Barry MacQuarrie

Reconnect With Your Clients

With a little bit o help from Google.

April 4, 2011
by Barry MacQuarrie, CPA


Would you know about it if a blogger posts positive comments about your firm? How about if someone wrote a negative review of your services on a website? How soon would you learn about an employee who received a service award from a local charity that appeared on a newspaper’s website?

We all know that communications involves talking and listening. Some people find it much easier to talk than listen. This may be because it takes more effort to be a good listener. I believe that the same is true for the world of social media. We often find it easier to talk or broadcast than to listen.

But what if “listening” to the world of social media and the web were as easy as checking your
e-mail? This article shows you how easy it is to listen using one of Google’s tools.

Google Alerts

Google is best known for their search engine. However, Google has over 40 applications available from their website. One of my favorites is Google Alerts.

Let’s look at how easy it is to use this tool to listen.

  • The first thing you need to do is browse http://www.google.com/alerts. You will see a screen that looks like this:

  • Now, you have reached the hardest part of setting up a Google Alert. You need to decide on a search term. You can literally have Google search for anything. Try starting with your name, your firm’s name or the name of your favorite client. Keep in mind that alerts will not work well if you have a name that is as common as Susan Smith.
  • Next, select the type of search you would like performed. This tells Google what part of the web you want them to include in your search. Most often, I select Everything.
  • You need to tell Google how often you want to receive alerts, i.e. as-it-happens, once a day or once a week. I use once a day in most of my searches. This limits the interruptions and allows you to listen on your schedule.
  • Google allows you to control the volume of message by letting you select between Only the best results or All results. I suggest you start with All results and change it if Google is delivering too many results.
  • Finally, enter your e-mail address and click the Create Alert button. Google will send you an e-mail asking you to verify your request. The alert will be active once you click the verification hyperlink included in the e-mail.

I enjoying showing people how to use Google Alerts. The reaction that I most often receive is something like “Wow, this is cool.” This is often followed by a realization that they have so many ideas for search topics. Here are some of the alerts that I have setup on Google Alerts:

  • My name
  • My firm’s name
  • Client’s names
  • The name of my blog
  • The terms social media, social networking and CPA
  • Groups I started on LinkedIn, i.e. SocialCPAs and CPA Tech Connect
  • The terms AICPA and MSCPA

The sky is the limit as to the search terms that you can create. You can use them to receive alerts about yourself, your clients, your competition, your kids or your alma mater. I suggest that you start with a few and build from there. Otherwise, you might spend all day reading
the e-mails!

Listening can be a powerful thing. It can help you engage your clients in ways you never thought possible. Let’s just imagine it’s Monday morning and your best client has posted exciting news on their blog about a major contract they landed. Imagine their reaction when you call them later that day to congratulate them.

Google Alerts make listening easy. Why not start today and begin engaging and reconnecting with your clients. Let a new relationship begin!

Rate this article 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor). Send your responses here.

Barry MacQuarrie, CPA, is the director of technology at KAF Financial Group. MacQuarrie has extensive experience working with CPA firm technologies and has expertise in social networking, workflow, process improvement, disaster recovery planning and paperless office solutions.