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Secrets of excellence: Client satisfactionby
In the first installment of this series, our Accounting Excellence award winners spill all their secrets in maintaining successful client satisfaction.
Client satisfaction is one of the main pillars in the Accounting Excellence Awards and has been one of the fundementals of sustaining a good practice. For the past eleven years, award-winning practices have demonstrated the importance of understanding your clients, responding rapidly to their needs and exceeding their expectations.
With a laser focus on client satisfaction, Accounting Excellence firms have appointed client managers, built regular meetings or phone conversations into the firm’s client care programme and have monitored client satisfaction through regular feedback and Net Promoter Scores (NPS).
With this year’s Accounting Excellence Awards around the corner, our 2020 award winners divulged how they continuously deliver the utmost service to their clients.
Don’t forget to enter your practice in the 2021 awards for the chance to win across 20 categories of practice success! The deadline for entries is 25 June.
Warren Munson, founder and managing director of Inspire - Accounting Excellence Medium Firm of the Year 2020 winner
Client satisfaction is our number one priority. If we’re not delighting our clients we’re not succeeding, and will not continue to grow. That has to be the main motivation. As a firm, we try to think wider than just the financial traditional objectives because the financial results are derived from delighting our clients.
In my view, the main thing that goes wrong within a practice in terms of client delivery isn’t the tech or the ability to deliver the work - it’s communication. Those firms that succeed have great client communication.
A lot of it is about internal communication with our existing clients. As well as having a director, every client has a relationship coordinator. That person is responsible for ensuring that they are regularly in contact with the client, but also that the information flowing in and out of the firm is in relation to their specific needs. That shared responsibility of relationships is really critical to our success.
When you've got an open culture of dialogue and communication, everybody understands what's happening across the board.
Pamela Phillips, co-founder and managing director of de Jong Phillips - Accounting Excellence Small Firm of the Year 2020 winner
We’re really embedded in our client’s businesses - we do more than just finance. We provide services that might go outside of the typical finance field, like looking at client’s technology, processes and systems, and helping them set the organisation's structure up so that they can scale or sell.
We also try to introduce clients to the right technology. It makes the finance function work smoother and less time consuming for them. It might seem obvious, but so many clients come to us who simply haven't had that.
Communication is the biggest key - talk to your clients regularly. We have a lot of regular catch-ups with clients so that they know that we're there and available if they do need us. I was speaking with a new client today who didn’t even know their previous accountant’s names because they just don't speak to them. Building a good relationship just requires doing the basics.
Jaye Snell, founder of Exe Bookkeeping and Payroll Services - Accounting Excellence Bookkeeping Firm of the Year 2020 winner
Client satisfaction is the biggest factor to practice success. If the clients aren’t happy, they'll start looking elsewhere.
It's about being proactive rather than reactive - keeping ahead of different changes, and letting them know what's going on. That’s what they have us for, because we can provide assistance and tell them things that they wouldn't have otherwise known.
We keep people up to date by sending out email notifications. We don't really want to try to fill a space with information that is perhaps not relevant to our clients, so we handpick and divide clients up and provide them with information that’s relevant to their business.
We focus on communication, whether that’s sending out a friendly email or picking up the phone just to see how a client is, or to check if they need any additional help.
Sian Kelly, managing director of Inform Accounting - Accounting Excellence Client Service Award 2020 winner, Digital and Innovative Firm of the Year 2020 winner
Customer satisfaction is all tied into your service and practice culture. If you've got the wrong culture, you'll have the wrong attitude towards clients. If you drive the right culture, you’ll maintain the right approach to customer service and high client satisfaction. It's all interlinked.
As a firm, we carry out a lot of client feedback surveys - we pick random groups of clients each year and survey how they're getting on and what they think. We've now enrolled a business development manager in our practice, so we can utilise his expertise in client communication.
Some of our clients have very regular touch points with their account manager because we’re supplying them with a multitude of services so naturally we’re in constant contact. Other clients might just have a tax return they need doing, so they’re not actually getting to communicate with us as often. Now, our business development manager can reach out to those clients, give them a touch point, talk to them, and check they’re happy with everything.
Sarah Sallis, director of The Accountancy Office - Accounting Excellence Sole Practitioner of the Year 2020 winner
We are a very small practice, but because of our size we are very good at keeping in touch with our clients. We try to be another arm of our clients' businesses. The more we know what's going on, the greater position we are in to help them.
We always adopt a friendly approach - if a client needs someone to pick up the phone and have some of our time, we're more than happy to factor that in.
Pre-Covid, we had a breakout area in the office with tea, coffee and cakes, where clients and prospects were free just to drop in to see us, no appointment necessary. If anybody just needs a quick chat we make sure we’re there for them on an informal basis.
It comes down to communication: the client is at the heart of our business, so it's really important to us that we have a good relationship with them.
Ria-Jaine Lincoln, director of The Beauty Accountant - Accounting Excellence Covid-19 Hero Award: Individual 2020 winner
Client satisfaction is the maximum priority. It’s all about the customer journey, especially in this line of work as most of the income and sales we get are often based on referrals as well.
I don't want a client to be struggling with a question for longer than they have to. The client should either have the information available, whether it's through our client portal, our websites, or direct contact.
Pre-pandemic, I was already holding online Zoom calls. It’s good to have the option to do training sessions with clients on apps and software, so they can get the most out of it themselves.
Now, I’ve introduced a client portal with SENTA. It’s one place for clients to go that they can access on their phone, which really streamlines and automates the processes. Clients know what’s happening: they get reminder emails, whether it's for bookkeeping, VAT, or their tax returns. Everything runs to a tight schedule.
Don’t miss your chance to register for our Accounting Excellence 2021 Awards!
There are 20 categories within the AE awards, recognising accounting firms, individuals, teams, projects and industry vendors within the UK. All categories are judged by an impressive line-up of experts and influencers covering a range of specialisms from within and outside the accounting profession.