Client experience is one of the big industry buzzwords right now. There’s a lot of talk about how to improve it, what makes a great experience and how important it is. I have to admit I myself have spoken about this at events. The thing is, very rarely have I read or heard anything that actually articulates what it is, and why it’s so important. So that’s what I’d like to address.
WHAT IS IT?
Client experience is, simply, how your clients experience your business. From the big things like the quality of your work to the small ones like your handshake or your email manner - these all contribute to and shape client experience. Every single touchpoint with a client can have a positive or negative impact on how the client feels about working with you.
AND WHY SHOULD I CARE?
Last night I saw a show at the Sydney Opera House. It finished at 10:30pm and I needed to get home. Despite being a regular Uber user, I walked out and saw a line of taxis and thought “that looks easy, I’ll just get a cab”. I approached the first 4 and all 4 drivers first asked me where I was going (it was close, roughly a $10 fare) and then said “no”. They weren’t polite about it and none of them would take me.
So I jumped on Uber and 2 minutes later a man drove up, drove me home, wasn’t phased by the short trip and offered me water and mints. That was a strong reminder to me of not just why I prefer Uber but also the impact client experience makes. I won’t be using taxis again for a while.
HOW WILL I DIFFERENTIATE MYSELF?
We’re in an industry where a lot of work is becoming more and more automated and thus more and more uniform in quality. When every bookkeeper’s compliance & tax work is of equal quality, how will you differentiate yourself? Client experience becomes a huge part of the answer.
A report done by the Sleeter Group states that “the average yearly churn for an accounting or bookkeeping firm is 20%” of clients. It goes on to say that the top 3 reasons for client churn are “no proactive service, only reactive service”, “poor responsiveness” and “referral to a new firm from a trusted source”. Two of these are due to a poor client experience, and the other is for the chance to get a better one.
Referrals become more and more crucial as client experience grows as a unique selling point. An Intuit report from 2016 states that “80% of new clients for firms should come from referrals”. Client experience will not only help you retain clients but will also be key in growing your business.
According to a report by Gartner, “89% of businesses expect customer experience to be their primary differentiator”. That’s the most important sentence in this article. That’s how you differentiate yourself.
GREAT. NOW WHAT CAN I DO?
First of all, there’s a wealth of articles out there about how to give a great client experience. Most of them will have handy tips. What you’ll find is that they’re all talking about the bells & whistles, the icing on the cake, the slice of lemon on the side. The core to a good experience will always be that the key tasks are all completed quickly, to a high degree of quality and at a fair price.
Technology such as Receipt Bank, and the various cloud accounting softwares available, make this side of things very easily achievable. The next key area to look at then is the points of friction in a client relationship.
I’ve written previously on how important client delay is, not only for the client experience, but also for your firm. Keeping an eye on your client delay removes the pains of chasing clients for items (and the client's’ pain of being chased for those items) – and this can have a huge impact. The fact is that clients with real time submissions reported a client experience at least 3 times better than those without.
You can think about how you communicate with clients & the number of touchpoints you have with them, as well as how easy the onboarding experience for the client is. First impressions make a world of difference and a smooth start paves the way to a smooth client experience.
Receipt Bank’s Item Messaging is having a massive impact on the communication piece, and our just-released Outstanding Paperwork report will help this further. The SMS Invite tool means getting clients started is as easy as an automated SMS
That covers all the common friction points, so from there it’s all about the cherries on top. Additional services you can provide, birthday cakes, congratulatory messages, and so on. There’s been so much written about those that I’ll hold off retreading that ground.
As Noel Tiufino, Managing Director of My Accounts, said at a recent Receipt Bank event; “if you take care of your clients, and you take care of your team, then your bottom line will take care of itself”.
PUT IT INTO PRACTICE
Want to learn more? Our free e-book 6 Ways to Add Value For Your Clients with Receipt Bank shows you how to put the time you’ve saved on data entry to good use.
As the accounting and bookkeeping industry shifts with automation, so too should the service you are providing. This e-book will equip you with the tools you need to develop and deliver that service.