What Is Customer Experience in the Accounting World?

With customer experience (CX) being emphasized as a driver of success, businesses across the industries shouldn’t sleep or pass on the opportunity to make the most of it. Differentiated from customer service which resolves issues, helps solve customer issues and offer advice, CX represents the accurate perception of the interactions customers have with your company. It’s a real competitive advantage that can attract loyal clients and boost revenue when leveraged to the maximum. 

 

Occurring from the very first touchpoint with your firm up until the last minute of the interaction, CX ensures that the customer journey is as seamless as possible. This is particularly relevant to the accounting realm where technological innovations tend to automate the tasks of accountants, bookkeepers and tax preparers like data entry. When the ‘wow’ element in accounting is lost, focusing on providing the best customer experience helps bring it back. 

 

To connect with your customers beyond helping to manage debits and credits, consider reevaluating how you approach the following activities:

1. Collecting and analyzing data

Gaining clear insight into the collected data isn’t just about analyzing the performance of a company. It’s also about observing what areas from the entire data collection process are contributing to engagement and a satisfactory customer experience. When the customer has a positive perception of his experience with the help of your services, they are more likely to use it to make more informed business decisions. 

 

An efficient data analysis system is instrumental to meeting your customers’ needs. Although the connection might seem indirect at first, systemizing the inflow of accounting data guarantees a happy repeat customer. 

2. Streamlining billing and invoicing

No one likes to deal with the complexity of payments. If a customer notices that the accounting firm they are doing business with isn’t being efficient with billing and invoicing, they may quickly switch to another company. This is because when money is on the line, customers are typically less forgiving of mistakes that companies make. 

 

To avoid disappointing those who keep you in business, you should be the example and  streamline the payment process of sending and receiving the financial documents. This way, you’re minimizing the number of miscalculations and other errors that would cost you time, money, and the customer.         

3. Ensuring data privacy        

Research by Salesforce found that 46% of customers feel like they don’t have control over their personal data anymore. The more clients become concerned with how their data is handled by companies they purchase from, the higher the pressure on businesses to be transparent about their customer data usage. In accounting, the question of data privacy is of utmost concern. 

 

Since web transactions are prone to hacking, companies should focus on adopting accounting software that guarantees the security of customer data. This will help prevent customers’ identities and money from being stolen and a terrible customer experience from driving clients away from you.       

4. Expanding advisory services 

It’s difficult to improve customer retention if your customer experience is lacking. To remain competitive on the market with an abundance of accounting, bookkeeping and tax firms, you should invest in offering the CFO & advisory services you can provide in addition to the quality accounting services you do now. (if you aren’t already). With the global accounting services market forecasted to reach $735.94 billion in 2025, it’s only fair to expect this to be a competitive advantage that will make you stand out. 

 

Besides, offering advice to business owners who often feel in the dark when navigating their financials leads to happy clients and a satisfactory customer experience. Whether you focus on coaching your clients on when to purchase assets or giving a fresh perspective on the old ways they’re handling their finances, you’re likely to get positive feedback. 

5. Onboarding clients

One of the most overlooked areas for improving customer experience is paying more attention to onboarding clients. This process helps both parties determine the first steps of the collaboration and what information would make it as smooth as possible. 

 

To ensure that the onboarding process meets the customer’s needs as much as the goals of the accounting firm, you should have a predefined scope checklist in place. Featuring statements like ‘add the client to the newsletter’, ‘schedule a follow-up a week after the initial meeting’, and ‘get documentation from the client’, it acts as a guiding tool that ensures that the needs of both the business and the customer are fully met.      

6. Providing omni-channel communication

A multichannel approach to customers is key to building strong customer relationships. It empowers customer service staff to use various messaging platforms to reach the customer and provide him with a solution. There are also several more ways to enhance communication with clients for an optimal customer experience:

 

  • Ensure that the customers’ files are stored securely 
  • Schedule an automatic request reminder system for following up with customers 
  • Offer a digital portal that makes uploading files quick and easy 

 

When every communication element is in check, you’re bound to improve your customer satisfaction score as well as your Net Promoter Score. It might not be an instant hit — there’s no one-size-fits-all solution — but with time, you’ll get a gist of what communication channels your customers prefer and be able to cater to them accordingly.    

 

In short, at least consider responding in kind, which is to say reaching back using the same medium originally used by the customer such as a call for call, text with text, email with an email.

7. Offering self-service tools

Automating customer service isn’t just an option — it’s a necessity. Although you don’t have to have an automation-based solution to every step of the customer service you provide, it takes some weight off of you when you allow customers to figure things out on their own. Besides, 67% of customers prefer to use self-service tools instead of talking to a customer service agent. 

 

Chances are, you already have a comprehensive FAQ page on your website where your customers can find answers to the most commonly asked questions. But you can take it a step further and start a blog with more in-depth information on the topics that are relevant to your clients. The best part is that it’s available 24/7, and there are no hidden costs involved. 

