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Avoid these 3 mistakes made when onboarding your new accountancy firm clients

by | Jun 3, 2019 | Operations

Most problems with clients can normally be traced back in some way to a poor onboarding process. Without a clear and refined process for strengthening the relationship with your client, eliminating any buyer’s remorse, and proving the value of your work, you’re likely to lose that client within the first 90 days of working together. To create lasting relationships with loyal clients, avoid these 3 mistakes when onboarding new accountancy clients.

Mistake #1: Lack of setting expectations

A big mistake made in many accountancy client onboarding processes is not setting the client’s expectations early enough. Clients want to know and need to know what your firm will do and what the client will need to do, as well as a timeline for when changes will occur. Otherwise they will be left feeling frustrated that nothing seems to be moving forward. Sometimes, the delay may be due to them not providing something but it is down to you to check in and remind them of this.

How to avoid: Communication is key, especially early on in the onboarding process; so set the client’s expectations straight away and educate them on the process (both what you will be doing and why). This will help minimise misunderstandings, miscommunications and any unnecessary frustrations throughout their transition.

Mistake #2: Lack of consistent systems and processes

If you don’t have a smooth and standard process for onboarding new clients, stuff can fall through the cracks and lead to big issues down the road. Big issues often lead to further problems and delays, all of which can taint the onboarding experience and lose you a client in the process. Another mistake that accountants make with their onboarding process is that they focus most of their attention on the particular system or process, rather than the client and the workflow.

How to avoid: Establish a transition plan that applies to all clients and follow the same steps each time (adjusting slightly for the client’s specific needs). This will allow you to anticipate client questions and everyday obstacles that may arise, allowing to quickly respond to them or avoid them altogether. Remember to formalise the process by documenting the agreed-upon workflow and have everyone involved sign off on it. This will give you something to refer to if challenges should arise. Download our free accountancy client onboarding process with best practice ideas on how to automate all the manual tasks.

While working on a process or system, such as migrating a client onto a virtual system, make sure that you focus just as much attention on helping the client adjust and highlighting the benefits to help them think positively about the change.

Mistake #3: Lack of a telephone follow up

Accountancy client onboarding doesn’t stop when a client has been won or migrated onto a new system, successful onboarding involves ongoing support, assistance, communication, and reassurance. When an accountant doesn’t follow up with a client, this can lead to feelings of buyer’s remorse. Perhaps your client has doubts or feels dissatisfied with something, which when combined with not hearing from you for a few weeks, makes them make the impulsive decision to go with your competitor because they care more about their business and provide more support.

How to avoid: A simple follow up in the early stages of onboarding show the client that you care about their relationship, especially if it is a telephone follow up over an email as it’s more personal. Depending on the client, you could make this a weekly or monthly check-in to keep them accountable or to update them on your progress. Change is hard, so show your client that you understand and that you’re there to support them along the way. You could even implement a reward system for new clients every time a milestone is achieved, such as hitting 100% compliance in using your new process and systems.

Look at your accountancy client onboarding process

Is your client onboarding process formal and standardised? If you avoid these three big mistakes and implement a consistent onboarding process in your practice, you will bring a sense of confidence in your services and quickly build trust with your clients. When you keep reinforcing your client’s buying decision, you can be sure that they will be loyal to your firm. Download our free accountancy client onboarding process with best practice ideas on how to automate all the manual tasks.