How to Reduce Customer Churn and Keep Clients Happy During Tax Season
No matter their size, all accounting firms are overloaded during tax season. Employees must work overtime — sometimes as much as 80 to 90 hours per week — to meet tight deadlines. During peak seasons, accounting firms can easily lose clients; 90 percent of the time, the reason clients switch accountants is because they cannot get answers, or communication with the firm is simply too onerous. Here are some tips to retain clients, build stronger relationships and consequently charge more for services:
Client Management is Key
According to the CallMiner Churn Index, $35.3 billion is lost every year by U.S. businesses in customer churn caused by avoidable customer experience issues. Client management is vital to the smooth running of an accounting firm and in providing ongoing value to clients, and many practice owners see the light when they realize their client base has overwhelmed them. This can become more pronounced during tax season.
The COVID-19 pandemic has spurred both firms and clients toward the swift adoption of new technologies. As people become more accustomed to using online tools across e-commerce, banking and social media, they have come to expect this ease of use as standard.
Accounting firms can improve their interactions with clients by adopting the following practices:
- Provide different options for document submission: use the postal service, drop off paperwork, upload via a portal or share via Zoom.
- Utilize video conferences when verbal discussions are required.
- Post industry news, tax law changes or suggestions on the firm’s website or social media.
- Establish onsite chatbots or ticket systems to generate immediate responses.
Personalize with Modern Software
Emplifi data revealed that 49 percent of consumers left a company in the past year due to poor customer experience. How often do a firm’s clients switch to another firm? It’s an important question, because it costs significantly more to win new clients than to keep existing ones, yet 90 percent of accounting firms lose clients due to a lack of clear communication and guidance.
By utilizing modern digital software, accounting firms can create a personalized client experience and recapture the time they once spent on manual tasks. Consider the following recommendations:
- Send automated, yet personalized messages to nurture client relationships and balance workload during busy periods.
- Breadcrumb processes into simple steps that clients can execute easily.
- Gather information by interviewing clients remotely and asking meaningful questions about noteworthy events and changes: whether they have moved, married, divorced, or bought or sold property.
- Generate automated status emails. For example, once the client has uploaded files, confirm the information has been received and work has started on their return.
According to Emplifi data, 61 percent of consumers will pay at least 5 percent more if they know they can expect a good customer experience.
During the pandemic, finding effective ways for clients to pay for accounting services remotely became essential. Accounting firms that provide an elevated customer experience can expect their clients to accept premium pricing.
Accounting firms can help clients to pay faster by using the following tactics:
- Employ user-friendly technology to upload files and settle bills, enabling clients to perform repeatable actions independently and without referral to the firm.
- Simplify the payment process by offering multiple options: credit cards, ACH, onsite payments.
- Send friendly reminders and push notifications via the client portal to remind clients to pay without the need for manual chasing.
Losing market share means losing money, and no business owner wants that. Improved customer experience and enhanced internal procedures help to retain clients which leads to business growth. The pandemic-prompted sweeping changes to the way we do business mean that practice management software for accountants, book-keepers and tax professionals has become an integral part of the finance process.
TaxDome is an all-in-one solution for tax and accounting professionals to manage their practices smarter, faster and more affordably.
Ilya Radzinsky is the co-founder and chief marketing officer of TaxDome.
This article appeared in the winter 2022/23 issue of New Jersey CPA magazine. Read the full issue.