Practice Excellence: Ask, listen and learn

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With this year’s Practice Excellence Programme now underway, hundreds of large, medium and small accountancy firms are gearing up to find out exactly what their clients think of their service quality.

Delivering good or bad customer service will directly influence whether your clients remain loyal to your firm or go elsewhere. Simple as it may sound, the best way to discover what your clients really think about the service you offer is to ask them.

So that’s exactly what AccountingWEB is doing. In tandem with customer satisfaction research specialist Smith & Henderson we have put together a friendly and hassle-free online survey to explore these key questions:

  1. How do they rate your firm on a scale of 1-10 for; value for money, understanding your business objectives/needs, your flexibility of approach and communication?
  2. How aware are they of the full range of services your firm offers?
  3. How likely are they to recommend your services to a friend or colleague?

Understanding the overall value clients feel they get from their accountant is at the heart of the AccountingWEB Client Satisfaction Survey. For example, some firms may deliver a satisfactory service even though there are underlying problems, meaning that overall clients do not feel they are getting good value. Asking clients to rate the value they receive will bring any such problems to light.

Every client has differing needs, which may demand a flexible approach from the accounting practice, be it a need for out-of-hours meetings or a particular channel for communication. How well firms meet these needs is an important ingredient of customer satisfaction.

Communication has always been a key focus of the AccountingWEB Practice Excellence Programme and this year is no different. Client expectations have changed in recent the years, particularly around digital communication preferences. That’s why it’s important to assess whether your efforts at communicating via the web, email and social channels are getting through.

The survey will also explore how well firms understand their clients’ business objectives and challenges. Getting this right will strengthen relationships and put firms in a better position to identify any additional services the client may need.

The onus remains on practitioners to ensure their clients are aware of all their services, and the Practice Excellence survey will assess how well the firm does this, which can be vital in gaining additional business.

Our sister site, UK Business Forums, regular includes posts asking for recommendations of accountants. Knowing how likely your client is to recommend you to others isn’t simply a useful piece of information, it’s likely to have a profound business impact. The AccountingWEB Client Satisfaction survey asks respondents to rate the likelihood of making a recommendation from 1 to 10, meaning firms will have an accurate idea of their new business potential.

Once you have your clients’ views and responses, what can you do to make the most of the information you get in return? 

If you enter this year’s client satisfaction survey, you’ll automatically get a full breakdown of your firm’s survey scores. By analysing the data you will be able to confirm what your clients value from your services and it will become clear if any processes can be changed that are likely to boost customer satisfaction.

If you enter the survey and also purchase the full benchmarking survey you will also receive individual respondent comments allowing you to identify any direct issues or opportunities that may exist. You’ll also obtain client testimonials (where clients are happy to provide them) along with specific comments. All of which have the potential to provide great PR value.  Finally you’ll receive a detailed sector analysis, written by AccountingWEB.co.uk editor John Stokdyk giving you unique insight into UK accounting trends.

Once you have the feedback at your finger tips make sure you listen to it and use the insight to boost future customer satisfaction, retaining your clients and winning new business.

For more information on the AccountingWEB Client Satisfaction Survey visit the Practice Excellence Programme pages here.

We’ve learnt from each of the three years we’ve been running the AccountingWEB Client Satisfaction survey and we think we’ve covered the most important areas when it comes to client satisfaction... however, we’d love to get your opinion.  What one question (or more!) would you really like to ask your clients when it comes to customer service?