Boston (June 13, 2003) -- Former Results Accountant Systems founder Paul Dunn, famous for his marketing-centered "Accountants' Boot Camp" retreats, swung back into the profession after a three-year hiatus with a message for firms: Transform the experience of your team members and clients and your business will be profitable and grow.

Dunn, who sold his interest in the business to his partners and has been absent from the profession due to a non-compete clause that recently expired, argued that the service industry is dead, and that successful firms need to replace service with a "transformative" experience instead.

"It's not about partners wanting to market this or that, it's about asking why," Dunn said during a keynote at the Association for Accounting Marketing conference here. "It's not about putting a pretty bow around something that stinks."

Dunn's prescription for successful firms includes empowering employees who work together to "make something amazing," defining for the firm what a great customer experience entails and learning how to give it," and figuring out a way to systematize that experience so it's perpetuated in the future.

He also railed against the popular accounting firm practice of benchmarking against industry peers. "Benchmarking compares you against the average - who wants to be compared against the average?" he asked. "Your competition is anyone the customer compares you with."

Another pet peeve of Dunn's is client surveys in which firms ask customers if they are satisfied with the firm's service. "There's no relation between customer satisfaction and loyalty," Dunn said. "Eighty percent of client defectors will say they're satisfied. The only good question is, 'Would you recommend us to a friend?'"

-- Tracey Miller-Segarra

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