Wrapping up

Remaining flexible when offering customer service is an underestimated but determining factor in whether or not the customer experience your customers get is up to par with their ever-changing expectations. With technology enabling the automation of many tasks, business owners can now rely on software to help keep customer data safe and transactions secure.  For more information, attend this webinar dedicated to helping accounting professionals utilize effective client retention management (CRM) systems and more.  Register NOW!

 

Polish your customer management strategy and be willing to tweak it if the demand calls for it. This way, you’ll be able to stay competitive and boost your customer retention rate like never before. 

Providing Excellent Accounting Services

If you’re like most accounting professionals, you want to provide excellent accounting services to every client. If you don’t, you probably won’t be in business for long.

I once heard a speech by a man who I greatly admire. His name is Dallin H. Oaks and his talk was entitled “Good, Better, Best”. Although he was speaking of choosing the best activities when considering how to use our time, I feel the principle is appropriate here. Are you just a “good” accountant, a “better” accountant, or the “best” accountant for your clients?

Most people will answer, “I want to be the best accountant, but I only have so much time.” Certainly, time is important when evaluating what to do for a client. Yet, what if you could go from being a “good” accountant, to the “best” accountant in only ten minutes? Would it be worth it?

The key to providing excellent accounting services is to look forward, not just backward, with each client. When we do accounting, we are entering historical data to determine where our client’s been and what their present situation is. Most good accountants consider this their primary purpose and are satisfied simply handing over the financial statements and calling it finished.

Nevertheless, the most important thing we can do is assess where the client’s going, and warn of concerns, and share ideas for improvement even when the client’s business is doing well.

You can save time by limiting your assessment to the top three sources of income, and the top five expense categories. Run trend reports on each of these eight accounts for the past six accounting periods, and project those trends into the next two accounting periods to determine where they will be.

For the flat or dropping income accounts, consider geometric marketing ideas (see “In the Black”, Chapter 3) that will improve revenues. For any growing expense accounts, evaluate vendors and prices to make suggestions for decreasing expenses.

You will amaze yourself how easy and possible it is to go from good to your clients’ BEST accountant, in fact a Profit & Growth Expert.

Mind Your Workplace Manners

bad-communication5 Fatal Professional Flaws

When you’re frustrated with a work situation, it can be difficult not to react negatively.  But it’s important that you secure a healthy perspective in order to foster a positive workplace environment.  Lashing out or getting too comfy can mean the end of fairly good position, the opportunity to earn that desired promotion, or the inability to inspire and lead your team.  And regardless of your future plans, you wouldn’t an awkward situation to taint your professional reputation.

Like the seven deadly sins, you must make an effort to avoid the following 5 fatal flaws:

1. Anger. Anger is generally a masking emotion, meaning it is a cover for deeper, more painful ones.  If you’re feeling angry you must ask yourself what you’re really feeling.  Sadness?  Disappointment?  Frustration?  Hopelessness?  All these emotions can hide safely beneath anger, making it difficult for you to deal with your true feelings.  Not only that, but anger can be extremely destructive.

2. Envy. Think of all the famous fables, stories and fairy tales.  Did jealously ever get anyone anywhere?  No.  In fact, it’s generally a fatal flaw that destroys both antagonists and heroes alike.  And in the work place, jealousy only distracts you from performing your job well.

3. Complacency. Webster defines complacency as ‘self-satisfaction especially when accompanied by unawareness of actual dangers or deficiencies.’  Unless you’re continually trying to improve your game, chances are you’ll become complacent, unaware that you’re no longer fulfilling your job description and meeting your employer’s and/or clients’ needs.

4. Short-sighted. It’s important that you have a vision for what the company aspires to do as well as an action plan that will help you accomplish it.  Understanding the big picture enables you to reach higher while contributing to your employer’s and/or clients’ success.

5. Arrogance. Like jealousy, there are no inspiring stories about great leaders who achieved their goals with arrogance.  Regardless of your role, it’s important that you be a team player who is teachable and continually striving to better yourself.

It’s important that you evaluate your workplace attitude to see if you’ve become the biggest obstacle to your own career advancement.  Sometimes a slight change in perspective is all it takes to change the trajectory of your future.

Register for Universal’s FREE Start Today Seminar

From DC to Texas and Canada to California—Universal travels the country providing free 3-hour seminars teaching the secrets to establishing a successful accounting and bookkeeping service.  There you’ll learn how to enhance your service offerings while increasing your bottom lime!  Look at our schedule and register for one of our seminars in a city near you.  As attendee Dennis Shumway explained, “I have been involved in financial service for 20 years and have attended seminars all over the country. The quality of this class has been head and shoulders above any class that I have ever taken.”

Take advantage of this FREE opportunity now!  Register today!

 

Making Your Meetings More Productive

meetingProfessionals everywhere are destined to participate in meetings at one time or another, whether they be with coworkers, clients or associates.  But many organizations go overboard.  The truth is, meetings can be streamlined to ensure productivity.

