A key issue for many accountancy firms is they don’t have a formalised account management structure in place. Regular client contact? Of course they can do that. Tracking how much budget the client might have? They can do that too. Informing the marketing team when they spot an opportunity for a client to buy a new accounting service? Yes, yes, they are more than capable. But do they actually do and track all of these things?
In the nicest way, accountants are probably among the worst offenders of businesses that try to do everything. Partners service clients, network, do some marketing and will probably make a decent cup of tea too. But when they have tax returns to file for clients, audits to submit and benefits schemes to set up, ensuring that every employee who is client facing inputs all the information they need to is probably quite low down their list of priorities.
Account management isn’t just about the client relationship – it needs to be a process that underpins the client relationship and something that can be measured and managed. Proactive account management is about planning and monitoring customer engagement, ultimately to help accountants keep that client on board and cross sell other services to them.
Four tips for good account management:
- A tiering system: with all the good will in the world, the client who pays £2000 a year should not receive the same level of service as a client who pays £22,000 a year. If a firm has 1000 clients and five account managers, it is not feasible for all clients to receive the same level of service. Tiering clients will give your practice insight into the areas you need to focus on and enable you to create an approach for each tier. The profile might include how much budget the client currently spends, potential revenue and other services they might be interested in. This intel can inform marketing activity directed at the client.
- Are you talking my language? Part of having a cohesive process for dealing with clients is for everyone to use the same terminology. So if you talk about a “tier one” client or a client being “at risk,” everyone knows what it means, whether they are an accountant or work in finance or marketing.
- Best practice client management: client profiling and proactive Account Management will lead to establishing best practice. For example, the firm might decide the best approach to engage tier one clients is a monthly face to face meeting. Tier two clients might warrant a quarterly face to face meeting and monthly calls. This should be adopted across all tier one and tier two accounts. If this process is defined and documented, the team knows what to deliver and clients know what to expect.
- Measurement and evaluation: the account manager should always gauge key performance indicators (KPIs) to ensure the practice is delivering. A client success schedule and regular satisfaction surveys is a great way to do this and will identify any problem areas and flag up cross selling opportunities.
Customer relationship management – supported by the right system – will really help accounting practices to embed a proactive account management structure. It’s not that having those relationships with clients isn’t good enough – that’s really valuable – but it’s about formalising and professionalising how your practice approaches client management. CRM can help you do that.
To learn more about how CRM can help you manage your audience, read our whitepaper How Media And Publishing Companies Can Improve Audience Management or contact one of our team on: +44 118 3030 100