The E-Myth Accountant Series – Clients
The seventh topic in the book “The E-Myth Accountant: Why Most Accounting Practices Don’t Work And What To Do About It” by Michael Gerber and M. Darren Root, CPA is all about clients.
Michael Gerber shares that he has yet to meet an accountant who doesn’t complain about their clients or that doesn’t suffer from a strong case of client confusion.
He shares that client confusion is about the following 5 things:
- What your client really wants
- How to communicate effectively with your client
- How to keep your client truly happy
- How to deal with client dissatisfaction
- Whom to call a clientele
For the first confusion – what your client really wants – he explains that your clients aren’t just people; they’re very specific kinds of people. He suggests that your entire marketing strategy must be based on which type of client you are dealing with – tactile clients, neutral clients, withdrawal clients, experimental clients, transitional clients, or traditional clients.
Each of the six client types spends money on accounting services for very different, and identifiable, reasons:
- With tactile clients you have to emphasize the people of your practice
- With neutral clients you have to emphasize the technology of your practice
- With withdrawal clients you have to emphasize the idea of your practice
- With experimental clients you have to emphasize the uniqueness of your practice
- With transitional clients you have to emphasize the dependability of your practice
- With traditional clients you have to emphasize the financial competitiveness of your practice
For the second confusion – how to communicate effectively with your client – you have to decide how to magnify the characteristics of your practice that are most likely to appeal to your preferred category of client. That begins with what marketing people call your positioning strategy – specifically, a few well-chosen words to tell your clients exactly what they want to hear.
For the third confusion – how to keep your client truly happy – give your clients what they think they want:
- If your clients need to interact with people (high touch, tactile), make certain that they do
- If they need to interact with things (high tech, neutral), make certain that they do.
- If they need to interact with ideas (in their head, withdrawal), make certain that they do.
He suggests that not only do you keep your promises, but that you let your clients know that you kept your promise every step of the way.
For the fourth confusion – how to deal with client dissatisfaction – he offers the following:
- Always listen to what your clients are saying. And never interrupt while they’re saying it
- After you’re sure you’ve heard all of your client’s complaint, make absolutely certain you understand what she said by phrasing a question such as: ‘‘Can I repeat what you’ve just told me, Ms. Harton, to make absolutely certain I understand you?’’
- Secure your client’s acknowledgment that you have heard her complaint accurately.
- Apologize for whatever your client thinks you did that dissatisfied her . . . even if you didn’t do it!
- After your client has acknowledged your apology, ask her exactly what would make her happy.
- Repeat what your client told you would make her happy, and get her acknowledgment that you have heard correctly.
- If at all possible, give your client exactly what she has asked for.
For the fifth and final confusion – whom to call a client – he says that’s simply up to you. At this stage, it’s important to ask yourself some questions about the kind of clients you hope to attract to your practice:
- Which types of clients would you most like to do business with?
- Where do you see your real market opportunities?
- Whom would you like to work with, provide services to, and position your business for
Co-author M. Darren Root, CPA, shares that accounting clients are different from clients within many other professions. He explains that despite the built-in recurring nature of accounting work, it’s important to emphasize that client relationships should never be taken for granted.
It’s easy to get into the habit of simply delivering a product, while overlooking opportunities to enhance client relations. He also shares that it’s important to maintain a sound client-relations program to keep your clients happy—and to keep recurring revenue coming into your firm.
Marketing communications efforts are essential to maintain positive communication with existing clients and to acquire new ones. The bottom line: Treat your clients right, and you’ll be rewarded many times over.
Source – “The E-Myth Accountant”