How to Bring Customer Obsession to Your Tax and Accounting Practice

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When you turn on the television, go to a sporting event or simply read the news online, you are instantly overwhelmed with options on ways to spend your hard-earned money. Marketing wizards woo you with relaxing beach vacations. They tempt you with pancake commercials the same day you started that new diet. It is as if they knew your craving before you did. Advertisers entice you with the newest luxury technologies that auto manufacturers have concocted to make your life easier … and only for a low monthly lease of $799 a month.

Last year, I fell under the spell of the marketing wizards. I took a nice vacation, bought a new car and had my share of meals I did not need to have, as my scale can verify. As I look back on those purchases, I realize now I wasn’t buying products and services. I ultimately was buying an experience– the vacation experience of looking forward to time off of work, new adventures, relaxing by the pool and not having to grocery shop that week. The experience of tasting new foods or indulging in my favorite comfort foods. That new car smell and the latest in convenience features to make my daily commute easier.

The experience directly ties to my emotion as a consumer. When the experience is amazing, I feel great. I feel like I made a wise choice. It builds confidence and loyalty. When a company builds an experience that shows they care, it stands out. Even now, you’re probably thinking of a great experience you’ve had. What was the experience? How did it make you feel? What made that experience stand out? Whether it’s a vacation, software purchase or working with their accountant for tax planning, consumers are looking for the best experience possible.

It’s critical to build not only great products and services, but also great experiences that tie back to the human element of emotion. If you were to map out your own clients’ experiences, what emotion does it invoke? Is there anything that you would change in order to enhance it or simplify it? Have you pulsed them on how they feel and whether there anything they would like to see done differently?

As a trusted advisor, the services you provide are critical to your clients’ financial success, but the emotions you instill in them are the reason they stay loyal clients, year after year. We hear from accountants and tax professionals, as well as their clients, that you’re more than just a tax professional, accountant, bookkeeper or even financial counselor to your clients. You’re a business therapist, you’re  honest and your clients have complete and total trust in you. This level of confidence and trust is how you continue to make a difference for your clients and provide them with amazing value.

Here are a few things to continuously do to ensure you’re keeping your clients’ well-being and emotions top of mind:

  1. Continue to ask them what is important and what their goals are. Every client will have different goals, and many of them aren’t just about making more money. They may want to spend more time with the family outside of their small business, retire early or be more innovative with their work. Some may not have even thought about this question before! Asking them what’s important will show you care about their end goals, help instill their trust in you, and help you understand their goals.
  2. Pretend like your clients are in the room when you make big decisions. Many decisions you make, even those internal to your practice will end up having implications for your workflow, staff and bottom line. Of course, these are important considerations, but even for the decisions that may indirectly impact your clients, think of what input they would have on the decision before making it. How might it eventually affect them?
  3. Educate your clients. Sending your clients occasional pieces of information about tax law decisions, important deadlines and other areas that may impact them will have several positive outcomes. Even if you aren’t talking to them every day, it will show them that you have their concerns top of mind – and this continues to instill trust. It will show you want them to be able to make informed decisions and improve their business acumen over time; you are empowering them while still being their trusted advisor.

Barry Pennett, vice president of Sales for Intuit® ProConnect™, wrote an article “5 Habits to Become a Customer-Obsessed Business” on the Tax Pro Center that offers another view on customer obsession – I suggest you check it out!

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