[IMGCAP(1)]Over the holiday weekend, I discovered that my local Costco had Ahi tuna steaks. I bought a one-pound thick-cut steak and started dreaming about all the ways I could prepare it. What kind of marinade would be best? What sauce should I use as a condiment? What side dishes would bring out the flavor of the meal?
Then I stopped. I remembered the reason I liked Ahi tuna steaks so much. It was the rich buttery flavor of the tuna, not everything else I did around it. Let the tuna be the star! I proclaimed.
So, I salted, peppered and seared it in a pan over medium high heat with some grapeseed oil. According to my wife, Colleen, it was the best tuna we had ever made.
When faced with the task of writing this blog, I tried to draw a parallel to what makes a client hold us (as an accountant) in as high a regard as my wife held the tuna. How do we earn the badge of being the “the best accountants ever?”
I realized it didn’t necessarily involve fancy ancillary services, flashy proposals or neat ad campaigns. It didn’t involve wining and dining clients, offering front-row sports tickets, or big sponsorships. It also didn’t involve promotional items, innovative apps and a glitzy website. All these things are nice, but they are not what makes a client proclaim that you are the best ever.
Now, those of you who earn this badge probably focus on only a few basics of client service. These are such rudimentary basics they may almost seem too simple. However, they are the core of the best client service – and I think all too often we may miss them. The basics include:
Staying in front of your clients throughout the year, frequently bringing them ideas on how they can reduce liability and risk, and maximizing profitability and improving efficiency. Helping them understand how legislative changes affect them, their business and their future. This demonstrates you are clearly interested in their success.
Understanding, meeting and exceeding expectations
All too often, a misunderstanding regarding deliverables, scope and timing sets us up for an automatic fail. It only takes a second to overcome this common error. Confirm your understanding of what you think you’ve heard with the client. If you offer a delivery window, make sure to give yourself extra time. Then deliver a day early!
The process, employed by leading internet retailers regarding instant order confirmation, delivery update, delivery confirmation, and satisfaction survey, has created a problem for many accountants. We are held to similar standards whether our clients would admit it or not. When a client emails or calls you, they expect fast response. Not a day or two later. Those accountants who earn the “best accountant ever” badge are responding within hours and even minutes.
Caring about your clients’ business as much as your own
Caring cannot be forced, manufactured or faked. You have to want to care, and you have aspire to be seen as a true business “partner” with the client. You have to want to go beyond the transactional nature of many of your tasks and elevate your role. Helping your client navigate the best path for success, and then guiding them along the path, is one definition of bringing this simple strategy to life.
In summary, excelling at the basics of client service is an undeniable way of earning the “best accountant ever” badge! Just like I realized with the Ahi tuna steaks, simplicity is ultimately the best. So the next time you think you’d like to get fancy, stop and remember what your clients value and need most from you. It’s likely proactiveness; understanding, meeting and exceeding their needs; and being hyper responsive.
Art Kuesel is the president of Kuesel Consulting where he helps CPA firms perfect their growth strategies and actions to drive revenue in the door. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 312-208-8774.