The services we offer to our clients are important. Of course, they create revenue for us, and we can pay our bills, but this isn’t the full story. We are also interested in ensuring our clients’ satisfaction and happiness, which can translate to loyalty, a feeling that can prompt our clients to refer us to others. Delivering high-quality client services isn’t always easy, especially when we face limited resources or other challenges that crop up along the way. With this insightful blog post, we aim to dissect the challenges of delivering excellent client services and how firms can conquer these challenges using empathy.
What is Empathy in Client Service:
Empathy is the ability to step into the shoes of another to understand how they feel. In client service, it’s the drive that motivates a professional to do something to ease or improve a client’s experience. Bear in mind that your business is all about your clients and how you can assist them, so being empathic can make a big difference even when you are experiencing challenges and obstacles.
Challenges Firms Encounter in Client Service:
Like most businesses, accounting firms face similar issues while servicing their clients, and these challenges may include:
Due to the complex nature of accounting processes and requirements, clients may struggle to understand the details or relevance, which might lead to confusion by the client or delays in processes.
Trust is important in any successful relationship, but it isn’t always a given and often needs to be built up over time. This can be especially challenging in areas such as audits, where you need to provide an independent review and the client may perceive you as being against them in some way.
Accountants typically work on numerous client accounts simultaneously, which may result in delays in attending to specific client needs. When this occurs, some clients may get frustrated, and the client-firm relationship can be affected.
Automation and Personalisation:
There’s no doubt that technology has been useful in streamlining business processes, and accounting services are no exception to this. However, this could be a challenge in client service, as reliance on automated processes can sometimes remove the human touch.
Benefits of Empathy in Client Service:
As individuals, we are all clients from time to time, buying products and services. We typically experience a range of good and poor service along the way. What contributes to our satisfaction or disappointment? Empathy can make a huge difference! Empathy creates a friendlier atmosphere between a firm and the client, and identifying clients’ needs and query resolution becomes easier. These combine to create client loyalty, which can translate into more business for the firm over time through client stickiness or referral.
How to Implement Empathy in Client Service:
While it’s true that human wants can be insatiable, it is also true that we can take practical steps to ensure that the services we render to clients show that we are empathic to them and their needs. It’s not necessarily something that’s traditionally associated with accountants. Here are some tips that will help you infuse empathy as you represent your firm in front of clients:
- Different clients are wired differently; acknowledging that differences exist (that they can be quite different from you too) is a great first step.
- Practice active listening, give your clients full attention, and ensure to validate the concerns they share with you.
- Provide clear communication to your clients to ensure alignment on requirements and expectations.
- Addressing your clients by their names shows you take their concerns personally. Refer to previous discussions, bringing in relevant and appropriate details.
- You can also prioritise being proactive in solving your client’s problems; this shows your commitment to their well-being.
- As a firm, you may decide to create flexible services for certain clients’ preferences.
- Lastly, do not forget to acknowledge and celebrate your client’s achievements; this encourages a client-firm connection.
We may not have been on the receiving end of our service as clients, but we are all clients of various businesses in our own right. We are also dealing with other humans. This makes it more important that we consider all these elements to demonstrate empathy when delivering client service and then try to put ourselves in our client’s shoes as much as we can.
As a firm, your team members could well benefit from our Essential Skills Workshop, which empowers team members with the right soft skills to ensure they continue to offer the same and even better quality of services to your clients. You can get started by clicking HERE
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