Archive for the ‘Client service’ Category

Tuesday, March 14th, 2023

Go With Your Own Inner Voice

“Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.” – Steve Jobs

The following is a segment of a graduation speech given by Steve Jobs. I think it has a message for CPA firm leaders:

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice.

And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.

  • Be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren’t used to an environment where excellence is expected.
  • Steve Jobs

Thursday, March 2nd, 2023

Let It Go To Voicemail

“It takes months to find a customer… seconds to lose one.” – Vince Lombardi

Here’s what happens inside many CPA firms.

In the old days, when a receptionist would receive a call from a client for a partner, the partner would say, “Just put it in my voicemail.”

Then direct inward dial came into fashion, and the partners would give their direct phone number to clients, telling them that they could use it to get directly to them. However, when incoming calls would come to their phone extension, they would just let all calls go to voicemail.

Now, with the widespread use of mobile phones, partners give their mobile numbers to clients. Yet, when they see that Joe Client is calling, they simply let it go to voicemail.

Managers have also learned, from partner examples, that it is perfectly okay to let calls go to voicemail. CPAs use the excuse that they are too busy and that they don’t want to be interrupted.

Clients have become accustomed to this phone tag world and usually never expect their CPA to answer their phone call on the first attempt.

You are in a service business. Do you have service standards for your entire team? You can get some inspiration from Ritz Carlton.

Besides, when you talk to a client, it can lead to additional services. All of this came to mind when I read a recent quote from Simon Sinek: “Posts get reactions. Phone calls start conversations.”

On a few rare occasions when I called a CPA, they actually answered the phone. I must say I was actually surprised. Try surprising your clients.

  • Nobody raves about average.
  • Bill Quiseng

Friday, February 24th, 2023

Friday Flashback – The Weather

“It is only in sorrow bad weather masters us; in joy we face the storm and defy it.” – Amelia Barr

Once again, this week, the weather has been a major factor in the life of CPA firm workers. The weather prohibited many from “getting to the office.” No need to worry, you can work from home, or can you? Here’s a flashback from last December. “

  • There's no such thing as bad weather, just soft people.
  • Bill Bowerman

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2023

Clients Who Appreciate You

“Although your customers won’t love you if you give bad service, your competitors will.” – Kate Zabriskie

The following is a recent blog post by Seth Godin. It seemed like a good message for CPAs in public practice. Are you attracting clients and keeping clients who appreciate what you do for them? Are you ridding yourself of clients who are frustrating?

Think about your clients. Who are the ones that you really enjoy and the ones that enjoy working with you? Get your team together and draft some bullet points that describe a great client. Compare every prospective client to that list. Find people who want to go where you do. Here’s the post:

Don’t know, don’t care

Clients and customers can be frustrating.

Perhaps they don’t know what you know.

Perhaps they don’t care.

It’s possible to educate and inspire.

It might be more productive to find the few that want to go where you do.

  • It’s not the customer’s job to know what they want.
  • Steve Jobs

Monday, February 13th, 2023

Risk Assessment Guide

“Don’t be fearful of risks. Understand them, and manage and minimize them to an acceptable level.” – Naved Abdali

Here is some information I received from the AICPA about risk assessment in a financial statement audit:

The AICPA has published a new audit guide, Risk Assessment in a Financial Statement Audit. The authoritative guide will help auditors implement Statement on Auditing Standards No. 145, Understanding the Entity and Its Environment and Assessing the Risks of Material Misstatement, which takes effect for audits of financial statements for periods ending on or after Dec. 15, 2023, with early application permitted. SAS No. 145 implements several changes to the risk assessment process, including:

  • A revised definition of significant risk
  • A new requirement to assess control risk at the maximum level such that, if the auditor does not plan to test the operating effectiveness of controls, the assessment of the risk of material misstatement is the same as the assessment of inherent risk
  • Revised requirements relating to audit documentation
  • New guidance on scaling the risk assessment process.

The guide is available in e-book format. 

  • Risk Management lets you apprecite the risk while you let somone else shoulder all the worry.
  • Anthony T. Hincks

Monday, February 6th, 2023

The Director of First Impressions Has Gone By The Wayside

“It only takes one cat – or person – to make another feel welcome and special.” – Laura C. Monteiro

There was an interesting discussion on the CPAFMA Connect discussion board. Several people noted that they no longer have a receptionist at the front desk.

Clients come into the office less frequently, and many team members work from home – times have changed.

I like to call the front desk person the Director of First Impressions because that is what they represent. They have been, and are, the face and voice of the firm. Maybe there is no longer a need for that person in some firms, but I imagine it is still necessary for many firms.

Kim Fitzgerald, PAFM of Squire, Lemkin & Company, allowed me to post her comment.

As of January 1, we no longer have anyone sitting at our front desk. Our front door is locked, and all visitors must ring the doorbell. Like you, our in-office traffic is very minimal these days as the majority of our staff are working remote.  We do have an admin that answers the mainline calls from their desk, but again the majority of our firm members have given out their direct dial numbers, so our phone traffic has become minimal also. I hope you find this helpful.

  • Small cheer and great welcome makes a merry feast.
  • William Shakespeare

Friday, February 3rd, 2023

Difficult Clients – Flashback Friday

“If you have some respect for people as they are, you can be more effective in helping them to become better than they are.” – John W. Gardner

I remember hearing David Maister expand on this theme (difficult clients) in one of his presentations years ago.

Read this Flashback post.

  • As I grow older, I pay less attention to what men say. I just watch what they do.
  • Andrew Carnegie

Tuesday, January 31st, 2023

Strengthening The Relationship With New Clients

“Don’t say, ‘if I could, I would.’ Say, ‘If I can, I will.’” – Jim Rohn

A new client is landed by one of the firm’s partners. They met several years ago at a Chamber of Commerce business event. The client knows the partner, but how much does he/she know about the firm?

It is important that clients become attached to the firm and not just the partner – for various reasons that some of you know all too well. You don’t want clients to leave the firm just because one person leaves.

Begin building the relationship with the firm at the beginning. In some firms, the first written piece of information a client gets from the firm is an invoice.

After a new client is added to the list, progressive firms send out a warm and friendly welcome letter. Make it different, put it in writing, on paper, and mail it (USPS) to them. It should have a real, written signature on it.

I like to see the letter come from the firm administrator. This helps the client know that there is another person they can contact immediately if needed. Eventually, they will get acquainted with the engagement team and build relationships with several people at the firm. However, in the very beginning, they may have many questions and not feel somewhat lost.

Express your appreciation for them joining the firm. It is also a great time to ensure they know your billing and collection policies. Most new clients always wonder about that but have been hesitant to ask.

Let me know if you would like a sample.

  • You can’t escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today.
  • Abraham Lincoln

Monday, January 30th, 2023


As you get busy, the stress of tax season will begin to engulf you. The only thing you can truly control is your own attitude. Remember the following:

“Attitude is a choice. Happiness is a choice. Optimism is a choice. Kindness is a choice. Giving is a choice. Respect is a choice. Whatever choice you make makes you. Choose wisely.”
― Roy T. Bennett

  • Believe in yourself. You are braver than you think, more talented than you know, and capable of more than you imagine.
  • Roy T. Bennett

Friday, January 27th, 2023

The Decline of Voicemail

“Sometimes all a person wants is an empathetic ear; all he or she needs is to talk it out. Just offering a listening ear and an understanding heart for his or her suffering can be a big comfort.” – Roy T. Bennett

Here’s a Friday Flashback post from 2014 that notes the decline of voicemail. Do you still expect clients to leave voicemail messages rather than you accepting their call at once?

  • Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.
  • Leo Buscaglia