What Do Clients Expect from Their Accountant?
Of course clients expect their accountants to provide solutions. But above all, clients like advisers who listen to them. Not just because listening increases the chances of tailoring a better solution that meets their specific needs - after all an adviser can listen and still be unclear what the client wants as truly smart listening requires smart questioning. Studies (e.g. Rockfeller Corporation, Aquila and Koltin, 1992) demonstrate that clients do not buy solutions. "Responsiveness to phone calls" and "sincere interest in developing a long-term relationship" ranked significantly higher in importance than "technical skill - ability to devise best solutions". We value that our adviser cares enough to listen.
(Incidentally, that is why we offer a number of concrete guarantees that "force" us to respond to your needs and respond fast).
Why is it so Important that Your Expectations are Ascertained ?
Unfortunately, people too often assume that other people are like them. They project their own desires and attitudes onto other people. We don't assume; we look carefully to learn what is there – rather than what is expected to find. Consider us like your GP: The more we know about you, the better we can serve you.
No two clients have the same expectations. We know that you judge our performance by reference to what you expect from us. Finding out what your business "needs" and "wants" are, will ensure that we deliver a service that scores high with your expectations (or even exceeding them!) and helps your business to achieve its objectives.
How we Ascertain Your Expectations: the Questionnaire
Ascertaining your expectations is a never-ending process as we live in a dynamic world. However, we initially learn about your "needs" and "wants" from the answers that you give to our Expectations Questionnaire. Those answers give us enough information to diagnose your business' strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats and plans as well as information about how in your opinion a valuable accounting service should be delivered. Based on the diagnosis we can determine how we can help your business to move from where it is to where you want it to go. Your answers will also serve to determine what specific accounting services your business requires and whether we have the resources to adequately service your business.
There are no "right" or "wrong" answers in the Questionnaire because every business is different. We tried to make the questionnaire as quick and easy to answer as possible. We encourage you to complete it for an additional reason: It will "force" you to do some thinking and give you a valuable insight into your business. Do not forget that the real value of any business planning exercise is not in setting goals and then achieving them - you very well know that goals and strategies change quickly because we change our minds all the time. What matters is what happens when you look into your business as you make the plan: you learn.
We strongly encourage you to interview us too and ask as many questions as you need during the free initial consultation meeting, to allow you to reach an informed decision. Finally, we would like to to thank you for taking the time to complete the questionnaire. Please note that the information you give us is not disclosed to anyone (see privacy statement) and we guarantee that you will not be approached by sales-oriented contacts. We will contact you within 3 days of receiving your questionnaire. We are looking forward to meeting you in person very soon.
Why is Compatibility so Important in the Relationship?
We would like to develop a long-term and mutually productive relationship with our clients. One of the most essential ingredients required to do that is the existence of compatibility in the relationship between the client and his accountant. There are two elements to compatibility:
It is the natural affinity, the "chemistry" between the practice and the client. Business is personal. Work is not about business; it’s about us. The human dimension of businesses – the messy, emotional, utterly human dimension – is not merely important; it is all encompassing. Businesses are a collection of human relationships above all. It therefore makes sense that people can get on well together on a personal level or the relationship will break down eventually. That is the case when people share common or similar beliefs, tastes, interests, spend their time and money on similar things, visiting same places, read the same books, and so on.
Compatibility on a business level exists when the customer fits the practice's customer profile. Indicators of customer profile compatibility are attibutable to two main factors: Owner-specific factors (e.g. the willingness to work together with the accountant, the attitude towards taking business risks, motivation and ambition levels) and industry-related factors (e.g. the industry's inherent business risk, legal framework, tax considerations etc).
We ascertain the existence of compatibility - both natural affinity and its business dimension - through our Expectations Questionnaire.
It is important to understand that our purpose is not to put the prospective customer under a magnifying glass just for the sake of it; on the contrary, we'd rather not engage in a professional relationship with a client whom we think we cannot properly service and support. What is at stake here is the client's success in business and the existence of compatibility with his professional advisers is a prerequisite for success. Compatibility is a basic ingredient in the sense that it must be there or the relationship between client and accountant won't make it through time. Things usually start out okay, but sometimes it doesn't take long for things to go bad - it's a bit like going to a marriage councellor and one spouse tells the councelor, "I don't like him," and the other spouse says, "I don't like her either," and then they ask "What's wrong?" - The author Wallace Stegner wrote "I liked him (he liked me)", which means the people like those who like us and do not like those who do not.
Business realtionships are no different from personal ones. The only difference is, councelling can work for couples; businesses, however, do not have the time.
SURVEY FOR ASCERTAINING CLIENTS' EXPECTATIONS (NEEDS AND WANTS) AND FOR DETERMINING COMPATIBILITY WITH OUR FIRM.