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Don’t forget your existing clients


As a tax practitioner, it’s easy to take our long-term client relationships for granted, assuming they will continue to be there. QuickBooks ProAdvisor Nayo Carter-Gray offers practical steps to keep the clients you have.

27th Oct 2022
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As small businesses rebuild in a challenging market, they need the trust and connection they have with their accountants. So, before you consider marketing efforts to grow your client base, take a look at what it will take to retain your existing clients.

Some clients may have even been with you so long you forget they aren’t a member of your real family. But just because they have been with you this long doesn’t mean they will stay with you forever.

It’s become even more important to continue to forge those bonds since most of the world has been adversely impacted by the pandemic. You both need each other, as small business recovery works both ways right now.

So let’s talk about marketing. Anyone who knows about marketing talks about the need for a funnel to get new clients, but I don’t hear them saying much about keeping the clients they already have.

Ask yourself, when is the last time you sent your existing clients a thank you gift? I mean, my clients should be thanking me for providing them with awesome financial advice, but isn’t that what they are paying me for?

As you develop a marketing plan to bring more clients into your business, don’t forget to include a retention strategy for the customers and clients you already have. After all, not only will it cost you less to retain an existing client than it will to acquire a new one, but it can also increase your profits by 25-95%

According to an article published on ProfitWell the average customer retention rate for professional services, is 84%. So, before you start cruising the Internet looking for the best place to park your new client ads, consider diverting some of those marketing dollars to ensure your current clients understand exactly how valued and appreciated they truly are with these simple but effective retention strategies:

1. Onboarding and orientation

New clients are excited and nervous at the start of their journey with you, so onboarding is when you should prove to them they signed with the right adviser. There’s nothing worse than signing up, paying a first payment and then not hearing from you for weeks. 

So, to avoid that negative experience, I recommend setting up a service specific onboarding series that can be delivered by email and/or video to create a virtual in-person feel. Start with a thank you message along with an expected timeline of events.

Next, move on to short instructional videos or text that details how to use any software or equipment used by your firm. Lastly, go over client expectations and responsibilities. This series of messages instantly allows the new client to form a connection to your professional family, builds trust and trains them to have a more enriched experience with your business by reducing the learning curve.

It also benefits your firm because your client now understands the procedures and processes put into place, potentially eliminating random “how to” questions and crazy out of scope requests. Don’t forget, you can always personalize this onboarding process with a phone call, a welcome package or a gift.

2. Get feedback

As an avid shopper, I get numerous requests for feedback from the stores I frequent. Sometimes I get rewarded for providing feedback and other times I want to provide this information because the service was terrible. 

It’s not customary in the tax and accounting profession to ask for feedback from our clients because the service we provide is not necessarily a “delight.” But, delivery of this service can make waves and cause a ripple effect, both negative and positive. 

I understand that it’s important to ask for customer feedback in order to avoid that negative riptide. Plus, it’s hard to improve your service if you don’t actually know how your customer is feeling about it. One popular feedback method is a simple survey in order to calculate your Net Promoter Score (NPS). Once you have the results from your survey, you can use it to improve the customer experiences as well as find gaps in your existing service offerings and potentially create additional revenue streams for your company.  

3. Acknowledge special occasions

This to me is a super simple strategy that gets major results. Every year for the Christmas holiday season I send my tax clients a holiday card along with a calendar magnet for the following year. What this does is put my company top of mind come January and the card gives them a sense of jolliness because I actually sign each card with a wet signature.

This process takes me a few hours every year, but my retention rate is in the 90 percentile. If you aren’t keen on the Christmas holidays, you can send birthday or anniversary cards, acknowledge births or even deaths. These simple gestures can go a long way.

4. Reward your most profitable customers

According to a study from Selligent, the pandemic accelerated online sales by more than $100bn to annual ecommerce figures during 2020-22. Post-pandemic, now could be a great opportunity to reward the loyal client who supported your business by shifting their purchasing of your services online.

Personally, I love getting rewarded for purchasing products I was going to buy anyway. Simple freebies convince me to buy more often because I’m excited to earn my free gift. Have you ever considered offering a free, add-on service for your top five highest grossing clients this year?

What about offering a special discount code just for loyal customers who took on new services in recent months? Whatever you decide, it needs to be something your clients would be excited about. 

5. Over deliver

Customer service is the cornerstone to any great business relationship. So, it’s super beneficial for your firm to over-deliver on the services your client has hired you for. You could forward an online article or suggest a new app to help solve a problem you know your customer may be facing or will face in the future.

You and your customers are looking to emerge as stronger businesses. Satisfied customers can lead to more referrals, more revenues and overall, more positive engagement with your business. Ideally putting some (or all) of these strategies into place will not only fill your existing clients with appreciation, but it also increases loyalty, keeping them as paying customers for years to come.

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