Best Practices for Building Trust with Your Clients

What is the secret to retaining your clients? Building mutual trust. See 5 best practices for how to build trust with your clients here!

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For tax professionals, clients are the lifeblood of business. After all, without them there is no business. Firms that know this often make marketing and client acquisition a top priority and are willing to invest time and money into it. Though, for many firms, what often gets left behind is the equally important need to focus on client retention. After a client has been acquired, accountants should do all they can to build a trusting relationship and keep the client. Not only is it more work to continually find new clients, but it also proves to be much more expensive. In fact, statistics from the Harvard Business Review show that it is more than five times more expensive to acquire a new customer than it is to retain a current one.

So what is the secret to retaining your clients? The answer is simple: quality relationships that are built on mutual trust. How do you go about doing this? Here are our five best practices for building trust with your clients.

1. Be reliable

Let your clients know that they can count on you. Have your work done on time. Be thorough and accurate in all you do. Whether the tasks you work on are small or large, give them your top effort. If problems or complications arise, communicate them with your clients; you also should clearly convey that you are on top of the situation. Overall, you want your clients to know that their work will be completed, and it will be completed well. Most clients are paying you, yes for your skills, but also for their own peace of mind.

2. Be transparent

Be open with your clients. Have clear conversations early on to discuss and establish expectations. One thing to talk through is exactly how much you will charge and what services you will provide. Let them know what you have to offer and ask them how you can best satisfy their needs. Additionally, when you are talking to clients, avoid using fancy accounting jargon. Most people don’t understand accounting technicalities and will appreciate if you use vocabulary that makes sense to them. Strive to make an open, comfortable environment where questions and feedback are welcome.

3. Be proactive

Don’t always wait for your clients to come to you. Reach out to them from time to time and let them know that they are in your thoughts. By maintaining regular contact, your clients will learn to trust your intentions and become more receptive of your advice. If they appreciate this effort, you can also take it a step farther and help your clients plan for the future. Additionally, if you see services within your practice that could genuinely help them, don't be afraid to suggest those services. Show your clients that you want them to be successful.

4. Be available

Making time for your clients lets them know that you value them. This does not, however, mean you are expected to drop everything the moment they reach out to you. Be open and communicate that you have other clients and obligations but that you still want to be there for them. Establish appropriate methods of communication where your clients can reach out to you. You should both work together to decide how best to do this, whether it be via email, text message, on the phone, or face to face. When they contact you, respond to their questions, concerns, and requests in a timely manner. You could also let your clients know time frames in which you are more likely to be free and able to respond. As you demonstrate your repeated availability to them, they will begin to see you as trusted advisor.

5. Be authentic

Strive to create real and genuine relationships. This is perhaps the most important of all our tips. Avoid fakeness and deceit in your practice because people can spot that a mile away. As a tax professional, you must show your clients that you care for them, not just for their money. Take the time to get to know your clients. Learn who they are, their goals, family, hobbies, etc. Additionally, let them see more of who you are as a person and have genuine conversations about non-accounting related topics. Even as “professional” service provider, it is important to periodically dedicate moments to connect with your clients on a human level.

Stephen R. Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, said, "Contrary to what most people believe, trust is not some soft, elusive quality that you either have or you don't; rather, trust is a pragmatic, tangible, actionable asset that you can create."

As you implement these five steps to building trust with your clients, you will see the relationships between you and your customers elevate. That will create a successful, trust-based practice that retains its customers and keeps them coming back year after year.

Having trouble keeping track of all your clients? Canopy’s customer relationship management (CRM) tool can help you organize client information and build more collaborative experiences for your clients.