Firms that want to improve client satisfaction will want to take a look at a new survey and white paper, “Game Plan for the Future: Are you and your clients in sync?” The survey analyzes client satisfaction trends with a 360 degree view from accounting firms and the business clients they serve.
According to the survey, up to one-third of clients are considering a switch to another accounting firm. This proves the need to improve client satisfaction will be a critical focus for firms that want to remain viable. Firms with satisfied customers saw an average of 7% revenue improvement. In contrast, firms with dissatisfied clients saw an 11% decrease in revenue.
Based on the survey findings, the white paper reveals a game plan of strategies for firms to follow:
1. Execute the basics well
According to the survey, the top criteria clients cite for choosing a firm is technical expertise, or an in-depth knowledge of tax law and accounting regulations. In fact, 44% of clients report that staying abreast of the ever-changing regulatory landscape is one of the top factors that will most impact their relationship with their accounting firms. On the other hand, only 22% of accounting firms say the same. Focusing on the key basics that clients are looking for can help firms stay ahead and proactively demonstrate how they can better meet the needs of their clients.
2. Use technology to support client service
In another key survey finding, timeliness and quality of services top the list of significant factors for selecting a firm, at 37%. However, fewer than half of the firms surveyed said that they currently have enough staff to meet client needs. This reality indicates a significant challenge for firms when it comes to meeting the expectations of clients. The survey found that successful firms with extremely satisfied clients use technology to streamline and automate workflows throughout the firm. Top technologies cited by firms to assist in client/firm relationships include:
- Cloud-based software that allows for remote work on laptops or desktop computers (cited by both firms and clients as the number one answer)
- Software architecture that allows the integration of various firm functions
- Time-saving solutions that increase firm efficiency
- Mobile technology such as tablets and smartphone
“In today’s competitive landscape, both the assurance work and the corporate tax work processes need to be highly automated and streamlined to allow all modern firms to efficiently and effectively complete the compliance aspects of their jobs, while leaving their staff adequate time to focus on driving value,” said Garrett Wagner, CPA, CITP and Business Therapist at Thaney & Associates CPAs PC.
Added Wesley Middleton, CPA and Managing Partner at MiddletonRaines+Zapata, LLP: “I believe that the more we can utilize and leverage technology, the better we are going to be able to serve our clients. It doesn’t matter if you’re a one-man shop, or have 10 or 15 people, or you’re our size or larger. You can have a high-tech environment and have that remote access that people want and expect.”
3. Improve communication and meet with clients more frequently
When asked about factors driving them to seek another accounting firm, 35% of clients cite poor communications as a key factor. The survey shows that when clients find it difficult to get answers from their firms, they may leave and find their answers elsewhere. Notably, 75% of satisfied clients expect their firm to respond within 24 hours.
4. Add higher-value services
Lastly, clients that use a wider variety of services from their tax and accounting firms are more likely to report themselves as satisfied. Seventy-six percent of those clients using four or more services reported being satisfied. This compares to only 50% for those using fewer than four services. At the same time, clients that use four or more services are twice as likely to believe that a tax and accounting firm can provide significant impact to the overall success of a business.
Leveraging Technology to Improve Client Satisfaction
An important finding of the survey was the link between technology and client satisfaction. The survey results showed that firms that have invested in an integrated end-to-end software solution were able to improve client satisfaction ratings to 81%. Firms that did not use an integrated system saw only 66% client satisfaction.
By focusing on these four strategies, firms can be more proactive about client service, build stronger client relationships and increase their bottom line. The “Game Plan for the Future: Are you and your clients in sync?” whitepaper is now available. Download it for free.