CPAs’ work is becoming more automated and technological than ever before, and experts say they must build meaningful relationships with customers to keep them from fleeing for providers who seem to value them more.
“As we move into a world of automation, the relationships we have with those we work with become more and more important,” said Garrett Wagner, CPA, CITP, CEO and founder of C3 Evolution Group.
Wagner said the future of the profession lies in CPAs becoming advisers to their clients instead of doing all the back-end work. Advising is the human work that cannot be taken over by AI and other technology.
He suggests creating more personable relationships with clients by using a CRM (customer relationship management) system.
Don’t go overboard with the information you track, he said, but be sure to track key data points. That should include not only who they are, what they do and what they buy from you, but also things such as date of birth, favorite snack, communication style and opportunities to grow the relationship.
These may seem silly, Wagner said, but clients appreciate it when you wish them a happy birthday and remember to have Doritos and Dr. Pepper on-hand when they visit the office.
He said C3 Evolution also documents each clients’ communication style (i.e., are they introverted or extroverted? Do they want to get to the facts or chit chat?). This is helpful for anyone who speaks with the client to know how to communicate with them in a way they prefer.
If you don’t have a CRM, Wagner says it is important to get one because you can’t keep all the necessary information in your head. He also said to choose your system carefully to fit your company’s needs. There are a lot of options available and some do more things than a small accounting firm, for example, would need.We’re heading into an “experience economy,” Wagner said, and accountants need to begin providing an experience to their clients instead of only completing behind-the-scenes tasks.