Archive for the ‘Client service’ Category

Thursday, March 22nd, 2018

It’s The Little Things That Keep Clients Coming Back

“One person can make a difference, and everyone should try.” John F. Kennedy

The bathroom facilities at Disney Parks are clean. It’s not a profit center. They don’t make them clean because they’re going to charge you to use them. They make them clean because if they didn’t, you’d have a reason not to come.

Take this thought process inside a CPA firm. Your clients judge you on little things. That is why the work is reviewed, reviewed again and again. The content of the tax return, financial statement, or other report being delivered to the client must be absolutely accurate.

The client assumes you are accurate in your work. That is why they hired a CPA in the first place. You know how to do things they do not know how to do. They assume you know accounting, tax, estate planning, profitability consulting, etc. if you offer those services. They judge you on the little things.

The client will judge you on:

  • A smudge on a page of their financial statement.
  • A crooked label affixed to an envelope.
  • Misspelling their name!
  • Sending something to the wrong mailing address.
  • Misspellings in emails.
  • The appearance of your office.
  • The way they are treated by your Director of First Impressions.
  • Not offering to hang up their coat.
  • Not offering them beverages.
  • Not having tissues available in the lobby.
  • Not returning their emails and phone messages quickly.

And, the one many of us have done but just hate it because it happened – sending an organizer or correspondence to someone who is deceased!

Why do you want to pay special attention to all these little things? If you don’t it might give them a reason not to come back.

  • Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies.
  • Mother Teresa

Monday, March 19th, 2018

Stay Safe Out There – Two-Factor Authentication

“In skating over thin ice our safety is in our speed.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

I know that CPA firms are fanatics about protecting the safety of their data. Their clients count on them to treat their information with the highest level of security. I also know that CPAs take this responsibility very, very seriously.

I have observed that some CPAs are not using two-factor authentication with their personal devices and some don’t even know what it is. Perhaps, you feel safe because your devices are tied to your firm and all its security. But, what about your clients and your family?

BillRecently, I have become aware of Bill Hess, founder of Pixel Privacy. On his site, Bill gives advice and creates easy to follow tutorials that anyone can use to protect their privacy and stay safe online, even if they have zero technical knowledge.

Want to learn more? Read Bill’s post, Two-Factor Authentication – What It Is and Why You Should Use it. His post is very informative, easy to understand. I hope you will share it with your team, your clients, and your family.

  • The best car safety device is a rear-view mirror with a cop in it.
  • Dudley Moore

Tuesday, March 13th, 2018

Find Reasons to Celebrate

“At the end of the day, the fact we have the courage to still be standing is reason enough to celebrate.” – Meredith Grey

Inside accounting firms, mid-March is a milestone of sorts. The March 15th due date passes and there is only one more month until the mid-April deadline is history.

It is time to celebrate and do some special things before those last few, intense weeks, such as:

—Some firms require their people to work on Saturdays during tax season. What if you gave everyone a REAL weekend on the first Saturday after March 15? The office is closed and no one works! We did for years at my firm and everyone really appreciated have a REAL weekend.

—Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day! This year it is on a Saturday, so do some fun things on Friday. Everyone wears green! There will be green bagels and cupcakes in the employee lounge.

—Have green cupcakes or bagels delivered to your best clients.

—It is also March Madness time. During the first games on Thursday and Friday that are played during the afternoon, host an open house for referral sources and clients to watch the games while enjoying some refreshments throughout the afternoon. Guests can come at lunchtime, right after work or anytime during the afternoon. I know a firm that did this every year and it was a very big deal in the business community.

—Send a personal letter (not an email) from the partners to the family of your team members thanking the family for the patience and support for their special person during this time of extended hours.

  • Life is short, and it is up to you to make it sweet.
  • Sarah Louise Delany

Monday, March 12th, 2018

A Meaningful Tagline

“Our major obligation is not to mistake slogans for solutions.” – Edward R. Morrow

As I was driving the other day, a van passed me. It belonged to a plumbing company and on the side and back of the van was their tagline: Got a leak? Don’t freak.

