Does your bookkeeping business make customer service a priority? If not, it could be hurting your bottom line. It's estimated that companies lose a combined $62 billion a year as a result of bad customer service. That's a staggering amount of money.

Think about the last time that you experienced bad customer service. How did it make you feel? Would you make a purchase from that business again? More importantly, would you recommend it to your family of friends? The answer is likely no. Below are some simple strategies to help improve your customer service, win over your clients, and help your business thrive.

Treat your customers how you would like to be treated

Good customer service means different things to different people. For me, the easiest way to describe it is simply treating your customer the way that you would like to be treated yourself. Be honest with your customers, treat them with respect and always show them gratitude. The proof is in the pudding: According to a recent survey conducted by Ebiquity, 68% of customers say that they were willing to spend more with a company they believe provides excellent customer service.

"The goal as a company is to have customer service that is not just the best but legendary." ~ Sam Walton

Explain the process

When I take my car to the mechanic, he doesn't just work on the car and hand me a bill. He may be busy, but he always takes the time to explain the work that was completed, and why it is valuable. It is because of these conversations that he has earned my complete trust and that's why I don't hesitate to recommend him to my family and friends.

In a similar sense, many bookkeepers are transitioning their practice to a more consultative approach rather than the traditional form of key-punching. This means gaining a better perspective of your clients' needs and offering a solution that adds value to the client.

"If you do build a great experience, customers tell each other about that. Word of mouth is very powerful." ~ Jeff Bezos, CEO, Amazon

Make your pricing easy to understand

Have you ever dealt with a customer service representative who gave you a quote for a service and when you go to pay, it turns out it costs way more than you expected? No one likes to be misled. Be upfront with your customers when talking about the cost of your services.

"We need to kill the billable hour in this profession once and for all. It is seriously hampering our ability to get paid what we are worth," says pricing expert and CPA, Ron Baker. Ron's thoughts are common within the industry as many bookkeepers are moving to fixed monthly fees, or value pricing, which provides a series of benefits to both the client, as well as the bookkeeper.

"Make your product easier to buy than your competition, or you will find your customers buying from them, not you." - Mark Cuban

Be Honest

Did you miss that deadline due to an unforeseen holdup? Did you make a mistake on their balance sheet? Did you over-promise but under deliver? Be honest with your customers. As long as your miscue doesn't represent a pattern, they will value your forthcomingness. If you begin to feel overwhelmed, we have some great tips to reduce stress when working with multiple clients.

"Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless."- Mother Teresa

Manage expectations

How quickly do you respond to customer inquiries? According to a recent article by SherpaDesk, 42 percent of customers who contacted a company via email or phone expected a response within one hour. This may differ from client to client but it is important to understand your customers' expectations and agree on a communication strategy that works for both parties.

"The best acts of customer service are the tiny things that reinforce the customer's loyalty. They can be done daily, usually without any cost, and can foster customer retention, increase customer satisfaction, and yes, even grow your customer base." - Peter Shankman

Eliminate frustration

One of the most common complaints that we hear from business owners working with an outsourced service, is that they are unable to get an answer to a simple question. We all know how frustrating it can to be put on hold for what seems like hours, finally get to speak to someone, and they can't answer your question and you are transferred to someone else. It is important to take note of common communications with clients and create a strategy to make it as simple as possible for your customers to get the information that they need. This may be as simple as using a cloud-based system to help promote communication back and forth.

"Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning." - Bill Gates

Go the extra mile

Of course, you should always do the best job possible for your customers. But, if you go the extra mile will they will remember that experience and even tell their friends and family. Furthermore, many bookkeeping practices have focused on Social Proofing their firm, meaning relying heavily on online reviews and conversations. By offering a service that goes above and beyond expectations, firms are able to benefit from their clients in a way that historically was never possible.

"Do what you do so well that they will want to see it again and bring their friends." - Walt Disney

In conclusion

Many of the above customer service strategies are self-evident. But, it's amazing how many businesses forget to implement them into practice. In an age where individuals can post reviews of your business online for the entire world to see, upping your customer service game is more important than ever. A recent survey from ZenDesk showed that 88% have been influenced by an online customer service review when making a buying decision. I understand that when you're tired, busy or stressed out it can be a challenge to go that extra mile. That said, it is vital to remember that without customers you wouldn't have a business. So, remember to treat them well. Not just because it's the right thing to do - it's vital to the success of your business.

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