3 Service Quality Takeaways for Accounting Firms in 2018 Published by ClearlyRated - January 17, 2018 Last week, Kat Kocurek (our VP of Marketing) hosted a webinar on the topic of “Service Quality as a Strategy for Growth: How Accounting Firms Win in 2018.” Kat shared a first look at findings from ClearlyRated’s annual Accounting Industry Benchmark Study – which surveyed 681 prospects and clients of accounting firms. Key findings shed light on client satisfaction and service quality trends, accounting buyer behavior, and reputation considerations for accounting firms. The webinar gave an eye-opening perspective into the state of service quality within the accounting industry today (hint: we can do better!). I wanted to share a few key takeaways with you that I hope will inspire service quality initiatives at your own firm. Takeaway #1: Your clients (and buyers) CARE about service quality. The accounting industry’s worst kept secret? We think so. Take a look at any accounting firm website and you’ll see a common theme of commitments from firms who “take pride in relationships,” “put clients at the center of all we do,” “take a client-centric approach”… the list goes on. And these promises make sense, especially when you consider that accounting buyers rank service quality as the most influential factor to consider when deciding on a firm to work with. An even more pressing truth about service quality is revealed when we look at the client side of the equation. Over 50% of accounting clients that experience a service issue will consider leaving their firm. And many of them do more than just consider it, 35% of clients who have left a former provider report leaving due to service quality issues. Takeaway #2: Your clients’ perception ≠ what you believe about your firm. No doubt, your team works hard to provide great service to your clients. Unfortunately, that’s not the same thing as “service quality”. Thinking to yourself, “well, what’s the difference?”. You’re not alone – this connection is often missed when it comes to analyzing client satisfaction. Wikipedia defines ‘Service Quality’ as a comparison of perceived expectations of a service with perceived performance. Notice the use of the word “perceived” (twice!) – what we’re hinting at here is that service quality has more to do with your clients’ perception of your service than it does with your own beliefs about the quality of service you provide. And while your firm and competitors continue to promise and strive to deliver exceptional service, accounting clients don’t tend to exhibit behaviors of a highly loyal or passionate group. Looking at the 681 clients surveyed in our 2018 Accounting Industry Benchmark Study, just over 2 out 5 would be willing to refer their accounting firm to a friend or colleague. That means 58% of accounting clients in the U.S. and Canada are “satisfied” with their current provider, but are open to exploring new firms to work with. You can begin to see the impact that service quality has on your firm’s growth: both in terms of client retention and new client acquisition. Takeaway #3: It’s time to survey your clients. Because we know service quality is really all about your clients’ perception of your firm, there’s no way to accurately measure that variable without asking for honest-to-goodness feedback from the source itself – your clients. And in case that voice in your head is telling you “my clients don’t want to be surveyed”, I have good news – the data suggests quite the opposite. Your clients are ready for it and (even better) wanting to give you feedback: 93% of accounting clients say it’s important to have a channel with which to provide their firm with regular feedback. 81% of clients say their perception of their accounting firm is positively impacted when the firm asks them for feedback. 73% of clients say they are more likely to take the time to provide feedback through an online survey than in-person. 62% say they are more likely to be candid with their feedback in an online survey than in-person. If ever there was a time to get started with a client survey, the time is now! Need help getting started with a client survey? No problem, ClearlyRated has resources just for you. Download the Satisfaction Survey Checklist for Accounting Firms. These checklists (yes, there are 3 of them) bring together the internal wisdom of 10+ years in the satisfaction survey field as well as tips, best practices, and factors to consider before diving into a survey program. Contact our team to learn how ClearlyRated can help your firm boost reputation and differentiate on remarkable service through the power of NPS® (we swear it’s possible). Or to just chat – we love meeting new folks who are passionate about service excellence!