The Great Differentiator

A co-worker recently shared an online shopping experience with me. She purchased a high-end, metal water bottle online and it arrived scratched. She emailed the company about the scratch and returning the water bottle. Within minutes, she received an apology with notification that a replacement would be shipped out that same day. She emailed the company again and asked how to return the scratched water bottle. They just told her to keep it and asked that she recycle it if she didn’t want to keep it. 

As she told me the story, I thought about how far our expectations as customers have fallen. Airlines, retailers, phone and cable companies, and many other companies have conditioned us to expect a poor customer experience. And, therefore, when a company does something as basic as replacing a scratched water bottle without a hassle, we feel as though we’ve been treated special. 

I strongly believe that the client experience will be the great differentiator for accounting firms going forward. The client experience includes all the interactions a client has with a firm -- from how someone initially becomes aware of the firm, to how the firm presents itself as the client makes the decision to hire, to the engagement itself, to the results achieved and to the post-engagement follow up.

The client experience is much more than service. It’s more than any single team member, partner, focus area or department. For us, it’s about understanding clients, building a plan to make every single client touch a great experience, allowing team members to deliver on that plan and developing leaders to reinforce a culture that recognizes and rewards great experiences.

When you have a good product/service, focus on creating a great experience and hire people who take the initiative to “own the moment.” Then people will pay $40 for a bottle that holds water, feel good about spending $40 for a bottle that holds water, and proudly tell their friends and colleagues they paid $40 for a bottle that holds water. 

Provide a great customer experience. That’s why I’m working to build the Wise Firm.


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About the Author:

Bruce Walt is the director of marketing at HORNE LLP where he is responsible for translating the HORNE brand into go-to-market strategies for the firm’s seven focus areas. In addition to marketing program development, Bruce directs HORNE’s external branding, messaging, advertising, and digital strategy.  




Topics: Customer Experience, Culture

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