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Checklist to keep your clients happy

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Every practitioner believes they offer fantastic client service but when asked what this really means on a day to day basis they often get stuck.

For accountants it is far more valuable to retain clients in terms on ongoing income streams than having to replace them with new client fee income, says Finola McManus, the founder Practice Perfect.

“The term ‘happy clients’ means they will stay with you and not be tempted to leave for your competitors.”

Happy clients also tend to pay bills on time and recommend to you to others. Similarly, they are far more likely to ask you for other advice and services which makes working life more interesting and again increases fees.

To offer your clients the service that is now regarding as standard best practice, McManus suggest the following checklist to see if you deliver what clients want.

Happy clients also tend to pay bills on time and recommend to you to others. Similarly, they are far more likely to ask you for other advice and services which makes working life more interesting and again increases fees.

  • Know who your Grade A, B, C clients are and ensure your team does too. You’re A and B clients are the ones you want to nurture and look after above all others.
  • Contact and meet with clients 3 months before the end of the tax year to discuss tax planning. This is your opportunity to agree support and fees for the year ahead and set new targets with them.
  • 3 months pre year end is also the time to book a date on the work planner for the job to be done, agree fees and budgets and offer to review records. This makes the client feel in control and you can ensure they are given final results and tax liabilities as soon as possible.
  • Clients hate being told at the last minute what personal and business tax liabilities are. The pre year end meeting manages these expectations and also improves your own cash flow where you get clients on fixed fees which will run from this point until the job is completed.
  • Plan to complete the year end job as soon as possible post year end. Book the final meeting when the job starts
  • Prepare an agenda for every client meeting and send it to them in advance inviting them to add items they want to discuss. This makes the client see how valuable and important every meeting with you is.
  • The final accounts meeting should take up only a small part of the total meeting time. Remember you have projected the results and tax pre year end so will only have to discuss variances at this stage. You will be left with more time to discuss future goals and what the client needs to do with your help.
  • Book a date for an interim business meeting with the client. This will be 3 months after the final year end meeting and should coincide with the mid way point in their trading year. Set an agenda and review what has been achieved and what needs to be done going forward.
  • Responding to telephone calls and e-mails within an hour (even if it is a holding call or e-mail to say when you will contact them) are now a given for the best practices.
  • E-mail shots and hard copy literature (budget booklets, newsletters etc.) really do need to be personalised to make an impact. Handwritten post-it notes saying ‘look at this…’ and a follow up call will make the client feel you really are thinking of them and what they need.
  • Client care calls and periodic surveys are also important to find out what the client really thinks. Even negative feedback is invaluable as it gives you the opportunity to address issues before a client decides to leave.

Read more here.