Archive for the ‘Client service’ Category

Monday, May 9th, 2022

Mistakes Happen

“The public seldom forgive twice.” – Johann Kaspar Lavater

When I first joined a CPA firm, I was actually amazed at the lengths the partners and staff went to assure that the work they did for the clients was absolutely correct. At that point in my life, my work experience had always demanded: “do it right the first time.”

In the accounting firm, my administrative work was proofed and reviewed. The work performed by the accountants was checked, reviewed, corrected, reviewed again, (corrected again, if need be), quality reviewed, and then checked by a partner before they signed off. I was amazed at the review steps that were part of everyday life in an accounting firm.

I was, and still am, puzzled by the fact that more focus isn’t put on doing it right the first time. When things are checked and reviewed so much, I imagine it is easy to hurry through a task and just hope your reviewer will catch any mistakes.

Once in a great while, a mistake happens. Oh, no! It is a small mistake and you have all experienced them. It is usually the wrong address used when mailing something. A simple typo in a communication to a client. A label affixed to an envelope that is crooked (remember, everything going to a client must be perfect, it is the little things that matter). Have you ever mailed a tax organizer to a dead person? The family is not pleased.

However, rarely, a more major mistake slips through the review process. The client brings it to your attention. You apologize profusely to the client and go about correcting the error. They seem to understand. They are loyal and forgiving. They don’t even consider leaving the firm.

That is why making mistakes when serving CPA firm clients is so rare and why so much caution is applied to the processes. Because if you make another mistake with that same client, you will probably lose the client and damage the firm reputation.

Keep today’s quotation, above, in mind and develop training methods that encourage your team to do it right the first time.

  • If you don't have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?
  • John Wooden

Friday, May 6th, 2022

Non-CPA Managers – Flashback Friday

“With ordinary talent and extraordinary perseverance, all things are attainable.” – Thomas Fowell Buxton

The shortage of CPAs wanting a career in public accounting has been on my mind for months, maybe years. Many firms limit the career growth of accountants working at the firm if they have not passed the CPA Exam.

Studies tell us that college accounting majors say they don’t want to be a CPA because they don’t want to pass the exam and they don’t want to work that hard.

If the Exam is a barrier and you have lots of work for qualified accountants already at your firm, you may be able to attract other qualified accountants if you provide a manager-level position for non-CPAs. Here’s a flashback post that shares one firm’s story.

  • Use what talents you possess; the woods would be very silent if no birds sang there except those that sang best.
  • Henry Van Dyke.

Friday, April 22nd, 2022

Little Things – Flashback Friday

“It’s the little details that are vital. Little things make big things happen.” – John Wooden

The client assumes you are accurate in your work. Little things matter to them. That is why a handwritten note can make such a big impression. Read this Flashback post about some powerful words.

  • If you can't do the little things right, you will never do the big things right.
  • William H. McRaven

Friday, April 15th, 2022

Flashback Friday – Know Your Competition

Your competition used to be down the street. Now, it is worldwide. I say, don’t worry about them much. You don’t need to if your firm is doing what it should be doing. Even if you don’t worry about them, you should know them. The following is a flashback post from 2017:

Know Your Competition

“It is nice to have valid competition; it pushes you to do better.” – Gianni Versace

As I have interacted with many firms over the years, I have observed that some partners are not worried at all about their competition and some partners are almost obsessed with beating their competition.

No matter your degree of concern, it is a good practice to be aware of your competition, their strengths, and their weaknesses. In reality, they are strongly targeting your best clients (just like you are targeting theirs).

As Jeffrey Gitomer (sales guru) says, it is a sales war and the winner takes all. He also suggests some Competition Success Strategies:

  • Speak kindly of your competition, or say nothing.
  • Respect competition and others will respect you.
  • If others speak negatively about anything or anyone, DO NOT join in.
  • Know your competition’s weaknesses, but focus on your strength and value.
  • Know why they won, when you should have.
  • Know how they speak about you, and build response into your presentation.
  • Know how to beat them until they hate you (hating them is a waste of energy).
  • Your only victory is when you get the job.

Read more here.

  • Do your work with your whole heart, and you will succeed - there's so little competition.
  • Elbert Hubbard

Monday, April 4th, 2022

Does This Non-Word Apply?

“Anytime you see a turtle up on top of a fence post, you know he had some help.” – Unknown

Occasionally, I reprint a blog post from Seth Godin. Today is one of those days. To me, it has meaning to those of us working for or with CPAs.

ANYTIMED – by Seth Godin

It’s not a word, but perhaps it should be.

If a competitor goes after your customers by offering them faster service, all day and all night, you’ve been anytimed.

And if your boss, fearing that event, or simply trying to boost output for free, pushes you to be available all hours of the day and night, you’re being anytimed as well.

The market wants convenience and speed and price. Anytimed is a side effect of that race.

Do you want to be anytimed by your clients? Maybe part of onboarding a client is the time to set some boundaries.

Are you anytimed by your boss (partner or manager)? So many CPA team members feel like they are actually “on-call” day and night, 7 days per week, especially in tax season. Maybe it is time for employers to establish boundaries and stick to them.

