What my clients value the most

31st Oct 2021
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When I first started in practice, and was full of youthful enthusiasm, many of my clients became good friends. And it was these closer relationships that were the source of many of the referrals that came my way over the years.

I am always amazed when I speak to practitioners who have never seen most of their clients face to face.

Ice berg concept showing mass below the waterline
By Romolo Tavani

Appreciation of value

Although I may not have appreciated that a closer relationship facilitated the communication of value, in retrospect, it did.

Clients generally experience value when they receive solutions to their problems. If clients feel comfortable in your company, I assert they would be more likely to share those problems with you.

And solving problems is the name of the game if you want your clients to experience value from your services.

Comfort zones

Inter-personal relationship training was never high on the agenda of CPD courses I attended. And many of the practitioners I have spoken with in recent years would countenance no truck with anything other than a numbers approach to client service. They see time invested in “getting to know” a client as time wasted.

Unfortunately, we all carry baggage that affects our ability to open-up to deeper relationships with our fellow humans, and professional advisors are not exempt from this tendency.

Opening up…

We all must come to terms with our personal foibles, but I would bet even the less gregarious accountants could practice the age-old skill of asking open questions.

Truthfully, I have always felt more comfortable teasing out the issues of others, rather than talking about my own problems. Ironically, this may have facilitated a natural desire to help-out, to solve problems.

As far as I can see there is no downside to showing an interest in your clients, a simple “How’s business?” can unlock opportunities for problem solving that may not be revealed in an exchange of emails on compliance issues.

Brush off your empathy and listening skills

You would have to canvass my clients to get an objective answer to the title of this post. However, I think the thread developed has some merit. Next time you meet, Zoom or call a client, don’t forget to listen and ask open questions. You will have an agenda, queries to unravel, but they are problems you know about. The good stuff is the mass of unreported problems below the waterline.

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