Ever had that feeling where you really want to cut a client loose? Well, sometimes that’s a two way street. As an accountant, you are one of perhaps scores in your immediate area meaning a client can jump ship to another CPA at anytime.
Being able to identify an unhappy client before they dump you is a vital skill. It’s even more important in service based businesses like ours with recurring income. After all, retaining a client costs less than attaining a new one.
By identifying unhappy clients early you afford yourself an opportunity to repair the relationship. Here are some time tested ways to do that…
1. Survey Results
Having customers provide feedback is vital for you to improve every year as well as seeing your performance on average. Surveys provide a safe, even anonymous, way for clients to review your performance. Sure people will mess with you. Those responses will be easy to suss out, though. And the remaining results can be parsed together to provide a pretty good picture of your client’s satisfaction.
Non anonymous surveys, you can even call them “performance reviews” and ask your clients to fill them out annually, can offer even more client-focused and useful information. Read these carefully. People will often want to protect your feelings and may offer little more than passing references to problems that are really bothering them.
2. Social Media Ranting
Unhappy people will talk when they are unhappy a lot more than when they are happy. With social media integrating into society, clients will vent on the internet. Setting up a Google Alert for your name and company can let you address concerns immediately.
3. Stops Wanting To Meet With You
If a friend stops wanting to meet with you, would you be concerned? Of course, the principle also applies with clients. When a client starts to make up excuses that become frequent (only so many emergency situations one can have) then there is a cause for concern. Human behavior sees many people avoiding tough conversations, this client may well be waiting for communication to naturally fall off completely.
4. Asking For Sensitive Information
Has your client asked for a password or other credentials from you? Your alarm bells better be ringing. As an accountant clients generally only contact you when they ‘have’ to. If they start asking for information that they do not need daily, then they are likely in prospecting new services.
5. Stop Replying To Emails
In today’s world, everyone checks their emails every few days and generally replies within that time too. If a client does not respond to emails, especially when there is an explicit need for them to respond, there is likely an underlying issue which you need to address ASAP.
When dealing with clients, remember the customer is always right. Making an unhappy client happy is a strong signal that you care. Spotting these unhappy clients early can be tough. Be proactive, diligent and consistent with the above observations and you may be surprised by what you discover.