There are simple factors that inspire the word-of-mouth referrals that companies love. Can you imagine a day when your accounting firm has more business than it can handle?
It’s a problem that most accountants would cheerfully give their right arms to face (or at least the right arms of less-productive staffers). But the service elements that inspire clients to wax poetic to their friends and associates about an accounting firm are the same as they are in businesses of all kinds, from mechanics to restaurants to plastic surgeons. Here are four very basic aspects of providing clients with good cause for speaking in glowing terms about your firm and its people.
- It’s about value. If you provide an excellent service at a reasonable price, keeping clients aware of the costs they are incurring as they happen, people will respect and appreciate the job you do. That doesn’t mean being the cheapest service provider around, necessarily. It means giving an outstanding value for their service investment.
- It’s about trust. Showing clients you put their needs first by doing what they need is critical. It’s even more impressive when you demonstrate impeccable ethics by letting them know they may not need a service they think they do, or that they’re already paying for. This kind of honorable behavior is never forgotten by clients, who will forever think of you as a service professional in whom they can place their utter and complete trust. It says you care about them more than you care about money.
- It’s about the client. Showing clients you value them as individuals benefits your firm as well as the clients. Stay involved with what’s going on in each client’s life to be alert for signs that their needs have changed. Whether it’s an alteration based on life stage like having a baby or getting married, or a more subtle change stemming from a shift in aversion to risk or emerging entrepreneurial interests, you can help them anticipate their needs and enter each new phase with solid advice to guide their endeavors. Relationships trump all.
- It’s about exceeding expectations. Clients have a relatively clear set of expectations from their financial professionals. They expect accuracy, professionalism and timely performance of the contracted work. When you go beyond these basics with a potential piece of legislation you keep them apprised of before it affects their business, a kind letter when you hear through the grapevine they’ve suffered a family loss, an after-hours meeting to deal with an emergency issue or some other way of showing you’ve really got their backs, you become elevated from service provider to personal advocate.
Human beings generate passionate feelings about others from experiences that stand out in their hearts and minds. Financial services are about numbers, but relationships are about people. If you deliver the value, integrity, personal attention and over-and-above performance that makes them feel warm and fuzzy, they’ll sing your praises loudly to everyone they meet, becoming brand evangelizers (and your unpaid salespeople). With a few of those out roaming the world, you’ll have all the business you can handle and then some.