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TripAdvisor for accountants

Philip Fisher asks whether the profession would perform better if it was subject to TripAdvisor style ratings.

5th Sep 2019
TripAdvisor sign on restaurant window
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Before I select a restaurant or hotel, I always check the rating on TripAdvisor. In the same way, when I want to book an apartment for an overseas jaunt I go to a site like Airbnb and read through the feedback.

The same applies when going to a theatre, where the man in the street should always read a review or two before making a final decision. Even buying small items from eBay, you can make sure that the seller is reliable.

Although we've seen some accountancy review sites gather steam, there doesn’t appear to be one dominant evaluation platform covering accountants or, for that matter, any other providers of professional services.

Depending on your point of view, this is either a very good or a very bad position for the profession to be in.

As a naturally positive person, my view is that I would always like to have client ratings and feedback on my performance available to anyone who might wish to work with me.

If you provide substandard services, overcharge or merely have a knack of winding up clients then the last thing you need is any kind of publicity

That is because I am happy to back my performance against the competition and, as a result, would love to have someone institute a kind of TripAdvisor for the accountancy profession.

It would be equally easy to understand why some others may be far more reluctant to throw their hat into the ring. If you provide substandard services, overcharge or merely have a knack of winding up clients then the last thing you need is any kind of publicity, which is guaranteed to be adverse.

In the current age, one must imagine that hotels of poor quality are literally put out of business by finding themselves at the bottom of the TripAdvisor league table. Although I did once stay at what they regarded as the worst hotel in Guildford and it lived right down to expectations. That was one of the penalties of working for a penny-pinching firm.

Looking at this issue little more seriously, there can be little doubt that anybody who aspires to run a business which is subject to a ranking system will need to perform at a high level in order to survive.

If you have bedbugs, faulty plumbing and a kitchen that guarantees food poisoning to every fourth customer then having this announced to the world on a constant basis must certainly lead to business failure. Therefore, the natural consequence is that hoteliers will avoid these problems and seek to achieve a high standard of performance that makes their business more competitive than those who could otherwise take away their trade.

This column has spent an inordinate amount of time of late criticising accountants for their inability to do the basics at an adequate level. Perhaps if there was a genuine lead table that wasn’t based on sales income, the profession would feel obliged to pull up its collective socks and deliver the kind of service that our clients surely deserve. Who knows, we might even charge fair fees for doing so.

Replies (5)

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Mark Lee 2017
By Mark Lee
05th Sep 2019 18:52

There may not be a league table but google business reviews (and scores 0-5) are very common for smaller firms - and are apparent whenever you search for firms/accountants online.

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bike
By FirstTab
06th Sep 2019 10:54

You are too out of date to write on Practice Management. Google Reviews are key for accountants since they give a good picture of the quality of service. Many accountants use Google reviews. There is also Trust Pilot used by Tax Assist and other accountants. Maybe the top 20 or top 10 don't use them.

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By enanen
06th Sep 2019 10:58

What if you get someone who is malicious and incorrect or alternatively a competitor who sets his friends to rubbish your practice. Just like Trip Advisor. It is not about how you perceive your quality service but the effect of adverse social media. On the subject of GDPR. I have no wish for clients to make themselves known in any format on a review site. It also becomes meaningless where the reviewer is not revealed in the review as anyone can get their friends to review them as wonderful.

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By Andy Reeves
06th Sep 2019 12:20

GDPR and client confidentiality would also prevent us from rebutting some of the spurious claims.

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By justsotax
06th Sep 2019 16:48

Not sure how many people depend upon unsubstantiated claims - suspect most take a pragmatic view in order to establish whether the 'claims' made are either true or indeed reasonable.

Not sure I concur with the hotel issue, as surely if you are going for cheap as chips you will already have a level of expectation, so having a trip adviser complaining about the service/cleanliness/facilities will to be expected if they have paid buttons! same for accountants...bigger issues come when you pay top dollar and get a shoddy service!

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