The accounting landscape has seen some drastic changes in recent years, spurred by advancements in technology and a rapidly evolving business environment. While these changes have streamlined a host of tasks with accounting automation, they’ve also raised the bar for what clients expect in terms of communication.
Gone are the days when a monthly newsletter or an annual review would suffice. Today’s clients crave real-time, personalized and value-rich information that can help them make more informed decisions. By bridging the gap between technological potential and effective communication, accountants have a golden opportunity to not only retain clients but also increase their value and scale their business.
Here’s how you can get the right message to the right client at the right time and build a client communication strategy that works.
1. Get the Right Message to the Right Client at the Right Time
• Segment Your Client List: All clients are not created equal. Some need detailed insights into their financial statements, while others may just want the basics. Classify your clients based on their requirements, industry, size or other relevant metrics, as well as value (more on this later).
• Tailor Your Messages: General messages often get ignored. Speak directly to each segment’s unique needs. Create templates for various types of communication for each client segment and adjust them as needed.
• Time it Perfectly: Recognize the best times to communicate with each client segment. For instance, retail businesses may appreciate accounting insights just before the holiday season, while tax consultants might benefit from year-end financial summaries.
• Follow-up: A single communication is often not enough. Make sure you have a follow-up strategy, such as a call a week after sending an important email, to ensure the client has understood and acted upon the information.
2. Build a Client Communication Strategy
• Set Objectives: Be clear on what you want to achieve with your communication. Is it client retention? Cross-selling? Timely collections?
• Choose the Right Channels: Not all clients prefer the same communication channels. While some may prefer email, others might be more responsive to a phone call or a face-to-face meeting.
• Plan Ahead: Use a CRM software to schedule regular communications with clients. Automated reminders can help ensure that you never miss an opportunity to connect.
• Measure Results: Keep track of metrics like email open rates, response rates, and client feedback to continuously refine your communication strategy.
3. Decide Frequency Based on Client Value
• High-Value Clients: These are your most profitable clients and therefore deserve more frequent and personalized communication. Weekly or bi-weekly check-ins could be beneficial.
• Medium-Value Clients: They don’t need as frequent communication as high-value clients but should not be ignored. Monthly newsletters and quarterly reviews should suffice, alongside any ad-hoc catch-up if needed.
• Low-Value Clients: For these clients, regular automated updates and an annual review could be enough (or quarterly, depending on where they’re based). But even low-value clients can become high-value clients, so make sure you don’t neglect them.
4. Leverage Technological Tools
• Use a CRM Software: Modern Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems can automate much of the grunt work involved in maintaining communication. Features like automated emails, reminders and analytics make it easier to keep up with your client base and understand who your tactics are performing. Hubspot, Salesforce, Oracle and Zoho are some popular options.
• Virtual Meetings: Thanks to video conferencing tools such as Zoom, Google Meet and Microsoft Teams, you no longer have to be in the same location to have a face-to-face meeting. Use this for initial consultations or urgent discussions.
• Secure Messaging Apps: With concerns over data security, secure messaging apps designed for professionals can help you safely discuss sensitive financial information. Your IT team will be able to identify the best option for your needs.
• E-Signature Platforms: These can significantly speed up the document signing and approval process, leading to quicker decision-making. Again, there are loads of options here – DocuSign, SignWell, PandaDoc and SignNow are just a few.
In a world that has been radically changed by technology, failing to adapt is not an option, especially in a profession where trust and effective communication are so important. Combining a well-thought-out communication strategy with the latest technological tools not only positions your accounting practice as a leader in the industry but also enriches the client experience manifold.
Whether it’s segmenting your client list for personalized messages or employing cutting-edge CRM software for automated communications, each step you take contributes to building stronger, more durable client relationships.
The strategies outlined in this article are more than just best practices; they are essential steps in ensuring that your accounting practice not only survives but thrives in a competitive marketplace. By keeping your clients informed, engaged, and valued, you are laying the foundation for a successful, future-proof business.
The key takeaway is simple but profound: in a world that’s constantly changing, staying in touch means staying ahead.