BDO Alliance USA: How CPA Firms can Create Successful Client Experience Programs

Focusing on the customer experience (CX) is increasingly becoming a top priority for many businesses. Positive experiences not only increase client retention and drive new revenue but help to create long-term customer loyalty as well.

To support our BDO Alliance USA member firms in this critical area, we recently invited speakers from Boomer Consulting and BDO USA, LLP to co-present on a webinar offering their vision on how to approach this complex topic – both strategically and tactically. Small groups met to discuss some of the best ways to begin implementing, or improving upon, their own client experience programs.

Some key takeaways from those discussions included:

Identify Your CX Champion: While this may naturally align with your firm’s marketing lead, the marketing team shouldn’t always be the sole champion(s). Other leaders must be tapped to share their insights and generate further engagement throughout the firm.

Create a Task Force: Gather a cross-functional team comprised of people from all departments. Their goal will be to first map your clients’ current experience, each bringing his/her own observations and perspectives. Later, the team will be tasked with implementing a new or improved client experience program firmwide, so that it becomes part of the culture. Every firm initiative then going forward could be evaluated under the lens of “How does this help the client?”

Focus on the Basics: Not everybody knows how to communicate or feels comfortable communicating with clients/prospects in a way that is going to facilitate feedback. Go back to basics and make it a priority to teach all client-facing team members how to become better communicators and how to ask good questions.

Set Client Exploration Meetings: Meet with clients regularly to continue deepening that relationship; consider inviting someone from marketing or another department to attend too. Have an agenda, minutes or notes, and follow-up with an understanding of the discussion later.

See the Value in Feedback: Many times, firms are afraid to get feedback and, once it’s received, nothing is done with it. But surveys and focus groups can tell you a lot. Make sure that, however you collect feedback, the results are shared with those in the firm who are impacted by the results. Make it a priority to drive firmwide change based on that feedback. Once initiatives are put in place to address it, share this information with clients in an external-facing communication. They need to know that their voices are being heard, which will encourage participation in future surveys as well as help to improve the overall client journey going forward.

Concentrate on Client Onboarding: Create an onboarding letter and subsequent communications (e.g., every six months) to show that you’re still engaged with your customers and to ensure they are still engaged with you. 

Leverage Technology: Provide an effortless experience for clients to send you documentation. Some firms have included a file exchange button in their email signature. There are many tools out there that will make your team’s lives easier and your clients happier.

Publicize the Journey: The client experience/journey should be defined, written and eventually distributed to all members of the firm so it becomes part of your culture.

Find a Pro: If you’re struggling to identify a champion or implement a CX initiative in your firm, consider hiring an outside professional to design a program and keep you accountable.