[IMGCAP(1)]Client loyalty is imperative in the long-term success of your practice.

You have probably thought about it, and some of you may have even tried to conduct a survey before, so why the hesitation and procrastination? The topic of surveying comes up at most firm-wide and association meetings that I have attended.

Many firms just don’t know how to conduct client surveys, don’t want to take the time to do it, or they simply don’t want to know the results. Then there are the firms who do want to know the results and conduct the survey only to forget about following up to implement the needed changes they have discovered from the survey results.

The benefits of conducting client surveys vastly outweigh the time and effort that surveying takes. Surveying your firm’s top clients helps resolve and prevent many issues such as client attrition, which will always be extremely expensive.

The client loyalty surveys that we conduct prove that clients want good, regular communication from you. They desire for you to give them insights into their business, amongst several other personalized preferences and requests from you. Surveying clients opens the door for improved communication with your clients. It lets them know you are listening and that you care about the experience they are having.

Client loyalty is truly a key to your firm’s success and growth. Just as loyal employees attract more of the same, so do loyal clients.

I was amazed and yet concerned that the top client interviews revealed the dedication to a partner. Notice I said, “a partner,” meaning “one partner.” While it may prove that client service and attention seal the relationship, having a great relationship with one individual in the firm and not the firm as a whole is certainly a negative.

When we conduct these client loyalty surveys, a partner that is not the primary contact for the client will accompany us on the meeting. This allows the partner to hear for him or herself what the client is saying about the other partner and firm. This is also a great opportunity for the partner to strengthen the relationship with this client or, if need be, to introduce himself and start building a relationship with the client. This helps to achieve firm-wide loyalty, in addition to the partner loyalty that has already been established by the client.

Of course, the key to effectively utilizing these surveys is in the follow-up. Don’t stir the pot if you are unwilling to address the issues that arise. After you finish administering the client loyalty survey, you must do the following in order for it to be successful:

•    Tabulate the results
•    Look for common issues that exist
•    Formulate a plan to address these issues
•    Communicate the plan to your employees and/or clients
•    Commit to implementing any needed changes
•    Follow up after implementation to see if positive change has occurred

When you are planning your firm's strategy for this year, make sure you build loyalty surveys into your plan. The results of the survey will aid in moving your firm in the right direction for growth and improvement.

Angie Grissom is vice president and director of consulting of Five Star3, LLC. The Rainmaker Academy, The Rainmaker Consulting Group, and Enterprise Network Worldwide are divisions of Five Star3, LLC. Reprinted with permission from A Marketing Moment, published by The Rainmaker Consulting Group, a division of Five Star3, LLC. The Rainmaker Consulting Group and the AICPA PCPS have partnered and are offering a Client Loyalty Survey, Results Report and Coaching Call to all PCPS members. Email angie@therainmakerconsultinggroup.com or hbrundage@aicpa.com to learn more.

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