[IMGCAP(1)]These five quotes were pulled directly from a random selection of CPA firm websites (if you go to your website, I bet something like this is on there too):
1. A close, ongoing, collaborative relationship that helps you make informed decisions about the journey your business takes we share the challenges and celebrate the successes with you.
2. Our primary goal as your trusted financial advisor is to be available to provide you with advice which will enable you to make informed decision.
3. Our collaborative and client-centric approach, our highly experienced client service teams and our creative solutions differentiate X from both the Big 4 and other CPA firms.
4. For over 35 years, we have been devoted to providing innovative solutions, customized to the individual needs of our clients, which we believe sets us apart from the rest.
5. Easy access to partners, responsiveness and excellence in client service are just some of the ways we express the value we place on clients.
In a review of several accounting firm websites, all CPAs seem to be supreme communicators, relationship machines, providing incredible customer service, and are masters of the trusted relationship. I have to question our honesty to ourselves in the profession.
Face the facts. You (or your staff) struggle to empathize with your clients. You find a solution that works, and you repeat it over and over for client after client. Your services are rarely customized, as that is not efficient. Your client says they need something today, but you send it next month. Collaboration is another word for “I talk to my computer,” right? Relationships are what I have with my kids, I think?
Rather than lie to ourselves and our clients, let’s be honest and genuine about what we do best. You and your team excel in several areas. You are most likely detail-oriented, logical in your thinking, organized and disciplined. Let’s expose these awesome qualities to our clients. It is OK that we struggle in certain facets of business. Nobody is perfect! Let’s take our truly valuable qualities and ensure that the client gets the most from those assets.
Just like we tell potential clients, “You need help,” CPAs need to look at themselves and say, “I need help.” If you think your staff knows how to become a leader, the customer service extraordinaire, a relationship developer, a marketer, or future partner, again, you are most likely lying to yourself. To help yourself and your firm, attend a conference to learn about the latest soft skill trends in the industry. Review blogs or monthly journals to find tips to share in your office. Or hire a consultant or coach who can help your firm deliver higher results doing the things that you do best!
So while CPAs in public practice need to provide excellent client service and customized services, be a trusted advisor and develop relationships with our partners, what we really need to be doing is advising our clients that we offer a different skill set than they have. Our clients need this skill set to grow, for a unique perspective, and for a better understanding of the challenges that lie ahead of them. It’s OK to ask for help in understanding how to better serve our customers. It will only make you a more complete CPA.
Adam Blitz, CPA, is a tax and consulting manager at Wiebe Hinton Hambalek, LLP in Fresno, Calif. Along with his CPA, Adam has a Masters of Arts in Leadership Studies from Fresno Pacific University. Adam authored a thesis entitled, "The Leading CPA—the value of the leading CPA." Adam is focused on working with his clients, colleagues, and industry professionals in enhancing the value of the CPA. For additional information, he can be contacted at Adamb@whhcpas.com or via Twitter @getblitzed.
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