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5 ways to enhance customer service at your practice

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Attracting and retaining accountants

Good customer service is key to retaining your clients and generating more work from them. So how can you enhance customer service at your practice?

Here are five tips you can implement today to keep your clients coming back:

1. Be proactive about giving advice

There’s been much talk about the imperative for practices to offer business advice, and there’s no shortage of research outlining the demand for such advice. A survey by NAB¹ reveals Australian small to medium-sized businesses (SMEs) consider accountants their most trusted business advisor, ahead of business networks, lawyers, and family.

So how many SMEs are interested in receiving advice, and for what? The survey reveals one in five would like to receive advice from their accountant, regarding their business strategy, financial future, and growth opportunities.

However, the second most stated reason SMEs switch accounting firms is because they don’t receive any proactive advice, just reactive service. It’s clear that delivering advice is not only a great opportunity to generate more business, but to ensure your clients are satisfied with your service.

2. Communicate with them regularly

Communication is key to cultivating a good relationship with your clients, staying up to date with their changing needs, and generating work from them. While many practices do keep in regular touch with their clients, one in three only do so once per quarter.¹

Staying up to date with your clients’ changing business needs is critical to retaining them. Thirty one percent of SMEs say the main reason they have switched accountants is because their business needs changed, making it the number one reason for doing so.¹

3. Respect their time

Time is money for your clients too. Be punctual for meetings and ensure you have processes in place to ensure they don’t need to play phone tag or send countless email back and forth. Also, try to respond quickly – 17 percent of SMEs cite poor responsiveness as the main reason they have switched firms.¹

4. Seek feedback

Seeking feedback shows you value your clients’ opinions. Whether positive or negative, client feedback is key to improving your service. It can help you highlight problem areas that you may be unaware of and let you know what your clients value.

Despite its value, one in four Australian SMEs say their accounting practice has never sought any feedback on the work they performed, while only one in five say their practice does so regularly.¹

By not seeking feedback, many practices are missing a valuable opportunity to improve their services. So make sure yours is doing so.

5. Be upfront about your fees

Be fully transparent with what you’ll be charging your clients. If you need to increase your fees, ensure you notify your client in advance.

Knowing exactly what they will be charged will help your clients budget properly. Laying on unexpected fees can sour your relationship or even cause them to switch to another practice. Thirteen percent of SMEs say the main reason they switched firms is because they were charged fees that were different from their expectations.¹

You may also want to consider charging fixed rather than time-based fees – 54 per cent of SMEs prefer a fixed fee, while only 16 per cent prefer time-based billing.¹

1. “Key Insights into the Australian Accounting Industry”, NAB Professional Services, 2018