It can be five times more expensive to gain a new customer than to retain an existing one. For successful, sustainable marketing, retaining customers is just as important as attracting them.
Here are ten simple, actionable steps to keep clients returning to your tax practice year after year!
1. Offer Excellent Customer Service
The saying “Customer service is marketing” is especially true in the area of client retention. It’s only common sense: customers who had a great experience are more likely to return.
- At the risk of stating the obvious, strive to be personable and professional during every client interaction.
- Answer clients’ questions thoroughly — no matter how many they have.
Taxes can be confusing and stressful for your customers. Taking the time to answer their questions in detail not only proves your expertise, it demonstrates your empathy.
- Be easy to reach.
Being quick to respond to phone calls and emails shows clients that you’re reliable and that you make them a priority.
2. Gather Customer Feedback
Customer feedback helps you identify what you’re doing well and fix things that could be better. To get participation from as many clients as possible, foster multiple opportunities for them to share their experiences and ideas.
- Use regular interactions to gather informal feedback.
Use meetings and phone calls as an opportunity to ask your clients if they’re satisfied with their overall experience or how you could improve.
- Create a survey.
Sending surveys through email can help you gather more detailed data on customers’ experiences with specific aspects of your business.
- Read Google My Business and Yelp reviews.
Yelp and Google My Business accounts are an important part of your business’s online presence. Online reviews can help you market your business, improve your SEO (search engine optimization), and, of course, give you insight into customers’ opinions.
- Keep a suggestion box in your office.
Some customers still appreciate the chance to leave anonymous feedback without having to go online.
3. Understand Why Customers Leave
Feedback from former customers can be just as valuable as feedback from current customers.
Calling, emailing, or sending a survey to non-returning clients can help you identify why they left and what alternative tax preparation methods they’re using instead. No matter how you reach out, maintain a positive tone, thanking them for their business in the past and expressing your hope to work together again.
4. Send Tax Season Reminders
One of the most important things you can do to retain your clients is also one of the simplest: remind them. Never assume that past clients still have your contact information. Start sending reminders a few weeks before tax season all the way through the last week.
5. Reward Loyalty
Loyalty discounts express gratitude to long-term clients and help persuade clients who were on the fence about returning. Prior to and throughout tax season, send past clients discounts or other incentives to use your services again.
6. Show Customer Appreciation
Tax preparation is often a competitive market, and your clients likely have other choices. Make it clear that you’re grateful they chose you.
In addition to loyalty discounts, find other ways to thank customers for working with you. Emails are fine, but handwritten thank you notes will feel more personal and authentic.
7. Use Client Retention Reports
Between reminders, thank you notes, and a constantly changing list of returning and non-returning clients, communication in the midst of tax season gets tricky.
TaxSlayer Pro’s client retention reports keep a running list of clients who have already filed with you this year and clients who have yet to return. Available for both desktop and cloud-based versions of TaxSlayer Pro, these reports make it easy to differentiate between returning and non-returning customers and automatically send different messages to each group.
8. Be As User Friendly as Possible
You want to make it as easy as possible for your clients to work with you, particularly when they have to engage with technology.
Offer multiple ways for your customers to “meet” with you and send their tax documents. The TaxesToGo Mobile App, for example, lets clients securely share their documents, eliminating the need for faxing, scanning, and emailing.
9. Make Payment Easy
Whether your clients pay in-person or online, the process should be simple, quick, and allow them to choose their preferred form of payment.
Card readers for your office and a simplified online checkout process are essential. Bank products offer another easy form of payment, allowing your clients to pay your fee directly from their refund.
10. Maintain Year-Round Contact
Tax season isn’t the only time you should reach out to your customers. A few communications throughout the year help maintain client relationships, making it more likely for them to contact you when tax season rolls around.
Here are a few email ideas to help you keep in touch:
- Holiday and birthday greetings
- Monthly or quarterly company newsletters
- Changes in tax laws that affect your clients
- Tax or bookkeeping-related tips
You don’t need to be a marketing genius to understand the basics of client retention:
- Make your clients feel valued
- Give them an experience that makes them want to return
- Be open to their feedback
- Send well-timed reminders
Build these principles into your marketing strategy, and you’ll be well on your way to developing a base of loyal customers!