Accounting is a business based on trust. The smartest practitioners understand the role that trust plays in growing their practices. Here are the top 3 reasons they focus on building trust with clients:
Trust is necessary to be an advisor
Accountants and bookkeepers are moving up the value chain, thanks to technology. Much of the manual tasks, like data entry, are getting automated. This frees accountants and bookkeepers to focus on higher value services. Many are using this opportunity to act as a business advisor.
For a couple reasons, trust is critical to being able to play that role.
Being an advisor means understanding your client’s business. Gaining that understanding means persuading clients to share their most important business issues. Not an easy thing to do unless trust is high.
And, building trust with a client takes time. The best accountants and bookkeepers look for ways to free up time so they can play the advisory role whenever they’re in front of a client. That’s high-value, high-trust work. If they spend a lot of time on low-value tasks (like document requests), they find it harder to build trust. So they use technology to automate tasks like payroll processing and document management. Software can keep the wheels on the car, freeing you to help your clients’ businesses grow faster.
Trust enables workflow standardization
Delivering services as efficiently as possible is the foundation for success with clients. A great way to improve efficiency is to standardize the tools you use with clients. Standardization brings consistency. You’ll only have to learn and master one set of tools. Your staff will become experts in leveraging specific software. This maximizes the help they can give clients.
Clients will be happy using great tools that solve their problems. And, time won’t be lost managing different workflows and software. You’ll be more efficient.
To standardize the toolset you use, it’ll need to be you, and not the client, deciding which software to use. If client trust in you is not high, they’ll insist on dictating which tools to use. This would increase overhead and decrease the efficiency (and profitability) of your practice. Another reason why trust is key.
Trust increases client retention
Our advisors tell us trust is the biggest reason their customers continue to work with them. For many firms, the keepers of that trust are often the bookkeepers. They have the most regular contact with clients. They deliver on promises, give exceptional service and solve problems on a daily basis. All those things build trust. The bookkeepers who do the best job at those things are key to retaining clients.
It doesn't matter if you're an accountant or bookkeeper. Having high client retention is strongly correlated to having high client trust. It opens the door to upselling value-add services like tax preparation or CFO-style advice.
The Last Word
Building trust with clients is core to growing a successful practice. It helps practitioners deliver advisory services, standardize their workflow and improve client retention. And, it has the added benefit of increasing your revenue as you help clients’ businesses grow.