Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Client Service: problems = opportunity

Many accountants who serve clients, whether they are your colleagues or an actual external customer, have experienced a time or two (or three or four) where something did not go right. You messed up. You fumbled.

Nice post from CPA Success illustrates the point: It's not just when things go "right" with clients but what happens when things go wrong? .... That is when you can build up two big things: TRUST and LOYALTY.

Trust because if a client KNOWs you take "mess-ups" very seriously, they know they will be taken care of to the best of your ability. They also know you care a lot when it happens. Loyalty is built when your "mess-up" becomes memorable .... IN THE WAY YOU RALLIED TO THEIR SIDE TO TAKE OWNERSHIP. Everyone is human. We all know we are not perfect, but we all expect certain fundamnetal things to happen when a vendor "messes up", but it rarely happens.

And the first place to start, and sometimes the hardest ....
Admit the mistake. Admit it. Come clean. Be blunt. Be serious. People "rarely" do this, but we all crave it.

By doing that, you will show them you take them (and your service to them) very seriously!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Short Course on Leadership

I love this quote so much I had to make make the quote itself .... today's blog post:

“Ph.D. in leadership. Short course: Make a short list of all things done to you that you abhorred.

Don’t do them to others. Ever.

Make another list of things done to you that you loved. Do them to others. Always.”

– Dee Hock

Monday, March 15, 2010

Outsource everything you do

Outsource EVERYTHING you do. That sounds daunting, and maybe crazy, doesn't it?

OK, so maybe you cannot outsource everything you do in your job tomorrow. But there is some value in TRYING to do that.

What if you had to do it? What would you need to do? Maybe ....

1.) Inventory everything you do.
2.) Challenge what can be done by someone else.
3.) Get everything in "order" so someone else can do it.

That third point is a big one. I have seen entrepreneurs who have had to delegate or outsource some activities that they typically did to someone else. It forces them to look at them in a new way. They have to bring structure. They have to ensure the task is clear and is working in an efficient way already. In short, they have to CHANGE the way they do the task BEFORE they give it to someone else. Guess what? If you do this and even if you decide not to outsource it or delegate it, you will have made the activity more efficient for yourself!

Do you do the billing for your firm or company?
Do you book your own flights?
Set up your own meetings?

Pretend processes like these have to be taken over by someone else tomorrow. You will make changes. You will benefit. These activities will take you less time. Eventually you will get so much more efficient and be able to focus on THE activities that you are both good at and enjoy and bring the REAL value to your organization, that you will be able to delegate or outsource all these other things!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The most powerful start to learning

"I don't know."

Whenever I hear a coaching client say that, I know they are already on a better path. Whenever I hear a partner at an accounting firm say that, I know they are on the right path to finding out an answer. And in the rare cases where I hear a staff accountant say that, I sense confidence.

The first thing you need to do when you want to learn something new or better yet, try and get a new result in your life, is to admit...

"I don't know."

I don't know the answer. I don't know how to do something. I do not know how to change. I do not know how to do it better.

If "you don't know" you really do KNOW where you are at, and admitting that is powerful because it is the first step in wiping the slate clean and uncovering what might be possible. It's the first step in admitting that what you have learned or done to date has you in this position --- not knowing the answer.

When you come face to face with your true gap in knowledge, with some humility, you are setting yourself up for learning.

People do not get in trouble for saying I don't know. They can really get into trouble for implying they know something when they have no idea. Also, when you do not come clean, you have not framed your problem, which is .... you guessed it "You don't know."

Do you have a problem or barrier or habit that you want to change? Say it one last time: "I don't know." Now let it sink in. Now you are ready. Believe it or not the next steps will be easier than you think if you can come clean and admit your place.