CPA Principles of Outstanding Client Service
CPA Principles of 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 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 Principles of Outstanding Client Service – Principles of Outstanding Client Service
Building a reputation for outstanding service requires following several basic principles.
Forthrightness helps to build strong client relationships. It tells clients something important about you and your firm and helps to build their level of comfort with and trust in you. A record of honesty also helps clients to see past any problems that may arise to the trustworthy person with whom they are dealing. Alternately, if a client feels the CPA relationship is more adversarial, he or she will be less eager to forgive any missteps.
Be careful to only make promises you know you can keep. Also, try always to under-promise and over-deliver. Imagine yourself waiting for a table in a restaurant. If the host tells you it will be a 10-minute wait, at 15 minutes you start to become agitated. But if he or she tells you it will be 15 minutes and seats you in 10, you are pleasantly surprised.
Availability is another crucial component of any service business. There is nothing more important than serving a client’s needs. While there may be more urgent concerns at a particular moment, clients are the key driver of any professional service business. Without them, a CPA firm can have the most talented, experienced people, the most efficient systems and the nicest office and it will not matter a bit.
When a client requests your attention, provide it. When a client opens the door to a conversation, walk through it. When a client has a question or concern, address it. If a client calls, call back the same day. If a client requests a visit or meeting, don’t put it off. Find the time and arrange it.
There is no more frustrating experience for a client than to be passed from person to person when they have an issue or problem they want resolved. Think of your own experiences of being transferred from one voicemail option to another, to a customer service rep, to a supervisor and back to another voicemail message when trying to resolve an issue with your health insurance, for example.
Never let a client stew – resolve problems as quickly as possible. In truth, every client problem is an opportunity to provide outstanding service. Deliver a solution that meets or even exceeds the client’s expectations and you’ll strengthen your relationship with that client.
CPA Principles of 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 Principles of 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 Principles of Outstanding Client Service
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