Bitesize Business Breakthrough the time it takes to drink a cup of tea


What if delivering WOW client service is all wrong for your accountancy firm?

When something goes wrong for a client, you’ll most likely want to put it right and then ‘wow’ them with memorable client care.

It sounds like a worthy goal.

But what if it is exactly the wrong thing to do if you want to win future client loyalty?!

What if there is a better way to deal with client problems.

Research suggests that Lexus, Ritz Carlton and others are leading us astray with their customer delight stories:

  • A BMW dealer didn’t sort out the ashtray on a brand-new BMW, so a UK Lexus dealer, without being asked, replaced it with the non-smoker pack. Wow!
  • Before returning ‘Joshie-the-Giraffe’ to the infant (who’d left his ‘best-friend toy’ in the hotel room) the loss-prevention team at Ritz Carlton created a photo album of golf/beach/pool pictures of Joshie on his extended holiday! Wow!

Great stories but the research shows that ‘delight’ is not going to help build loyalty after a client has been disappointed by your product or service already.

Instead of focusing on ‘delighting’ or ‘wowing’ clients when solving their issues, commit to reducing client effort.


Don’t be blinded by delight! Instead, make the experience your clients have when you deal with their complaint feel like riding a bicycle downhill - make it really easy - make it effortless.

Start with 4 helping hands here or read on for the full Bitesize Business Breakthrough 

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Focus 1st on loyalty...

The research shows that client loyalty delivers 3 powerful payoffs – increased repurchase, increased spend and increased recommendations.

...and the numbers don’t lie

From 97,000 customer responses, 96% of them who had high-effort, problem-solving experiences reported future disloyalty (they wouldn’t repurchase).

And in a social media-obsessed world this disloyalty is dangerous.

However, only 9% of customers who found it easy to resolve their problems reported future disloyalty.

Not surprising then, that ‘low-effort’ firms out-perform others by 31 percent when it comes to repurchase and positive word of mouth – and we know what big drivers of sales revenues and profits for your firm these 2 things are.

Here's the proven solution for you...

Find ways to get rid of the hassles, hurdles and extra client effort that leads to future client disloyalty.

You’ll then improve repeat purchases and reduce the danger of negative word of mouth.

What does low-effort client service look like?

Research over many years shows up in the book ‘The Effortless Experience’ by Matthew Dixon and friends. Their evidence points to: 


“...the specific things customer service does to drive disloyalty among customers are largely associated with the amount of work – effort – customers put forth to get their issues resolved.”

Matthew Dixon

Minimising the effort your clients have to make to resolve their missing or late tax returns, poorly handled accounts, mistreatment or other missed expectations will minimise the number of clients you lose – minimise the disloyalty effect.

STOP believing that WOW-focused clients care really works

START by making your clients problem resolution as effort-free as possible

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4 client loyalty findings…

Are you doing everything you can to avoid these four pitfalls when solving your clients’ missed expectations?

  1. 1
    Clients having to contact you more than once – failing to resolve their issue at the first opportunity
  2. 2
    Clients having to repeat information also drives future disloyalty
  3. 3
    The words you use can raise the perception of effort (or reduce it)
  4. 4
    Bouncing clients around also drives future disloyalty

1. First Contact Resolution

The biggest disloyalty driver is when clients have to contact you more than once. And so, it pays to work out how you and your team use First Contact Resolution (FCR).

But FCR is not enough: “Don’t just solve the current issue, head off the next issue”

FCR removes or reduces disloyalty but only if and when you also anticipate later issues the client might face as a result of your product or service failure.

Help clients avoid having to call you again through your ‘next issue avoidance’. For example, if they didn’t receive their order because their credit card was declined how can you help them buy next time without the credit card issue repeating?

Resolve your client’s current problem but also address issues they’re likely to call back about.

For example, text your clients with status updates about how you are handling their issues – a strategy that prevents your clients having to make repeat calls to check on work-order progress.

2. Repeating information is loyalty madness

Chewing your cud twice is what cows do – humans hate it, your clients hate it.

Making a client repeat their firm name, address or account number is nothing short of loyalty madness. Why would you inflict this extra effort on your clients when it’s so easy to set up systems to avoid this.

If possible, make sure the same person who takes the call deals with the call, if not ensure they pass on all the information to the next person.

Asking your clients to ‘chew their cud’ twice drives future disloyalty

3. The words really matter

The research (into 97,000 customer responses) shows that your...

“...customer's perception of the experience actually counts for fully two-thirds of the overall effort equation.” 

So, it’s the way your client feels that matters twice as much as what they actually have to do during their client service interaction.

The authors of ‘The Effortless Experience’ tested and proved the value of what they call ‘experience engineering’. Chapter 4 of the book is powerfully instructive on the skills needed:

  • Actively guide the customer and preemptively offer solutions that the customer will like: – ‘there’s good availability on Sunday flights...’

  • Anticipate the emotional response of the customer: – ‘which means you can enjoy exploring Paris for a few hours and avoid worrying about your Monday flight being delayed before your meeting...’

  • Find a mutually beneficial resolution to  your customers issues by asking smart questions to better understand their requirements.

You’ll find more insights into using the right words and avoiding the wrong words in the accompanying Bitesize tools – you can download these using the link at the bottom of the page

4. Bouncing around is bad

How frustrated do you feel when you’re bounced from one customer service person to another (even worse when you have to repeat your account details AGAIN!).

