The Quality Service Two-Step

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By Allan Boress, CPA - What does it take for the client to perceive quality client service? Look to your own lives and pay attention to how people take care of you as the customer or buyer.

In my case, I think it’s harder to find a good hair stylist than a good doctor. Couple of months ago mine decided to move her business to “The Villages” here in Lake County, FL. Well, that’s 45 minutes away on a good day, so I regretfully started the search for someone new. Last time it took me two years. Now I am in my eighth month.

So I stumbled into one of those McDonald’s-type hair joints this morning. Was greeted with “Name?” 10 minutes later someone called “Allan” and I wandered over to a dour looking middle-aged woman with a scissors in her hand. No greeting, nothing. “Scissors or shaver?” she grunted.

15 silent minutes later I left without a thank-you but with a very good cut. Will I go back? She didn’t seem to care despite my generous gratuity. And maybe I will due to lack of available talent in her vocation.

Maybe this lady was related to CPAs. One reason it’s so easy to take clients away from other CPAs is many of them practice this lady’s level of customer service: adequate or good technically, devoid personally.

In our studies going back to 1993, clients and customers perceive high quality service based on two distinct factors: good work and very good chemistry with the service provider. Because we sell air, the client often has few other ways to determine whether or not they are getting served.

At the beginning of my career I made a decision that has led to a prosperous livelihood as a speaker, consultant, CPA and employer: treat people as you would want to be treated.

As a customer I noticed most people were indifferent as to whether I bought from them or not. When they went out of their way to thank me, or show some sort of personal care, they won me over. That’s not how I wanted to be treated, so I adopted the mentality by dad taught me many years ago: “It can take 25 years for someone to come into your store, but you can lose them in 15 seconds.” Every client is a precious jewel, even the most annoying.

Similarly, as an employer I treated my employees as I had never been managed: praise often and early. Offer frequent cash bonuses, personal notes, asking about the family, remembering birthdays, celebrating births, attending funerals. Honestly - is this how you have been treated by the firm you work for? This kind relational of stuff seems to come much more naturally to women until they are ruined by our profession where males are the typical role models.

Maybe this approach to being a CPA led a new client told me yesterday while doing his taxed that he will be my customer for life. Are we the best accounting firm in our area? No, but we are apparently the only one that actually visibly cares for their clients as well as doing a bang-up job.

Public accounting and consulting are so easy to succeed wildly in, by simply remembering the Quality Service Two-Step: talented work, great chemistry.

By Allan S. Boress, CPA. Author of 12 published books, including “The I-Hate-Selling Book”.

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