As a professional in the accounting field, I have many client interactions. As a millennial, I know some interactions can feel overwhelming. I’m here to tell you there is hope! Because each client is different and as different communication preferences, I’m going to share a variety of options available to you to improve your client relations by practicing effective and engaging interactions.
Improve Your Written Communication
Direct mail interactions should be personalized and thoughtful because this medium has lessened significantly as a result of the abundance of email. One of my favorite ways to promote better client relations is by sending out cards for special occasions or holidays. Also, according to a Postalytics article, direct mail can be used to reach prospective clients by including a pURL (Personalized URL) that allows for direct email follow-up.
Emailing is the most often used and overused medium of communication for many businesses. There are many benefits to using email to improve client relations:
- Email can be used to request specific information at the convenience of the recipient
- Emails are also beneficial when keeping multiple parties in the loop on a topic and for keeping a written record that is easily searchable.
- Focus on sending follow-up emails after any important face-to-face or phone meeting to ensure that all parties are on the same page and to minimize confusion in the future.
According to a 2016 study by Boomerang, emails should contact somewhere between 75 – 100 words. This allows enough room to get your point or question across, while not bogging down the client. If it requires more words than this, it may be better to consider having a phone call. Emails also eliminate voice inflection, so using this medium to convey bad or excellent news should not be used if possible.
Improve Your Verbal Communication
Picking up the phone and calling a client allows for more direct and immediate communication. Ideally, you should be reaching out to clients by phone at least once a quarter to check for any unexpected changes. Although being able to visit a client’s place of business is beneficial, phone calls allows a touch base with clients while still respecting their time, especially when it comes to “checking in” on clients. A contributor at Think Advisor notes that some clients don’t want to be called four times a year just to say “good” to your question of how things are going, so it’s better to call with industry-specific news or value-added conversation topics to make the best use of the time that they are giving you.
Improve Your Social Communication
As millennials, especially those in the accounting profession, having face-to-face contact with clients can be extremely nerve-racking. However, human relationships thrive on this kind of personal interaction. Andrew Griffiths has a great article about reasons face to face meetings are more important than we think because of the ability to connect with a client more naturally and effectively. He reveals face-to-face contact provides a greater chance at securing new and prospective clients than using skype or zoom. With that in mind, having in-person meetings with our clients should be done often enough that we are seen as more than just an accountant to them, but as a financial consultant.
There should be a thorough conversation upfront with our clients to know exactly how they want to communicate, a LinkedIn article suggests. When new clients are onboarded, as professionals and millennials, we should ask these three questions to get the client’s input on what will allow us to serve them the greatest:
- Frequency: Given the complexity of your business and your need for our assistance, how often do you think we should talk? I want to make sure we’re are best serving you and your needs.
- Content: What should we discuss that’s most important to you? Do you want to stay on top of market or industry trends and price movement? Would you like to learn of new service offerings? How about an analysis of your latest financials, or a periodic relationship review?
- Medium: How should we meet? Some clients like me to give them a phone call. Others prefer an on-site visit. Or we can meet for lunch. What’s your preference?
Asking these questions will create longer-lasting relationships that will be mutually beneficial for both the firm and clients. It also promotes mature thinking in our staff to be more focused on how we can better communicate and interact with our clients to better serve them and their business.
|John Taylor is a Consultant for Abacus CPAs, LLC. He specializes in business and personal tax and has previous experience as a personal banker. John is passionate about analyzing our clients’ financial positions in order to gain insight into them. John is great at devising strategies for making good use of special ingredients and materials. He can be counted on to build in strength, durability, and safety features with classic elegance.|