Bouncing around your clients is a sure-fire way of burning any future client loyalty you have left. Work out how to stop bouncing clients around your team.

Be very aware that the call from your client may not be their first attempt to sort out their issue.

They may have already bounced from your website to calling you.

It’s important to note that people younger than 51 years of age, according to the research, prefer to use the web for issue resolution.

If your website doesn’t make it easy for them to solve issues, you’re bouncing them onto the phone (which they’d prefer to avoid!).

It pays to invest time and effort making your website work for issue resolution.

If you’re new to using your website for client care, simply focus helping clients online about the most common client issues.

The hidden 5th element...

Make it personal to reduce or avoid future client disloyalty.

Making no attempt to personalise the experience and the disinterested use of ‘company policy’ is like showing a red rag to a bull.

Avoid using ‘policy’ unless you want clients to jump on the social media soapbox about their frustrations with your firm.

The holy grail of customer service is an effortless (personal) experience – not customer delight.

4 helping hands for you…

It’s easy to admire customer delight brands like Ritz Carlton hotels and Lexus.

It’s easier still to see their customer delight stories as the holy grail of customer service – stories you want your team to live up to perhaps?

However, the research by Matthew Dixon and his team show that what matters most after something goes wrong is not ‘delight’ but ‘ease’.

Focus on giving your clients an effortless experience and you ensure you minimise the damage from not achieving your clients’ expectations.


Make it clear to your people what your client service priorities are.


Minimise channel switching.


Manage future issues at the same time.


Improve your team’s skill at framing (engineering) client experience.


“But shouldn’t we be aiming for delighted clients all the time?”

When all goes to plan, when you and your firm deliver the product and service your clients expect, then client delight is a worthy aim.

But when a wheel falls off, when a client is disappointed by a delay or fault or some other issue, client delight no longer helps you.

Your aim now is to minimise future client disloyalty by minimising the perceived effort your clients have to invest in getting their issue resolved.

Whether it’s on your website or your telephone responses, your goal is to make it as easy as possible for your client to resolve their issue.

“How can we avoid bouncing clients around when we have someone on reception answering all our calls?”

When your person on reception helps your client speak to the person who’s best able to help solve their issue immediately, then all is on track. Even if they are unavailable, the person on reception being able to provide a name and a contact telephone number is always a good start.

You can improve this by providing mobile numbers or direct dial numbers for each specific client manager on your website.

But remember to also look for the extras – First Contact Resolution only really pays off when you anticipate future issues and prevent call backs from clients.

“Our team bend over backwards to sort out client problems. So, how do we get our team to take this ‘effortless’ approach seriously?”

It’s great that people take the service their clients receive seriously, all that needs to happen is their enthusiasm gets channeled into ‘effortless’ and away from ‘delight’.

This will require systems and scripting improvements for your people to follow through.

For more help check out the downloadable tools that go with this report and get yourself a copy of the brilliant, research-driven book ‘The Effortless Experience’.


“How do I know that low-effort client care will work for me and my firm?”

In a social media soapbox world, one of the priorities for your firm must be maintaining and growing client loyalty.

Research tells us 96% (of 97,000 customers) who found the process of problem resolution high effort, didn’t repurchase and client loyalty was lost.

Compare this to only 9% of customers with low effort experiences not repurchasing…

A focus on ease and speed, according to the research, gives you the best chance of winning your clients’ loyalty.

Your 'Make It Happen' checklist:

Put the power of ‘effortless client service’ to work for your firm...

Make it easy for your clients to resolve their issues with your products or services and you get unheard of client loyalty gains.

Gains that a focus on client delight will never get you.

It’s just so easy for us all to be side-tracked by the legendary stories from the world of client care.

However, the costs of pursuing ‘client delight’ fail to deliver a payoff for your firm according to the research.

Instead focus on making client issue resolution EASY for your client – it has a measurable return on investment in the form of recommendations, repeat purchase and positive word of mouth.


Make it clear to your people what your client service priorities are

Focus on making it easy for your clients to resolve their issues (not wowing them with kindness and over-the-top solutions).

Work out which are your most common client service issues.


Minimise channel switching

You drive future disloyalty, lost recommendations and repeat sales when you force clients to go from the web to the phone or force them to deal with 2 or more different people.


Manage future issues at the same time

FCR – First Contact Resolution is a worthy goal but it’s not enough. You also have to anticipate future issues to help prevent them and so prevent your client having to call you back.


Improve your team’s skills at framing client experience

Client experience engineering is more than just good soft skills.

They are a set of skills your team need to master – actively guide the client and pre-emptively offer solutions – anticipate the emotional response of the client – find a mutually beneficial resolution to client issues.

Click here to re-read this whole Bitesize Business Breakthrough 

Want to know more?

The Effortless Experience

Matthew Dixon, Nick Toman & Rick Delisi

Matthew Dixon et al have created a valuable book on customer loyalty. A book that signposts how we should all use effortless customer service to resolve customer issues with the best pay off for our businesses.

In the foreword another respected author, Dan Heath, summarises the value of the book: “What if the Holy Grail of service isn’t customer delight but customer relief – the simple relaxing of the shoulders that comes from having your problem handled quickly and smoothly?”

So, if you’d like a client loyalty result for your firm – one that brings more recommendations and repeat purchases – we recommend diving into this valuable book.


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 for making your client service effortless.

Download the support tools to help you


This report is shared by

Paul Shrimpling
Paul Shrimpling, Managing Director


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