Reviews communicate to consumers you are trustworthy.
Building a five-star tax & accounting practice with reviews allows you to leverage your knowledge and intellectual property. Consumer behavior has changed, and you must change with it. You need to develop subtle value tools such as your reviews, website, online brand visibility, and onboard process.
Tax and accounting services are not commodities, and you need to start running your practice with that in mind. Don’t be mediocre at communicating your value to the world. Today, people can use the web to see what not only what one person, but your entire neighborhood thinks about you. This will either validate or invalidate what a word of mouth referral says about you. This is what building a five-star practice is all about: leveraging many people’s opinions to shape one person’s buying decision.
A recent Bright Local survey backs up the power of reviews:
- 84% of people trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.
- 90% of consumers read fewer than 10 reviews before forming an opinion about a business.
- 73% of consumers think that reviews more than 3 months old are no longer relevant.
- 74% of consumers say that positive reviews make them trust a local business more.
- 58% of consumers say that a business’s star rating of a business is most important.
Five-star reviews show that the neighborhood or niche that you serve trusts your practice. Referrals and word of mouth have moved online, to social media and review sites. The fastest way to start a new client relationship is by attracting great reviews online. This will sow the seed that you have your clients best interests in mind and will make it easier for prospects to trust you from the start.
Reviews and trust affect your bottom line.
Walt Disney may have said it best: “Do what you do so well that they will want to see it again and bring their friends.” According to a survey by Desk.com, 60% of consumers will pay more for a better client experience. Your goal should be to build powerful and emotional relationships with your clients. By using reviews to engage clients right from the start, you are making it easier for them to do their due diligence before they hire you. You are not hiding, and in fact, you are willing to put your reputation online for all to see.
Once you start consistently living up to the promise that your reviews communicate, trust undoubtedly follows. Your clients will become your biggest ambassadors and influencers; they will even start doing the marketing work for you. They will understand the value that you bring and will pay a premium for your service.
Trust is both emotional and logical.
When clients trust you, they actually feel that trust, which brings along with it emotional connotations such as friendship, comfort, and agreement. Many of the most successful tax and accountants consider their clients to be friends—and vice versa.
When clients trust the advice that you provide, they feel relaxed and positive about the future. Trust is made up of several elements:
- Credibility: Do you have the experience and expertise to follow through on what you promise?
- Responsiveness: Not answering your phone or returning emails can chip away at customers’ perceptions of your reliability.
- Consistency: A common thread amongst the world’s strongest brands is that they consistently communicate their value to clients and prospects.
- Ethics: The profession is governed by ethics, so your integrity is a key element of how you handle your clients and their complex problems.
- Restraint: Don’t take on clients that you don’t think you can help.
- Honesty: Don’t promise results you cannot deliver.
- Responsibility: If a dispute or problem arises, don’t place blame; fix the problem.
There are easy steps for building trust.
Clients appreciate being valued and heard. When you are establishing your processes, make sure that you incorporate the following:
- Put your clients first, and never let them feel that you are distracted or too busy for them.
- Establish frequent client feedback; for instance, ask for reviews at the end of every successful engagement.
- Follow through on your promises and commitments
- Utilize frequent outbound communications such as due-date reminders, and an email client newsletter full of tips and strategies
- Believe in the value of your service. Your clients and prospects can hear the passion in your voice; it makes you more credible. Include all staff members in this process.
- Guide clients through from start to finish. How you onboard new prospects, how responsive you are during your engagement, and how you continue your communications are all vital to your success.
A recent survey from the International Federation of Accountants® reiterates that small-business owners rank accountants as their most trusted advisors. Earning trust comes from the heart. How do you know if clients trust you? The quality and quantity of your reviews will likely tell the story.
Lee Reams II
I am a marketing junkie who has spent the last 20 years developing and executing "best in class" word-of-mouth marketing campaigns. With over 10,000 happy clients I think we are on to something. The explosion in web marketing and social media have redefined the way independent professionals market their practices. Follow my blog to see if you can take some of our actionable ideas to market your own practice.