In these tough economic times, worries about pricing and profitability in your firm are natural. Your revenue stream dictates the growth of your business, after all, and it is understandable to lean toward cash flow as the most important piece for your focus and attention. It makes sense that the first instinct may be to offer fewer services in an attempt to meet financial targets. But striking a balance between what’s best for your firm and what will keep your customers happy is of vital importance to ensure positive earnings, as well as retaining loyal clients who will want to keeping coming back. After all, your clients are the biggest factor in the cultivation of your firm!
Without the relationship between service and payment, a business would simply not exist. Deciding to become more customer-focussed will drive profits and fuel growth. Your firm will reap the benefits of returning clients who are more likely to pay on time if you reciprocate their patronage with good pricing and service, and they’ll be more likely to refer you to their friends and family if you’ve spent time listening to their needs and taking the time to cultivate strong working relationships.
When there are months which are more difficult than others, perhaps when your profits aren’t flowing as well as expected, your customers will understand. After all, they’re feeling the strain too. But they also know that they have a lot of buying power. If you have made sure that service is one of your firm’s top priorities, they will be more likely to stick with you, instead of finding something more affordable. You don’t need your clients to be searching for the lowest cost because they don’t feel an affinity or loyalty for your company. This is why you can’t afford to ignore the quality of your service. Elevating your service and product quality and value, particularly during more difficult times, is going to establish the kinds of customer relationships which will build trust and loyalty, and therefore revenue. Ultimately, it is a balancing act, but make sure you are getting that balance right. Everything you do should produce value for your business and for customers.
So what are some of the best ways to nurture customer relationships? Be genuine. Simply offering respect in the form of high levels of service and value will go far in making sure that your clients have a desire to stick with you. This is an area where you can find a balance between the need of your firm and that of your customers; offer the same to your employees. Respect their loyalty by showing them that you appreciate the work that they are doing to help your business grow. A kind word of thanks goes far in ensuring that those ties are strong, and if your employees feel valued, they’re more likely to give better customer service, which makes your clients feel more valued.
Listening to your clients is vital in providing the best service possible. Be sure that they can easily utilize your services. Communication should flow freely, with accessible email and phone links, and payment options should be updated to current standards, allowing for your clients to finalize their bills immediately, at a time that is convenient for them. Be sure that accuracy and speed of response to enquiries and a website that is easy to navigate are standard features of your service. Customer satisfaction and efficiency for your firm are not incompatible goals. In fact, businesses which focus on this fine balance often find that they gain a competitive edge, even in leaner economic times. Higher customer loyalty equals better growth.
A mutually-reinforcing value chain is what the Harvard Business Review found was the result of maximizing customer satisfaction. This is when you’ve met the needs of your clients so well that they continue to support your business, and so both the needs of your firm and those of your customers are met. The increased revenue from this value chain adds to your and your employees’ benefits, maintaining a standard of growth and vitality, while the services you’ve heightened to match the desires and needs of your consumers allows for them to receive excellent value while paying that little bit extra for the quality of both the service and feeling valued themselves.
Be sure to keep that balance in line, however. If you become too customer-centric, you can lose sight of what’s best for your firm and its needs. Know when to draw the line–if a client is asking for too much, scale it back and remember that what’s important is that balance. Meeting client needs should not interfere with profitability.
Another important factor to consider is to get the right balance of technology without losing the human touch. Possibilities are endless when it comes to cutting-edge accounting softwares which can make a massive impact on your company’s time and profit gains, but when your focus is on client satisfaction, don’t go completely automated. Tech will allow your firm to save time and energy, automatically compiling reports and analytics, effectively tracking time and billable hours, and essentially taking on tasks for your firm which remove the possibility of human error and time theft. These are wonderful features which have revolutionized the accounting industry these last few years, and the benefits are immeasurable. Definitely take advantage of the competitive market, and use these technologies to help you drive profit.
When you’re using this technology to reach your customers, however, you want to ensure that an element of the personal is retained. This is easy to achieve with a little finesse; automated invoices can be customized, allowing you to leave small messages of thanks, and marketing across platforms means that you have some room to infuse your advertising with values that exemplify your commitment to service. Reaffirm your commitment to add value. Your clients will notice.
So stay innovative, be accountable, and constantly strive to improve the balance of pricing and service in your accounting firm. Remember that keeping your customers happy means better marketing, because they will be more apt to refer you enthusiastically to the next person who asks for a recommendation, as well as coming back themselves. By consistently working to merge these areas, you will find that your firm’s growth stays positive. You will gain credibility and trust, a solid and loyal base of clients, and reap the benefits of consistent cash flow.