Archive for the ‘Client service’ Category

Thursday, May 30th, 2019

Powerful Words

TYou“We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Thank you. Aren’t those words wonderful, pleasing, and sometimes rare?

I have always urged CPAs and their individual team members to handwrite personal thank you notes to their clients and others.

A handwritten thank you also makes a great impression if you have been interviewed for a job. At many firms, that simple act moves a candidate up a few notches on the hiring scale.

I received the card in the picture yesterday. A young man, completely unknown to me, contacted me to ask some questions about getting a job in public accounting. We talked about how his interest in technology would be a plus and about what size of accounting firm he should approach.

How nice of him to send me a handwritten thank you.

Maybe you have a client who has a child graduating this year, from high school or college. A handwritten congratulations card would be an impressive thing to send.

  • Let us be grateful to people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.
  • Marcel Proust

Wednesday, May 22nd, 2019

Focus On Your Fans

“The foundation stones for a balanced success are honesty, character, integrity, faith, love and loyalty.” – Zip Ziglar

You had a successful first quarter. Busy season was busy for both tax and audit and you and your team interacted with some wonderful, loyal clients, also known as your fans. They keep coming back year after year because they like you, they trust you and are pleased with the services you provide.

In a recent partner meeting or retreat, you have probably explored ways to land new clients. Lots of good ideas were expressed, new ways to attract exactly the right type of client.

Of course, you should do things to build your brand but don’t forget about the loyal following you already have.

Develop ways to engage devoted clients (your fans) to help you spread the word. A referral from a current client is golden. However, what happens most often with accountants is the fact that they simply don’t ask current clients for their help.

As Seth Godin tells us, “Ideas spread from person to person. Horizontally.” Read his helpful post here.

  • I'm as loyal as anyone and will do anything for people I respect. But if you don't give that back to me in return, you're dead to me.
  • Eric Weddle

Thursday, May 16th, 2019

Client Service and Technology

“The team at your firm needs to know how to provide excellent client service. It should be clear to them what the firm’s expectation is and that you enable each person to provide excellent client service.” – Randy Johnston

I believe that excellent, over-the-top, client service is your best marketing strategy. Your clients will brag about you to others because that kind of client/customer service is rare these days.

I usually visit two groceries on a regular basis. One is huge and offers everything you could possibly need in the grocery category. The other is also a chain but a small, specialized type. The large one offers self-checkout and a few full-service lanes are open even though they have numerous ones that are always closed. The smaller one has no self-checkout. The clerks in the large one rarely talk to you and almost never smile. The clerks in the smaller one are always friendly, talkative and helpful. The large one has cheaper prices. The smaller one is usually slightly higher in price. Which one do I visit the most? You guessed it. Friendly, caring, engaging customer service out-weighs pricing.

Today,  am sending you to an article by Randy Johnston via CPA Practice Advisor. He gives us lots of technology tools to help with awesome client service.

He notes: But most of you who have been in business for a while recognize right away that there is a difference between academic smart, book smart, certification smart, common sense, clever, innovative and practical. 

And: How can we use technology to enable great client service? First, we should define what we want as our client service deliverable. Technology tools can make each client service interaction easier, more seamless and professional.

 

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

Friday, May 3rd, 2019

An Opportunity Exists

“Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.” – Bill Gates

For many years CPAs working in small to mid-size firms have been delighted when a client of a big, national firm realized they were paying way too much for services that a smaller firm could provide in a more affordable manner and with more care and attention.

Sometimes the larger firms will actually refer certain clients to local and regional firms because they were just too small to fit the big firm’s profile. A too small client of a national firm is often a very large client for a local/regional firm.

This opportunity continues, but another opportunity has been created by the merger mania within the CPA profession.

When one of your local competitors merge-up, there will be clients who do not want to be part of the larger, acquiring firm. We usually see the departure of clients after the first tax season. The “new” firm just does not provide the same, intimate client relationship as the former firm. This is partly because their key contact is retiring and a new person has been introduced and partly because the larger firm has different methods and maybe those methods are just not as friendly and comfortable to the smaller firm clients.

Make sure that any client who is dissatisfied with their current firm knows about your firm – build your brand and reputation and be visible in your business community. Even more important, always be in tune with how your own clients feel about your service.

  • Spend a lot time talking to customers fact to face. You'd be amazed how many companies don't listen to their customers.
  • Ross Perot

Wednesday, May 1st, 2019

After Tax Season Debriefing

“Questions are never indiscreet, answers sometimes are.” – Oscar Wilde

Every year, in late April or early May, CPA firms have a debriefing to uncover the good, the bad, and the ugly of tax season. What worked well, what was a disaster and how do we do better next year? You can read some suggestions on my blog of several years ago.

This year, Roman Kepczyk, Director of Consulting for Right Networks shares a Tax Season Debriefing Checklist in his article in CPA Practice Advisor.

Maybe this checklist will help you structure your debriefing in a more production format.

  • Some men see things as they are and ask, 'Why?' I dream things that never were and ask, 'Why not?'
  • Robert F. Kennedy

Monday, April 29th, 2019

Stale and Repetitive

“Repetition doesn’t create memories. New experiences do.” – Brian Chesky

A lot of accounting work is repetitive. People get bored with repetitive.

Inside firms, a lot of HR and career development programs become very repetitive. If you want to keep people engaged and positive, ask yourself these questions:

  • Is your performance evaluation process stale?
  • How about the way you provide CPE (Continuing Professional Education)?
  • Is there anything unique about the employee benefits package you offer your team?
  • Do you keep some people on the same client engagements for years and years?

