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Episode 4 – Communication is the key to client retention

Communication is the key to client retention

Simple communication could be the key to keeping your clients longer. Learn what I’ve discovered about communication and clients over my years in practice.

Show Notes

Simple communication could be the key to keeping your clients longer

  • Early in my practice, I realized my clients had a life cycle of about 2 years. And most were leaving me to find someone cheaper.
  • I had to consider our relationship from their perspective:
    • They didn’t know what I was doing
    • They knew there wasn’t a problem when tax season came around
    • They just knew everything was getting done
    • But, did they know:
      • How I was always ready to help them answer ANY question?
      • I was looking at their books and thinking about their business at least every week?
      • Was doing a month-end review and just reading their financials so I knew what was going on?
  • I was horrible at consistently communicating any of this – and communication in general.
  • Why would a client pay a premium when I was “too busy”, everything seemed to just get done but I never really heard from my bookkeeper. It must be easy, right? I can hire anyone to do it.
  • I wasn’t consistently showing my value and keeping the relationship going. Whenever I asked for feedback from current clients, they always said it seemed like I was too busy for them.

The teapot example

  • Client attitude levels:
    • Cold
    • Simmer
    • Boiling
    • Screaming
    • Gone
  • I want to stay at a simmer at all times.
    • With each communication, I feel like I bring the heat back down a bit.
    • I’m preventing the boil because I want to create a sense of calmness when they think about their books.
    • I want the clients to know that I am here, working on their stuff, ready if they ever have a question, and have their back.

Communication tips

Even with my wording in emails and such, I try to keep them calm and confident in my support.

  • I use “We” in conversations instead of “You” to remind them that I consider myself to be part of their team. I’ve got their back and will help them however I can.
  • I try to remove all emotion from emails.:
    • I want my client to read it and go “ok, good, that’s taken care of”
    • I tend to get wordy, so I try to edit down everything I say
    • I want to keep everything super simple in my communication so that my client doesn’t feel like I am talking over their head or just giving them a headache from all the confusion
  • I’m not perfect at this. I’m always trying to make it better and learn new tricks. I definitely have a problem with smiley faces. I do tend to be more on the chipper side saying “great job” or “this is awesome”.

Closing Thoughts

Not everyone is going to be a good fit for my personality. Some clients stray away from the super chipper types. Some don’t like my sarcasm.

  • That’s OK – because there are a ton of businesses out there and clients are making matches with bookkeepers all the time.
  • Be true to yourself – but don’t forget or be too afraid to show your clients how dedicated you are.
  • Communication is always faster when it starts on your end. If it gets to a boil, they are reaching out and it will take longer to diffuse the situation.

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Cathy Iconis

Cathy Iconis, CPA is the creator and facilitator of the weekly tweetchat #QBOchat and the website QBOchat.com - a community for QuickBooks Online Users. She is also the founder of Iconis Group, an Intuit Top 20 Firm of the Future, that supports small businesses all over the United States with their bookkeeping needs. She is a five-time recipient of the prestigious CPA Practice Advisor 40 Under 40 Award, given annually to just 40 people nationwide.

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