May 24th 2010
As a CPA, it helps to occasionally put yourself in your clients' shoes and learn what your firm looks like from their perspectives.
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Just this week I ordered some new workout equipment from a well-known sporting goods chain. I was told by the salesperson (who was terrific to work with) that I would be getting a call in a day or two to schedule delivery and set up. Four days later I called the store to see what was holding up the process. After being on hold for 5 minutes I hung up. Second call had much the same results. I tried again later. Eventually I reached a manager who gave me the direct dial for the delivery company. Only problem: when I called there, I was not in their system. Back to the sporting goods store and the long wait while I held on for someone to take my call. Eventually I reached a manager who indicated he would check into the matter and call me right back. The next day I received a phone call from the manager, apologizing for not getting back to me as promised and alerting me that the product I had purchased was out of stock. He was trying to get one as quickly as possible and would keep in touch to let me know when it arrived. BINGO! All I was asking for was information.
The store could've been pre-emptive, averting a situation that created an angry customer, by delighting me with a proactive approach. Instead of having me track them down, growing more and more frustrated in the process, they could've called me, alerted me to the status of the equipment, and avoided the hassle for both of us. I would have been very satisfied and not even disappointed to have to wait an extra week to ten days as long as my expectations were realistic.
What does this experience teach us as CPAs? Well, one obvious lesson is that you can find ways to think ahead, to get in front of the clients' possible issues, and avoid conflict by letting them know what is transpiring, or what is about to transpire. No one wants unpleasant surprises, so try to communicate often in order to skirt avoidable problems. If you are rescheduling an audit, are delivery documents later than originally anticipated, or have information they requested, get back to them quickly. Even if you don’t have what they need yet, call and let them know you are working on the request. Otherwise, they are left to their own imagination, perhaps driving concern about all sorts of problems that might not even exist.
Remember your best marketing is word of mouth referrals from super happy clients, so why not delight them, and let them speak on your behalf!