Picture a simple pyramid of stages that professional services firms – accounting, bookkeeping, law – and the advisors within their ranks must achieve to attain the status of a new trusted advisor:
Basic bookkeeping sits at the base of the value pyramid while advisory, at the top. It does not take educational qualifications to climb the “Trust” pyramid, it is consistency. It’s about “them”, but it’s equally about you. The contribution you make is critical at each and every touch-point.
Consistency is the key to your growth as a professional
Consistency and high-quality service at every client touch-point or stage is vital in the ongoing process of cultivating and building client trust (unless you want to remain just a bean counter competing with machines.
Consistent service designed to understand client needs (as discovered through market research, discussions and specialised industry knowledge) helps clients believe and feel that the firm can be trusted to take care of their needs.
What Zappos can teach advisors
Zappos, the online shoe and clothing store (now owned by Amazon) did something quite novel by offering employees who can’t or won’t uphold the consistently excellent service experience promised to customers up to USD$3,000 to resign. Why? Because the leadership knew that long-term customers valued the first rate service; basic service is not an option.
Sole practitioners and bookkeeping business owners are the keepers of the ‘trust’ factor. When you are a client, you typically expect a certain ‘range’ of consistency when you do business with a service provider. When the service provider responds to you with service levels that meet your level of expectations, more than likely you’ll do business with them again.
Interactions with clients will need to move beyond rear view compliance. There may be urgent matters, but a good place to start is to focus on the fundamentals.
The fundamentals will be driven by the context of the engagement (outside of compliance) but will almost always consist of:
• Helping a business grow
• Helping a business operate more smartly
• Analysing the numbers for weakness, strength and future opportunity
It would be a bold bookkeeper who starts a conversation at the beginning of an engagement and talks about “future opportunity” but it is an opportunity to provide a touchstone – the all-important context to a future session.