Four Reasons Clients Complain
Submitted by Troy Waugh
Through the years of consulting with accounting firms and helping them deal with client complaints, I have discovered there are four reasons behind these complaints.
Employees lack a "Can-do" attitude
If many of your employees lack a “can-do” attitude, it may be a symptom of a greater disease. Poor recruiting, training, pay or difficult working conditions can contribute to employees’ attitudes. Once you get beneath the surface of the issue, it can help you to focus on attracting the kind of people who will deliver the “can-do” spirit. Customer service training can be tremendously helpful. Most service providers are under the stress of getting the job done and are not trained to cover the personal service bases.
Clients don’t get what they want
Many times, the professional thinks he knows what the client needs without a great deal of communication. The reason clients don’t get what they want is because either one or both of the parties didn’t take time to confirm the order. In a great restaurant, servers focus on the customer, understand the menu thoroughly and always repeat back the order. So it is with professional services. When your clients don’t get what they want, it is because their desires have not been communicated clearly and solutions are not built around those desires.
A client is treated rudely
Usually clients are treated rudely by people who don’t have ownership of the work your firm is doing for them. A receptionist, another accountant or an administrative person can severely damage a great client relationship. There is never any excuse for clients being treated rudely.
Clients experience indifference
Professionals often seem focused on the task at hand; the tax return, the will, the valuation or the financial plan. A very competent professional may lack the communication skills to discuss the technical job with the client. The trick is to talk to each client in such a way as to not be over his head or to be talking down to him. Professionals who fail to customize their personal communication around the technical subject risk seeming indifferent. As you evaluate your current level of client service, use these “common complaints” as a resource for creating a proactive client service plan.
Voice of the Editor
Which isn’t completely true. I mean, occasionally I drop by when I manage to sneak out of the nonstop frat party over at Going Concern, but I’m mostly a wallflower over there. I’m happy to say that I’ve been given express permission (or explicit orders, if you like) to wander over here to AccountingWEB more often.
Why is that, you might ask? My job is to replace the irreplaceable Gail Perry as Editor-in-Chief. What does that mean? I don’t really know! I think it’ll be fun getting a feel for things, throwing in my own thoughts here and there, and listening to the discussions you’re having about the accounting profession.