Clients are the lifeline of all businesses. That is why developing a healthy relationship with them is extremely important. The success of your firm will depend on the quality of relationship you forge with your clients.
But it may not be a walk in the park. There will be times when you’d have to deal with clients who are not too friendly.
Changing Demands And Exhausted Accountants
The changes affecting the accounting industry create additional challenges to accountants. The ever-changing demands of clients, combined with overwhelming amounts of workload, can become too much at certain times and affect your drive.
While it’s normal to experience bouts of demotivation, it’s important to not lose sight of what you’re here to do: help clients meet their goals.
Exhausted and uninspired accountants are very likely to produce low-quality work. This is not good for business. What’s worse is your clients won’t appreciate it.
Challenging clients are, more often than not, a result of dissatisfaction. If you’re encountering difficulties with yours, the one thing you must not do is to give in to stress. Remember, these are your partners and it’s your job to find ways to help them achieve their goals.
Everyone has faced a difficult client at least once in their careers. It’s something one cannot escape from. If any, it’s an experience that can only make you a better accountant.
Managing clients is a very tricky business. It’s also not a perfect science; think of it more as an art. There are times when you have to get creative to minimise conflict and tension so you can continue to do your job.
Bring Out The Best In Clients—And You
First and foremost, it all boils down to your mindset. That is going to help you get out of the most challenging situations. A shift in your mindset will help you iron out tough situations. Be positive and don’t let emotions get in the way.
One vital tip is to try and understand where your client is coming from. Most of the time, sticky situations result from misunderstandings. This is why it’s important that you:
Communicate often and clearly
You may have heard of this already, but communication really is key. The accounting profession is people-centric. If you’re experiencing difficulties with a client, then it’s very likely that you are not communicating effectively enough.
Here are tips to communicate well:
- Return calls promptly
- Make yourself available at all times
- Establish clear communication lines
- Set regular meetings
Set clear expectations
Unmet expectations are usually the cause of frustration. Clients expect you to deliver quality work and if you fail to honour that, problems arise. Ensure that you have asked your clients what their expectations are; let them know yours as well.
Do this early in the relationship. Ask them to outline their expectations, goals and timelines. That way, you will be on the same page right from the onset. Having a clear idea of what to expect from each other will pave the way for a happier, more productive relationship.
Take initiative and engage as soon as possible
Problems arise even when you’re not looking. When this happens, it’s important to tackle the problem as early as you can. Even at the first signs of a potential issue, engage immediately.
This is part of being a proactive accountant. Do not avoid a situation that could be problematic. Deal with it right away to minimise the potential damage it can cause.
Forge genuine relationships
Successful firms are the ones that have real relationships with the client. Having strong relationships contribute to client satisfaction and, in the long run, lead generation and profitability.
Here are some quick ways to establish good client relationship:
- Be professional
- Always deliver quality work
- Communicate regularly
- Make sure to deliver on your promises
- Always listen to what your clients want
- Be perceptive and spot potential problems
There will always be challenges in the accounting profession, including our situations with clients. When this happens, always remember that challenging clients are not entirely bad. Situations like this happen only because of unmet expectations and/or miscommunication.
The demands of the job can contribute to sticky situations like this. The good news is this is also where the solution lies. Identify the root cause and you’re most likely to find the best way to avoid problematic encounters with your client.
To bring out the best in your clients and ensure a smooth-sailing relationship from here on out, remember these things:
- Adopt a more positive mindset
- Communicate clearly and regularly
- Set clear expectations
- Take initiative and deal with problems as soon as possible
- Establish a genuine relationship with the client
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