Archive for the ‘Client service’ Category

Wednesday, September 25th, 2019

Commitments Rather Than Mission Statements

“Just having satisfied customers isn’t good enough anymore. If you really want a booming business, you have to create raving fans.”―Ken Blanchard

I enjoy reading Jeffrey Gitomer’s thoughts, rants, and raves: books, articles and information on his website. If you are not familiar with him, he is a sales guy who has a whole lot to say about business and much of it strongly applies to CPAs. 

Here’s some information, from Gitomer, about client service.

Are you having a fall retreat? Are you going to talk about client retention? It’s a big management concern for CPA firms. It is much more difficult to bring in a new client than it is to retain old ones.

Don’t use your valuable time at a retreat to talk about things you will never do (or live-up to). Focus on the absolute truths you are willing to commit to in relation to serving your clients. I agree with Gitomer in that most mission statements are B.S. Define your future actions on what you REALLY intend to do, not what you wish you could do. 

As Gitomer states, “You might want to compare this list of commitments to what you are doing in your company with and to your customers. And you may want to TRASH your self-serving mission statement that NO ONE could recite even if someone was pointing a gun at them.”

Here are a few items from his customer promise and commitment list. 

We will be friendly.
We will be professional.
We will have what clients want when they want it.
We will answer the phone on the second ring with a live person.
We will be easy to do business with.
We will keep you informed as we progress.
We will recover memorably when an error occurs.
We will kiss ass and we will do it with a smile.
We will lead by example – always walking our talk.
and on and on….. 

Organize a lunch and learn session with your team and add to this list. What are you willing to do? Determine it and then DO THINGS!

  • There is only one boss. The customer―and he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else.
  • Sam Walton

Tuesday, September 24th, 2019

Playing Games With Time

“Understanding the value of time is understanding the true essence of life.” – Sunday Adelaja

If you bill based time, does everyone at your firm keep their time accurately?

Do partners play games with time? For example:

  • That will put us over budget, just post your time to admin.
  • Two managers were involved, let’s just record one manager’s time.
  • I was helping Joe with some questions on XXXX client. I’ll just put my time in training.

Tell your people to record all time and that it doesn’t mean you will actually bill the client for all the time. Recording time and billing the client are two separate things.

If you are playing these games, why are you billing by time in the first place??

  • Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.
  • Thomas A. Edison

Friday, September 20th, 2019

Flashback Friday – John Wooden’s Methods

You can learn a lot from John Wooden. Check out some of his methods in this Friday Flashback post.

Click here.

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

Wednesday, September 18th, 2019

Dominate Your Suffering!

A due date has passed and another looms on the horizon. Then there is so much to focus on relating to firm management and then year-end tax planning…… and then, and then….. along comes tax season.

To me, most of it was not suffering. I actually enjoyed busy season because everyone was focused on serving the client and they didn’t have time to whine and complain – they were enjoying it, too!

Voltaire wrote:

“Men are thrown into the world to suffer and to dominate their suffering. Life is a shipwreck, but we must not forget to sing in the lifeboats; life is a desert, but we can transform our corner into a garden.”

Can you see how this might apply to your CPA firm? Start singing more!

  • A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.
  • Winston Churchill

Monday, September 16th, 2019

A Simple Thing

“When you meet people, show real appreciation, then genuine curiosity.” – Martha Beck

How do your clients, prospective clients, and other visitors feel when they walk into your office? Do they feel welcome, comfortable and appreciated?

Things that DO NOT promote a warm and fuzzy feeling:

  • An empty front desk
  • A sliding glass window that is closed
  • A bell to ring when you arrive
  • An outdated waiting area that looks like the 1970s
  • A receptionist that doesn’t offer to hang up their coat or get them a refreshment

I once knew a spectacular Director of First Impressions. She did some very simple things to make visitors say, “Wow!” For example, she checked the partners’ calendars every day to see if any visitors would be coming to the office to meet with partners the next day. She would make a sign and put it on her counter for each person, saying:

SUSAN SMITH

WELCOME TO

John Doe & Company

It might be a client, a prospective client, a vendor, an intern, a new hire or someone interviewing with the firm. Everyone saw a visible sign that they were important. The sign evolved into a digital message sign that sat on the reception counter.

