Being a professional and building your practice is challenging. There are many things to take care of … and time can be at a premium.
But, no matter how busy you are, you can’t forget the most important aspect of your business — your clients. Their needs must be understood and be met. And the key is to create an experience that adds value to your clients. It’s all about building real relationships.
Who is doing it in your practice or business? During the past decade, while helping accounting firms grow and expand their practices, we discovered that many business developers focus only on winning the next client or the next project.
A lot give little consideration to winning many more projects with the same client. Building strong client relationships is an integral business development strategy to improve your practice’s bottom line and support its long-term growth.
Happy clients will keep coming back, and they may also recommend your services to others.
Here are five ways to support business development and improve the client experience with your practice:
1. Create a client experience strategy
Most professionals include in their business development plans a strategy that helps them to take the right direction in building their practice.But I rarely find professionals that include in their business development plan a special part dedicated for “the client experience strategy”.
This the process of documenting your client’s journey so you will understand better how to serve their needs. The overall success of the project and your client experience depends very much on the successful implementation of each part of the project.
2. Close the client experience gaps
Research shows that many professionals lose clients and return business from existing clients owing to poor client service. So what’s missing from your practice client experience?
Do you have an onboarding package for every new client who joins your practice? Does every new client joining your practice receive a welcome call or an email from the right person in your practice (or even from yourself)?
What are the first three touch points of your new client with you or your practice? How do you make these interactions different from any other professional practice?
Do you take advantage of the time you have to nurture your relationships? In order to succeed and close these client experience gaps, you need to:
- Understand your clients’ business.
- Understand your client target clients.
- Understand new innovative tools to business development and create amazing client experience.
We suggest you identify ways to enhance your communication with your clients, as part of your practice business development. Be proactive and learn how to identify gaps in your clients’ experience to improve your and your team’s performance.
3. Deliver more to your clients
You have been hired by your clients to solve their problems. However, providing solutions is only one piece of the puzzle. In this ‘connected age’ clients also want you to know them, like them and trust them, before providing your services to them. Clients expect you to earn their loyalty.
To do so, you need to push beyond the primary business development goals of your practice. Think of other ways you can satisfy your clients. How can you help them reach their secondary objectives? A simple example could be introducing your client to another valuable client of yours. In my practice, I used to do it at least once every week.
Other ideas could be sending a simple “thank you” card for being your client and for their continued support, organizing a special event for your clients. Surprise your client with something extra. They will appreciate the genuine attention you give them.
(Remember: If you are busy, we can help. We implement these ideas and more on a regular basis for many professionals and the results are astonishing!)
4. Conduct an external client assessment
Do you know how many clients of yours are not fully satisfied with your services? What did you do in the past three months to learn more about the things that your clients want you to improve?
You need to learn the art of “asking” to ask your client the right questions, in the right order, in the right timing to get the information you need to improve your practice services and business development.
If you want a real assessment of client satisfaction, you need to conduct an external audit. When it comes to business development and building clients experience, do not rely too much on opinions and intuition. You need to get actual insights by conducting a proper project to ask and assess your clients’ satisfaction.
5. Focus on your commitment to help
You need to be able to understand the client’s business and to be able to recognize what they’re actually seeking.
Once you find it, focus on it, and demonstrate a commitment to help your clients to achieve it. How do you demonstrate this? One of the most common ways is by using a simple question for every client of your practice. I do that every 4-6 months.
I ask my clients: “What’s your current greatest concern?”. This single question encourages them to be clear on their needs. It also allows me to reassure my clients that I can help.