Measure once, cut twice: Seeking client satisfaction
This article is part of an ongoing series. In part 1, I covered how to measure your firm’s performance, and in part 3, I discussed marketing your practice. In this article, I’ll go over how to seek client satisfaction.
This series is a prequel to my QuickBooks® Connect session: Measure Once, Cut Twice. Here’s more on seeking client satisfaction.
As accountants, we tend to lean on the critical performance indicators (KPIs) that are financial. That’s reasonable, considering we’ve been raised on quantitative factors and dollar amounts to make decisions. However, qualitative or non-financial data can be even more helpful by serving as leading indicators that can add value to an organization’s decision-making process and its financial performance.
As a practice manager, I like to track client happiness/client satisfaction. This measurement allows me to understand how my team delivers our services to our clients, how my clients are receiving that service, and if they feel they are getting the best service possible.
If our client happiness ratings are down, there is a good chance that our team service delivery is as well. Suppose our client service delivery ratings are up—in that case, it likely means that our service delivery is good, and our financial performance would reflect that. My expectation would be additional referrals, as well as additional revenue and operating margins.
Client satisfaction is a leading indicator of future revenue, staff performance, and future staff attrition. Knowing your clients’ pulse will help you know the pulse of your employees and what to expect in the future from your firm.
We measure 6 different indicators for client satisfaction:
- QuickBooks ProAdvisor® reviews
- Google reviews online
- Number of referrals
- Lost customers
- Returning customers
- Direct client service surveys
When you’re first starting your practice, operating a few years in, or have longevity and experience, the QuickBooks ProAdvisor directory review page is critical for growth understanding if you’re doing the right things when it comes to QuickBooks setup, QuickBooks training, and other QuickBooks-related services. Maintaining a solid ProAdvisor profile is crucial for a successful practice. Focusing on this measurement has ensured that we bring in at least 3-10 new customer leads each month (leading indicator).
Besides QuickBooks-based services, you can pursue other niches to grow your practice, such as tax financial planning and other advisory services. When doing so, it’s essential to strive for positive Google reviews to drive foot traffic to your website. This becomes extremely important because some people don’t use the QuickBooks ProAdvisor directory to find an accountant. Some people use Google to find what they’re looking for.
Having a 4- or 5-star Google rating can make you one of the top selections on the search page, and create another onset of reliable new customer leads (leading indicator).
The number of referrals you receive from your clients is very telling. Getting your team on the same page and providing great service goes a long way to getting your clients to refer others your way.
The number of referrals we receive helps me understand the level of work we’re delivering as a firm. If I notice continuous periods of low referrals, it reminds me to check in with my clients to ensure that they are happy and understand what we could do better. It also lets me know that something could be going on with my team that I am unaware of and need to check on (leading indicator).
There’s nothing like returning customers. Sometimes, firms are eager to get new customers to grow their practice, which is understandable. This may sound cliché, but your best customers are those you have a relationship with now.
Digging into your current customer base for new business is the best way to grow your practice and your business, without experiencing additional growing pains. And, trust me, growing pains do hurt. Returning customers are often less work than acquiring new customers, so I’d recommend measuring and looking to maintain a certain level, or percentage, of retaining return customers.
Service surveys are great. If you can call your clients and ask them face-to-face, you will probably get excellent client service surveys.
The client relationship is one of the essential things for a professional services firm. A good relationship with the client breeds honesty about the service received and the value delivered. If you can’t call up your clients for some reason, it’s highly recommended that you do quarterly surveys on the clients you have serviced in the last operating periods. This will not only help you enhance your service line, but also get your staff to assess how well they are doing at their job, outside of what management thinks.
Let’s face it, a day in the life of a firm moves extremely fast. You’re dealing with clients’ accounting issues and problems daily. There is very little time to take stock of what’s happening in your client base and keep a finger on the organization’s pulse.
All too often, we tend to forget to take a pulse of our current clients. We spend so much time doing the work and trying to grow new clients that we tend to neglect our current clients.
We need to take some time to understand the temperature of our current clients. Creating a system that can track client satisfaction is a great way to grow your business, manage service quality, train staff, and see into the future of your business.