CPA Cultivating a Service Orientation
CPA Cultivating a Service Orientation: Certified Public Accountant (CPA) is the title of qualified accountants in numerous countries in the English-speaking world. In the United States, the CPA is a license to provide accounting services directly to the public. It is awarded by each of the 50 states for practice in that state. Additionally, almost every state (49 out of 50) has passed mobility laws in order to allow practice in their state by CPAs from other states. Although state licensing requirements vary, the minimum standard requirements include the passing of the Uniform Certified Public Accountant Examination, 150 semester units of college education, and one year of accounting related experience.
Continuing professional education (CPE) is also required to maintain licensure. Individuals who have been awarded the CPA but have lapsed in the fulfillment of the required CPE or have requested to be converted to inactive status are in many states permitted to use the designation “CPA Inactive” or an equivalent phrase. In most U.S. states, only CPAs are legally able to provide to the public attestation (including auditing) opinions on financial statements. Many CPAs are members of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and their state CPA society.
State laws vary widely regarding whether a non-CPA is even allowed to use the title accountant. To illustrate, Texas prohibits the use of the designations “accountant” and “auditor” by a person not certified as a Texas CPA, unless that person is a CPA in another state, is a non-resident of Texas, and otherwise meets the requirements for practice in Texas by out-of-state CPA firms and practitioners.
CPA Cultivating a Service Orientation – Cultivating a Service Orientation
Regardless of whether your firm is large, small or somewhere in between, your job and that of every other employee of your firm is to serve, satisfy and delight your clients. Think more broadly about the definition of your own role at your firm and encourage everyone else to do the same. Do this and you will likely come to view your job as solving problems and delighting clients. Providing accounting services is merely how you pursue fulfillment of your purpose.
Remember the example of the railroad barons, they thought of themselves as being in the railroad business, rather than the transportation business, and as a result were blindsided by the rise of trucking. Focus on the results of your work, not the functional tasks.
All employees should understand that serving client’s needs and surpassing their expectations is the top priority. An upbeat, friendly and helpful receptionist can do wonders for a client’s mood and perception of your firm; one who is the opposite can create problems where none previously existed. To make employees understand the importance your firm places on satisfying clients, consider the following:
- Push authority down to all levels of the firm, to everyone who has contact with a client.
- Empower employees to do what it takes to solve a client’s problem or meet a clients need.
To cultivate a service orientation, you and your staff should empathize with clients. Understanding what clients need and want is the first step to being able to provide it. To do this:
- Put yourself in your clients’ shoes.
- Think about what you expect from service providers.
- Ask your clients’ what they expect.
- Become intimately familiar with their business and personal situation.
- Be creative in developing ways to meet and exceed your clients’ expectations.
CPA Cultivating a Service Orientation – Practical Tips for Achieving Effective Client Communication
Maintain clear and reasonable expectations:
- When the situation warrants, adjust your clients expectations promptly.
- Report project status regularly.
- Avoid surprises.
Avoid fee-related misunderstandings:
- Discuss fees during the first meeting.
- Furnish a written fee agreement.
- Bill periodically and promptly.
Make time to educate your client:
- Share your work with the client.
- Involve them in the process.
- Add value beyond the services being provided.
- Create a positive experience for the client.
Show that you care about your client as a person:
- Highlight potential personal implications of accounting and financial issues and situations.
- Remember personal details such as names of family members, key milestones, birthdays, etc.
- Write them down.
- Calendar them so you remember to mention them.
- Send cards and personal notes.
- Be focused and actively engaged in serving your client.
CPA Cultivating a Service Orientation – 10 Phrases for Positive Client Communication
Words can be very powerful. The right words can immediately put a client at ease. The wrong ones can raise their defenses and their stress level just as quickly. The following 10 phrases will help you lead the way to effective communication with your clients.
- How may I help?
- I can solve that problem.
- I will take responsibility.
- I don’t know the answer, but I’ll find out.
- There will be no unpleasant surprises.
- I will keep you updated.
- I will deliver it on time.
- It will be just what you requested.
- The job will be complete.
- I appreciate your business.
CPA Cultivating a Service Orientation
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