3 Questions in Avoiding the CPA, Client Disconnectby
Whether your firm operates with clientele across many oceans, or with a smaller population in a mellow pond, it is always of the highest importance to stay connected with your clients.
A recent study was done about customer service (client/consumer interactions), and it showed that 70 percent of customers said they were at least somewhat unhappy, if not completely unhappy, with their providers. Meanwhile, 80 percent of the providers thought they were doing an excellent job.
That is a huge disconnect in the world of CPAs and other service providers, who naively believe that they are meeting their clients' needs.
CPAs need to refine the client experience in a way that acclimates to the environment we work in today.
Back in the day, CPAs could put their qualifications and services out there like bait for a pool of clients to grab hold of. Now, between Facebook ads and the smartphone takeover, we are constantly competing for the attention of our clients.
Every client is coming to you with these three essential questions — which they may ask directly or think to themselves — but is certainly bringing up such concerns:
1. Does this CPA really understand my needs?
Of course, there’s the obvious answers of what services CPAs can provide their clients: a financial statement or a tax return. But chances are, that isn’t the rawest form of their wants and needs.
They might need help with managing their cash during their slow season or need their fear of being audited expelled with some educational advice, but they can’t say it outright.
We must see through what our clients say they need and develop a strategic approach to finding out what they really need.
In the 1970s, British academic and consultant Neil Rackham created an effective sales process using the SPIN model — which stands for Situation questions, Problem questions, Implication questions and Need-Payoff questions.
Situation Questions establish background facts. How long have you been in business? What is your current legal structure?
Problem Questions explore discrepancies and dissatisfactions. How often do you meet with your accountant? How did you establish your pricing policy?
Implication Questions indicate the implied needs. What is the impact of you not having accessibility to an up-to-date financial report?
Need-Payoff Questions encourage the prospective client to focus on solutions. What do you see are the benefits of having an attentive accountant who really understands your industry and business?
2. Can this CPA do what they say?
No matter how many times they need to hear it, you need to be open, willing, and ready to reiterate that “yes, you can do it!”
You can assure them by communicating with them, follow up with emails or phone calls.
Don’t be that CPA who ensures tax deductions for the year but never contacts them with support. Don’t be the one who establishes deadlines that are never met because you do not have a solid platform to work from.
Create a schedule of contacts you want to make and emails to send. Establish the expectations between you and the client, clarify the reachable goals for yourself, and then keep the client in the loop.
3. Is the chemistry right between me and this CPA?
It is important to remain professional and business oriented with your clients but engage with them as human beings as well. This type of engagement will allow for more comfortability and natural collaboration.
Let them elaborate on all their worries, concerns, and even past experiences with CPAs, so you can get a clear understanding of who they are.
This will help you align your values with theirs, before even beginning your sales pitch or the services you provide. The first few forms of communication are integral to the road ahead.
Make sure you are really getting to know them. How do they want to communicate? What is important to them? How do they like to be dealt with?
It gives you the upper hand because you are going to be the CPA they want to work with. You will be more than an accountant, you will be a trusted business advisor.
Grab your fishing line, your rejuvenated and client-focused bait, and engage with the clients who may be getting washed to shore.
Salim Omar is the author of The Million Dollar CPA Firm. He is also a successful business owner of Straight Talk CPAs, an accounting firm, and President of CPA Marketing Genius. He has a passion for helping CPAs engage in personal growth and professional development. While he is...