If you are a provider of services to your customer how often do you review the service you provide to them? Are you providing the service they want or the service you think they want? Do they know what they want or do they trust you to provide the service you think they should have?
Our bookkeeping service varies from customer to customer. Some know exactly what they want us to do whereas others just come to us for bookkeeping and expect us to do what we think needs doing. These latter ones, don't know what paperwork they need to give us, don't understand VAT and rely on us to sort it all out and tell them what to pay. The ones who are really interested in their accounts and how their business is doing ensure we receive paperwork regularly so we can send them accurate monthly management reports and keep their cash flow forecast up to date.
Customer needs and wants vary but it is important to take time every so often to review the service they receive to see if it is still appropriate for them. Taking a step back to assess what their business really needs and what can be provided to them can change the offering to be more beneficial to both parties. All businesses need to regularly review their services and keep up to date with the changes that are inevitable.
We have supported many businesses who don't have an experienced bookkeeper with regular review of their accounts and VAT returns. This gives the business owner confidence that the accounts will be accurate but also gives the administrator or trainee bookkeeper someone they can learn from and ask questions of. But as time goes on they become more confident and don't need the same support so we step back and discontinue our support.
Sometimes business grow out of the support we can offer. Whilst we don't like to lose our customers because we build a good relationship with them and have often worked with them for many years, it has been good to be part of their growth journey. Again we will support the new bookkeeper when needed.
Sometimes though we have customers we have worked with for a very long time and it is very easy to keep going as we are. But we need to review these too. Is there something else we can do for their business that will enable them to have better information, to spend less or which will make their life easier? Perhaps it is a change of software that will make a difference. It is surprising how interested some customers become in their accounts when we move them from desktop software which only we see to online software which they have access to. They can see instantly who owes them, who they owe and how their business is doing without waiting for their monthly reports. Of course the information is only valuable if it is up to date but that always available visibility has made the finances of their business much more interesting.
Some customers want to take a more active role in their accounts now they can see them and with a little training of how to do the bits they want to do (and a little training in what to leave to us) keeping their accounts becomes much easier.
So much technology is available now to add-on to online software that it is important to see if there is something which will be of value to customers and will enhance the service you can offer. However it is also important not to provide something which costs them more which really doesn't have any added value.
So for a whole lot of reasons it is important from time to time to review your customers and the services you provide to them. Are they still appropriate? Would something work better for them - or for you? Are they a good customer for you? If not do they need some training or will nothing ever change? And, most importantly, are we a good supplier to them? Would they recommend our service to others? Are we responsive, friendly and approachable?
Taking some time out to do this is time well spent.