If you never refresh and redesign your employee feedback process, the people receiving the feedback and the people providing the feedback will both begin to dread the process.

Are you assessing the need for training and providing the same resources that you have for five or ten years? The types of training and the way it is delivered have changed drastically over the last several years. There is still time to make a change in this area this year.

I have visited several CPA firm websites where they list their complete benefits package on the website. Do you do this? Have a summary of your benefits as a hand-out for everyone interviewing with the firm. What do you offer that is unique? Flexibility is not unique any longer but it is something that you will definitely want to offer.

I have heard the arguments for years and years…. “our clients want to see the same people on their engagement EVERY year.” That is often true but it does not allow for career growth. Young accountants, in public accounting, learn by continually being assigned to more and more difficult work. Don’t let your managers cling to the more interesting assignments because they have become too comfortable. Ask your less experienced people step-up to more challenging assignments.

  • Better die than live mechanically a life that is a repetition of repetitions.
  • D. H. Lawrence

Thursday, April 18th, 2019

Exceptional Service

“Every contact we have with a customer influences whether or not they’ll come back. We have to be great every time or we’ll lose them.” – Kevin Stirtz

Want to attract new clients? Then make your current clients say, “Wow!” Providing exceptional service is your best marketing activity.

This is from Tom Peters:

There’s a big Bain study I quote: 8% of customers think the service they RECEIVE is “exceptional.” 80% of companies think the service they GIVE is “exceptional.” I call it “the 8-80 chasm.”

If you want your clients to say, “Wow!” you have to do something unique, out of the ordinary. Enlist the help of all your people. What do they think you could do to achieve Wow?

Read more about your clients saying WOW.

  • Assumptions are the termites of relationships.
  • Henry Winkler

Friday, April 12th, 2019

Managing Remote Employees

“A leader’s job is not to do the work for others, it’s to help others figure out how to do it themselves, to get things done, and to succeed beyond what they thought possible.” – Simon Sinek

It is finally becoming fairly commonplace in the world of public accounting. Firms are hiring more and more remote employees. Firms also seem to be struggling with exactly how to manage these somewhat invisible people.

First of all, don’t let them be invisible. There are just too many technology tools available today that can make a remote employee feel almost like one working inside your office.

Google, who employs nearly 100,000 workers spread over 150 cities in more than 50 countries (on five continents) did a study of more than 5,000 employees. They measured well-being, performance, and connectedness (and other things). They came up with recommendations on how to keep things consistent.

Here are three things they recommend for remote teams:

  1. Get to know your people
  2. Set clear boundaries
  3. Forge connections

Read this article via Inc. and learn more about these three things and how to make remote employees (and your firm) more successful.

  • "We were happy to find no difference in the effectiveness, performance ratings, or promotions for individuals and teams whose work requires collaboration with colleagues around the world versus Googlers who spend most of their day to day working with colleagues in the same office,"
  • Veronica Gilrane, Manager of Google's People Innovation Lab

Thursday, April 11th, 2019

Get A New Job

“To find joy in work is to discover the fountain of youth.” – Pearl S. Buck

It has been a stressful, busy and maybe frustrating few months. In a few days, it will be over. You can recuperate for a week or so and then it will be on to new deadlines and responsibilities. Sometimes, we get burned out and our attitude slips downward.

I found this fascinating excerpt from Seth Godin’s book, Linchpin. I recommend it highly.

When I first read the following chapter, I immediately thought of the CPAs, firm administrators and the entire administrative team. It could apply to anyone working inside a CPA firm.  I have posted it before, several years ago, but I think this is a good time to read it again. See what you think:

Getting a New Job Without Leaving

One day, Binny Thomas stood up.

She stood up, spoke up, and started doing a new job.  She didn’t leave her organization, didn’t even get a new title or new responsibilities.  Instead, she started doing her old job in a new way.  Binny stopped going to meetings with the goal of finding deniability or problems to avoid. Instead, she started leaning in and seeking out projects where she could make a difference.

Suddenly, Binny was inspired. She was looking for opportunities instead of hiding from blame. She was putting herself on the line, pushing through the dip, and making things happen. The fascinating (and universal) truth is that the opportunities came after she was inspired – she wasn’t inspired by the opportunities.

Binny’s old job was just fine. She did it extremely well. She followed the map, followed instructions, did what she was told and got paid what she was worth.  Binny wasn’t in danger of losing her job, but she had already given up her soul. She had plateaued, this was the end. Then she changed her mind.

Six weeks later, she got a huge promotion and another, even better new job than the new job she had given herself. Binny is now running a worldwide program of motivated scholars. All it took was a choice. Binny didn’t ask for permission to do her job better; she merely decided to.

Are you looking to others to make your job better, more enjoyable?  Are you sometimes in denial? Are you doing an adequate job but feel like you have plateaued?  Read the last sentence of the chapter, above, again.

 

  • Far and away the best prize that life has to offer is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.
  • Theodore Roosevelt

Monday, April 8th, 2019

Podcast – Issues Facing CPA Firms Today

“I am still learning.” – Michelangelo

Thanks so much to Brannon Poe of Poe Group Advisors for talking with me about CPA firm management and for featuring our conversation on his recent podcast.

Brannon-PoeBrannon began facilitating successful accounting practice transitions in 2003 and pioneered a consulting-based approach to transitioning accounting firms, which culminated in Poe Group Advisors’ unique process – The Seamless Succession™.

I know it is a busy week but bookmark the podcast and listen while you are commuting or next week, when you are recuperating from tax season.

  • Yesterday I was clever, so I changed the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.
  • Rumi