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The importance of engaging (and re-engaging) clients

September 21st, 2022 by Ignition Team 4 minute read


A rock-solid client engagement strategy should remove pain points, create a seamless process, and deliver effortless experiences. Find out how you can automate your engagements. Clarity and transparency are the cornerstone of your client relationships. Having clear communication from the start sets the tone for a successful client engagement that leaves little room for doubt and confusion as your relationship grows and progresses.

For new clients, engagement letters are an essential part of how they experience your services. Engagement letters define the contract between you and your client, characterize the relationship, and speed up the onboarding process, says Rebecca Mihalic, Ignition’s Head of Accounting.

“The numbers tell us that 86% of people say they’re more likely to stay loyal to a business that invests in the onboarding experience,” Rebecca says.

“Engaging clients all comes down to making sure you’re actually delivering. When you tell a client you can do something, you need the systems and processes in place to make it happen,” she says.

“Engaging clients all comes down to making sure you’re actually delivering. When you tell a client you can do something, you need the systems and processes in place to make it happen,”

Rebecca Mihalic, Ignition’s Head of Accounting

A robust client engagement strategy is also crucial to client retention. Put yourself in your client’s shoes. Think about the journey they take when they engage you. This could be as simple as four key stages, such as:

1. When they first hear about you (proposals).

2. When they go through sales and onboarding (engagement letters).

3. When they become a client (billing and payment).

4. When they become a repeat client (new engagement letter).

Refining your customer experience

Tom Jamison is head of growth and business development at Abbeygate Accountancy, a practice offering accounting, bookkeeping and advisory services to more than 175 clients. In 2020, Abbeygate conducted rigorous customer journey planning sessions, identifying end-to-end journeys from client agreement right up to payment.

Tom says that mapping out the customer journey helped in two ways: “First, we were able to clearly identify areas that could be automated. Second, it gave us the confidence to tell new clients: ‘This is the precise process that we follow during onboarding and when serving you going forward’,” he says.

However, the firm was still working with manual spreadsheets and siloed data. Tom felt this wasn’t sustainable in the long term. “The more clients we took on, the more complex it would become to manage them effectively,” he reflects.

“I wanted a centralized solution that allowed us to all sing from the same song sheet. We wanted to make sure that even if one of our team wasn’t in the office, a colleague could instantly pick up a conversation with one of their clients,” he says.

Automated engagement

Ignition is a technology platform that does a lot of the heavy lifting for you, making it simple to engage clients, get paid and run your business. Ignition’s Head of Accounting Rebecca Mihalic says automation through technology can drive your client retention strategy.

“It means removing any points of friction. Every time you make something easier for your client, they're going to sign off on it quicker,” says Rebecca.

Retaining clients and building strong relationships requires regular communications. While most accounting bodies suggest a minimum of annual engagement, every client is unique. The key to success is implementing a system of regular re-engagement. This allows your clients to share updates on how their business is performing, creating the perfect opportunity to discuss any additional ongoing services.

Caring for clients during a downturn

With economic headwinds on the horizon, many accountants and bookkeepers will be challenged by rising business costs and staff shortages. In the midst of this, keeping your clients satisfied is critical as they are the source of your revenue and future referrals.

Ignition’s Head of EMEA Emma Crawford-Falekaono says staying close to your customer makes sense at all times but particularly in this environment.

“It’s not something that you switch on and off. If you have the ability to understand customers’ changing needs, it means both preserving revenue and also the ability to offer additional services,” she says.

For Tom and his team at Abbeygate Accountancy, using Ignition has not only helped retain existing clients but attract new ones. The firm grew its client base by 70% in 12 months, increasing annual revenue by £250,000 (around US$290,000).

Ignition’s integrated platform saw the firm provide each new client with a video-based proposal – something Tom says set Abbeygate apart from its competitors.

“I’m a massive fan of the fact that you can see when a client has opened your proposal or viewed your video. There’s nothing worse than being in the dark, unsure as to whether or not a client has even taken the time to read what you’ve sent over,” he says.

“Of course, proposals are just one tiny part of what [Ignition] does. It’s had such a wide-ranging influence on our practice that I can’t imagine operating without it,” says Tom.

'Staying close to your customer makes sense at all times but particularly in this environment... It's not something that you switch on and off'.

Emma Crawford-Falekaono, Head of EMEA for Ignition

Over to you

Learn more about how to prepare a solid foundation for growth in your firm in Ignition’s step-by-step guide below. It focuses on four key areas: scalability, pricing, efficiency, and client retention, and provides simple, practical ways to shore up your firm for the future.

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