Simply satisfying your clients prevents your accountancy firm from reaching its full potential…
What do you believe is the purpose of your firm?
Professor Theodore Levitt from Harvard Business School suggests that:
“The purpose of every business and organisation is to get and keep customers.”
And clearly, if your firm is to succeed in any meaningful way, you must get and keep clients.
However, if your firm is focused on simply ‘satisfying’ clients you’ll set your firm up for an almighty fall.
Research by the global consulting firm Bain & Co suggests that between 60% and 80% of customers who describe themselves as satisfied, fail to do more business with the company they’re satisfied with!
Allow such wasteful client meetings to prevail and you’ll always feel that your firm is missing out on the performance and results it could and should have.
Instead of aiming for ‘satisfied clients’, aim to create ‘loyal clients’ who buy from you repeatedly and actively promote your firm to others too. Loyal clients stay, pay and say!
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You know this is stating the blatantly obvious but Apple, Virgin Airways, Starbucks and every successful small business too, secures consistent success when they generate the holy grail of all businesses – hordes of ‘raving fans’.
The definition of a raving fan?
A client who buys again and again and also avidly recommends your firm and your products and services to others. How strong is your firm at getting recommendations?
Release your client loyalty shackles…
Established businesses are often locked into just getting the job done (whatever the job is – serving food in a bar, delivering packages, fixing PC helpdesk issues) the same can be said for most accountancy firms too.
This focus on operational jobs handcuffs the firm to lower performance levels.
For example, accountants obsess about getting the accounts done, instead of focusing on their client’s experience of those accounts.
A builder obsesses about getting the extension built, instead of focusing on his customer’s experience of the building process.
Yes, the job has to get done (whatever the job is) but get it done with a client experience obsession and your firm breaks free, thanks to a growing band of loyal clients.
Here's the proven solution for you...
Start by treating your people like VIPs and they will treat your clients like VIPs too.
The way you treat your people reflects the way your people treat your clients.
Ready to grow £2million into £70million?
What would you do?
Imagine, the sales of your aerospace components business have fallen from £4m to £2.4m and a deep recession plus rampant international competition continues to threaten your industry…
Do you focus on costs, on the customer, on design excellence, on quality, on marketing and selling?
Don Wainwright (CEO and Chairman of Wainwright Industries, major manufacturer in the aerospace industry) chose none of these!
Instead he obsessed about creating a positive and enriching experience for his people because he knew his people would then brilliantly look after his customers.
He then grew Wainwright Industries to sales of more than £70m.
Another question – what would you do if, as a manager at Ritz-Carlton hotels, you were asked to manage the take-over of an existing hotel in Shanghai – given that it’s in need of major renovation work – where would you start?
The first phase of renovations chosen by Ritz-Carlton in Shanghai was – the employee entrance!
Like Don Wainwright, by treating their employees like VIPs, Ritz-Carlton sent a clear message that they expect customers to be treated like VIPs too. For podcast interviews with accountancy firms who focus on their people and achieve significant profit growth check out https://humanisethenumbers.online/
A culture of modest amazement?!
As author Shep Hyken points out clearly in his book:
“There is no (customer) loyalty without confidence, and there is no confidence without consistency.”
And Hyken goes on to show, through the Ritz-Carlton and Don Wainwright stories and others, how you’ve no hope of consistency, confidence or loyalty unless all your people are onboard with your clients experience obsession.
To get all your people involved, Hyken’s experience of working with companies like American Express, Caterpillar, Avis and many more suggests you aim for a modest goal.
Hyken’s rather modest goal is
“…creating customer confidence and extraordinary loyalty by creating a consistently above-average customer experience.”
…he calls this the culture of customer amazement.
Amazement because most firms fail to deliver a consistently above-average client experience.
Most firms mostly get side-tracked by doing the work, doing jobs, doing the operational necessities, like completing the clients accounts, without an obsession on the client experience. Sound familiar?
So how can you create this obsession of the client experience within your firm of accountants?
Don Wainwright’s and Ritz-Carlton’s model suggests that you adopt a VIP treatment of your employees (your internal customers).
Your employees then experience a consistently above-average experience so that they then follow your lead and treat your clients like VIPs too.
And, as a result, they’ll help you build an army of loyal clients, and achieve great results.
STOP thinking that satisfying your clients is enough.
START treating your people in the way you want your people to treat your clients - like VIPs
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Just like Zappos nail it...
Zappos.com started selling shoes online in 1999 – not an easy task! In 2000 they sold $1.6m worth of shoes. In 2006 $597m.
According to Zappos founder and chairman Nick Swinmurm, getting all your people involved is crucial.
“You need as many eyes, ears and hands working toward the same goal for themselves, not for someone else.”
All your eyes, ears and hands delivering an above-average client experience because they want to, not because they have to.
So how do you move your firm towards a culture of consistent, better-than average client experience?
