CPA Delivering Outstanding Client Service
CPA Delivering Outstanding Client Service: 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 fulfilment 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 Delivering Outstanding Client Service – Delivering Outstanding Client Service
Businesses in a wide range of industries, including professional service firms, have succeeded in making the delivery of outstanding service a competitive advantage.
Think of Nordstrom, L.L. Bean, Ritz-Carlton or any smaller, local company that goes out of its way to delight its customers and make their lives easier and more pleasant. Customers, in turn, go out of their way to recommend these businesses to friends and family. A CPA firm can do the same, by finding creative, unexpected ways to anticipate, meet and exceed its client’s expectations, surpassing the level of service provided by competing firms. Firms, which deliver superior client service, generate significant business through referrals.
Another benefit is enhanced client retention. By exceeding client’s expectations as a matter of course, you can create a loyal following based on client’s appreciation of your efforts. Your clients will come to expect the level of service you provide and to rely on it. They will have little reason to even consider taking their business elsewhere.
CPA Customer Service Tips – Practical Tips for Achieving Outstanding Client Service
Teach Client Service
Firms can do a great deal to enhance the level of client service provided by their professionals and support staff. Some firms avail themselves of the wide variety of speakers, trainers and seminar leaders who can be engaged to enhance employees’ competency in this critical area. It also can be beneficial for CPA’s and support staff to attend client-service seminars on an individual basis. In such cases, a firm might underwrite the cost of attendance with the understanding that the employee will assemble a presentation to share what he or she learned with the rest of the firm. Other firms take a different approach and develop their own client-service training program. At the most basic level, firms can provide books, videos and other training materials to help support their employees interest in enhancing their skills in this area.
Recognize and Reward Outstanding Client Service
Firms that wish to provide outstanding client service find success by reinforcing positive behavior in that area. For example, your firm could set up a system for acknowledging actions that demonstrate a commitment to outstanding service. This could be as simple as a form to be filled out by an employee of the firm, detailing the actions of another employee and the results, in terms of client satisfaction. The forms could be read at regular firm meetings or their contents could be distributed internally by memo or email.
To further reinforce positive behavior, firms should reward employees who are recognized through the firm’s program. The rewards need not have a high monetary value, but should have strong appeal, such as gift certificates, cash or event tickets. Attaching a reward to the recognition demonstrates the firm’s principals are willing to share the benefits of providing outstanding client service with their employees.
Measure Client Satisfaction
One sure way to understand just how your clients feel about your firm is to ask them! Simple surveys offer clients an easy way to provide you with honest feedback in a thoughtful, non-confrontational manner. Such surveys can be distributed via mail or email, depending on the client’s preferences.
Typically, firms use two different types of surveys with each client, annual and project surveys. Annual surveys gauge clients overall satisfaction with the firm’s service. Project surveys allow a firm to assess its performance on a particular project with a client, without having to wait until the years end to be made aware of and address any issues.
CPA Delivering Outstanding Client Service – 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 Delivering Outstanding Client Service – 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 Delivering Outstanding Client Service
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