Can you name the top two key factors to an accounting firm’s success? If you said Employee Satisfaction and Client Satisfaction, then you are exactly right.
You have probably thought about it, some of you may have even tried to conduct a survey before, so why the hesitation and procrastination? The topic of surveying comes up at most firm-wide and association meetings that I have attended. Many firms just don’t know how to conduct employee or client surveys, don’t want to take the time to do it, or they simply don’t want to know the results. Then there are the firms who do want to know the results and conduct the survey only to forget about following up to implement needed changes discovered from the survey results.
The benefits of conducting employee and client surveys vastly outweigh the time and effort surveying takes. The greatest benefits that result from employee surveys are particularly evident as recruiting and retention continue to be a major challenge in the industry. Surveying your firm’s top clients helps resolve and prevent many issues such as client attrition, which will always be extremely expensive.
There’s no question that employee loyalty is the first key to your firm’s success and growth. Retention of good employees will enable your firm to provide a high quality of service and be more profitable. Employee surveys act as a recruiting magnet for others who seek a positive work environment. A goal for your firm should be to have an open-door policy with employees. You want to know when your employees are unhappy or at risk for leaving. Creating this type of culture takes work, but is well worth it.
Used in addition to regular communication and reviews, an employee loyalty survey gives your team yet another opportunity to provide feedback and to help create this open-door culture. Happy and dedicated employees create loyal clients for your firm. The client loyalty surveys that we conduct prove this time and time again. Client loyalty is another key to your firm’s success and growth. Just as loyal employees attract more of the same, so do loyal clients.
I am always amazed and concerned that top client interviews reveal dedication to a partner in the firm. Notice I said, “a partner.” While it may prove that client service and attention seal the relationship, having a great relationship with one individual in the firm and not the firm as a whole is certainly a negative. When we conduct these client loyalty surveys, a partner that is not the primary contact for the client will accompany us on the meeting. This allows the partner to hear for him or herself what the client is saying about the other partner and firm. This is also a great opportunity for the partner to strengthen the relationship with this client or, if need be, to introduce himself and start building a relationship with the client. This helps to achieve firm-wide loyalty, in addition to the partner loyalty that has already been established by the client.
Of course, the key to effectively utilizing these surveys is in the follow up. Don’t stir the pot if you are unwilling to address the issues that arise. After you complete the employee or client loyalty survey you must do the following in order for it to be successful:
- Tabulate the results
- Look for common issues that exist
- Formulate a plan to address these issues
- Communicate the plan to your employees and/or clients
- Commit to implementing any needed changes
- Follow up after implementation to see if positive change has occurred
Taking the time to survey your employees and your top clients will have infinite pay off. Everyone likes to be appreciated and valued. This holds true for your employees as well as your clients. When you are planning your firm’s strategy for the remainder of the year, make sure you build loyalty surveys into your plan. The results of the survey will aid in moving your firm in the right direction for growth and improvement.
About the author
Angie Grissom serves as the President of The Rainmaker Companies, a leading provider of alliance, consulting, and training services exclusively for the Accounting Profession.She is passionate about the current and future leadership in the accounting industry and pushes firm leaders to build firms that empower people and have strong future leaders and unmatched client service. She encourages leaders to think outside the box and have a focus on getting results.