as a practice and internalize client opinions. Weave them into your marketing efforts.
All of this shows you’re actively listening to feedback and willing to embrace your customers and their role in shaping your business.
As Bazaar Voice puts it,
“Brands can no longer solely rely on traditional advertising to lead the conversation and tell consumers what they need and why. Instead, the voice of the consumer has grown powerful enough to also shape the voice of the brand, and brands must adapt to allow consumers to lead this conversation.”
It’s not just about the reviews themselves–it’s about ensuring the conversation can be seen and heard at every point throughout the customer lifecycle. Don’t just tolerate your clients’ opinions–encourage them to share and embrace the opportunity to engage.
The question is simple: Do you want to stay in “referral mode” generating growth one client at a time, or do you want to leverage automation and generate real velocity by creating a “machine” within your practice?
The choice is yours. Just bear in mind that the conversation about your brand is already happening online and being driven by the voice of your customers, whether you’ve embraced that fact or not.
If you have any questions about how to harness the voice of your clients and grow your practice, contact us today at 1-800-442-2477 x3 or set up some time to speak with one of our digital marketing experts. To claim your listings on each of our marketplace sites, visit www.TaxBuzz.com and www.CountingWorks.com.
See the insights of this article summarized in a video by our CEO and founder, Lee Reams II:
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