In the first of a two-part series, Trent McLaren explains how accountants can strengthen client relationships through the art of refining the client’s experience. And the first step in this process is the client’s first touch point with the firm: the moment when they walk into the office.
Winning clients is not as straight forward as it used to be. These days, prospective clients have an expectation of the type of experience they want from the people they work with.
They will not tolerate bad service and in turn, are frequently asking their peers for recommendations via all sorts of channels, both physical and digital. This highlights the need for both physical and digital presence that shines.
What is the best way to truly understand what a great experience looks like?
What service impressed you?
Simply reflect on your own experience. Think about the last restaurant that blew you away with the charm of the waiter, the cleanliness and layout of the restaurant. Or think back to a mechanic who you trusted with something you knew nothing about. Or maybe it was the experience and process of an online store purchase. The way it was wrapped and gifted, and the speediness of the delivery.
Think of all the best experiences you've ever seen or witnessed and let’s now reflect on your firm from top to bottom. From the moment someone enters the office to the moment they leave.
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Are your clients walking away with a big wow going through their mind or is the office too focused on internal operations? Reality is that if your clients feel the difference, they feel valued. They are not just another line on the P&L. Your client is a human with feelings, values and dignity so be sure to acknowledge all of this and make them feel welcome in an unfamiliar environment.
What experience do your clients have?
The first way to do this is to improve your office environment, which can be done without too much investment. Although, the more thought you put into your office ambience, the more you will get out.
- The doorway and entrance to your firm
When you open the door is it easy to open? What's the first smell you get when you walk in? Is there any music playing? Is the path clear of things that could be tripped upon? Is it clear where someone should go once they've walked in?
I've seen firms where the industrial grade rubber mat is so big in the door way that it either makes it really hard to open or one in eight people seem to stumble on it as they walk in. They then walk to an extremely tall desk and look down at a person taking their name down like they are at a nightclub checking that they are on the list. And they are then asked to sit in awkward uncomfortable chairs in a waiting room as if they were visiting the doctor.
Most people hate waiting rooms and seeing the doctor so how do you think this feels to a prospective client?
Look at how you can re-invent the very first moment a new client walks in through the door. Banks in Australia are a great example of this. They’ve transitioned away from creating physical barriers between their clients and opted for an open space environment with a desk for each team member. This allows new clients to come in, sit down and create a truly unique and warm experience without it feeling like it’s just another banking transaction. Not just another number.
Create an open environment
Is there an opportunity for you to create an open environment for you client?
Could your front of house greeting add more warmth? Step out from behind the desk, give your client a handshake, take their coffee order and invite them to sit in a warm environment with the latest industry magazines. Is there any unique morning treats from your local bakery that you could offer?
Investing in small things such as barista made coffee and unique healthy delicious treats can go a long way. They play on the human body’s senses. Nail the smell, the taste and the feel. Again this is one of the reasons why we love our favourite restaurants: the smell, the taste, the feel and the hospitality. That’s what makes it the kind of place we brag about to our friends and our families.
About Trent McLaren
Winner - AccountantDaily Thought Leader Of The Year for 2017
I lead a team of spirited people looking to make a difference in the accounting industry as we know it. Elimination of debtors, automated invoicing and the thought of never having to touch your firm's billing again is a reality we deliver to accounting firms all over the world.
I believe that in order to achieve your goals, you must be a leader and a believer. Your peers need to feel part of something real and exciting in order to succeed. Turning up to work is just not enough.
I believe in creating a positive environment that stimulates and motivates people. An environment that allows people to grow, develop and most importantly enjoy their work.
I am the head of accounting at Practice Ignition, a Sydney based start-up born out of an accounting firm, Interactive Accounting. We eliminate debtors and automate your invoicing through our digital proposal and engagement letter builder solution. We service 1000's of accounting firms around the world including the United Kingdom.
In prior roles I have extensive history with Intuit QuickBooks, Xero, eWAY (online payments) as well as the retail sectors.