Posted on: October 02, 2020 CPA practice development, Grow CPA practice

 

When a client comes to visit your brick-and-mortar office, there’s no question that you’ll want to make a great impression – one that solidifies their loyalty to your practice and inspires them to tell their friends about you.

But to do that, you don’t need to greet them with a marching band (although that would be kind of cool!) In reality, it’s the little things that make a client feel important, and clients who feel important are the ones who stay for years. 

Here’s a ten-point strategy I’ve come up with that will make your clients feel like visiting royalty – and it’s one that you and your team can put into action immediately. 

 

Have you ever walked into an office and found yourself staring at an empty desk, wondering if you should call out a forlorn “…hello?” Or felt like you walked into a party to which you weren’t invited, because the office team was gathered together talking and completely ignoring you?

It doesn’t feel good, does it?

No, and we don’t want our clients feeling that way, either. 

If it’s possible, greet your guest at the front door.

If you have a glass door and can see the client coming, a team member should get up and hold the door open for them.

Without the glass door, it’s more important to make sure there’s always someone sitting by the door, ready to respond.

If you have a receptionist who sits near the door, it’s always a nice touch to have him or her step out from behind the desk and welcome the client with a handshake.

Make that client feel like the most important person in the world. 

 

It’s been said there’s no sweeter sound than hearing one’s own name spoken.

With that in mind, clients should always be greeted by name.

Most people these days are informal and expect to be addressed on a first-name basis, but sometimes folks of an older generation prefer to be called “Mr.” or “Ms.”

Teach your team that when in doubt, err on the formal side and let the client correct them: “Please, call me John.”

 

How would you treat a first-time guest in your home?

You’d probably try to make them feel as comfortable and welcome as possible.

There’s no reason you shouldn’t take the same caring approach with your practice visitors.

Encourage your team to think of your office as a “home” – because it is, in fact, the home of your practice – and every visiting client as a valued guest.

 

In many situations where you visit a professional office, you find yourself being handed a clipboard of paperwork the second you walk in.

Not exactly the warmest greeting, is it? So while you may actually have paperwork for the client, I urge you to do something different from your competition: wait a few minutes.

Let the client bask in the warmth of your welcome and get comfortably settled before asking them to fill out papers.

 

What’s one of the first things you do when company comes to your house?

“Can I offer you something to drink?”

Your practice guests should get at least the same consideration.

Keep beverages on-hand for visitors.

In my practice, we have a machine that dispenses hot beverages like coffee and hot chocolate, in addition to a well-stocked refrigerator. 

Keep in mind, though, that your more polite visitors may refuse a beverage because they think they’re inconveniencing you by accepting.

For that reason, train your team to make a second offer to those who refuse.

Let a minute or two pass and then ask, “Are you sure I can’t get you some coffee, water, a soda?”

The visitor may be relieved that you asked again. 

 

You’ve welcomed the client in. You’ve offered them a seat and a beverage. You’re holding off on shoving a clipboard in their face. Now what?

Now you can fill the time with small talk.

Granted, not every guest really enjoys chit-chat.

Those that do will engage you and be glad for the company.

Those that don’t will let the conversation drop, and that’s OK.

The mere fact that you made an effort will still register as a positive, hospitable gesture.  

 

Well, I don’t mean brag, exactly. But now that you’ve got them “captive”, in a sense, it’s a good time to remind your client how unique and special your firm is.

In my firm, we do this in several ways:

- In our reception area, we framed and hung our Pledge to Our Clients. This demonstrates that we care about our clients’ satisfaction.
- We also display cards and letters from happy clients.
- We hang photos of our team members’ smiling faces, helping the visitor to feel more connected to us and demonstrating that we care about and are proud of our people.

 

hat’s on that clipboard we (eventually) give to our visiting clients?

A questionnaire asking for current contact information, and when appropriate, some informal survey questions (for example, “What services do you wish we offered?” and “What’s your biggest worry?”).

It helps us check the pulse of our client’s needs and concerns, and prevents business disruption or miscommunication by keeping our records up-to-date with changes in phone number, email address, etc. 

 

Have you ever been to visit a professional office, only to be led by the receptionist into an empty office and told to wait for the person you came to see?

Feels cold and lonely, doesn’t it?

We don’t think that’s the way to treat an important person.

Instead, when a visitor has made an appointment to see a particular person in our office, we have our greeter personally pass along the guest to that person. And when they do, they try to personalize the experience.

For example, “Mike, you remember Joe Watson. Before you get down to business you should ask Joe about his vacation to Tahiti. He told me some great stories!”

This shows Joe that the greeter was actually paying attention, and it gives Mike an entry into a warmer conversation. 

 

We get so used to our daily surroundings that we become blind to them.

Our waiting area can start to look shabby and nobody notices – nobody, that is, except our valued guests.

Set yourself a six-month reminder to reassess your reception area.

Is a fresh coat of paint in order? Time to touch up the nicked wood on that coffee table? Is reading material out-of-date?

Imagine that your most admired celebrity is coming to your office.

What would you do to prepare for their visit?

Aren’t your clients worth just as much? 

 

 

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