The Practitioner: caring for clients

WE KEEP UPSETTING the same clients with the same petty little mistakes, despite constant complaints.

One such client has phoned us twice in the past two months reminding us that if we keep addressing post to her “cheating sod of an ex-husband” then she is definitely going to look around for a new accountant. The fact of the matter is that she is probably already looking but no one will have her. I’m referring to no accountant being willing to have her as a client, I’m make no comment on her personal circumstances.

It is annoying, though. No matter how many notes I staple to the front of the accounts file, the correspondence file and the tax file advising staff to “no longer address letters to Mr & Mrs Wainwright because Mr Wainwright has finally left her”, the occasional letter still slips through the net.

This is then followed by a couple of phone calls, threats to leave us, a visit from Mrs Wainwright, an hour-long conversation with our receptionist, and then Mrs Wainwright breaking down in tears.

I know for a fact that she won’t leave us; where else would she get free counselling on a comfy sofa, good coffee, and biscuits?

There is a lesson to be learnt though, in all seriousness, and that lesson is attention to detail is crucial in our job. Another lesson to be learnt is that some clients enjoy complaining.

They enjoy having someone to moan at, to share all their worries with, to have an emotional brain dump every now and again – especially if the husband has just walked.

Client care is essential and the truth is that we would probably have lost Mrs Wainwright months ago if we hadn’t taken the time to listen to her when she felt like complaining.

I’m sure some firms have a much lower tolerance level for dealing with awkward clients. We see it as being part of the service. I say we, but I mean me. Being able to avoid reception when the awkward clients are in, and being able to avoid taking their calls makes it all so much easier to preach to the staff about client care…

Hey, I’m a partner in the firm. Do as I say, don’t do as I do.

The Practitioner’s uncensored thoughts come from the coalface of a regional office in the heart of England

Related reading

aidan-brennan kpmg
The Practitioner