How exceptional is your client service?

By Francesca Zelasko

What’s the No. 1 goal of CPA firms everywhere? To attract more clients and then retain them for decades. But, because many services CPA firms provide must meet rigid requirements and standards, the level of service that clients receive in these areas often is the same from firm to firm.
To make your firm stand out from the rest of the pack, you must offer outstanding service to each and every client, each and every day.
Dare to be different
Providing outstanding service means doing more than just what you have to or what a client requests. And, it means being willing to not be paid for the extra work.
An added-value approach to client service is especially relevant now, when many clients are trying to put the recession behind them and move forward. They’ll likely be appreciative of anything you do for them that gives them more for their money – or that they don’t have to pay for.
How to add value
Finding ways to help clients move ahead can be as simple as looking at a client’s situation and thinking about ways to improve it. For example:
  • Share helpful information. Clients appreciate learning about ways to minimize taxes, improve operations, and achieve their financial objectives. Share such information by sending out a client newsletter with articles pertinent to their industry, profession, or personal situation. Also, e-mail articles, tax law change alerts, or links to Web sites that deal with topics of interest to them.
  • Provide a free business assessment. Small business owners will be especially grateful for an outside review of their operations, strategies, or finances that suggests ways to save money or make more of it. Consider benchmarking their operations to point out areas that are underperforming, or reviewing their loans to see if refinancing would make sense. Or, perform a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) analysis to determine where changes in their business or marketing strategy might be in order.
  • Offer free seminars. These days clients are trying to figure out issues such as how health care reform will affect them, what tax incentives they should take advantage of and how they can incorporate social media into their marketing programs. By hosting free seminars on such subjects, you can add value to client relationships and position your firm as a thought leader.
  • Start a best-practices group. Bringing clients with similar interests together – for example, construction contractors or physicians – enables them to share ideas, address common issues, and get answers to questions about ways to do things better. You can start a physical group that meets, for example, quarterly for lunch. Or you can create an online group, such as one on LinkedIn.
Benefits to you
Adding value to what you do for clients doesn’t just help them; it helps you, too. Clients who’ve experienced your exceptional service will be more likely to turn to your firm for assistance on additional personal and business financial matters. And then you’ll have another opportunity to wow them.
About the author:
Francesca Zelasko is director of accountant partner programs and partner marketing. Zelasko has more than 10 years of progressive marketing experience within the technology industry including SaaS, software, hardware and middleware products and services. She currently oversees the overall Accountant Channel for SurePayroll which includes Referral and Reseller partners and customized products.
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