The Beginner’s Guide to Toll-Free Numbers.
Manning the Comms: Strategies for Keeping In Contact With Clients When Running an Accounting Firm
Of all the difficult and complex aspects of running a small business, keeping in contact with clients may seem like it should be simple. After all, clients are essentially the lifeblood of a small business, especially an accounting firm, where communications (and the substance of those communications) can be incredibly important.
Studying up on how to communicate—especially for those of us who are naturally unorganized—is crucial, especially when major crunch times come around (Tax Day, anyone?). To help out those who are starting off or those who simply want to refresh their communications strategies, here are a couple pieces of advice from those who have already done it.
Yes, this may seem straightforward at first- but you would not imagine how many people do not actually see it through to completion. Sean of Sean Miles Law, PLLC had this to say about it:
We set up a shared calender and reach out to clients on a monthly basis, more frequently if their case requires it. You can never update a client too often, or fill them in on progress made too frequently. Making it an actual relationship between business owner and client means good reviews, word of mouth recommendations, and repeat business.
That being said our motto is “Client Centered with You in Mind”. We are available seven days a week, our clients can call, email, text, Facebook message, or even use a form on our website to get in contact with us. Communication is crucial, people want to be heard and acknowledged. Being available makes that possible.
Some pieces of advice there are really key to success. Lots of people will go about putting up calendars, but actually following through—contacting clients in an orderly way, covering your calendar with notes and the like—is an incredibly important next step (for those of you who don’t wish to use physical paper calendars and instead rely on technology, we’d recommend checking out our technological tips and tricks).
But importantly, a lot of new business owners are sometimes too cautious in their communications, not wanting to seem overbearing. Don’t be! Unless you are metaphorically swamping your clients in texts and emails, they are going to be pleased that you care enough to let them know how things are going (especially when it comes to their financial assets).
Pick a Path and Stick With It
However you decide to organize yourself, make sure it’s a) a method you really like, and b) stick with it. And not only should you want to stick with it, but be sure to not adopt multiple different methods. Jessi of Jessi Beyer International, LLC has more:
I live and die by my task list.
I specifically use Wunderlist because it’s free and I can access it from both my phone and my computer. I have every follow-up, every due date, and every project scheduled on my task list, and I know that if I put it on the task list, it’s going to get done. Conversely, if I don’t put it on the task list, there’s a very good chance that I’ll forget it.
The biggest tip on organization that I’d give new founders and business owners is to find one method – only one – that you like and stick with it. Don’t try to have five or six organizational tools or you’ll get lost and forget to view them all to make up your daily task list.
Some real gems of advice there, especially these: put it on the list. Seriously. There will be incredibly chaotic, frustrating days ahead; if you rely on a list or a calendar for what you need to do, and you have left something off, guess what? You are not going to do it.
Secondly, Jessi makes a great point regarding picking one method. If you are someone who covers your computer in sticky notes, that’s great. But if you also leave notes for yourself in the Notes app on your phone, write on your physical calendar and your digital calendar, as well as email to yourself- that’s all going to become one massive black hole of “organization”- which is to say, it won’t be organization at all. It’ll just be a black hole.
Base Your Strategy Around the Customer
While all of these strategies are key to keep in mind, generally speaking one of the most important things to keep in mind is that, at the end of the day, customer is king. Each person is different, has different wants and needs, and will expect different things out of you and your business. David from Pavilion Broadway, has more on the subject:
We manage to keep in touch with our customers using a wide range of touchpoints.
Having both an online and offline presence with our stores and e-commerce sites, we tend to adopt an approachable tone of voice without being pushy. Our customers tend to be discerning and shopping for a particular style. We try to find out as much as possible about their home or project from the get-go and inform them about up to date styles and trends based on our interior design resource in-house.
This advice is doubly useful for accounting and financial companies. The entire business basically revolves around discovering personal information- you can’t really do the gig without it, so take advantage of that (no, not in the bad way). Find out what your clients like. Are they automatons who just want the facts and that’s it? Do they like conversation for a couple minutes before delving in? Learning these things and tailoring each customer’s experience is what separates the wheat from the chaff in the business world. Nothing spreads good word of mouth faster than good service with a personal touch.
Starting a new business is nerve-wracking. Learning how to deal with customers can take boldness, commitment, and careful planning. But if you persevere and strategize, you’ll be up and running in no time!