When it comes to client satisfaction, it’s not what you know but how well you know them

September 2018

Businesses are under constant pressure to deliver the best products and services while growing their top line, keeping clients happy and trying to differentiate from the competition.

For many businesses, this means working tirelessly at the hard sell, trying to sell to new clients. However, since experts suggest that the cost attributed to acquiring new clients is often five times that of retaining existing clients, why are so many businesses so determined to stick with this approach?

I met with Russell Bedford’s Chairman, Bill Rucci, and Global board director, Tony Carey, to find out about their approaches towards sustainable business development in their respective practices RBF (Russell Bedford’s Boston member) and Cooney Carey (Russell Bedford’s Dublin member). Here’s what I learned:

When it comes to pricing, don’t undersell your services

Many businesses falsely believe that clients will thank them for a lower price; they won’t. A lower price is probably one of the first things that a client is likely to forget about. Unless of course that low price came with a poor service; then they will certainly remember you – for all the wrong reasons!

Talking to Bill Rucci, he said:

“If you want your company to be one that is remembered for the right reasons, one that drives repeat business, building a culture of quality service delivery should be top of the agenda.”

He added:

“When it comes to pricing, do your homework, understand the market value of you services and find the right balance for what you offer your clients. Be confident in the knowledge that if your company has a great service, and if you deliver what you say you will, your clients will be happy to pay the asking price.”

When I asked Tony Carey what his thoughts were on pricing he responded with clarity and honesty:

“My clients are very aware that Cooney Carey is not the cheapest in our industry or our area. If they wanted cheaper services, they could get them. Our focus is, and always has been, centred around providing top class services consistently. You’d be surprised what most people are willing to pay for that piece of mind.”

Communication is the key to happy client relationships

Clear, knowledgeable and regular communication with clients is crucial in maintaining trusting connections. The smallest thing can set your company apart from the competition, for better or worse. So if you have a policy that promises to respond to client queries within 48 hours, make sure that everyone is following through on that promise.

Talking to Bill Rucci on what makes a happy client, Bill said: “In a recent client survey carried out by the independent research firm W5 (Dublin, Ireland) on our services, the top three words used to describe RBF were: responsiveness, professional and knowledgeable. It’s no surprise to me that responsiveness is a quality that our clients value. A company’s commitment to communication with their clients is what keeps them feeling that their custom and their needs are valued. There is little point in having a professional and knowledgeable team if they are not committed to conveying that knowledge in a clear and supportive way to the client when they need it.”

On the topic of listening to client needs, Bill said: “Listening to clients’ needs is critical for sustaining satisfaction, but only if there is a commitment to acting on suggestions. Client surveys are of little value if we don’t take seriously their suggestions on how to improve – as business advisors, as CPAs and as people. Knowing how our clients truly feel about their experience is the best way for us to drive continuous improvement across the practice.”

Professionalism is important but empathy is even more so

Having a professional approach towards your clients is of course extremely important in gaining a client’s trust and confidence in your business offering; but it doesn’t stop there.

Putting yourself in your client’s shoes and really thinking about their challenges, and the effects of those challenges, can help you to develop greater empathy, leading to a deeper understanding of their needs, allowing you to offer more valuable advice. 

Talking about professionalism, Tony said:

“The service that we provide at Cooney Carey is anything but one-dimensional. Most of our clients regularly praise us for our professionalism in getting the job done well. For us, that’s the minimum we must do if we are to have any chance of survival. The best businesses are always striving to add value, and then add more value. If you’re not willing to continuously improve your offering and demonstrate to your clients that you understand their businesses and their needs, there are plenty of businesses ready and willing to take your place.”

He added:

“I recall reading a testimonial from a client where they commented on our professionalism but without comprising on the human touch. For me, that’s precisely what Cooney Carey is all about; delivering a professional service but showing our clients that we care and know what makes them tick. Many of my clients have been with us for years; that’s the ultimate recognition of our work – it’s what keeps us doing what we do year after year.”

To read about RBF’s and Cooney Carey’s recent client satisfaction surveys, follow the links below:

Members who would like to know more about producing their own client surveys, which creates an ability to compare and learn from others throughout the network, are encouraged to please contact the central office for further details and costs.


Author: Susan Barron

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