Delivering exceptional customer service. Most public accounting firms would like to do this, and most do. With a plethora of moving parts in that wheel of sensational customer service, it’s easy to get lost in the haze of what is critically important and what is less important. Many people have published lists related to instilling and growing a customer service culture in accounting firms–and what is on those lists is as varied as the autumn leaves in Garrett County.

If you’re looking for five hard-hitting components of customer service to focus on, here’s what I think is a pretty good starting point. This list by Steven MacDonald covers a lot of ground.

“Respond as quickly as possible” is MacDonald’s first point. Sadly, I’ve heard some accountants state that they have “gone days” before replying to client emails and calls. I know I’m preaching to the choir, but that doesn’t cut it in today’s world. If you leave a message for your car dealer’s service department and they don’t acknowledge your voicemail or email for three, four or even five days…how happy would you be? My guess is that you would be looking for a new car servicing option.

“Knowing your customers” is a solid point and it’s now more important than ever. Such relationship building and insight development provide the service professional with an even tighter connection to the customer or client. The more you know, the harder it is for them to leave you.

How do you react when situations don’t go as planned for you as a customer? We’ve all been there, whether it’s picking up the cake you ordered at the supermarket and the name is misspelled; a surly clerk at the hardware store; or the untrained server at The Cheesecake Factory.

When clients ask accountants for something, the first inclination is typically to give it to them, right? We’re largely a profession of helpful, caring people. We are servants to our clients–and proudly so. But what about when customers don’t have a glowing experience? Marketing research has shown that it takes a dozen positive experiences with a typical business for a customer to get over one negative occurrence. Go ahead and apply that bit of data to your clients and to your accounting firm.

How easily is your public accounting firm or company making it for your customers to do business with you? A customer who does not love you is only a short slide away into doubt or animosity. Take a look at MacDonald’s list and consider each point as it relates to your firm.

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“Your customer doesn’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”–Damon Richards

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