By Jessica Salerno-Shumaker, OSCPA senior content manager
Solid relationships aren’t enough to retain business these days, said one expert.
“People are becoming more comfortable with finding the specific kind of resources they need,” said Lee Frederikson, managing partner at Hinge, a firm for professional services. “They’re looking for really relevant expertise, more so than just the relationship.”
Frederikson joined the State of Business podcast this week to discuss how accounting professionals can better retain their clients in a changing business environment. He said the availability of technology has changed the consumer’s ability to search for the type of service or product they have in mind. Access to sites like Amazon means people are accustomed to searching for something specific and easily finding what they had in mind.
There are two areas he said are overlooked when it comes to retaining business. The first is understanding client priorities and addressing when those priorities shift. Recognize the connection between your range of services and how they can help address a client’s new challenges, not just the ones you already know.
The second is ensuring clients are aware of the full depth of services offered, which might require reminding them multiple times.
“We've seen this phenomenon where someone goes to a competitor of yours for a service that you're perfectly capable of offering,” Frederikson said. “And maybe often you do it better than the competitor does. But your client doesn't know you do that and doesn't think to ask you. “
This is where he said it’s crucial to close the “communication gap,” to ensure clients are aware of everything you have available. And when considering communication, don’t assume clients want to be reached only one way. One might like email while another prefers a phone call, and it’s important to ask which way they prefer to communicate.
Relaxing, even with long-time clients, can be a mistake in the long run, Frederickson said, as businesses rapidly evolve, and consumers come to expect more adaptability from their service providers.
“We need to work harder to stay where we are,” he said, “And I think that that is a challenge these days, that it's not, it's not coming easily for anyone.”
And for learning on how to start or grow your client advisory services practice, register now for OSCPA’s Advisory Services Conference.