  • Anywhere, anytime ordinary people are given the chance to choose, the choice is the same: freedom, not tyranny; democracy, not dictatorship; the rule of law, not the rule of the secret police.
  • Tony Blair

Friday, April 1st, 2022

Be Proactive With Your Clients

“If you expect nothing from somebody you are never disappointed.” – Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar

I admire firms that are proactive with their clients. Here is this week’s Flashback Friday post about a firm that is proactive.

It’s Friday. Quit working at 4:00 pm!

  • Simplify, simplify.
  • Henry David Thoreau

Monday, March 28th, 2022

I Like Living.

“We’ve greatly exaggerated the risk of sinking, without celebrating the value of swimming.” – Seth Godin

For many CPA teams this time of year, every day is another workday. The hours, days, weeks seem to be getting longer and longer.

However, in recent years, firms have taken great strides to alleviate the dark cloud of tax season that hangs over their employees’ heads. I honestly believe that CPA firms, despite the many due dates, are wonderful places to work and expand your career. When I was working inside a firm, I enjoyed tax season because everyone was focused on providing awesome service to the clients. They were focused on helping people. That’s what CPAs do.

The drudgery involved has a lot to do with attitude and attitude is the one thing you only can control. So many people are less fortunate than CPA firm teams.

The following quote from Agatha Christie’s autobiography is sure meaningful to me and I hope it is to you. Being alive is a grand thing!

“I like living. I have sometimes been wildly despairing, acutely miserable, racked with sorrow, but through it all I still know quite certainly that just to be alive is a grand thing. – Agatha Christie

The following from Seth Godin should guide us in hiring:

“The actual differentiator in just about every job is attitude. From plumbers to carpenters to radiologists to pharmacists, someone with extraordinary soft skills (honesty, commitment, compassion, resilience, enrollment in the journey, empathy, willingness to be coached… the real skills that we actually care about) is going to outperform. If this is so obviously true, then why don’t organizations hire for attitude and train for expertise?

  • Instead of wondering when your next vacation is, maybe you should set up a life you don't need to escape from.
  • Seth Godin

Friday, March 25th, 2022

Client Satisfaction Is Fine But There Is More

“If you want to make your dreams come true, the first thing you have to do is wake up.” – J. M. Power

It is that time of year when client service becomes even more important. You have to do more than satisfy a client if you want loyal, long-term clients.

Your firm has to become the best. The best means – You are the ONLY ones who DO WHAT YOU DO the way you do it. Period. Read this Friday Flashback post to learn more.

  • I'm in this sport to win but win by being the best, not by being lucky.
  • Daniel Ricciardo

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2022

Which Side Are You On?

“Being cool is when you win, you don’t get too happy; and when you lose, you don’t get too mad.” – Ice T

You have all read and heard about the great resignation. On one side, firms are losing people and on the other side, firms are attracting people. Be the “attractive” firm; the one where people want to work.

You can do this by building a brand. What kind of brand have you built over the years? If you are not known for being a premier firm with top-notch people and premier clients, you are behind in the talent game already.

When I was actively working inside a growing CPA firm it was our ongoing goal to be the “cool and progressive firm” in our marketplace. We had client parties with themes like The Future’s So Bright You Gotta Wear Shades and gave everyone sunglasses with the firm name on the stem. At the firm’s 50th anniversary party we used the theme Fifty Years And Still Rockin’. We dressed in poodle skirts and white t-shirts with black leather jackets. An Elvis impersonator met everyone at the door and had their picture was taken which we later mailed to them in a special card.

Set a goal to become known as the cool firm in your market. Become the firm that attracts people rather than the firm losing people. It’s not easy and it takes constant focus. Start now!

  • It seems like once people grow up, they have no idea what's cool.
  • Bill Watterson

Monday, March 7th, 2022

Too Busy

“Those who are wise won’t be busy, and those who are busy can’t be wise.” – Lin Yutang

It’s that time of year, time for my BUSY post. I hear it over and over again, “I’m too busy.”

You don’t like feeling like that, but nevertheless, you do.

When you dig deep into why you are too busy it usually uncovers the fact that it is because of the choices you make.

Kids these days are scheduled almost 24/7. When do they have time to play outside, wade in a stream, collect colorful leaves in the fall or spot the first crocus peeking out of the soil in the spring?

Adults have work that is filled with answering emails and attending meetings plus responsibilities on the home front, such as raising children. When do they have time to actually think, daydream, relax and examine the life they are living?

Socrates said, “the unexamined life is not worth living.” What did he mean by that? Here’s an explanation:

Socrates‘ claim that the unexamined life is not worth living makes a satisfying climax for the deeply principled arguments that Socrates presents on behalf of the philosophical life. The claim is that only in striving to come to know ourselves and to understand ourselves do our lives have any meaning or value.

In your CPA work life, if you are always saying you are so busy or too busy, why would clients and referral sources refer others to you? Make it a rule to never say the “B” (busy) word in the office. Anyone caught saying BUSY must drop $1.00 into the money jar in the break room. Soon you will have enough for a great party!

As for partners, when young accountants observe the VERY long hours you work, why would they ever want to become an owner in a CPA firm?

  • It is not enough to be busy; so are the ants. The question is: what are we busy about?
  • Henry David Thoreau