As we head into choppy waters with the economy, investing in client retention is more critical than ever. Most EA, CPA, and accounting practices don’t have a clear strategy on best practices to not only keep current clients but drive more revenue from these existing relationships.
If fewer businesses can afford professional services or start cutting back, or more taxpayers try to cut costs by going DIY, the value of your existing client base soars. Keeping clients happy is a low-hanging fruit priority, costing significantly less than finding new clients.
But how do you create a client retention strategy that keeps your clients returning and continuing to refer others? We’ve broken down some of our client retention best practices. Many are no-cost or low-cost, from building stronger client relationships to making it easier for your clients to work with you.
16 Tips to retain tax and accounting clients:
1. Send a Monthly Newsletter
By far, one of the most effective ways to retain more of your tax and accounting clients involves making an effort to stay at the top of their mind. You don't just want them thinking about you when they need something - like when tax season rolls around yet again. You want them to remember you all throughout the year as well, which is why a monthly newsletter will come in handy.
Is there an important industry topic that you can give your own perspective on? Is there some issue in the news that you can help people understand? Use it as an opportunity to send out that newsletter, rest assured people will thank you for it.
2. Build Trust with Prospects Before they Become Clients
Especially when it comes to something like tax and accounting services, trust is the most valuable resource that you have. People want to be able to rest easy knowing that they've found the right partner to meet their needs. Therefore, you need to take advantage of every opportunity to build trust with someone BEFORE they become your formal client. The aforementioned monthly newsletter is a great example of this, as it gives you a chance to establish yourself as an authority. You provide something of value before asking anything in return, which ultimately makes someone more likely to do business with you.
3. Update Your Website and Digital Footprint
Before someone decides to do business with you, they're probably going to check your website at a bare minimum. They're likely going to check your social media accounts on sites like Facebook and Twitter as well. If those accounts haven't been updated in ages, it will give the exact wrong impression - which is why you need to make an effort to post new content whenever you can.
4. Maintain a Strong Review and Reputation Profile
These days, social proof is everything - people trust online reviews for service providers almost more than they do recommendations from their own friends and family members. Because of that, you need to maintain a strong review and reputation profile whenever possible.
5. Ask for Client Feedback
In terms of soliciting client feedback, you need to be careful. Don't promise an existing client something for free in exchange for a positive review. Instead, try to incentivize them into giving an honest review - that will ultimately make a much better impression and will help you steer clear of any ethically questionable areas as well.
6. Set Clear Staff Expectations
Regardless of the type of tax and accounting practice you're running, everyone who works beneath you is ultimately contributing to the impression you give off to clients. Therefore, you need to make sure that all employees are on the same page in terms of how they should behave. This will create a far more consistent experience that will ultimately reflect positively on the business itself.
7. Be More Personable
One of the most critical things to understand about running a business of any kind is that ultimately, many people do what you do. However, nobody else does what you do quite like how you do it - and your personality is a big contributing factor to that idea.
That is to say, make your personality and your friendly nature your competitive advantage whenever possible. It will help separate you in someone's mind from others who work in the field, and it will likely keep them coming back for more, too.
8. Use Technology to Make it Easier to Work With You
These days, technology has made it possible to operate a tax and accounting business more efficiently than ever before. Don't force someone to collect reams of physical papers and come into your office every time they need a task completed. They should be able to upload documents directly to you without ever leaving their office. They should be able to book an appointment right from your website without ever picking up the phone. They should be able to pay online from an engagement proposal. All of these are conveniences that should be embraced because they ultimately create a better and more satisfying experience for clients moving forward.
9. Update Your Technology Stack
Along the same lines, remember that technology itself is constantly evolving - which means that you need to make it a priority to do the same as well. Every few years, you need to investigate what is now available in terms of the technology stack that your business runs on. This includes not only software like your tax and accounting programs but hardware as well. Any time technology takes a leap forward, you need to move with it so that your clients can continue to enjoy the level of service that they've become accustomed to.
10. Refine Your Brand Positioning
Never let yourself forget that your brand is one of the most important assets of your entire business. You can only make one first impression, so you'd better go out of your way to make it the best one that you can. Therefore, your brand should be as simple and as efficient as possible - even if that means making refinements on a semi-regular basis.
11. Be More Transparent With Your Pricing
Especially when it comes to tax and accounting services, people hate getting hit with "hidden fees." This is true even if you know that they weren't "hidden" at all - it was simply a misunderstanding. Therefore, you should always attempt to be as transparent with your pricing as possible so that there are no surprises that might cause a commotion with clients moving forward. Remember, charge for your expertise, not by the hour.
12. Be Accountable When You Make Mistakes
Nobody is perfect - even someone who is a legitimate expert when it comes to taxes and accounting such as yourself. Therefore, you need to get comfortable with the fact that you will occasionally make a mistake. When you do, you should also own up to it - let clients know what happened, why it happened and what you're going to do to prevent it from happening again in the future. Doing so will not just make up for whatever incident occurred, but it will again instill a sense of trust in people that only confirms they've selected the right services provider to meet their needs.
13. Use Subscription Based Pricing
As is evidenced in many other industries, subscription based pricing can often be a major boost for client retention purposes. Not only are people more likely to pay for subscriptions longer than they would for individual services, but they'll also be more inclined to engage with you on a regular basis as well.
14. Reduce friction in your clients journey
Have you ever gone online with the intention of making a purchase, found a product or a service that you loved, only to get frustrated by how hard it was to navigate the vendor's website?
If your answer is yes, then you have experienced friction in the buying process.
The reality is, no matter how amazing your product or service is, if you make people work to buy from you, people are going to bounce, and you will lose business. This goes for retaining your clients as well. Imagine trying to book time to meet with your accountant, only to be faced with a clunky website, a full voicemail, and a confusing scheduler.
You should focus on reducing any points of friction your clients may encounter. Tools like our proposal builder, automated scheduler, and ClientHub simplify your workflows to keep clients happy.
15. Utilize Social Proof in Your Marketing
Again, social proof is everything these days and whenever you have the opportunity to lean into this fact, it's a step you need to take. Whenever someone on Twitter speaks kindly of your services, retweet them. Whenever someone on Facebook posts about what a great experience they had, repost it on your own account. Amplify whatever positive voices you can find to make an impression with both current and prospective clients alike.
16. Thank Your Clients
Finally, never overlook the opportunity to reinforce what may be your most critical asset of all: your clients.
Your tax and accounting business wouldn't be anywhere near where it is today without your clients. They're the people who allow your organization to continue to grow and evolve - not to mention develop a reputation for itself as a trusted authority in the industry. Don't let yourself take this for granted. Whether you're sending out a card around the holiday season to show your appreciation or you just make a personal phone call to someone to let them know how much they mean to you, always take the opportunity to thank your clients so that you can reinforce the idea that they mean as much to you as you mean to them.
In the end, these are just a few of the many, many steps that you can take to retain more of your tax and accounting clients moving forward. Each one may not seem like much on its own - but collectively, they all add up to something incredibly meaningful. They generate the types of results that you simply cannot get through other means, and that in and of itself is the most important benefit of all.
If you'd like to find out more information about how to attract and retain more of your tax and accounting clients, or if you just have any additional questions that you'd like to discuss with someone in a bit more detail, please don't delay - contact CountingWorks PRO today.