Strengthening relationships with clients

It may seem obvious, but it’s worth remembering that a business may have an abstract legal identity, but I’ve never see a business laughing or drinking coffee.

Our relationship is always with people, the partners, sole traders, director/shareholders and individuals that may not drink coffee, but they do walk on two legs and speak our language, in the main…

Setting appropriate boundaries

To some extent, our relationship with clients is limited by a client’s willingness to communicate, and our psychology.

As advisers, it is beholden on us to make a client feel comfortable with both the content of the services we offer and the way in which those services are delivered.

I have met practitioners who never see their clients; all communication is by post, phone or email. This suits practitioners who are on the shy side. This may also be a client choice, the way they want to be managed.

Unfortunately, the human attributes that tend to reinforce the client/practice relationship do require a certain amount of engagement on the part of the practitioner. Top of the list in my opinion is “empathy”.

Why empathy is important

Accountants are trained to know. Our instinct is to be right. The language we use floats back and forth between Queen’s English and jargon.

If a client starts to open up about a problem there is a natural tendency to see the solution. This is what we do, solve problems. As soon as do see the solution we are closed to further insights that may be relevant.

What I suggest may be required is training ourselves to listen in the first place, then reflecting back what we have understood a problem to be, and then, only then, consider what we can offer to meet those client needs.

This may seem to be an unnecessary touchy-feely approach, but what it creates from across the table – from your client’s perspective – is that they have been listened to and understood. It will give clients confidence that they can be open with you and add an important layer to the glue that will lock in loyalty and help build a lasting relationship.

Take every opportunity to convince client you are on their side

One way to do this is to keep them informed.

As we have mentioned in previous posts on related topics, clients will appreciate you sending them information about services you offer that may further their goals and aspirations and solve their problems.

Better that than ignoring the situation until it becomes a problem, with no solution, and one that will cost the client; not only a monetary loss, but unwelcome stress and anxiety.

When was the last time you took a look at your client list and identified cross-sales opportunities based on new or existing services you offer?

This is a sure fire way to work at bonding with clients and improve the relationship. Avoid “I told you so” conclusions. Instead, work at predicting client opportunities and problems and offering solutions before they become acute.

Take a look at the Landmark Fee Builder program

No need to scratch your head. We have created a comprehensive range of documentation and resources that enable cross-sales and wider, prospect conversion strategies. Take a look> 

 

Bob Edwards

Bob has been working with practices across the UK offering novel ways to improve cross-sales and increase new client acquisitions. He is also interested in "step changes" in legislation that offer challenges, and therefore opportunities, for practitioners to provide new recurring and one-off support services to clients.

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