In a recent Entrepreneur.com article, author and entrepreneur Craig Concotta shares “6 Ways to Make Sure Every Meeting is a Productive One.”  Here we share 4 of his suggestions that could streamline meetings while simultaneously increasing efficiency:

1. Set and send the agenda in advance. A meeting agenda provides attendees with a list of topics to cover and objectives to accomplish.  Distribute the agenda before the meeting so that attendees can prepare for the meeting and their participation beforehand. 

2. Start your meeting on time. Most people dread meetings because they are not run effectively.  When meetings don’t start on time, they usually don’t end on time either, and that can throw off a professional’s entire day.  Ensuring that your meetings always start when they’re supposed to demonstrates respect for everyone’s time.

3. Make sure the right people are in the right meetings.  Sometimes meetings become drawn out when too many individuals have been invited.  Suddenly you have a handful of people submitting input and feedback when it’s not their place.  Only invite those who are crucial to the agenda, and send a follow-up memo to everyone that should remain in the information loop.

4. Meetings should be the right length.  Concotta suggests, “I have always felt that a great meeting should be as long or as short as it needs to be.  If you are good about setting an agenda with clear outcomes you will know when a meeting needs to end.  If you can get done in 28 minutes when you thought you needed 60 minutes, fantastic.”

Meetings can be a valuable resource that provides you with crucial information that can propel your practice forward.  However, that can only happen when your meetings are effective.  Applying the above tips will enable you to cut back on unnecessary meetings while ensuring that those meetings that remain are more productive.

UAC’s QuickBooks Training Program

Earning a Professional Designation is Good for Your Professional Reputation

Whether it’s enhancing your skill-set with a current employer or distinguishing yourself by building credibility with your own clients, the QS designation will stand as proof of your expertise.  To earn this QuickBooks designation you must complete the Professional Bookkeeper’s Guide to QuickBooks (PBG) and pass the final exam with a score of 90% or higher.  And just like that, you receive professional certification!

Additional Benefits

In addition to the skills you acquire in completing the PBG, you will also receive the following:

  • Thorough and complete training on the latest and greatest version of QuickBooks Pro
  • 6 months’ worth of access to our experienced, qualified QuickBooks professional accountants and CPAs to answer your questions
  • Accounting 101 Review
  • 30 hours of Continuing Professional Education (CPE) in most states
  • A 100% money-back guarantee
  • A valuable addition to your reference library

The PBG offers the most competitive QuickBooks training on the market.  Master QuickBooks and become the premier QuickBooks consultant in your area.  Call Universal at 1-877-833-7909 and enroll in the Professional Bookkeeper’s Guide to QuickBooks today!

 

Resource

Cincotta, Craig.  “6 Ways to Make Sure Every Meeting is a Productive One.” 11 February 2015  Entrepreneur.com

Tips for Entrepreneurial Success

follow-upLaunching your own business can be tricky, and sometimes it may feel like you’re stumbling through the dark.  That’s where free advice can be helpful, especially when it can help ensure your fledging business is a success.

In a recent Entrepreneur.com article, author and entrepreneur Timothy Sykes shares “6 Timeless Strategies to Drive Entrepreneurship Success.”  Here we share three of his tips:

  1. Study the Competition.  How many accountants are currently in your area?  Can the market sustain another independent contract accountant?  Who would your target market even be?  What services are currently being offered and how can you capture the market by enhancing yours to beat out the competition?  Is there a niche that’s currently being neglected that you could take advantage of?  You can improve on your research by actually talking with other accountants, potential customers, and professionals you respect and admire, providing you with valuable feedback that can inform the way you manage your practice.
  2. Conserve Cash.  As Sykes explains, “Entrepreneurs should be as conservative with their money as possible to be able to deal with any rough patch that arises. Conserving several months’ worth of operating expenses in the bank will help you survive most unforeseen circumstances.”
  3. Listen to Customer feedback and adapt. You must take the time to gather feedback regarding your customer service and your service offerings, both before you launch your practice and after you’ve been in business for a while.  They can best inform you on how to improve your approach so that your business can become the premier accounting service in the area!

The Universal Practice Builder (UPB) Program 

Increasing your clientele is one key to a thriving practice.  And if you’re looking to attract more clients, we have the perfect program for you!

The Universal Practice Builder Program is designed to train you how to promote your practice in order to experience significant growth and profitability.  This program offers the following:

  • $30,000 in new annualized billings in only 12 months
  • Tactical goal planning and setting
  • The generation of 15 to 25 qualified leads per month
  • Phone marketing instruction and training
  • Training in the benefits of newsletters and websites
  • 12 proven marketing strategies
  • Financing options

Build a stellar practice by enrolling in this program today!  Call 1-877-833-7908 to begin experiencing true entrepreneurial success!

Resource

Sykes, Timothy.  “6 Timeless Strategies to Drive Entrepreneurship Success.”  4 February 2015  Entrepreneur.com

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