Dennis Howlett tipped me off to this Rick Telburg survey, entitled Client Satisfaction: Make It ‘Priceless’. Although covering the accountancy sector, in many places you could simply insert the word PR and you’d have a pretty accurate client view of flackery.
“The responses indicate a general, if not unanimous, consensus: clients want service. Lots of it. Now. And it better be good. … and cheap.”
“CPAs who care, who do more than audit or prepare taxes, who are proactively involved in keeping clients updated and duly informed, all at a price that clients tend to call “reasonable” and CPAs tend to call “cheap.””
“Most want cheap fees and even cheaper software to clean up the messes they created,” he told us. “A few value your efforts and want more from you.” Indeed, “cheap” came up quite a bit. The all-too-human urge that creates a demand for cheap beer, cheap cars and cheap clothes extends to audits and accounting services.”
“Clients want guidance. They don’t need their CPA to be a guru in their business, but they expect their CPA to take an active interest in their business. Being willing to listen and learn the business is important. Clients want sound advice when it’s given, and they want to know what the numbers mean. They want accuracy and the confidence in knowing what they hire their CPA for will be done right.”
It doesn’t take too much brainpower to see that these are the kind of client concerns encountered in the world of PR.
I used to be irked by the fact that accountants wouldn’t take any responsibility arising from errors made by them ie I’m a company director – but if our accounts are wrong, I’m the one going to jail – not my accountant. I also used to get annoyed that we had to spend time checking their numbers – and then take responsibility for signing them off. It was then pointed out to me that PR companies don’t take ultimate responsibility for results (certainly in the realm of media relations) – on the basis that you are ultimately reliant on a third party – the journalist – over whom you have no control.
He who has no sin, etc.
Nevertheless, as Dennis says, the same old client wishlists keep popping up.
His question: when is the profession going to DO something about the things clients request instead of simply acknowledging them?
I guess because if it were easy to fix, we (accountants and PRs) would have done it a long time ago – still, no excuse for not trying.