Of Client Service and Ugly Christmas Sweaters

December 11, 2019

Despite all I had been told about the importance of client service, I didn’t really learn the lesson until donuts were involved. After a few weeks at the Aronson office in training seminars or studying, I was finally assigned my first client visit for interim fieldwork. In the planning meeting, the manager on the job suggested we bring donuts, so I volunteered. Before this, I thought of the accounting profession as technical at its core, with the frills of customer service provided to decorate the number-crunching. When I arrived and the receptionist mistook my senior associate and me for vendor sales representatives–because who else would bring donuts on a Monday?—I knew my concept of client service was wrong. The client’s surprise and appreciation for our simple gesture convinced me that accounting is a customer service profession with a technical specialization, not the other way around.

Connecting with our clients may seem like a no-brainer, but you will be surprised by how easy it can be to hide in a client’s conference room during field-work, firing off emails, rather than walking down the hall to ask a question. Relationships are not made via email. Even the most masterful of emails cannot leave the same lasting impression that a friendly conversation in the hallway can create. Whatever makes us averse to in-person interaction, whether plain old introversion or acute “Millennial-itis,” it is well worth overcoming!

Service is not a one-way street. Certainly, at the end of the day, our job is to deliver a tax return, an audit opinion, or a consulting work-product. But clients do something crucial for us as well: they help us rise beyond ourselves. My audit team arrived to a client’s office one chilly Friday in our ugly Christmas sweaters because we were invited to their holiday party. I doubt we would have gotten to know their team as well otherwise. More importantly, I doubt I would have realized that despite being “the auditors,” they saw us for what we really are: a part of their team.

Client service deservedly gets a lot of air time these days as the accounting profession continues to explore and refine its value proposition. But I was not expecting to learn the importance of it so quickly after starting at Aronson. The mindset that describes it best is this: Aronson is our employer, but even on our first day as associates, we are here because we work for our clients.

Interested in joining our team? Learn more about life at Aronson and check out our career opportunities. Contact Rachel Cotton at 301.231.6200 for questions or further information.