Building a reputation for outstanding service requires following several basic principles.
Forthrightness helps to build strong client relationships. It tells clients something important about you and your firm and helps to build their level of comfort with and trust in you. A record of honesty also helps clients to see past any problems that may arise to the trustworthy person with whom they are dealing. Alternately, if a client feels the CPA relationship is more adversarial, he or she will be less eager to forgive any missteps.
Be careful to only make promises you know you can keep. Also, try always to under-promise and over-deliver. Imagine yourself waiting for a table in a restaurant. If the host tells you it will be a 10-minute wait, at 15 minutes you start to become agitated. But if he or she tells you it will be 15 minutes and seats you in 10, you are pleasantly surprised.
Availability is another crucial component of any service business. There is nothing more important than serving a client's needs. While there may be more urgent concerns at a particular moment, clients are the key driver of any professional service business. Without them, a CPA firm can have the most talented, experienced people, the most efficient systems and the nicest office and it will not matter a bit.
When a client requests your attention, provide it. When a client opens the door to a conversation, walk through it. When a client has a question or concern, address it. If a client calls, call back the same day. If a client requests a visit or meeting, don't put it off. Find the time and arrange it.
There is no more frustrating experience for a client than to be passed from person to person when they have an issue or problem they want resolved. Think of your own experiences of being transferred from one voicemail option to another, to a customer service rep, to a supervisor and back to another voicemail message when trying to resolve an issue with your health insurance, for example.
Never let a client stew - resolve problems as quickly as possible. In truth, every client problem is an opportunity to provide outstanding service. Deliver a solution that meets or even exceeds the client's expectations and you'll strengthen your relationship with that client.