How do small businesses want their accountants to to communicate with them?
Recently I’ve been working with the Countingup account managers and many of our accountant partners on client communication plans. With the launch of our Accountant Hub, our accountant partners need to tell clients how to set up the link between their Countingup account and the Hub. It’s also been a good opportunity to review how partners are introducing clients to Countingup.
This project has reminded me just how much variation there is in the client communication strategies used by accountants. To provide some insight on this I’ve been unsurprised to telephone, direct mail and e-mail as key communications channels.
Accountants are great at communicating
However, what has been great to see is the number of accountants who are using channels such as text message, social media, WhatsApp and even their own app to communicate with clients. There are also plenty of firms using face to face meetings, events and online webinars to stay connected to clients and prospects.
Accident or design?
What is interesting to me however is how do accountants decide on the communication channels that they use with clients? Often it can be by simply listening to direct feedback.
For example, I’ve worked with an accountant who was based in the south-west of England. He had a number of IT contractor clients spread across the UK (a result of word of mouth referrals within the sector, which is a topic for another day). One of the big selling points the accountant wanted to develop with these clients was regular face to face meetings.
The feedback received from clients, even the ones based locally, was that they’d prefer e-mail but if they had to speak face to face they would prefer a video-conference rather than having to travel for a physical meeting.
This also reminds me of a large scale client cloud accounting software migration I was involved with a few years ago. With about 1,000 clients to migrate there were lots of e-mails, letters and phone calls to make. Many clients ignored these until they could no longer access the predecessor accounting software.
At that stage, there were many clients who needed clearly communicated support about how to use the new product. The method that provided to be invaluable was to run webinars at various times over a few weeks.
Ask your clients!
Based on my experience the best way to communicate with clients is the way that works best for them. For example, a client who works throughout the country and is away from home probably doesn’t want important information arriving by post. Unscheduled telephone calls during the lunchtime rush may not work very well for the owner of a small cafe.
One word of advice. If your client prefers a certain method of communication such as video-conferencing make sure your team have access to this tool. If for example, a client wants to use Skype but you’ve blocked that for your team then that’s not helpful!
A good time to ask clients is of course when you onboard them. Another good time might be just after you’ve had difficulty getting in touch with them. If they haven’t answered lots of e-mails and calls but respond immediately when you send them a text message maybe consider asking then if that’s a better way of getting hold of them!
If you would like to arrange a chat about Countingup or anything in this article, please do book a call with me by clicking on the link below: