Here are our five top tips to improve your relationship with clients, and set you up for success.
- Show up
It’s become easier and more acceptable to sit behind a computer screen and communicate with your clients. But, although digital communications should be used and are effective, there is nothing more impactful than a face to face conversation. And we aren’t doing enough of this.
Meeting with your client, understanding their needs and getting a feel for their business first hand will leave your client with a positive impression, and leave you with stronger insight. In doing this, you are also building a rapport that will be long lasting over time. When a client needs advice or is in a business crisis, it’s likely you will be their first call.
- Grow your network
Showing up isn’t just for your current client base; it’s also for prospective clients. Sign yourself up to relevant events and seminars, and try to engage and connect with as many people as you can. We hear a lot of feedback from our accounting partners that often it’s hard to step away from the desk and make time for networking. But you don’t have to overcommit. One event each month where there is an interesting topic that you can learn, and an environment where you can meet like-minded people will provide you with an opportunity to upskill, and grow your network.
In a world where everyone is communicating digitally, there is nothing more important than growing your network and making a direct connection with peers.
- Know your clients beyond work
It’s important to know your clients on a personal or social level to some degree so they feel that you have their best interests at heart and have taken out the time to really understand them.
Use the first 15 minutes of your meeting to start a conversation that is unrelated to work. What did they do on the weekend, how are their kids, and what are their interests outside of work? This is a really important skill for relationship building, but is so often overlooked. Do you really understand what success looks like for your client? Is it building a scale business and selling for substantial profit or is it about creating a comfortable business for all of the family to work in? This knowledge can really help you give the right advice for your client, and ultimately help your client feel you understand them.
When your client opens up to you, you’ll be able to transition from a traditional accountant needed during tax time, to a financial advisor that can support your client through all stages of their business cycle.
- Use Social Media
There are many tools in place to enable you to have a deeper conversation with your clients. Whether it’s a Facebook page, or a LinkedIn group, these technologies exist to enhance your dialogue with your clients. It’s in your best interest to understand what platforms are available, to deepen your communication and ultimately your business.
Remember that it is absolutely a two-way dialogue. Don’t speak at your clients; rather discuss with them, share ideas, understand their needs and pain points and find ways to make their business life easier. This is all possible through social media platforms. Find out which one is best suited to your business. If you enjoy keeping up with online conversations and having a strong voice online, then maybe Twitter is perfect for you. Or, if you like to explore topics only relevant to your industry, then LinkedIn might be a great start.
You don’t have to dabble in all of the social media channels that exist, but you should find one you are comfortable with and do it well.
- Invest in smart technology
Accounting software companies are constantly creating new technologies that help accountants work smarter and more effectively with their clients. It’s important to stay across what these solutions are, which in turn will save you time and money whilst best serving your client base. An example of this MYOB Portal. This collaboration tool was built to seamlessly deliver information between accountants and their clients. Whilst traditionally, a document would be sent via email, printed, signed, scanned and sent back, with Portal, a client can digitally sign a document and send it back in moments. And when you brand it as your own, its you that looks like the progressive accountant making it easier for your client to work with you as they sign something on the go (on their phone!).
Part of building a strong relationship with your clients is ensuring you are servicing them in the best way possible. And as the accounting industry transforms from traditional methods of working, to a Connected Practice, investing in the right technology is no longer a nice to have.
Andrew Birch joined MYOB in 2009 as General Manager, Enterprise Division. He became General Manager, Websites Division in 2010 and more recently was appointed General Manager, Industry Solutions.
Prior to joining MYOB, Andrew held a number of senior management positions within the technology, telecommunications and software sectors, particularly in the leadership and growth of significant technology companies, including Honeywell Pacific and Vodafone Australia, as well as mid size technology businesses within Australia and New Zealand.
Andrew holds a Bachelor of Engineering from the Swinburne Institute of Technology and a Master of Business Administration from RMIT University.