Clients Know What They Want. Do You?

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by Jean Caragher and Rick Telberg

Seven Keys to Successful CPA Firm Management

Significant gaps exist between what clients really think and what CPAs seem to believe is important to their clients.

These gaps indicate a need for CPAs to revise their thinking. They also indicate opportunities for CPA firms to make changes that will improve client satisfaction and retention.

Click here to get the free Executive Summary of the researchFor instance, there's clear gap between client sentiment and CPA firm perception relates to the importance of the firm providing new or different services.

One-fourth of the clients surveyed cited a need for additional services as a reason to leave a CPA firm. Yet only 15 percent of CPA firms recognize the importance of new services.

Although only seven percent of clients surveyed cited personal friendship with a new CPA as a reason to switch firms, 17 percent of CPAs thought this was an important reason for a change of firm.

Clearly, this is less important than CPAs think. CPAs need to be doing more to listen to client needs and to anticipate their need for new and different services. Then they need to develop and deliver those new or different services.

CPAs should focus less on personal issues and concern themselves with business issues. This focus will enable them to understand better the needs of their clients and provide the services and the attentiveness to their needs that drives customer loyalty. Being proactive with clients is another very important gap in the perception of CPAs.

While 40 percent of the clients surveyed listed a lack of pro-active advice as a reason to change firms, only 15 percent of CPAs seem to understand how important this is to their clients.

Clearly, clients want their CPAs to take the lead and become more proactive in anticipating their needs and preparing themselves to meet the needs as they emerge.

CPAs should:

1. be proactive in notifying clients of important legal or tax code changes that affect them, and

2. be more proactive in anticipating and providing new and different services to meet the emerging needs of their clients as their business changes.

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