By Jen Smith Bookkeepers 7 ways bookkeepers and accountants can increase customer loyalty 1 Jun 2017 In the bookkeeping and accounting world it can be easy to rest on your laurels once you have clients on your books because the work comes in like clockwork. Either you know you’ll be preparing their books on a monthly or yearly basis, or doing regular activities like VAT returns ahead of the pre-set deadlines. But complacency is a dangerous place to be in any business and this industry is no different. Customers vote with their feet and even if you’ve done a great job on their business finances, they might think they can better a deal elsewhere. Or maybe they need additional support and don’t know that you can offer it. Either way, spending time on increasing customer loyalty (and satisfaction) is a great marketing task and something you should be giving time and attention to regularly. But how do you increase customer loyalty? We’ve seven unique ways to inspire you today. 1. Send your clients useful information related to them and their business I know one accountant who takes time to understand where her clients are headed in life and in business and regularly sends news and useful updates on tax and guidelines to her clients. For example, she knows one of her clients is planning to have a baby in the next two years and is running her business as a sole trader. HMRC shared a video about maternity for self-employed workers and this accountant sent it on to her client to inform her of some changes and what she can do to plan for it now. The client subsequently booked in some time to discuss this with her accountant and formulate a plan. How can you keep your clients informed with tax and accounting news relevant to them? 2. Provide a regular report You may do this as part of your practice already but sending your clients a monthly or annual report with their top line figures, as well as how much they’ve saved thanks to the work you’ve done with them is a really great way to increase loyalty. Why? Well, it’s a good reminder that working with you not only ensures they stay on top of their books and deadlines but also has a positive impact on their bottom line. Whilst you’d like to think they know this already, it’s always good to remind them. Do you provide a regular report that makes it easy for clients to see the benefits of working with you? 3. Send birthday cards When you sign up a client, find out when their birthday is and send them a happy birthday card. It’s a small gesture that speaks volumes and shows that you care about the people you work with and are interested in them. A business birthday card would be another great way to acknowledge all the hard work your client is putting into their business and a reminder that they’ve hit another big milestone, something to be really proud of. When do your client’s celebrate a personal or business birthday? 4. Host an annual client picnic or BBQ An accountant I know in America invites all her customers to a family BBQ either in her back garden or a local park. Her husband cooks up a BBQ feast and she provides drinks and lawn games for the families and their kids. She does this with no expectation other than knowing it’s a way to bring her client’s together to meet one another (a great way to help them network) and to say thank you for supporting her and her family. This genuine generosity creates a bond with her customers and she says that she knows so much more about them and their lives which helps her understand and improve the way she works with them. Could you host a regular giving-back event for your clients and their families (or maybe their staff?) 5. Check in regularly How frequently do you pick up the phone or send an email to check in with your clients and ask if there’s anything you can help with? This simple action can boost loyalty as it shows you want to help and haven’t forgotten them. Whilst more often than not there won’t be anything pressing, you just never know if they’ve been meaning to talk to you about something related to their tax, accounts or business finances. When did you last pick up the phone to your clients? 6. Ask for feedback (and act on it) Many dissatisfied customers keep quiet and don’t like to feedback anything negative. Making sure you ask your customers how you’re doing and if there’s anything you could do to improve your service with them is a brilliant way to not only discover new ideas to improve your business but also demonstrate that you care what they think, and about the service they receive. And, if you implement their suggests and rectify problems, it shows that you act on feedback where possible. Whilst you may hear things that are a little uncomfortable when asking for feedback, if you see it as an opportunity to grow it could drastically improve your retention rate with all your customers. When did you last ask for feedback? 7. Focus on constantly delivering an exceptional service Customer loyalty comes when you provide an exceptional service to your clients. If you’re delivering beyond their expectations they’re much more likely to stay with you and recommend you to their peers and friends. So focus your energy on giving them the best experience with a bookkeeper or accountant than they’ve ever had before and you’ll have a customer for life. These suggestions will not only help you increase customer loyalty for your business but if you’ve very happy customers they’re much more likely to spread the word for you and refer new clients to you. So whilst they may require some time, attention and small investment, they’re some of the best ways to grow your business. Which idea will you run with first? Tell us in the comments. Jen Smith coaches entrepreneurs in social media.