Signing on a new customer is thrilling, but why go through all the efforts of attracting new prospects only to have to do it all over again?
Acquiring new customers can be quite effort-intensive and expensive for a small business, especially if you have an accounting services firm in which word-of-mouth recommendations are key to getting new clients. If you fail your existing customers, forget about acquiring any new ones.
Your accounting business is uniquely positioned to nurture repeat customers due to the seasonality of its services (e.g., tax filings, audits). And unlike other professional services, your firm often has a reason to re-engage (annually) with an existing customer.
Why are repeat clients important?
Building your business via customer retention ensures success in the long term. Repeat clients avail services regularly, spend more across your product and service lines, and are more likely to recommend you, helping your business grow organically.
According to the centuries-old Pareto Principle—which still holds true in 2022—roughly 80% of your future business will come from 20% of your existing customers. If you’re just starting out and aspire to become successful business owner, strengthen your relationship with existing clients who potentially are your highest revenue source.
So, how do you keep wowing your clients and make them come back time and again? This is where the importance of customer experience (CX) comes in. 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 clients by enhancing customer experience and satisfaction.
1. Make the first interaction memorable
The process of making a buyer your repeat customer begins from the first purchase itself. Among many reasons for customers to come back, the most obvious one is that they had a great experience the first time.
Offering a memorable first interaction could include having the best of accountants on your staff, providing up-to-date information to customers, reassuring clients when needed, offering timely and quality services, giving individual attention to customers, and offering a quick resolution to queries or complaints.
Perhaps clients like your high-quality audit, advisory services, or cost-efficiency—the reasons could vary, but the idea is to consistently provide reliable, responsive, and efficient services to make customers come back to you.
2. Create low-effort self-service channels
Providing high levels of service quality is table stakes in accounting. Take client satisfaction and experience a notch above by giving customers easy access to their financial statements, accounting books, audit reports, and more.
These days, customers want more control over their experience and decisions. You can boost brand loyalty by making it easy for them to do business with you, according to Gartner. As much as 96% of customers who had a high-effort experience reported being disloyal, compared to only 9% of customers with low-effort experience.
Design your systems to ensure customers can self-manage their accounts with ease. Here are some measures you can take:
- On your client-facing digital channels, answer all the questions your customers may have.
- Allow clients an option to download financial reports on demand and resolve any support queries immediately.
- Give customers access to an interactive dashboard showcasing their business stats in real time.
- Use self-service portals and automated chatbots to allow customers to use your services without always requiring intervention from a sales or customer service rep.
3. Dig deeper to identify repeat clients
Match the service needs of your existing clients with those of your typical repeat clients. This will help you identify which current customers are more likely to avail your services again.
Identifying and getting repeat customers is especially important for independent accountants who work with multiple customers. On the contrary, accountants who serve a specific company usually have an established customer base.
Use customer data analytics to identify your most valuable repeat customers, and ask these three questions as you do that:
- Did the client like your service the first time? If a client is pleased with your service the first time, your chances of delighting them again increase.
- How often is the client purchasing your product or service? A frequent client is a clear indicator that your firm is the go-to place for them.
- How much money is the client spending on your business? The more a client spends, the greater the chances that they are satisfied with your service and would trust 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 client data from multiple sources, such as marketing channels, average customer spending, and email performance, on your dashboard.
- Develop client personas using your know-how of their goals, behavior, preferences, and more. Consider segmenting customers by characteristics such as business size, revenue, number of employees, geography, and technology used.
4. Conduct a customer experience audit
Once you’ve identified potential repeat clients, make them stay by boosting their experience with your brand. It really comes down to analyzing every communication a client has had with your accounting firm.
To conduct a simple “customer experience audit,” put yourself in your customers’ shoes and think about how they experienced your services. For accounting customers, these five aspects of service providers matter a lot—professionalism, quality of service, availability, trustworthiness, and personalized attention.
Identify which aspect of your accounting services is bringing clients 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 provide a superior customer experience.
Per Gartner research, these are some challenges you may face when planning to offer a great customer experience (full report available to clients):
- Failure to anticipate and respond to industry shifts and megatrends
- Misreading customer behavior
- Stakeholder’s reluctance to focus on repeat clients
- Struggle to build consensus on appropriate channels and services to offer
5. Stay connected and offer more services
As the popular phrase goes: Out of sight, out of mind. Remain in your clients’ memory by staying connected with them.
It will require your accounting firm to look for creative ways to reach customers via a continuous and helpful communication strategy. Here are some simple but effective tips to remain connected with clients:
- Send reminders that you’re around. Send customers a thank-you email to returning customers, mail them their printed tax returns, call them to ask if there’s anything they need—the idea is to show them you’re around to help.
- Share important developments. Give advance notice of developments such as a fee increase or a special offer period. You can also share accounting, taxation, and finance-related news relevant to your clients.
- Use technology for customer-facing communication. Resolve customer support tickets on the fly, reach clients where they are, and be always available with software tools such as customer service and live chatbot.
- Ask for repeat business. Simply ask customers for more business. While quite obvious, many businesses don’t do it. Finish a customer conversation with, “If you liked our accounting and taxation services, can you send us more business?” It could come in the form of referrals or the same client availing more of your services.
- Expand your accounting services portfolio. Accountants today provide way more than standard taxation and audit services. Aim to also offer consulting and advisory, wealth management, financial reporting, cash flow planning, and other such services.
As a regular accounting practice, encourage customers to spread the word about your business and services. Learn more about how to use and calculate NPS.
Take customer experience to the next level
Customer loyalty begins when clients feel truly valued and perceive your services to be of high quality. Using the right technology tools for your accounting firm can help provide personalized services with less effort. To do that:
- Identify which business area (file sharing, chatbot, mobile app, etc.) you need to improve to optimize customer experience.
- Learn all about customer experience software in this comprehensive buyers guide.
- Check out top customer experience software on Software Advice FrontRunners.
- Take the opinion of internal stakeholders on the shortlisted products.
- Contact software vendors to set up a demo or free trial.