Maintaining a continuous customer base, one that keeps coming back again and again, is hard work. It’s especially hard for companies with seasonal business models. Once the holiday rush is over, it’s easy to fall into “off mode” and relax until the next busy season. But, how prosperous is that approach? You likely already know the answer: It’s not.
As accountants, we too experience seasonal highs and lows. For us, our busiest season falls between January and April, at the height of tax season. Then things relax over the summer. Fall picks up speed again as we move toward the ultimate busy season in the new year. Do we stay idle during the summer? Of course not. We’re busy doing other things that build the business. And, that’s the whole point of this article. We want you to do the same so that you don’t experience the “feast and famine” of revenues.
The key to maintaining continuous customers is to regularly communicate and identify the ways you can provide additional assistance year-round. Even if you have just one single busy season, you can (and should!) maintain contact with your customers throughout the year through purposeful communication.
Here are the year-long efforts you should establish and maintain:
- Provide value in every communication.
Birthday cards and holiday greetings are nice but don’t mistake them for business development. (Note: You don’t need to stop sending these things, just make sure they’re not all you do!) Implement an off-season customer communication strategy in which you share valuable, helpful, and easy-to-understand information about your business and/or industry trends. Whenever possible, customize that communication so that you are updating customers on things that matter to them. For us, that might mean we reach out to a client who has just started a business or had a baby and advise them on a filing status change. We’ll also advise on issues that go beyond annual tax filing -- estate planning, business succession, retirement, and so on. The point is to know your clients, care about their needs, and demonstrate your value.
- Use the right tools to inform and update your audience.
Technology and social media are your best friends in the communication game. Email newsletters, blogs, and social media posts are effective, flexible, and highly scalable forms of communication. Never ever think that your business has no place on social media. Throughout your offseason, keep your online channels operating smoothly with frequent updates on industry developments and other areas of interest surrounding your business.
- Know what your customers want -- just ask!
Customer questionnaires and surveys can be incredibly valuable in gathering customer insights and help to make informed decisions on future outreach. Plus, they can be easily implemented using social media or other online channels. Just make sure your surveys are short (like 10 questions are fewer) and offer some sort of incentive for completion. This will ensure a higher response rate. Remember, too, a survey should be the start of a conversation with your customers, not the end of it. Don’t leave your customers hanging. Provide survey results and be sure to quickly answer any direct questions/requests from customers that come from the survey. Always, always, always thank your respondents and provide your contact information should they desire to speak with you further.
Don’t let clients lose sight of your services in the off-season! Use that time as an opportunity for maintaining relevant, compelling, and personal contact so that you stay “top-of-mind”. It’s the key to keeping your customers engaged and coming back year after year.