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What do your clients really want from you?

Have you asked them? Because – judging by the research – there’s a strong chance you’re on the wrong track.

Last year, a high-profile study by the Sleeter Group asked SMBs why they switched to a new accountancy firm. Their answers might surprise you.

The most commonly cited reason was that the former accountants didn’t give proactive advice – just reactive service.

After this were complaints that the accountants were unresponsive. They didn’t use state-of-the-art technology.

They couldn’t free up the resources to meet the client’s needs, or clients were put off by the lack of a personal relationship.

They were too expensive.

Or the business had simply been given a referral for a new firm by a person they trust.

As AccountingWeb neatly summed it up

“The top nine reasons respondents gave for switching CPAs reflect the importance of being  proactive, and they demonstrate how a lack of attention can cause an SMB to make a change.

It’s also apparent it’s increasingly important for CPAs to stay current on the latest business and technological solutions.

By staying informed and educating their clients on the benefits of technology, accountants are showing foresight and that they care about the success of their clients’ businesses.

This reinforces the view of the relationship as a “partnership,” and clients think of their CPAs as invaluable resources of knowledge and expertise for improving their business.”

So: Embracing cutting edge working practices. Finding ways to make yourself available for rapid responses. Educating your clients about business-boosting technology.

Acting as a partner, not just a service provider.

No mention of numbers, or experience.

No mention of the core activities that traditionally make up an accountant’s role.

Why? Because these are expected. They are the baseline.

Of course your clients need you to know your stuff, helping them to stay on top of their finances and on the right side of the law. Of course they need to trust you to do your job.

But, in today’s world, that’s no longer enough. But… I’m a numbers person, I hear you say. This is out of my comfort zone. Where would I even start?

The answer is: with your own practice. And the quickest, easiest and most effective way to meet the demands of modern businesses is by moving your operations to the cloud.

Let’s break it down.

Clients want faster responses – and turnaround – than ever before.

By moving your data to the cloud and using mobile workspaces to access this from anywhere, on any device, you can make this a reality, making your “dead time” productive and your clients very happy indeed.

Clients want to see that you’re forward thinking and investing in the latest working practices.

Hosting documents and Microsoft Office Cloud programs means that you can share access, collaborate effectively with your clients and make real-time changes remotely or during meetings, boosting your efficiency and showcasing your tech-savvy credentials.

Clients want accountants that are cost-effective.

The benefits of cloud computing include increased productivity and uptime, helping to ensure that more of your time is spent doing billable work – and that you can stay profitable while actually keeping costs down for clients. What’s more, it’s far easier to keep track of time spent on client work and to make this completely transparent, winning trust and avoiding quibbles over the bill.

Clients want partners, not service providers.

Moving to the cloud can reduce your infrastructure costs and free up your cashflow – rather than shelling out on costly hardware, you switch to easily scalable monthly subscriptions. As well as aiding your own business growth, these benefits of cloud computing are hugely valuable to clients. Pass on your advice and insights and you can play a key strategic role in their development. You might even earn extra revenue from your consulting time.

Clients put huge faith in referrals.

So give them plenty of reasons to refer you. Add value by letting them piggyback on the benefits of cloud computing that you already have in place. Blast the competition out of the water with your level of personal attention and speedy responses. Be proactive. Be indispensable.

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