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In today’s episode of ‘From the eLearning Trenches,’ we ask one of our learners to identify the key  issues their firm had with managing client relationships and make suggestions to address these issues.

Our main client relationship issues focus on communication, managing expectations and building trust:

  1. Some clients believe there is not enough contact, whereas others are happy if all works are done and they do not have to contact us. Clients can also have miscommunication from what we are trying to advise as well as the expectations we set.
  2. Clients can have unrealistic expectations about what our firm can deliver, may be dissatisfied with the services they receive, or may feel that they are not receiving enough value for the fees they are paying.

With communication, we need to:

  1. Establish a regular communication schedule: Set up regular meetings or calls with clients to discuss their financial statements and answer any questions they may have.
  2. Use clear and concise language: Avoid using technical jargon and instead use clear, easy-to-understand language when communicating with clients.
  3. Provide educational resources: Provide clients with educational resources, such as articles or webinars, to help them understand their financial statements and other accounting topics. I would like to re start a newsletter I use to do with important dates and changes.

In better managing expectations, we can:

  1. Set clear expectations upfront: Be clear about what services the firm will provide and what fees will be charged.
  2. Be transparent: Keep clients informed about the progress of their engagement and any issues that may arise.
  3. Provide value-added services: Offer additional services that may provide additional value to clients, such as tax planning or business consulting.

Feedback from our experts

The issues identified by the learner are quite common in professional service firms. Whilst we believe that we provide excellent client service, our clients may not agree.

Effective communication is proactive contact on a regular basis with all clients. This starts with client engagement. The ubiquitous engagement letter is often not much more than a contract outlining what the firm will deliver and what the client will pay in return. Do you actually take the time to explain the nature of ongoing communication? Do you set expectations in relation to the level of proactive contact and feedback to the client? By not doing this, you risk the relationship being seen as transactional (and probably commoditised). No wonder clients are price sensitive!

By setting expectations up front, you can also give the client options in relation to the level of service they want, and then customise the delivery of that service.

Do you tell your clients, up front, how often you will contact them to discuss how they are going? A great way of doing this with existing clients is to tell them ‘What we have done in the past is good. What we intend to do moving forward is to better align our services with your needs. We will ask questions we haven’t asked before. This will deliver a better, stronger relationship with you, our client.’

This assessment task and response is taken from the Ultimate Practice Manager eLearning Course. Click here to find out more

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