Today we will talk about how to improve the user experiences of your firm. There is a small request at the bottom – if you’ve got the time.
As accountants, we get too focused on completing the work and forget about how our clients’ and team members’ experiences.
What you see as important may not tip the scales for users impacted by it the most.
We will get into:
- Team Member (or employee) experience.
- Client experience
You’re probably thinking, but Mark, shouldn’t I be focusing on my own experience? The answer is no. No, you shouldn’t.
If you take care of your team members, who then take care of your clients, you will have a much better experience.
Team Member Feedback
Culture of Openness
The only way you will get honest feedback is to foster a culture of openness.
When I worked at a Big4, they had something called a 360 review. The review encouraged lower seniority employees to review and provide feedback to their managers or partners.
Do you think anyone ever did it? Nope.
In my five years, no one I knew at the firm provided a 360 review.
The mechanism to provide feedback wasn’t broken. It was the culture.
We were afraid to offer objective feedback for fear of receiving a poor rating. We all knew that at rating time, all the managers, senior managers and partners would sit in a room with the pictures of the non-management team members on a whiteboard.
They would go around the room and decide where each person fell amongst their peers. From there, we would get ratings out of 5. Your rating would determine your raise for the following year.
The firm culture was created in this competitive, seemingly popularity-driven rating scheme.
It caused a massive rift between the management team and the rest of us. We felt expendable, and there was a lot of quiet quitting, even before quiet quitting became a thing.
If this resembles anything you do in your partnership, a new approach should be taken.
Some driven people might thrive in this environment, but it is toxic for everyone else. You want to create an environment where collaboration, not competition, is the sentiment.
Team members need to be rated against themselves and not others.
Culture of Collaboration
If you don’t remember anything else from this week’s newsletter, remember this:
Good, talented people will leave if they see opportunities to improve the firm but are not heard.
Collaboration is wanting everyone to get better together.
Collaboration is listening to each person.
Collaboration is asking for input from everyone.
Collaboration is implementing a suggestion from a new team member and then acknowledging their contribution.
Collaboration will make:
- Giving and receiving feedback easier.
- Adopting new initiatives and technologies faster.
- Inviting team members to take ownership simpler.
You won’t need elaborate systems to get feedback from team members if you foster collaboration and openness.
If something has gone wrong and a team member has spent twice as long on a task than expected, it is time you ask for feedback from the team member.
Yes, you read that right correctly. You should ask how YOU can better support your team member.
Many things can go wrong preventing a team member from completing the work on time.
Leading with a question like “Why did it take you so long?’ will probably not get to the actual root of the issue. The team member will try to save face instead of resolve the problem.
Better questions include:
- Is this your first time doing this?
- Did you see the instruction video on this?
- Did you receive training for this job?
- Was the workflow documentation correct?
- Was the objective clear enough?
- Did someone walk you through this before you started?
- Was everyone too busy to help when you asked?
If expectations are not met, grind the workflow + process.
Don’t grind the team member.
Clear steps for improvement
You need feedback to improve. Period.
The barriers to switching from unresponsive and bad accountants are lower than ever.
Retaining a good client is significantly cheaper than finding a new client, so investing in a simple system to ensure you get feedback will be worth the investment.
This diagram of the firm structure from last week has the Follow-up workflow after the Fulfilment one.
The Follow up workflow should be well-designed and automated, just like the other client-facing workflows. Getting feedback can be as easy as sending an automatic email when the team completes an engagement.
A proven one-question survey called the Net Promoter Score (NPS) simply asks, “How likely is it that you would recommend our firm to a friend?” on a scale of one to 10.
A score of 9 or 10 signifies a ‘Promoter’ or loyal enthusiast of your firm.
A score of 7 or 8 signifies a ‘Passive’ or indifferent client.
A score of 0 to 6 signifies a ‘Detractor’ or an unhappy client.
If a score of less than 9 is given, you should connect with the client to get more depth feedback.
Lead with questions like:
“What parts of the process should be improved?”
“What was the worst part of your experience?”
Instead of a question like:
“Why did you rate your experience 6 out of 10?”
‘Why’ questions usually put people on the defensive and may close them off. The conversation intends to get actionable feedback rather than discredit a client’s experience.
If one client expresses concern about their experience, there is a high chance that other clients have experienced the same.
Collecting and implementing feedback reduces the chance of your client silently leaving.
If the firm has dropped the ball with a client, but they know you are improving and open to feedback, you can easily save the relationship.
Reviews and testimonials are valuable in creating social proof. Independent online credibility is the new verification that potential clients are looking for. Check out TFYW #005 for a deeper dive into social proof and online presence.
When asking for a review, be specific about what you want them to comment on. Your niche clients will be looking for reviews that address the problems they are facing in their industry.
You can ask how you have helped them with a specific problem like:
- Integrating better technology
- Building a better strategy by tracking ROI on marketing expenses
- Clarifying profitability by customer type
- Creating a growth strategy for a new market
General reviews are like general marketing – they speak to no one in particular.
Reviews and testimonials can also be used to craft your marketing messages. Words and terms used in the reviews will resonate with similar clients. Use the same language as your clients.
Build The Firm You Want,