In the world of accounting, we stand on two principles; timely and accurate information for the client. Without either, the client can’t make good decisions. As accountants our job is to record economic transactions and report this information in a financial format. For the client it is imperative that the information is provided in a reasonable period of time after the activity. It doesn’t do any good for the information to be outdated, because the information acts as part of a feedback loop that management uses to improve performance.
In addition, the information must be accurate. If the information doesn’t tell the correct story of what is happening, the client can’t possible make good decisions.
So both factors are critical to the success of our industry. In my opinion, these same two factors are the most important in any service related industry.
I tried for hours to come up with any other characteristics to describe outstanding service. You name it, I tried it. Communication? Well that is indeed a good customer service trait, but it’s a part of both timely and accurate service. All other positive traits I thought of were a part of either of these two broad characteristics of good service.
If your service oriented operation can’t deliver the service in a timely manner, is the customer going to stick with you? How about being accurate in what you deliver? I’ll give a great true story of doing one and not the other.
A business associate of mine owns a roofing company. He does both commercial and residential. In his business he sets up an agreed upon date to perform the services. He doesn’t like to rush things, the materials are delivered, a dumpster is delivered, and the work crew is then sent to the site to take off the old roof and lay a new one.
Well, he uses a trash service to set the container in the driveway. The service sets the dumpster a few days beforehand and then picks up once the job is complete. Well, for this residential job, he was indeed timely. Everything went as planned. Beautiful day, no problems, the work crew came back into the shop and dropped off the completed work order. The owner gets a call from the customer. “Hey, I thought you guys were going to get my roof done today?” My friend didn’t understand; the roof was done. So, he drove right out to the job site and was standing in the middle of the street looking at the roof. It was obvious it wasn’t done. The customer was screaming at him. There wasn’t a dumpster in the driveway. As he stood there getting yelled at, his eyes drifted down the street a couple of houses and he noticed something odd. A man was standing in the street looking up at his house, pointing as if something was wrong.
If you haven’t figured it out, the new roof was on the wrong house. Sure enough, the dumpster company put the dumpster in the wrong driveway, the crew showed up where the dumpster was located and proceeded to put on a new roof. Not too accurate if you ask me.
It got worse, because the homeowner with the new roof was upset, not only had the homeowner put on a new roof a year earlier, but the new shingle’s color scheme didn’t match his house. You got it, paint job, shutters, gutters, all of it was wrong. My friend was ticked because his foreman didn’t even piece together that there was a problem. He just started working where there was a dumpster.
So in any small business, good customer service equals timeliness and accuracy. Act on Knowledge.
If you have any comments or questions, e-mail me at dave (insert the usual ‘at’ symbol) businessecon.org. I would love to hear from you. If interested in my help as an accountant or consultant, contact me through the ‘My Services’ page in the footer.