From Accounting Weekly: When it comes to establishing client trust, let your clients do the talking for you.
A good review by a client says far more about you than you could possible do yourself. There is an easy way to accomplish this, as Kyle Walters of Accounting Today makes clear.
Once the tax filings are out of the way and clients are a little more relaxed, don’t waste an opportunity to get them to sing your praises. Get them to do a Google review for your accounting practice.
Google explains how to do it here. You get the client to open Google Maps, search for your accounting practice location, and on the left scroll down and write a review.
Walters points out that Google reviews are the gold standard because of their independence and authenticity. Reviewers must post themselves — they can’t ask a third party to do it for them. And businesses must leave all of their reviews open to the public. They can’t take down the negative ones.
From Accounting Today: Here are two good approaches:
1. Solicit feedback right after closing out a tax return. Have your software send a brief (one-minute) online survey to clients as soon as the return is closed. Whenever a client gives you positive feedback, ask them to leave a Google Review about your firm. Tell them you’ll follow up in a few days to see if they need help creating the review. If the client doesn’t respond within 48 hours, have one of your client service specialists call them directly to see if they need help setting up a Google account (you can’t post a Google review if you don’t have a Google account).
I realize that some of your satisfied clients may be hesitant to leave Google reviews because they don’t know how to do it, or because they don’t have a Google account, or because they don’t trust Google entirely. Don’t let these issues get in the way of garnering great client reviews. Take a few minutes to walk clients through the Google setup process or send them a short video tutorial (I use Loom to create short video tutorials). It shouldn’t take more than three to five minutes, and clients will appreciate all the other great free services they can get with a Google account (i.e., free cloud storage, collaborative docs, Gmail, etc.).
Here’s a sample email you can use for soliciting a Google review: “Hello [client name]. We really appreciate your survey feedback. Would you be willing to leave us a Google review about your recent experience with us? If so, I’m happy to show you how to set up a Google account online. Would you like that assistance?” The worst thing they can do is say no.
Some clients might simply email you a glowing review and ask you to post it for them. As mentioned earlier, you’re not permitted to post on a client’s behalf, and you can’t take down the less-than-stellar reviews. That’s one of the main reasons people trust Google reviews. They’re authentic. It doesn’t matter if you’re a restaurant, a shoe store or a professional service firm, the customer/client “is always right.” You need to leave all reviews open to the public
If you stick with the process and take good care of clients, over time the positive reviews will build up. Before you know it, you’ll have more positive reviews than any other firm in town. And don’t underestimate how much new business all those positive reviews will drive to your firm.
The web is the first place — sometimes the only place — people turn to find CPAs in their area (or check out a referral from a friend or colleague). Your online presence is even more important for attracting your NextGen clients. According to Pew Research, the web is the only place that most of the under-50 crowd goes to research professional service firms. When you consider how many folks in that cohort are growing their businesses and hitting their peak earning years, can you really afford to overlook your online presence?
2. Ask your partners to reach out to their top 10 clients. If each partner gets just a fraction of their 10 favorite clients to leave a Google review, imagine how many you will have in just a few months. If a client has something great to say about your firm, why not give them the opportunity to tell others? I know this requires extra effort at a time when everyone’s energy may be down. But the return on your time invested could be exponential.
As mentioned in my earlier article “What happens when client prospects Google you?” people are increasingly turning to online reviews to evaluate professional service firms — not just restaurants, car dealerships, hotels and retailers. This trend is not going away any time soon. You need to have a meaningful presence online and the key to doing that is having lots of independent reviews.
I know you’re exhausted from tax season, but I have great news: There’s never been a better time to ask clients for reviews about your firm and your team — and you don’t have to expend much effort to get them. When it’s finally time to take a breath, you could see a wealth of positive reviews from clients who recognize the value you and your team provide.
You can’t pay for advertising like that!