The accountant-client relationship is a vital one for both individuals and large corporations. Having strong relationships with their clients is how accounting firms remain successful. Technology is making it easier to foster these relationships and improve client retention.
When accounting firms make a digital transformation, they become more efficient. These efficiencies can translate to better relationships with clients.
Firms can leverage these technologies, like the advanced features of a firm’s customer relationship management (CRM) software, to improve client retention through relationship building. Let’s explore this in greater detail.
Clients rely on their accountants to get answers to their tax concerns, and they don’t want to wait around for this information. They want answers in a few hours, not days.
Old digital protocols involved sending emails and waiting for a response, fingers crossed that it didn’t go into their junk folder. Calling can result in missed voicemails (about 14% of the time) because most people (80%) don’t answer calls to numbers they don’t recognize or think are businesses making marketing calls.
Reaching clients in the digital age is more effortless than digital (and analog) communications were in the past. Apps like Slack, Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and several other communication platforms make communication with clients easier.
This program allows firm staff to schedule meetings with clients (in person and virtually) and send notifications to clients and any attending parties without the hassle of back-and-forth emails.
Technology allows accounting firms to go paperless. Clients (especially the younger generations) expect to be able to receive, sign and send documents electronically.
Firms can use DocuSign for e-signatures, and IT strategists recommend a program called Practice Ignition for sending proposals automatically, processing payments, and much more.
This client management software allows accounting firms to streamline their engagement with clients. Accounting firms and bookkeeping service providers use Practice Ignition to help them grow and scale according to the season’s needs. It also helps them to be more efficient, enhancing accountant-client relationships.
Data is the lifeblood of many businesses in various industries. Yet, the information kept within accounting firms’ walls (and databases) is some of the most sensitive data.
Technology improves security and allows firms to keep track of sensitive client information safely, significantly reducing the chances of the client (or the firm) falling victim to a cybercrime. Small businesses that experience data breaches struggle to remain open, and many (60%) close their doors shortly after.
Responsibly gathering this data and storing it requires data gathering software with a focus on providing additional security features. The one most suited for any firm depends on several factors, and experts recommend talking to IT professionals who specialize in working with accounting firms to help.
Investing in this software is a must for any successful accounting firm. Here are some ways data gathering software will benefit CPAs and accounting professionals and improve their client retention:
1. Keep Track of Previous Conversations
Keep track of previous conversations using communications platforms (like the ones listed above). These platforms allow users to know when anyone at the firm last communicated with the client, what was discussed, and any questions asked, answered, or awaiting a response.
These platforms also allow users to set notifications and reminders so that a conversation doesn’t get missed. For instance, if an assistant last spoke to a client who had a question for the accountant, the assistant can send reminders that ping the accountant until they address the matter.
- LinkedIn messages
- WhatsApp messages
- SMS messages
- Postal mail
2. Understand Clients’ Needs Through Surveys
Platforms like SurveyMonkey allow firms to get the feedback they need to improve processes and procedures, which ultimately translates into improved client retention. Use surveys to better understand client needs and to receive constructive feedback.
3. Take Notes Within the Software
Data gathering platforms allow users to take notes directly into the system. There is no need to memorize every interaction since users can take notes within the software.
If a firm is using outdated data gathering software, it can use another platform while working on completing its upgrades to a complete platform. The five most common platforms that offer the best note-taking tools include:
- Google Keep
- Microsoft OneNote
These platforms should integrate seamlessly with the firm’s tech stack.
4. Create System Automations
Send personalized messages to clients via text or email using automation. This will help improve client relationships because it will show clients their CPA or accounting professional genuinely cares. By creating workflow automation, staff never forget to send documents or other vital information to clients on time.
Firms must integrate all of their systems for a streamlined workflow. Using multiple digital platforms to conduct business, like CRMs, content management software (CMS), and digital experience platforms (DXP), requires all systems to work together to create seamless workflow automation that saves weekly hours.
For instance, client relations (and therefore client retention) are improved when every authorized member of the team can access client files (regardless of what device they are working on), send a document to a client, and then connect with that client using Slack to confirm receipt, all from one interface.
The most popular CRM software on the market allows you to automate your email communications and other repetitive tasks that are time-consuming.
Your Accounting Firm’s Tech Stack Impacts Client Retention
Clients are more loyal to an accounting firm and return for their tax preparation needs when systems work well, and processes are streamlined.
Firms need the right accounting software, CRM, and CMS software to ensure engaging and quality interactions with every client. These systems must work together seamlessly to promote efficiencies that ultimately benefit clients.
Our Tech Gurus help firms improve client retention with their existing IT infrastructure while recommending new technology that will work well with your current tech stack. We do this by ensuring that all systems and programs are up to date and configured to work together correctly. Onboarding new clients are stressful if you lack the technology to make them loyal clients. Take our Accounting Firm Technology Checkup to see how your firm’s tech stack compares to the market.