Why so many clients are indifferent and don’t recommend you

Mar 28, 2023 | Client service, Referrals, Sole practitioners

Many accountants claim that they secure much of their new work through word of mouth referrals. This suggests that clients are making positive comments about their accountants. They may do that if they’re particularly happy but in the same way any unhappy clients will be quick to complain about their accountants.

I’ve heard a large number of people talking about their accountants in recent years and it’s fair to categorise those views as good, bad, or most often,  indifferent.

Good

This seems to imply that things couldn’t be better. Clients believe that their accountant does what they want, when they want it and for a fee that they consider to be good value for money. The client feels that they get all the advice they need they are very happy to recommend their accountant to friends and family.

Bad

Clients feel that they’re putting up with bad service, high fees and/or get little of value. Things may not be bead enough to seek out a new accountant but they certainly wouldn’t recommend their accountant to anyone they know.

Indifferent

This is how I describe those clients who think their adviser is ‘okay’. This might be because the accountant doesn’t wow the clients with great service nor do they feel that the accountant is charging excessive fees.

Sadly it seems to me that a high proportion of people think their accountant is just ‘okay’. The fact that they haven’t complained doesn’t mean we can assume that they think their accountant is ‘good’. It also means that the client is more at risk of moving to a new  accountant than we might assume.

The new accountant might be more visible and helpful online eg: in facebook groups /or in comments on Linkedin posts; they might be reaching out and ‘meeting’ (online or offline) with your clients to start building relationships. They will then be front of mind when your client’s indifference towards you, becomes dissatisfaction due to lack of perceived care, attention or increased fees etc.

‘My accountant is great’

When I saw this comment on a business forum I asked the person concerned what made them say that? Here’s their reply:

“He keeps things very straightforward in his explanations not that I have any particularly complex matters to deal with but he acts quickly, keeps costs to a reasonable amount (not cheap but sufficient value), makes himself available as and when needed and I get comfort from the fact that he has a successful practice, nice small modern offices and polite and helpful staff. When I have required explanations re: overseas investments, capital gains tax, what I can put against tax to minimise it legally, he delivers his knowledge in an easy to assimilate manner”.

I think that’s about it in a nutshell. Of course different clients want different things from their accountants. And different elements of your service and style will appeal to different clients.

If your clients are getting the service and attention  they want from you at a price they’re happy to pay then they MIGHT have a positive view and they might express this when asked for a recommendation.

Are you consciously doing anything to ensure that your clients see you as good, rather than bad, or do you risk them being indifferent?

It’s only if your clients think you’re good that they’ll be saying positive things about you. And if you rely on word of mouth referrals for new clients, you may find that we are moving into an age when you need to adopt a more active approach to encourage more of the referrals you really want.

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