I thought that it really conveyed a lot of meaning if you need a plumber. Of course, then I thought about all of the various CPA firm taglines I have encountered over the years. I did some browsing and a list is below.

Most of these don’t convey a lot of meaning to me, but a few did. I also found that many firms do not have a tagline at all or at least they don’t have it on their homepage.

What does your firm tagline convey?

  • Always On.
  • Our Strength is in our Numbers.
  • Big Thinking. Personal Focus.
  • Working Together Sets Us Apart.
  • Smart decisions. Lasting value.
  • Candor. Insight. Results.
  • Make Progress Here.
  • Solutions Beyond Traditional Accounting.
  • Making Lives Better.
  • Numbers Count. But Relationships Make the Difference.
  • Knowledge, Reliability and Integrity.

It is always a fun exercise to get your team involved in exploring possible taglines. Some suggestions you probably wouldn’t want to use but you would find them entertaining!

 

  • Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom.
  • Thomas Jefferson

Thursday, March 8th, 2018

Accountants As Skilled Writers

“Your grammar is a reflection of your image. Good or bad, you have made an impression. And like all impressions, you are in total control.” -Jeffrey Gitomer

Many accountants say, “I’m a numbers person, I can’t really worry so much about grammar and spelling.” I have heard this phrase and very similar ones from CPAs for years!

Sometimes I am absolutely amazed by the misspellings and poor grammar emails I receive from accountants.

As a professional, it is so important for you to share your knowledge so that clients know you…..

  1. Are smart
  2. Want to share your knowledge
  3. Want to help them be successful
  4. Want to save them money

If you send them an email that doesn’t convey these messages, you could be influencing them to go elsewhere. Clients will think that if you are careless with your writing you might be careless preparing their taxes!

Some hints:

  • Don’t make your emails too long.
  • Be sure you use paragraph breaks.
  • Don’t use run-on sentences.
  • Don’t use slang words or crude language.
  • Strive to be clear, concise and brief.
  • If you have a long message – please, please just call the client!
  • You are college-educated – don’t misspell.
  • Use Grammarly.
  • If you have an important topic to convey to a client and must put it in writing, have someone proof it for you before you hit the send button.
  • Proofread carefully to see if you any words out.
  • Unknown

Monday, March 5th, 2018

2018 Top New Products For Accountants

“We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.” – Walt Disney

Just in case you missed it, Accounting today has published their 2018 list of new products for accountants.

Accountants do really use more tools (software, hardware, and other stuff) to serve their clients than almost anyone else. Have you counted the number of different software products used inside your firm lately? I bet your tech person can tell you. They just love managing all that.

Per Dan Hood:

This year’s trend is somewhat different, in that it focuses on a service area, rather than a technology or a type of tool. The last few years have seen an explosion in the number of tools available for auditors, and this year saw more than ever. This matches a growing expectation that this most-traditional of accounting services is on the verge of a revolution — a revolution driven, in no small part, by the new tools available to its practitioners.

Click here to view the list. I think you will find it informative and interesting. Stay curious and improve your practice!

I love today’s quote at the bottom of my blog page. I think it describes a lot of CPAs.

  • People are very open-minded about new things - as long as they're exactly like the old ones.
  • Charles Kettering

Thursday, March 1st, 2018

Decide Who Will Decide

“It is not hard to make decisions when you know what your values are.” – Roy Disney

When your firm was first founded, probably one, two or three partners (owners) made all the decisions. Somehow, as the ranks of partners grew, they all thought that they should be part of every decision. That’s why the role of the firm administrator was created and the joke that resulted was, “How many partners does it take to decide which copier to buy?”

