Archive for the ‘Client service’ Category

Thursday, March 26th, 2020

Keep Communicating With Your Clients

“Wise men speak because they have something to say; Fools because they have to say something.” – Plato

I happen to be on the mailing list of many CPA firms and I have been so pleased to see how well you are all communicating with your clients.

Now is the time they need reassurance from you. They will need lots of assistance in the days, weeks and months ahead and you are their “go-to” person.

I have assembled some of the communications as inspiration for you. You can download a copy of my compilation of just a few of the emails firms are sending to clients.

 

  • Good communication is just as stimulating as black coffee, and just as hard to sleep after.
  • Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Wednesday, March 18th, 2020

You Are A Star

“It is kind of fun to do the impossible.” – Walt Disney

When you work for Disney all employees are referred to as cast members. Cast members refer to every employee, not just the ones who portray Disney characters.

473CB98A-3331-416C-BE99-D52F25AD638CThis method came from Walt Disney himself. He wanted to create a theme park that was a magical place for all the visitors. To him, each day, the employees were putting on a show, a magical show. It is about managing the guests’ experience.

You can bring this line of thinking into your busy, successful CPA firm. You are the same as Disney – you are providing a service and a wonderful experience for your customers (clients). You want each client, potential client, visitor or vendor dealing with your firm to have the same Smith, Jones & Company experience whether it is the Mr. Big Shot client or the Elderly Lady client.

So, when things get back to normal (after working remotely for a while), walk into the office and remember that you are going on stage. You are a star in your firm’s production. As you work from home, you can apply the same process. You will be talking with clients via phone, texting and emailing them. Let your “on stage” personality shine through.

Later on, help your firm develop some guidelines for the client experience at your firm and train future employees on how to manage the client experience.

Here are some “secret” rules for Disney employees.

  • The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.
  • Walt Disney

Monday, March 16th, 2020

Stay Positive

“I’ve decided to be happy because it is good for my health.” – Voltaire

It is a strange time for all of you working in public accounting. Of course, it is tax season. Client service must continue as usual. However, strange and unfamiliar circumstances have been layered on top of business as usual.

Many of you are working from home this week and for the unforeseeable future. In my state of Ohio, all schools will be closed at the end of today.

This new day and week will bring new challenges. However, I know that CPAs and all their team members will meet the challenges with style and grace. They will be creative, curious and dedicated.

Already, I have heard from many firms about how they are handling the challenges. I will post about some solutions that CPA firms are embracing tomorrow. It is a time of flexibility and creativity and I KNOW you are good at that.

I love to share quotes and it is time for some positive ones! Below are a few (via @SkipPrichard). Follow this link to read his entire post – 24 Quotes to help you relax when you are stressed.

Your mind will answer most questions if you learn to relax and wait for the answers.” – William Burroughs

“There is more to life than increasing its speed.” – Mohandas Gandhi

“Sometimes the most productive thing you can do is relax.” – Mark Black

  • Nothing can bring you peace but yourself.
  • Ralph Waldo Emerson

Wednesday, March 11th, 2020

Always Look Successful

“Opportunities don’t happen. You create them.” Chris Grosser

You ask your clients for a substantial amount when you provide services. You are a professional and it has taken a lot of investment in college education, your continuing professional education and simply keeping current on trends in your area of expertise.

I believe your fees should reflect your expertise, professionalism and your success. How do your clients know you are professional and successful? They base it on what they see and how you act.

You should never feel guilty about charging clients what you are worth! But, I believe you need to show them that you are successful. They base their opinions on things like:

  • How you dress each business day.
  • The kind of car you drive.
  • Where you live.
  • Where you dine.
  • Where you are visible in your business and charitable community.
  • Your conversational skills.
  • Your abilities to write proficiently and speak confidently.

Even if you are a new CPA, you are a professional working in a professional firm. Clients sometimes see you and often talk with you via phone. They assume because you are a CPA, that you have all the technical skills. They judge your professionalism, your success, and your worth by a lot of other things. This is especially true when you are interacting with potential clients, successful business people who really don’t know you.

  • The starting point of all achievement is desire.
  • Napoleon Hill

Friday, February 28th, 2020

Set Clear Expectations For 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. So many CPAs just wait on the client to call if there is an issue they need help with. Surveys have told us over and over again that clients want their CPA to be more proactive.

Be more proactive when it comes to obtaining the client’s tax information. For most firms, it is an annual, painful drama. Here’s a message one firm has sent out (in late February) to their clients. It went out in an email. It is a simple thing to do and guess what? It might help!

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Have We Received Your Personal Tax Information?

April 15th will be here before you know it! Have you turned in your personal tax information? Remember, in order to ensure a timely filing of your tax return (to avoid an extension), we must have your information by March 11, 2020. All tax organizers were sent to clients in December of 2019. If you need another copy, please let us know. Please be sure to bring us your information so we are able to get started. If you are waiting for a few items, not a problem! Bring us what you have, we will get started, and then bring in the additional information as it arrives.
 
If you have any questions regarding your personal tax return, please contact our office. Thank you for your help.

