And Then Some

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Does your firm consistently score high marks for client service? It's that little “and then some” that clients really get hooked on. Experts say that clients come back for the “little things” companies do for them, but that clients will rarely tell you about the “little things” that drive them out the door.

For example, if your receptionist is rude, that comment is not likely to show up on a client survey; however, it may cost you a client over an extended amount of time. Statistics show that you have about a 25% chance of a client complaining to you. Most of the time, clients let their shoes do the talking.

Here are some tips to help you pay attention to the “little things” that really count.

Make it personal. When you meet with a client, take an additional 5 or 10 minutes to “connect” with them. Ask about their business, family, or something else that is unique to them. Unless they are in a rush for time, this communicates that you are interested in them, not just their accounting issues.

Say their name. You've read the books. People like to hear their name. Get into the habit of saying a person's name throughout the conversation. If this isn't something you are comfortable with, start small. Use their name when you thank them for coming to your office or meeting with you.

Smile. Not a big deal, eh? Smiling makes a difference. Some people liken audits and taxes to going to the dentist. A smile can help them with the process.

Be courteous. Get in the habit of thanking clients. After a phone call, after a visit, during the holidays, whenever it's appropriate. Use titles that denote respect. Mr., Mrs., Dr., or use their first name if they prefer. Help your staff by providing guidelines. Some younger staff may be less formal than you would like them to be.

Ask. If you want to know how well you are doing, don't wait for a client survey. After your visit, ask your client if they are satisfied with your firm. Offer examples such as, “Was the receptionist helpful today?” The more specific you make your question, the better your feedback will be. If your client is happy with the service, ask for him/her to tell two people about you and your firm. Most satisfied clients are happy to give you a referral – all you have to do is ask!

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