The theory was that administrative and operational aspects of the CPA firm would be under the umbrella of the firm administrator. Still, many partners thought that they should be allowed to have an opinion and weigh-in on the decision to buy anything that cost more than $100!

That decision-making format lasted with 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 or 10 partners. Then an Executive Committee was formed of 3 or 5 partners who still thought they should be involved in daily operations.

Progressive firms decided that the Managing Partner should actually manage the firm with a chief-of-staff type person – the firm administrator or COO. Of course, owners are kept informed but their job is to take care of client relationships, mentor younger staff and bring in business.

Is it time for your firm to actually operate like a business? Is it time for your owners to “decide who will decide”?

  • He that has a choice has trouble.
  • Dutch proverb

Tuesday, February 27th, 2018

It’s An Important Role – DOFI

“Without hard work and discipline, it is difficult to be a top professional.” – Jahangir Khan

A key role in your firm is one that I call the Director of First Impressions (DOFI). Many firms have adopted this title because it really is very descriptive. Some firms just say it is their Receptionist or the front desk person. For some reason, and it probably goes back to the old days, team members look down on this position and no one wants to “sit at the front desk” even when that person goes to lunch!

I think you should be very selective in hiring for this position and demanding when it comes to their performance – set some high expectations. It really is NOT a no-brainer job!

Historically, this person just greeted clients and answered the phone. There wasn’t much else they could do without physically leaving their desk. Technology has changed all of that. Now, they can do a lot of what the other administrative assistants do. Plus, phone traffic has decreased in many firms because of direct phone numbers for your team.

One very important task this person should be handling in your firm is the monitoring of 8879s and releasing returns. Many firms have actually established this procedure and it is working very well. Reminding clients and following up if they don’t respond and then monitoring the release of returns is something that can be done without leaving the front desk.

Your DOFI also is an important part of your client service and marketing efforts. They make everyone feel welcome when they visit the firm, offering them refreshments and hanging up their coats. They have a smile (in their voice) when they answer the phone.

Many CPAs have told me that some clients call the firm’s main number just so they can talk to the DOFI. At my firm, we once landed a big client and in their acceptance letter, they mentioned how nice they were treated by Sonya (DOFI) when their executive team visited our firm.

If you are fortunate enough to have a top performer in this position, pay them well. They are worth more than an average administrative assistant.

  • If you think it's expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur.
  • Red Adair

Friday, February 23rd, 2018

It’s Great To Work In Public Accounting

Maybe you haven’t thought about it lately. Maybe it never crosses your mind January through April, but working in public accounting is pretty cool.

You work your entire career with a group of professionals, people dedicated to helping others. After all, CPAs are the most trusted advisor to small business owners across the nation.

The people that surround you are intelligent, well-educated and dedicated to giving back to their local communities. Some of the clients you get to work with are the movers and shakers in the business community.

You learn something new almost every day and you become more knowledgeable and professional with each passing year.

I noticed this hard-working young man yesterday, a chilly winter day, and it came to mind how fortunate I was (and you are) to work in public accounting.

fullsizeoutput_41ee

Wednesday, February 21st, 2018

Innovate

“Art, freedom and creativity will change society faster than politics.” – Victor Pinchuk

I have often written about the need for CPA firm leaders to be more innovative and creative. So many firm leaders are very happy with just following the pack. Their continuing question is, “What are other firms doing?”.

Forget what other firms are doing and work on developing a culture of innovation inside your firm. If you want your firm to grow you must be able to educate your market on your unique approach to public accounting. To the outside world, all CPA firms look alike!

I recently read an article by Jeffrey Gitomer titled, “Still trying to think outside the box? What are you thinking?”

The article is about an artist who wants to create a communication program using art and imagery. It is an interesting concept and I especially like steps he outlines for a creative session. I think they could definitely be used in an accounting firm.

  • It's impossible to explain creativity. It's like asking a bird, 'How do you fly?' You just do.
  • Eric Jerome Dickey