Build Trust With 7 Client Relationship Management Tips And Tools

We’ve all heard the phrase, “Trust is earned,” usually after someone messed up. We know when someone has broken our trust, but have you ever considered how you would deliberately build trust between you and your clients?

While everyone’s communication style differs, some common actionable steps can help build relationships and increase client loyalty to you and your team.

Client Relationship Management Tips And Tools


1. Slow Down

When you walk into a store, do you want someone coming up and giving you a sales pitch before they even know what you’re looking for? You may be there for an extension cord while they talk about a new power drill non-stop. As you edge away, they start to follow you, crowding you, like the only way to get rid of them is to be rude.

On the other hand, when you walk in and someone takes the time to find out what you need, why you need it, and if there are any specific features you’re looking for, it’s an entirely different experience.

You may have the exact skills they’re looking for as a tax professional, but your approach says a lot about whether you will value them as a client or only their money.

2. Find Out More

Find out what project they’re working on. Think about these questions to help get the conversation flowing:

  • How is it going?
  • Are there any pain points or frustrations?
  • Did they start a new business, so everything is new and confusing?
  • Have they been doing the books for years, but new expansions make it necessary to outsource these duties?
  • What are their professional goals, or are they more concerned with personal goals like waiting for the tax return to get their kid braces?

Stephen Covey said it best: “Listen to understand rather than to be understood.” Don’t compile a list of services in your head that might fit their needs before they’re even done talking. Wait for the big picture. Address the most important thing to the client first and branch out. Don’t rush them. Let them see you solve the first problem before you offer solutions to the second.

3. Show Respect

Your time is valuable. So is your client’s. Be prepared before your appointments rather than rushing to catch up. Use your appointment scheduler for small businesses to space appointments appropriately. Give yourself a few minutes to wrap up the first appointment and prepare for the second. You’ll meet the customer with more confidence, and a calmer demeanor instills trust.

4. Keep Your Word

One of the most important ways to build trust is to keep your word. If you say you will have documents ready, make sure they’re ready. If you promise to provide a resource or information, get it to them promptly. If something comes up that will delay you, communicate that to the client so they don’t sit and wait for you.

If you quoted them a price but find out during your work process you need to do extra work and charge more, get their approval before beginning. Explain why it’s necessary and the value to the customer. By getting the go-ahead before proceeding, you help them alter their expectation ahead of time so they aren’t surprised by a higher bill.

5. Be Transparent

Everyone makes mistakes. Everyone has bad days. If something goes wrong, handle the error so the client learns to trust you more rather than losing trust. When taking care of a mistake, try to:

  • Be calm. You may not see the solution clearly if you’re flustered over the mistake. The stress may cause you to make more mistakes. So, get up, grab some water, take a short walk, and clear your head.
  • Figure out a solution before calling the client, if possible. If you’re having difficulty creating a workaround, involve a mentor or an experienced colleague who may have dealt with your scenario.
  • Avoid excusing your mistake or passing the blame off to someone else when you call the client. Accept responsibility and express your apology.
  • Present the solution, which should leave the client in a stronger position than before.

6. Stay In Touch

If you only contact the client at tax time, it’s easy for them to shop around. Provide value throughout the year. Remember, it’s far more expensive to drum up new clients than it is to maintain a current working relationship. Three ideas for adding value include:

  1. Create a monthly newsletter that addresses issues your clients face, updates them with tax changes that affect them, and offers helpful hints.
  2. A phone call. Check-in with your clients every quarter to see how their projects are going. Remember, you asked about them in a previous step. Write down the project and what they want to accomplish, and set a reminder to follow up. The fact that you made an effort to recall what was important to them will impress them. The client data management system should have a place for notes so anyone looking up that client’s file can access it.
  3. Use the system to deepen your relationships. Use your automated text messaging system to remind them of important deadlines.

7. Be Authentic

Above all, be genuine. If you struggle to connect with your clients, it’s a skill to work on, but don’t force it and come across as fake. If you’re quiet or don’t know how to talk to people, perhaps include small extra services to show the client you appreciate their business. Find a way to use the available tools to provide value in your own way.