There are a lot of little things you can do to show visitors/clients that you care.

 

  • Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.
  • Robert Brault

Friday, September 13th, 2019

Working the Weekend

“If it weren’t for the last minute, nothing would get done.” – Rita Mae Brown

It’s Friday the 13th. The September extension due date is Monday because the 15th falls on Sunday.

In progressive, efficient and profitable firms, Friday is the final day, the due date. They won’t be delivering tax returns at the last minute on Monday.

Their valuable team will not be working this Saturday and Sunday.

If you are not in this group, you should strive to attain this practice when future due dates roll around.

 

  • As you schedule individual tasks, give yourself a cushion. Mark the due date a few days ahead of the actual deadline so you have time to deal with changes or last-minute emergencies.
  • Harvey Mackay

Tuesday, September 10th, 2019

Stress-Filled Days

Working in public accounting means you absolutely have days that are very stressful. You are chained to due dates and another major one is on the near horizon. The pressure is on everyone at all levels inside the firm. However, the firm administrator usually has “it” coming at them from all directions.

As the Firm Administrator, other people are constantly asking you questions. Your email box is filled with messages that actually require action. Several people have valid questions about HR topics. Everyone wants to know the status of tax returns. Your admin team is doing their best to be responsive to the accountants as the due date nears yet they have complaints and sometimes difficulties working together. Seems like there is always a line of people outside your office door.

Then there are the partners. Each one seems to think that his/her clients are the most important and the most in need of immediate attention. The staff juggles the work and often becomes confused because of conflicting priorities.

That’s why, when I recently read this quote by William Shakespeare, I thought of you!

“Hell is empty and all the devils are here.” – William Shakespeare, The Tempest

  • Fair is foul, and foul is fair: Hover through the fog and filthy air.
  • Shakespeare

Friday, August 30th, 2019

Flashback Friday – Don’t Procrastinate.

“You may delay, but time will not, and lost time is never found again.” – Benjamin Franklin

It is comfortable to do it – to put things off. It not comfortable having to do something in a rush and at the last minute. Here’s this week’s flashback.

Fight Your Urge to Procrastinate.

  • My advice is to never do tomorrow what you can do today. Procrastination is the thief of time.
  • Charles Dickens

Thursday, August 29th, 2019

Be Proactive – Show Your Clients You Care

“Appreciation is a wonderful thing. It makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well.” – Voltaire

Client surveys tell us that they wish their CPA was more proactive. What kind of Action Plan do you have in place to continually communicate with clients?

These actions fall under the “this is how we do it here” category. Teach your staff how to do it.

  • We take new hires along to client meetings.
  • We expect every person in the firm to have a role in marketing.
  • We provide continual performance feedback to our employees.
  • We close the office on Fridays in the summer.
  • We acknowledge every team members birthday.
  • We have a client service plan for “A” clients and a different one for “B” clients.
  • We send our clients a birthday card.
  • We thank our clients in different ways for simply trusting us as their financial and business advisor.

Should any of these “this is how we do it here” bullets apply to your firm? What else can you add?

 

  • As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.
  • John F. Kennedy

Wednesday, August 14th, 2019

Become Certified in CAS

“The longer we keep looking back in the rearview mirror, it takes away from everything that’s moving forward.” – Dan Quinn

I have written about CPA firms offering Client Accounting Services before:

I know that most of you are already fairly deep into this service. However, I still talk to many firm leaders who are taking a “wait and see” attitude. Others still do not have or know about, the technology it takes to proceed.

Now, if you are offering CAS services you can set yourself apart from others with the AICPA and CPA.com certification in CAS.

You earn the certification in two parts. One, by attending the Digital Client Advisory Services Roadmap Workshop and two, with Client Advisory Services Self-Study. It gives you a total of 29 CPE credits.

Learn more about it here. Visiting this site will also give you extensive information about the CAS Workshop.

  • Baby steps count, too, as long as you're moving forward.
  • Chris Gardner