By DAMIAN SUTHERLAND

DIRECTOR, BUSINESS ADVISORY

“Defining moments and doing your homework. Why client care isn’t just a transaction, it’s a way of operating.”

As a director at William Buck and being in the position of bringing in business to a firm, client care is one of my top concerns and it’s something that I consider critical as part of the learning and development for my younger staff and graduates. I often talk about ‘defining moments’ with clients and I thought I’d share some of my thoughts with you all on what this actually means, and why I believe, good customer service, isn’t something you can switch on at work, it’s a way of operating as a person how this impacts the career of accountants and advisors.

Having started as a graduate at William Buck, I think about how the role of accountants has changed dramatically from what it was 30 years ago. Present day, we increasingly take on the role of an advisor as opposed to your traditional accountant. Managing our client’s investments, life savings, I believe that accountants are about as trusted as you can get. We are there for some of the most significant moments in our client’s lives, whether they be highlights of buying a new house, expanding their business, sending their children to school or if they find themselves in financial hardship, we advise and look after our clients at every stage, which is why I believe we have one of the most important jobs in our modern society.

So what is a defining moment and why are they important? A defining moment with a client is for me something that shapes a relationship. Unfortunately for us, these moments with clients don’t happen as easily as we might like, as service providers we need to be doing our homework and take the time with each client to get to know them, understand their aspirations and their stage of life so that we can best advise our clients. It is hard to provide targeted fiscal advice to a client without first understanding clearly their current position.
These moments with our clients are important because not only do they strengthen the bonds of the client relationship but it also makes providing great end-to-end customer care, just that much easier. Importantly, clients’ needs and requirements are likely to change over time and therefore the ability to communicate with them freely and clearly, assists you to pre-empt their changing requirements and adapt more easily over time.

So to my colleagues, I’ve included some ideas on how you can improve your client relationships.

  1. Add a personal touch. When clients feel understood by their advisor, the relationship can really flourish. Sending clients relevant communication around their interests reinforces that you’re invested in them.
  2. Follow up promptly. Closing the loop on communication with the clients is the most important element. A follow-up e-mail, note written thoughtfully always lands better than a volley of non-relevant bullet points or superfluous sentences.
  3. Prioritise quality over quantity. Asking plenty of questions when you meet you’re meeting your clients can assist you with providing more targeting communications that directly address their concerns specifically.

Encouraging your teams to communicate this way consistently can create great benefits for your business. Remember great client care, is a way of operating, not just a transaction.

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