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In today’s episode of ‘From the eLearning Trenches,’ we asked one of our learners, an administrator in public practice, to explore their firm’s approach to client care. What is working well? What could be improved?

Learner Reflection

Client care is something I believe is performed really well as a firm. We do take extra care in ensuring we get the best outcome for our clients.

Our Partners conduct an ‘Entry Meeting’ with majority of their clients, as we know a lot can happen in a year and there may be some things that differ to the previous year, new assets etc, so this is done to ensure the engagement is processed correctly and update our scope of works in required.

Once the Partners have done their entry with the client, our engagement is processed and sent out for them to review. This also gives them the opportunity to let us know of any changes they would like and ask any questions if needed. The engagement as we know encloses what we will do and provide to them, at what cost and it some circumstances, who will be conducting the work.

In this entry, it is passed on to the client when they will expect the job to be completed, as most Firms I believe their workflow is done monthly, so it may just be as simple for the Partner to say ‘We’re at full capacity this month, but can fit you in next month’. Little communication like this I think is needed, as sometimes just a simple answer can make a big difference in the clients satisfaction.

As far as feedback wise for the Firm, we us a system called Birdeye, which we can create campaigns for targeted audiences. We use the ‘Review’ system, which sends the client an email with link to review us on Google. This for the time being has only been targeted to our Individual Clients (Salary & Wage), whereas there is no specific review on our bigger Business clients. Most of the feedback and reviews come out of the ‘Exit’ meetings the Partners have with the clients after they have completed their job. This gives a good insight on what we can do better for them the following year, or any review points if the job needs to be amended.

We have a large amount of clients that have become ‘Monthly’ clients, meaning we fee them once a month and all work conducted goes off the current engagement that they have signed, and sometimes by the end of the month they have an extra fee as they have reached out to the Partner letting them know they require extra work. It is then mentioned our ‘estimated’ fee amount, and if that amount will differ it is explained in detail as to why, e.g. in case we had to make a few calls on their behalf, or access any archives.

As mentioned in the previous assessments answer, the only thing that lacks in the Firm is our client queries response, which has caused loss of clients, and some clients question whether they want our services to continue. I could attach numerous chains here to show the many times we have forwarded the same message on, and in some cases once I have gone up the Assistant we are told she ‘doesn’t know what to tell them’ so no communication has been made. Administration have started going directly to the Partners themself as well, as in some cases the Partners explain they have not seen that correspondence come through from their Assistant yet.

This is something urgently that needs to be brought up, as being the first point of contact, Administration gets the grunt of those angry clients whose calls have not been returned yet.

Feedback from our experts

As client satisfaction is essential to the health of the firm that supports them, regular feedback from clients is important to gauge what’s working well and what can be improved. We should never assume that we understand our clients thoroughly, even if we have known them for years.

Sometimes the relationships focus on specific issues around tax and accounting, and we may neglect to show a holistic interest in the client’s life. It can be very useful to understand what’s important for the client so that we can reframe the business relationship if required.

The learner refers to client response times as a critical area requiring action. Partners and Managers are often so busy that they lose track of what’s important to the client. If there is a team approach to client relationship management, it’s a lot more likely that client needs will be addressed in a timely manner. When one person in the firm decides that they are the only point of contact with the client, issues will inevitably arise.

Listed below are some key actions we should consider when striving for excellence in client care:

  1. Clarity and Simplicity: Communication should be clear, straightforward, and free of jargon. Professionals need to articulate complex ideas in a way that is easily understandable by clients. This helps in building a strong understanding of the services and processes involved, and ensures that clients are fully informed.
  2. Active Listening: Effective communication is not just about conveying information; it’s equally about listening. Active listening involves fully concentrating on what is being said rather than just passively ‘hearing’ the message. This helps in understanding clients’ needs, concerns, and expectations more accurately.
  3. Consistency and Reliability: The information provided to clients should be consistent and reliable. Mixed messages or inconsistent advice can lead to confusion and diminish trust. Maintaining consistency in communication reinforces a firm’s credibility and professionalism.
  4. Timeliness and Responsiveness: Responding promptly to client inquiries and keeping them updated regularly is crucial. Delayed responses can lead to client frustration and a perception of indifference. Timely communication shows clients that they are valued and their business is important.
  5. Personalisation: Tailoring communication to the individual needs and preferences of each client can significantly enhance client satisfaction. This involves recognising and respecting the unique requirements of each client, and adjusting the communication style and content accordingly.

What key actions can you and your firm take now to improve client relationships?

Key takeaway: By focusing proactive communication, your firm can significantly improve its client care and foster stronger, more trusting client relationships.

This assessment task and response is taken from the Client Service Administration eLearning course. Click here to explore this course

Also, 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!