The B2B accounting and tax industry is excelling in the race toward better customer experiences. Since 2010 Customer Engagement has seen a slight four point increase. But, more importantly, B2B accounting and tax providers are doing a far better job at creating positive emotional memories with their clients than others in the B2B space. Eighty-three percent of accounting and tax clients report positive emotional memories, to put this in perspective, this is on par with the likes of the Four Seasons (87%) and Apple (85%). Not bad at all for an industry that most of us associate with columns and numbers rather than emotion and connection.
So what is that makes a B2B accounting and tax experience engaging? Our report, The Higher Standard, presents key findings from the 2013 MECx study. In particular we found three key elements of an engaging experience:
Clients want a relationship with their provider where they feel their provider knows, “me, my business and my preferences.”
One client in the study captured why this element is so important as they expressed what they didn’t like about their provider:
“They do what we need done, expect to be done, but they do not really get to know my company. They are very money focused, bottom line focused. Sure, they get my business into the high profit zone but they do not have good bedside manners at all. They are black and white, interact directly and use as few words as possible to interact with the company. We are on the fence of switching over to our own people taking over that part of the business.”
In spite of the fact that the provider is clearly delivering on what is expected of them, the client is unhappy about the lack of a personal relationship. It’s this very soft, emotional response that has the client considering bringing the work in-house.
Clarity & Ease
Clients want things to be clear and easy to understand. Not everyone enjoys the details of accounting and tax work and there’s often confusion around these topics. Again, looking at feedback from clients in the study we see how powerful this element is in shaping the experience:
“She is a friend of the owner and we have a very casual atmosphere at the office. She is nice, as well as professional, and she makes the accounting easy for me to understand and around tax time…she is a godsend!”
In this story the accountant is clearly excelling at both building a personal relationship and making things easy to understand. As a result, the client clearly relies on this professional and highly values her contributions to the business.
Trust is about conveying that the client’s interests are central to all decisions made by the firm. As one client in the study said:
“They consistently give 110% to my company’s best interests. You know what you are getting from them. They never drop the ball.”
In this instance, time and consistency has built a strong rapport with the client that translates to that client feeling better about the provider.
While some accountants and companies are naturally good at delivering these elements of an engaging experience, now is the time to get clear on how to implement these in your organization. We know what makes an engaging customer experience in this industry – the next step is to deliver this experience consistently to every client, at every touchpoint.