/** END Brainfish widget **/

In today’s episode of ‘From the eLearning Trenches,’ we asked one of our learners to document the process of client engagement and re-engagement. What could be done to encourage more communication and real engagement with clients during this process?

Our client re-engagement is quite basic. Just the recurring engagement letters that get sent out every year without much review. We are still very focused on billing from timesheets. To my knowledge, we don’t give clients an estimate of the job cost as they don’t differ too much from the previous year.

In relation to new clients, we recently nutted out a process to welcome clients to give them an idea of the firm and what they can expect. We are in the process of finalising the client communication in terms of a welcome letter. This was based on feedback given to one of our senior accountants.

Our process for engaging new clients is a work in progress. We would usually have a meeting with them to discuss their needs and the scope of work. It is my job to then complete the necessary authorities and letters to send out to clients and then obtain their records from their previous accountant.

What could be improved?

In relation to re-engagement of clients, if accountants had the time to review information as it comes in and provide a quote to clients along with their queries, it could assist with client engagement. I also really like the idea of sending a 1-page questionnaire with every completed job to obtain feedback. I will endeavour to discuss this with the Partners and senior accountants.

Feedback from our experts

For most accounting firms, the engagement process is not much more than agreement to complete a service for a fee. Whilst satisfying legal obligations, standard engagement doesn’t generally say a lot about the nature of the business relationship and the flow of workflow and communication.

As accounting firms transition from compliance to advisory work, there is a strong need to redefine the relationship between firm and client, and this can best be done by setting expectations clearly upfront. I like the idea of a ‘service agreement’ which explains in detail not only what will be delivered as outputs, but how the relationship will work.

This process also requires regular review, at least annually. If your firm treats annual review as a chance to review fee for service, and little more, it’s not surprising that clients view the service as a compliance activity without any real intrinsic value beyond satisfying the ATO that appropriate tax has been paid.

Start this process with existing as well as new clients. Let existing clients know that what the firm has done in the past is good, however the firm is now seeking to build the relationship with all of its clients by better understanding client financial goals and challenges.

This assessment task and response is taken from the Ultimate Practice Manager eLearning Course. Click here to explore this course

Also, you might want to take a look at the Client Concierge eLearning Course

Discover the pulse of our eLearning community as we unveil daily feedback from enrolled learners. Exciting times ahead as we share this valuable information with the accounting, advisory, and administrative experts in public practice!