Notwithstanding your high level of proficiency in accounting, poor customer service all too often becomes an issue for clients.
Today’s customers are looking for personalized service and that’s not an easy need to fulfil when you are busy working on the accounts. Here are ten ways a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) can deliver excellent customer service without losing focus on the accounting tasks at hand.
1. Be a Great CPA
The first and foremost step to providing excellent customer service, is to do your job well. Make sure you have the best CPA certification to build your career on. By knowing your job inside and out and always working in a professional manner, you will build a solid reputation that will result in repeat business and referrals.
2. Offer Self-service
The business world is amid what only can be described as an automation revolution. From small start-ups to large corporations, companies are seeking ways to automate everything – and that includes customer service. While you might think that goes against the idea of providing personalized service, think again. By adding a FAQ section to your website where clients can find everything they need, you are reducing the amount of effort they need to exert to do business with you – and less effort means a better customer experience.
3. Communicate and Listen
These are two simple skills that you need to work on simultaneously. Communicate with customers and listen to what they have to say. You can’t understand the needs and problems of customers if you don’t listen to them. Well, it might sound easy, but it’s not always pleasant to attend endless customer calls and deal with their complaints and problems. But this is one skill you need to improve to win the trust of customers. Be patient with customers and let them speak.
Also you need to improve your communication skills. You can’t always provide customers with instant solutions, but you can always ensure them that their problems will soon be resolved. Adopt a friendly tone to communicate with customers to strengthen your bond with them.
4. Use Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)
As a CPA you are already familiar with KPIs such as Receivables Aging, Net Profit or Current Ratio, but did you know you can also use Key Performance Indicators to obtain a 360-degree view of your service levels? Here are some example KPIs:
- Average Response Time (ART): Measures the amount of time your clients are on hold
- Net Promoter Score (NPS): Measures the percentage of customers rating their likelihood to recommend your service to others
- Customer Retention: Evaluates how many customers are returning to your accounting practice
5. Check Correspondence
A CPA’s ability to produce accurate accounts is critical in gaining the trust of clients. Make sure you apply this same attention to detail with your correspondence. Proofread all your email messages before hitting the send button to ensure you catch any spelling and grammar errors. If possible, have someone else in your office read complex letters as well, so you know your message is coming through clearly and accurately.
6. Show Empathy
Most customers want to be listened to first and foremost, but active listening is not a common ability for many accountants today. If you want to differentiate your customer service from the competition, learn to really hear what customers say so you can find the most effective solution to their needs. Empathy is an important trait that build loyal customer relationships. If customers feel that you truly understand their needs, they will be more likely to bring return business to you.
7. Get Social
Your customers are going to talk about you on social media, whether you are involved in the process or not. It is much better to take the bull by the horns and develop your own social media channels that customers can use at their convenience. Twitter and Facebook are common places for customers to ask questions and voice their opinions, so these would be good locations to begin your social media campaign. Like forums and blogs, these mediums need to be closely monitored in order to make the most of suggestions and head off disgruntled customers at the pass.
8. Work Quickly
In the fast-paced culture we live in today, no one wants to wait on the phone for an exorbitant amount of time. Look for ways your company can streamline your services without sacrificing the relationship with the customer in the process. Perhaps you need to add an extra person to your team to take calls during peak hours. When your customers do have to wait for service, make sure you apologize for the wait, and give them an extra dose of your five-star service to make up for their inconvenience.
9. Apologize if Necessary
If your customer is angry with a mistake your company made, do not be afraid to apologize for the situation. A simple, “I am terribly sorry for the frustration you have experienced with this incident, and I will try to make it right” will go a long way in turning an angry customer to a satisfied one once again. Examine you processes and re-design them if necessary to avoid the problem reoccurring.
10. Get Feedback
You can’t have a good reputation in the financial accounting market if you don’t deliver your customers the service they expect from you. This is the reason it is so important to encourage feedback from customers. Customers’ response and feedback reflects your performance. This is the most reliable way to understand the mindset, likes and dislikes of customers. Obtain feedback from your customers by conducting an online survey, by phone or simply by asking them at your next client meeting.
Accounting transactions have now given way to a full customer experience that encompasses every touch point a customer has with your company. Customer service must now be approached from a holistic viewpoint that includes contact online, in person and over the phone. Accountants that provide proper attention to all of these various touch points are the ones that are sure to provide excellent customer service, cultivate the most satisfied client base and grow their business.