How likely is a prospective client to phone you on the basis of their first impression? How often do you abandon a search on a website that fails the ‘first impression test’? Apple, a company that has achieved enormous market capitalisation, has a mantra that asks ‘how do we want our customers to feel?’ It’s worth noting.

There’s little doubt that the experience a prospective client receives when first making contact with you defines how they feel about your firm, and what they choose to do. They may be price shopping or they may be working off a referral, whatever the case, what we are talking about here is the effectiveness of your firm in managing its first impression upon prospective clients.

Rule #1: don’t annoy clients

Anyone who has bought budget airline tickets would surely be infuriated by the fake headline price of the ticket. Once you go through the loops of charges your ‘budget’ headline rate has been loaded up with myriad charges. Every professional firm likes to deal with clients they can help and no firm willingly tries to annoy clients; so why do bookkeepers invest so little time in making sure of a great first impression?

Test criteria

We all know what great customer service is, we know how it feels and we like it when it’s provided. On first impressions, you’ll want to convey your ‘mantra’, one that communicates to your clients exactly what you stand for and hints at the benefits a business will receive from your service. Your prospect should be able to know how you can help them solve their problem(s).

The big test is the first conversation; it is an opportunity to get to know the client. Bookkeepers quickly ask the default problem-solving questions without asking open questions to show interest in the caller and build rapport. What is painfully obvious in today’s digital age is that prospective clients recognise service. Yet service skills must be learned and embedded in the professional’s ethos.

Price does not deliver good impressions

It’s common enough but giving a prospective client one thing to care about – how much their service costs – only serves to set up the prospective client’s focus on the money. Your role at the point of selling your services is to help the client buy by offering exceptional customer service and articulating the value in using your firm. Many professionals do not set a time to make a follow up call after a positive first conversation. It’s not ‘salesy’ to do so, it’s service-orientated.

We exist in very competitive times. Bookkeeper firm differentiators are not easy to identify, let alone leverage. Thinking about the client experience and bringing excellence into their thinking will turn a poor first impression into an opportunity.