During my annual networking ski trip I asked a number of my fellow entrepreneurs and business owners to talk to me about their accountants. I have since written 3 articles for AccountingWeb by reference to the notes of those conversations.The first article has been published and has already stimulated much online discussion.
By way of summary and especially if you don’t have time to read the whole thing I have summarised below the 10 mistakes which were identified as frustrating by my interviewees:
- Working too close to deadlines – regardless of when clients supply their information;
- Charging differing (time based) fees each year even when the work done is substantially the same;
- Failing to offer business focused advice to business clients;
- Taking an unreasonable amount of time to respond to client enquiries and to follow up after meetings with them;
- Refusing to provide regular advice sought by clients;
- Omitting to provide the most basic piece of advice sought by clients as it’s not embedded in the accountant’s standard procedures;
- Delegating work to junior staff who cannot communicate effectively with clients;
- Failing to make the client feel that their views and desires are important;
- Taking on a client even though it will become obvious the accountant has no relevant experience of that business sector and is unwilling to close the gap;
- An absence of processes such that client feels the accountant is disorganised and making it all up as they go along.
When these sort of issues come up during mentoring conversations I stress that what matters is the client’s perception, as their perception is their reality.
The skill comes in learning how to help clients to recognise that you are doing your best to help them, that you’re on their side, and that you understand and want to help them succeed in their business.
The language you use in conversations, emails and forms/checklists all contribute to your clients’ perceptions. How confident are you that your clients aren’t harbouring unspoken frustrations that could mean they are ready to move to a new adviser any day now?