This is a sponsored post by ClearlyRated.
The economic disruption and uncertainty caused by COVID-19 has created a new layer of complexity for accounting firm marketers and business development professionals. Buyers across all industries are demonstrating heightened aversion to risk. At the same time, your team’s capacity to build trust has been dramatically impacted by new social and public health protocols. It is a great time to look into investing in your firm’s online reputation.
Now that we’re unable to connect with prospects in person, buyers are required to rely on digital resources to vet service providers and determine their level of trust in your services. It’s no longer enough to deliver world-class service; your firm must be able to independently and credibly prove it, and for that, your online reputation plays a significant role.
Importance of Online Reputation is Increasing for Accounting Firm Buyers
Accounting firms, like other professional service providers, have historically paid less attention to online ratings and reviews than other consumer-facing industries.
And while prospects experience big differences in how they choose a restaurant and how they decide which CPA firm to partner with, their behavior as a buyer is evolving – and it’s evolving towards the desire for more information.
According to ClearlyRated’s 2020 Industry Benchmark Study:
- 4 in 5 accounting firm prospects will research a firm before reaching out to engage with them directly.
- 84% of buyers of corporate accounting services say that a firm’s online ratings and reviews have an impact on their decision to work with a given service provider.]
- Even after a personal referral, 9 in 10 accounting buyers will continue to research the firm before reaching out. Of those, 60% will actively seek out online ratings and reviews.
What’s interesting about this research is that it was gathered prior to the pandemic. These dynamics existed even when face-to-face interactions with prospects were an acceptable reality.
What we have seen since COVID-19 is that the economic uncertainty of a global pandemic has accelerated “the trend towards trust” in professional services buying.
How to Build Online Reputation
The world of online reputation can feel overwhelming, but accounting firm marketers can begin to develop and improve their firm’s online presence with just a few steps.
- Actively manage your brand’s presence on major rating sites. Start with the “big three” – Google, Glassdoor, and Yelp – and then turn your attention to sites that more specifically target your audience, sites like G2 and ClearlyRated.com.
- Create a process for responding to reviews – both positive and negative. Set up automatic notifications for new reviews and be sure to deliver client feedback to the appropriate team member so that changes can be made.
- Ask your clients and candidates for online reviews. Ask regularly and respectfully, and provide internal employees and clients with scripts and prompts to facilitate the conversation.
- Invest in the client experience. Your brand’s online reputation reflects your clients’ experience with your firm. Consider measuring that experience in a quantitative way through an NPS® survey program.
- Address issues that arise before they become negative reviews. Don’t rely on online reviews to alert you to client concerns; proactively address issues before they ever land on a public website.
More Resources for Investing in Online Reputation at Your Firm
Learn more about managing your online reputation, explore accounting industry benchmarks for service excellence, or take a look at how one award-winning accounting firm maximizes client satisfaction—and their online reputation—through an integrated NPS survey program.
About Kat Kocurek
Kat Kocurek is the Vice President of Marketing at ClearlyRated, a leading provider of client satisfaction surveys and service quality research for professional service providers. Kat leads ClearlyRated’s growth strategy and market research team and conducts ClearlyRated’s annual Accounting Industry Benchmark Study to uncover the most pressing issues and opportunities faced by accounting firm leaders and marketers. The data her team uncovers details modern buyer behavior and client preferences, along with opportunities for accounting firms to differentiate and credibly boost firm reputation on service quality and the remarkable client experience.