Deliver 5-star service

Jul 30, 2019

What are the first impressions that a client gets when they walk into your reception?

Is the room full of paper and desks, and a bit chaotic?

Are they warmly welcomed by your front-of-house?

Do you struggle with attracting higher profile clients?

First impressions matter. We are no longer being compared to other accountants. In a world where customers are being spoilt with wow experiences from the likes of Amazon and Apple, we too will be compared, to an extent, with the experience that a customer last received.

The level of experience you provide to a client will be directly linked to the perceived value of your service in the client’s eyes. The greater the perceived value, the more you will be able to charge – or the easier it will be to justify your fees.

This is about positioning. When you position yourself as giving a wow experience then clients will remember.

The client experience

Little changes can have big impact. Below are some of the things I implemented in our practice some years ago that still generate positive comments from new visitors today. They are things that you too can implement in your office without too much bother.

  • Parking sign with name of client / visitor to welcome them as they come in for a meeting
  • Tidy and serene reception area with your branding
  • Friendly receptionist to welcome the client by name as they walk in
  • Coffee menu in reception
  • Fruit bowl / bottled water / cookies in boardroom

I know of accountants that have gone even further. Like literally rolling out the red carpet from the car park to the office for clients!

Whatever you choose to do, have the client experience in mind. If you have a prospect coming to your office, their impressions will be forming the minute they arrange the appointment.

Do you immediately send out a confirmation note once the meeting is arranged and then follow up with a reminder by text, perhaps the day before?

Do you clearly send out directions to the office, along with parking instructions, so the prospect is not left in any doubt as to where you are?

Going a step further, do you wow a prospect by sending a video showing the locations of your office and parking?

The impressions that a prospect has will directly influence the price they are willing to pay for your services. The greater the perceived value generated by your positioning, the greater likelihood of the prospect agreeing to a higher fee than an accountant who didn’t implement any of the above.

Think about the brands and companies that you admire and that have made you feel that ‘wow’ factor when you’ve seen them, e.g. Apple, John Lewis, and then try and emulate some of what they do in your client experience.

On-boarding process

Once a new client has come on board then do not drop the baton. You are at the highest level of regard in the client’s mind when they first come on board, so keep the momentum going. The first 100 days of the client relationship are so important.

Create an on-boarding process that has the buy-in of your team. A good on-boarding process sets out the expectations for the client and what will happen. Remember, you may take on clients all the time, but a client does not move accountant often. By setting out what will happen over the course of the first 6 months you will give the client a wow experience and reassure them that you were the right choice.

Send a gift

It’s also nice to receive a gift. So thank the client for placing their trust in you. We send out a card and gift (branded powerpack) to welcome the client to our firm a few days after they have signed up. The more touch points you can have with a client the better.

On-going service

It’s easy to forget about delivering great service to clients once they are on board and paying a regular monthly fee. Trying to win new business tends to get the better of us. However, our existing clients are our most powerful lead generator. Without doubt the single most powerful source of new business for most firms is still referrals.

Referrals only come when you truly go over and above for clients. Just doing what is expected is not sufficient.

Everyone talks about adding value. But have you defined what ‘adding value’ means to your team? Your team need to know exactly what it is that constitutes adding value in order to tangibly deliver it to clients. We developed our own value pyramid listing all the actual things we can do to add value to clients - right from the admin tasks up to high value strategic planning.

Some of these include:

-Next working day response times to all client emails / phone calls – if the full response will take longer, then a holding reply must be sent within the time frame

-Offering electronic signing to clients to save them time printing off tax returns, accounts etc. before sending back

-Proactive monthly or quarterly calls to ‘check-in’ and see if there is anything we can help with, discussing the challenges the client is facing etc.

-Never just sending out accounts without a jargon-free narrative explaining pertinent points in a way the client will understand

-Use of video to answer client queries / assist with software training etc.

Action point: If you want to get high value clients, then consider the experience that you offer from the time when prospects walk through your door to ensuring that you constantly deliver 5-star service.