Team Work

Robin Stevenson


We strive to give great client-care. It is very much up there at the top of our priorities because its important to us that everybody, no matter whether they are a big client or a small client, get a better service from us than anyone else.

But by providing first class client care its important that you have a team working with you that shares the same ethos.

You don’t need much critical mass before giving great client care becomes a real problem. The more clients you have the more emails and telephone calls you have to deal with inside the short time-frame you think makes great client care.

Clients are initially surprised and grateful of the special treatment they think you’re giving them, which means they then tell their friends and associates and then they too want to feel like they’re getting special treatment so they ask you to act for them, which means more telephone calls and emails for you to deal with. Then they tell their friends and associates, and the cycle continues and your client base starts to build exponentially.

But now of course you’re a slave to the system you created. Clients were pleased to receive what they thought was special service but now they expect it, they’ve recommended you to their friends because of it so you have to carry on delivering great customer service because you’ve built a delicate structure of expectation which is easily broken.

Years ago I had a computer game called Theme Park, the main idea being that you built and managed a theme park, so you set the roller-coaster rides, dodgems etc, but also set pricing structures, budgets for repairs, vending outlets and such like. Once you were set you’d open the gates to your tiny theme park with one or two small rides and watch as the people came in and spent their money. With your profits you could buy bigger and better rides, which would attract more paying customers, which would give you more profit. You get the idea.

But one of the key elements of the game was that you had to keep the customers happy and as you saw them walk around the park you would notice that they would have a happy face if they were happy and an unhappy face if they were unhappy.



In the screenshot above (believe me, the graphics looked brilliant at the time) you can see which customers are unhappy so you could find out why they were unhappy and put it right immediately and see the results immediately.

When you’re dealing with clients in real life you might not know they’re unhappy until they appoint another accountant in place of you!

You have to be disciplined, different people work in different ways. Some are tied to their inbox eager to pick up emails as soon as they arrive, which I find really counter-productive because it stops you working efficiently. How can you deal with the client work in front of you when move attention away every time an email lands (I’ve turned off email notifications because of this). I work best by setting aside specific times to deal with emails at various times during the day. By getting this into a routine allows me time deal with things other than emails, but also means all emails are dealt with. It’s easy to put things off because we’re too busy doing this or doing that, by putting the routine structure in place and keeping to it things don’t get missed.

But you also have to manage client expectations. There will always be clients who want a little bit more, expect you to be at there beckon call no matter when they telephone you. I have had client’s telephone me at 11pm at night, at weekends, and even rung my mobile number when I’ve been on holiday because they’ve received an out-of-office response to an email they’ve sent me. Its a dangerous game we’re playing here, so let the client expect great client care, but don’t let it become unreasonable.

Remember the title though, team work. You need a team behind that utterly and completely buys into the concept of great client care, because they are representing you and all the hard work you’ve put in place to build up your reputation. If telephone calls begin not to be answered, pieces of work take longer to deal with, simple things like not recognising the client when they come to the office, or (another one of my pet-hates) they are asked questions which you already know but haven’t communicated to your team then they are soon going to have unhappy faces inside despite still smiling on the outside. As a result, the recommendations will start to dry up and clients will start to go to the next accountant promising great client care. And once that client has gone they are so very very difficult to get back.

Client care is hard work, because its often the little things you might not think of which have the biggest impact. It’s a mantra I believe in, one that makes me/us different from all the other accountancy firms out there.

Never ever think you’re on top of client-care, you’re not, you’re merely trying your best to make everybody happy – and that isn’t easy – but can be mightily rewarding when you get it right!

Robin Stevenson

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