[IMGCAP(1)]According to the American Institute of CPAs, Client retention is one of the top issues facing most accounting firms. Unfortunately, most accounting firms still don’t measure client satisfaction. Retaining your clients is directly related to their satisfaction with your firm and your service. You can even find direct correlations between satisfaction levels and revenue. Long gone are the days of a simple print survey once a year. Evaluating client satisfaction today requires a multi-tier approach. Whether you want to revamp your current program or are looking to get started, here are a few things to consider.

Pick your evaluation criteria wisely

Understanding what you want to measure is as important as the measurement itself. Start by picking a handful of key areas you want to evaluate. These could include communications, service, value for fees, satisfaction or relationship. Once these are narrowed down, you can begin to formulate some subcategories that drive satisfaction in each area, like responsiveness to phone calls/emails or whether invoices are complete and accurate.

Determine your evaluation methods

Not a lot has evolved as far as how you evaluate. Ultimately, you are either conducting an interview or survey. However, today there are many more ways to push out your communications for these methods. These may include email, online, mobile or print surveys as well as face-to-face or video interviews. One method alone will likely not get the job done. Successful programs should account for your clients’ individual client communication preferences.

Get the word out

One letter or email doesn’t cut it. Successful executed programs require well thought-out communication and follow-up. The three most important things to include are:

  • A letter or email to your clients announcing the program. This becomes even more important if you use a third party resource to execute any portion of the program.
  • Reminder communications once the program begins. I find that scheduling these once every seven to 10 days and alternating between email and periodic  phone calls (once every three weeks) works well.
  • Follow-up communication once the program has completed. It’s not necessary to send an entire report to your clients, but it is important to acknowledge the completion of the program and tell them what you will be doing with the information.

Making changes

Going through the effort of evaluating your clients’ satisfaction will be lost if you don’t actually do something with the information. After completing your program, analyze the information for trends. Identify where you can make improvements and where you are doing great. Then, create an action list of items and get to work implementing them.

You don’t have to be a large firm to implement a program. Simply scale your approach based on your firm size. The most important thing to remember is to do something with the program. If you are just starting out, keep it simple to ensure you can execute it.

Sarah Johnson works with CPA, law and professional service firms to help them grow more effectively. Her counsel and strategies have helped move firms to the next level in their marketing and sales efforts. Connect with Sarah at 773-634-9902, sarahjohnson28@gmail.com or www.linkedin.com/in/sjjohnson.