It seems that very few CPAs have reviews and ratings on sites such as Google+ and Yelp, two major platforms for consumers to comment on the products and services they engage with on a daily basis. It’s popular with other types of businesses, so why not CPAs?
Today, people are going to the Internet to thoroughly research their options for products and services. As a result of this search for information, the buying decisions of 90% of customers are being influenced by seeing positive testimonials online. Studies have also shown that reviews online can increase sales by up to 18%.
So if this is the case, then CPAs are missing out on an opportunity to obtain new clients. There are lots of people out there who are unhappy with their accountants but do not know where else to go. They wonder if another will actually do a better job. However, if there are client reviews of your services proclaiming that you have helped them save money, then those people will have faith that you can do the same for them. Word-of-mouth reviews have a much larger reach in the digital age, and these online recommendations can be invaluable to your business.
Curating Your Online Reputation
52% of consumers trust online reviews just as much as personal recommendations.
According to HubSpot, 52% of consumers trust online reviews just as much as personal recommendations. Therefore, reviews of your work on sites such as Google+ and Yelp have a significant influence on your online reputation, which is a very important asset to your image. It is important that CPAs learn how sites like Yelp and Google+ work and how to respond to appropriately to their clients. Here are some steps you can follow to find and monitor your online profile:
- Google your firm’s name and see what comes up. It’s important to see the kind of information people have access to when making their decision on which CPA to use.
- Brand your Google+ page. This should embody your firm’s voice and values, and should be consistent with your other social media pages.
- Claim your business’ Yelp Page. This will allow you to add information about your firm such as photos and business hours, respond to reviews, and create special deals and offers.
- Use the Yelp dashboard to keep track of your firm’s performance on the site. It allows you to see your profiles views, user actions, and Yelp ad clicks.
One great feature of review sites is that they will display other CPAs and financial services in your area. If you want to see what your competitors are doing well or doing poorly, it would be in your best interest to look through reviews of these other firms. You can also see how your firm’s online reputation compares to the reputations of your competitors; using this information, you can make changes to the way your businesses run to make your clients’ experiences as easy and enjoyable as possible, or highlight services and benefits that make you stand out from the crowd.
- Promote your presence on Yelp and Google+.
- Put a sign on your counter.
- Put it in a newsletter. Saying something like, “Nothing makes us happier than seeing your positive reviews on Yelp!” let’s people know how they can help.
- Educate people on your social networks about where they can review your company.
- Give your clients an incentive. Offer a discount on a service, opportunity to enter a competition, or provide a coupon.
- If someone sends you an email telling you how great your service has been, send them a link to Yelp and ask them to post a review detailing that positive experience.
- Include a link in email signatures letting clients know where they can review you.
- Provide a link on your website.
- Send out an email a day after you meet with a client and ask if they have any questions or concerns about what you discussed the day before.
- Be sure to not make your own reviews – this is unethical and illegal, and could severely hurt your firm.
Responding to Reviews
Responding to reviews, whether they be positive or negative, is essential. It helps develop rapport with your clients as well as the general public. It shows that you care about what they say and are thankful for their reviews. In fact, “seven in 10 consumers have a more positive view of a company if they see them responding to an online review.” Responding to this feedback will also help you develop a stronger relationship with your clients.
In your responses, it is important to be aware of the language you are using. Do not use terms that the common person, who presumably is not a CPA, will not know. Plain, friendly language is best. If you must use a technical term, be sure to clearly define it. Be friendly but be professional – the manner in which you respond makes a huge difference.
Handling Negative Reviews
It is likely that someone who is unhappy with your services writes a negative review about their experience online. Unfortunately, there is no way to remove these reviews. However, according to Digital Visitor, 70% of people trust reviews more when they can see negative reviews as well as positive. Furthermore, 38% of shoppers are more likely to read the negative reviews than the positive ones, and 95% of people said they will still buy a product with a negative review. So, though you may have a few bad reviews here and there, it is not as harmful to your business as you might think. When you do come across a negative review, there are a few ways to ensure you handle it gracefully:
95% of people said they will still buy a product with a negative review.
- Respond to their review publicly in a timely manner and apologize in a professional manner. This shows that you care about what they have to say and allows you to shed light on the situation before it gets out of hand and potentially becomes more negative. It also lets others know the actions you have taken as a result of this review.
- If a client makes statements that are either false or inaccurate, simply respond by first apologizing and then explaining either how your firm works to mitigate that issue or will attempt to in the future. Do not tell the client that he or she is wrong, as that will most likely create a sense of dislike or even distrust.
- Do not be rude, conceited, or disinterested when responding to a negative review.
- Make sure not to mark these negative reviews as offensive and prevent them from being posted, because the clients who posted them will likely figure this out and will lose trust in you.
Maintaining your online reputation as a CPA is crucial, and by following these suggestions you will be better prepared to do this. Not only will you be able to maintain your current client base, you will also be able to expand it through online marketing methods that your competitors might not be implementing. Being able to both reach out to clients and see how you’re perceived is invaluable and can shape the way you plan your marketing strategy in the future.