From client uncertainty to client amazement…
“Uncertainty is inconsistency”
Removing uncertainty from your clients’ experience is Hyken’s biggest focus.
Download the tools at the end of this report and you’ll find a survey you can use to assess your current levels of client uncertainty.
Once you know how inconsistent you are you can start reducing uncertainty and build a culture of client amazement.
Hyken suggests you have to take your firm up the ladder of client care so that clients eventually say:
4 helping hands for you…
Looking after your ‘Client Experience’ often gets lost in the day to-day doing of the work you and your people do.
However, your ‘Client Experience’ must be keenly seen to be front and central by all your people
Begin by assessing your firm’s level of client uncertainty (or amazement).
Have ‘Client Experience’ improvements as an agenda item in every team and operational meeting.
Work out with your people the key client touch points and the key client impact points.
Work out an internal ‘Client Experience’ mantra for your firm.
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TIME TO DISAGREE
“My people are paid to do a job so they should do it, shouldn’t they, including looking after our clients?”
Most people in most firms are paid to do a job too. But most firms fail to deliver a consistent, above-average client experience.
To achieve amazing results like those of Don Wainwright, Ritz-Carlton and Zappos, just paying people to do a job isn’t enough.
These businesses moved beyond ‘just doing the job’ (an operational focus) to a consistent ‘customer experience focus’ by treating their employees like VIPs first.
Then these employees start to believe in treating customers like VIPs.
“A lot of my people aren’t client facing so how is this relevant to them?”
If you focus entirely on the moments of client contact you’ll never achieve your firms full potential. Your client experience is more than just customer service, here’s Hyken:
“It is the combination of front line touch points and behind-the scenes impact points that creates the service experience.”
For example, if your luggage goes missing on a transatlantic flight, this has a major impact on your trip.
Yes there will be the customer touch-points involving the baggage from customer service staff, but the baggage handling people behind the scenes have a big impact too.
Every person in your firm is connected either directly or indirectly to your clients’ experience.
Your job is to help them better see their own connection to client touch points and/or client impact points.
They’ll then understand better how they can look after your clients’ best interests, whether they are client facing or behind the scenes.
“I’m the only person in my firm who’s obsessed enough with our client experience!”
Hyken suggests there are three forces at play in making your clients’ experience both consistent and above average:
- 1A force of one” – you and you alone apply the principles here.
- 2“A force within” – you set a ‘client experience’ example within your team or your firm.
- 3A force of many” – you’re not alone, or maybe you have all your people engaged, and so staying ahead and staying consistent is your priority.
Hyken’s vast experience suggests any individual, group or company can move client experience from ‘uncertainty’ to ‘amazement’.
Are you ready to take your ‘culture of amazement’ next steps?
“How do I know a consistently above average client experience will result in raving fans?”
The Bain & Co evidence suggests that client satisfaction is not enough and that client loyalty must be your goal.
Your firm cannot lose if your clients’ experience is predictably better-than-average.
And if you can make both your client touch points and client impact points consistently better than your competition you’ll win big time.
So why not test the suggestions you find here?
Your 'Make It Happen' checklist:
Never let your ‘Client Experience’ get lost in the day-to-day focus of getting the work done…
Shep Hyken’s experiences of working with many world-renowned businesses, on reducing customer uncertainty and building customer amazement, make his suggestions worthy of notice.
Begin by assessing your firm’s level of client uncertainty (or amazement)
Use the survey in the download tools to signpost your firm's ‘Client Experience’ strengths and weaknesses and next steps.
Have ‘Client Experience’ improvements show up as an agenda item every week for everyone in your firm
You habitually show your commitment to reducing client uncertainty and improving ‘Client Experience’ when client touch points and client impact points are discussed in every team and operational meeting and everyone’s appraisal meetings too.
Work out with your people the key client touch points and the key client impact points
Help everyone in your firm (over time) clearly see how they are connected (either directly or indirectly) with your client touch points (client facing) and impact points (behind the scenes).
And seek your people’s suggestions on how these can be improved.
Work out an internal ‘Client Experience’ mantra for your firm
Ritz-Carlton’s ‘ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen’ perfectly suits their hospitality world.
Use the support tools to help you and your people work out your internal ‘Client Experience’ mantra.
Check out the downloadable tools and resources at the end of this report for more help and insights to help you do whatever it takes to deliver a consistent and above-average client experience.
You’ll then be on the road to an army of raving fans and all the growth and profit improvements you seek.
At the very least you’ll protect your firm, and create certainty about your firm’s future.
Want to know more?
YOUR SUPPORT TOOLS ARE HERE:
Go to the link below and you'll find a selection of practical support tools to help you get a deeper understanding and develop greater skills to help you focus on client experience first...
Download the support tools to help you
The cult of the customer
The stories, examples and practical suggestions crammed into Shep Hyken’s book ‘The Cult Of The Customer’ can inspire you further.
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