The Client/CPA Perception Gap: Clients Want More New and Different Services than Most CPAs Think

One-fourth of clients surveyed say they’d leave their current CPA firm because it might not have the new or different services that the client needs.

Only about 15 percent of CPAs seem to be aware of the danger. Although only 7 percent of clients surveyed cite personal friendship with a new CPA as a reason to switch firms, 17 percent of CPAs think it’s an important reason for a change of firm. Clearly, this is less important than CPAs think.

CPAs need to be doing more to listen to client needs and to anticipate their need for new and different services. Then they need to develop and deliver those new or different services.

CPAs should focus less on personal issues and concern themselves with business issues. This focus will enable them to understand better the needs of their clients and provide the services and the attentiveness to their needs that drives customer loyalty.

Being proactive with clients is another very important gap in the perception of CPAs. While 40 percent of the clients surveyed list proactivity as a reason to change firms, only 15 percent of CPAs understood how important this is to their clients. Clearly, clients want their CPAs to take the lead and become more proactive in anticipating their needs and preparing themselves to meet the needs as they emerge.

CPAs should be proactive in notifying clients of important legal or tax code changes that affect them. CPAs should be more proactive in anticipating and providing new and different services to meet the emerging needs of their clients as their business changes.

Significant gaps exist between what clients really think and what CPAs believe is important to their clients. These gaps indicate a need for CPAs to revise their thinking. They also indicate opportunities for CPA firms to make changes that will improve client satisfaction and retention.