Firms need to get closer to their clients and deliver added value

We have quoted Oscar Wilde on this blog a few times and one of his most famous quotes is particularly apt about an experience with a less than competent accountant.

He said: “What is a cynic? A man who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.”

As the accountancy age moves on with ever more automation and cloud-based technology coming to the fore, it is really vital that accountants provide real value for their clients.

An example is a friend who used a firm of accountants, who she already felt were not giving her the service she required. This was exacerbated when she got her books back from a year-end audit and they looked like they had been in a war zone, all battered and bashed up and in a shocking state.

Outsourcing can help accountants deliver value
This was in contrast to the blurb on their website, where they boasted about how well they looked after their clients. Like a lot of firms, they believe they are giving a good service, but the reality is that they are not.
There are a couple of reasons, firstly, they do not care, you are just a regular debit number each month, or secondly, they have too many clients and cannot offer the service.

And that’s where outsourcing comes into its own. It’s all very well attracting new clients, but they have to be offered good value. The trick is moving a £500 a month client up to £1,500 by offering added value through a closer advisory role, while allowing more mundane tasks to outsourced.

The positive ripple across say, 500 clients, with increased profits, diminishes the need to go desperately chasing new clients.

Overcoming pompous attitudes
The problem with many is that they have a certain pomposity, believing they know better than the client. They take the view that just because they have been in the business for 30-40 years, they have nothing to prove. But are they still adding value to the company, or waiting for a comfortable retirement?

On the return of the battered books. Given the state of them, the head of that company would or should be mortified by what happened. That was probably dealt with by some lower down the company ladder, but bosses need to be aware of what’s going on around them.
Giving value to your customers is a winner for both, move their turnover from £100k to £150k and it benefits everyone with increased fees and profits.

Pick up the phone and have a conversation
Accountants can help in many ways, but many need to pick up the phone and have a conversation with their clients.
There’s an old bit of business advice that says don’t send an email when you can make a phone call and don’t make a call when you can meet. Reach out to your clients and talk to them.

Before that, make sure you check on what is going on with their business, as they will expect that. It doesn’t have to be bad news or reminders about taxes and deadlines, it can be a discussion on how well they are doing.
There is a wealth of data at their fingertip which is not being used in the client’s best interest. It’s a lost opportunity to be proactive with them.

Good service can lead to referrals
Accountants who are wary of making that call and delivering key welcome information should think back to times when they have done it and how well it went and realise it’s what clients want to hear. This kind of service can then lead to referrals.

This is where GI comes into the picture. We all hear about how the labour shortage has hit accountancy hard and firms cannot get the right staff. GI has a tailor-made solution and can supply qualified, dedicated staff to dive into that workload.

We can send a person to deal with a couple of hundred clients in one way and another person to deal with different needs of other clients. That’s where value is so important.

Clients are not contracted to one accountant and have the opportunity, if they are hooked up with an inefficient firm, to move on and look for better value.

Seeing clients as a recurring fee will not work for long and clients now expect better and can look elsewhere, so constant contact is vital.

Helping to understand business practices
Going back to the original box of invoices, the friend moved on after being offered better incentives, by another accountant. A good example of how to lose clients.

Conversely, take someone who runs a hairdressing business, but knows little about business and accounts and will benefit from help to understand the business processes.

That’s the kind of value a good accountant can offer. That develops goodwill, the word spreads and the accountancy business grows. As it grows, outsourcing the extra work allows for the personal touch and of course added value.

Contact our UK-based team of account managers today to find out how we can help your firm add value.

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Posted in Thought Leadership.