  • Treat a man as he is and he will remain as he is. Treat a man as he can and should be and he will become as he can and should be.
  • Stephen R. Covey

Thursday, February 27th, 2020

Don’t Be Afraid of Feedback

“Nobody’s perfect. We all have blind spots and perspective gaps. We need negative feedback if we’re going to grow.” – Justin Bariso

Are you afraid of feedback? I hear stories from many CPA firms about the lack of support for upward feedback surveys and client feedback surveys. Once a firm leader told me that her partners were afraid of upward feedback – afraid it would be negative and hurtful. Another leader stated, “Our partners don’t want to do an upward feedback survey. They said they don’t care what our people think.” Oh, my.

Elon Musk recently made the following statement (tweeted) relating to his solar tile product. “Please let us know what improvements we can make to any aspect of Tesla SolarGlass roof! Critical feedback is much appreciated.”

The key statement here is the last sentence: Critical feedback is much appreciated.

Are you, as a firm leader, appreciative of critical feedback?

Tell us what we can do better. – – That should be the statement you are continually making to your clients and to your people. Then, listen and take action.

Read this informative article by Justin Bariso (via Inc.).

  • When the feedback comes, don't view it as an attack. Rather, see it as a gift--a chance to learn.
  • Justin Bariso

Wednesday, February 26th, 2020

I Call It the Bad Apple

“To keep poor performers in place is to risk the future of the firm.” – Ron Baker

Recently, I read a great article by Ron Baker (you all know Ron Baker!).

His title for the article is Negative human capital and how it affects your firm. I simply call it The Bad Apple and have blogged about it several times. That being said, you MUST read Baker’s article.

Here’s an excerpt:

We do people no favors when we let them languish in a job they are not capable of performing well, or for which they have no heart. The philosophy, “hire slow and fire quick,” is sound advice. How do you know when it is time to let someone go? Ask yourself if you would hire this person again. Think how you would feel if this person came to you and said he or she was leaving to pursue another opportunity.

It is simply unacceptable to other team members to keep people in the firm who are not meeting expectations. The negative morale effects are significant, and will ripple throughout the company. Poor performers are not good role models, do not make good mentors, and may even be damaging customer relations. If the leaders don’t make these tough decisions regarding the most important form of intellectual capital in their firms, who will?

In my consulting work, I have observed that partners make excuses upon excuses for why they can’t let some go even when the entire staff would breathe a sigh of relief. Even when the person has caused repeated turnover because people cannot put up with their bullying.

It only takes 7 minutes to read the entire article.

  • We do people no favors when we let them languish in a job they are not capable of performing well, or for which they have no heart.
  • Ron Baker

Wednesday, February 5th, 2020

Achieving What Matters

“A year from now you may wish you had started today.” Karen Lamb

Partners get distracted. They also get comfortable.

Sometimes they end up repeating what they do over and over again. They are not stretching themselves to change, evolve and achieve new goals. The same applies to many managers working in CPA firms.

Often, the agreed-upon goals are not achieved because guess what? They are too busy doing what they always do. New, important things that matter are put on the back burner.

Here’s a quote from Peter Drucker that you should apply:

“What results are you being paid to achieve? List three tasks that you should eliminate to be productive.” – Drucker

Once you list them – then deal with them.

  • The great glorious masterpiece of man is to know how to live with purpose.
  • Michel de Montaigne

Monday, February 3rd, 2020

Make Your Clients Say Wow

“Don’t be yourself – be someone nicer.” – Mignon McLaughlin

When was the last time you did something to show your most valued clients and lucrative prospects that you are thinking about them?

What about doing something for your team members during the next few stressful months?

How about sending them some green bagels on St. Patrick’s Day (I know a local law firm that did this every year)? Deliver a pumpkin pie just before Thanksgiving. It could be something as small as some of your promo items – pens, post-it notes, notepads, coffee mugs or candy with the firm logo.

For your team, it could be a thank-you note to their family for being so understanding during tax season. A handwritten thank-you note to the team member when they have gone above and beyond. It could also be new coffee mugs, portfolios, logo shirts or candy sent to their home on their birthday.

fullsizeoutput_45bdThis came to mind because I received a promo package from OnPay, an online payroll processing service last week. It contained a small box of candy, a nice coffee mug, lip balm, and some great coffee. I was thrilled and it did cause me to write this blog post.

What can you “cause” your clients and team members to do by just being thoughtful?

  • I always prefer to believe the best of everybody, it saves so much trouble.
  • Rudyard Kipling

Tuesday, January 28th, 2020

Ask Your Clients For Help

“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

One popular question on any CPA firm client survey has told us that your best clients want to help you get more clients.

The survey question: Have you ever recommended us to any of your business friends/associates? The one answer we most often get is, “No one at the firm has ever asked me for referrals.”

You will be talking with so many clients during the next couple of months. Ask them if they are happy with your services and if you are meeting their expectations. Then, take the opportunity to ask them to recommend you to their friends and acquaintances. If you are providing awesome client service, they will be more than happy to talk about your firm to others.

Simply ask, “If you have been pleased with the service we provide, would you be willing to recommend us to others?” Hopefully, they are pleased!

  • Satisfaction is a rating. Loyalty is a brand.
  • Shep Hyken