As far as the numbers go, that isn’t the problem, says a new accounting survey. It’s the customer service and the person-to-person stuff that need some work. According to an April poll by NFO WorldGroup, research-based, financial services marketing firm in New York, corporate America gave external auditors an overall “D” average in competence.
People just aren’t happy with their relationship with their accountant, says Shubhra Ramchandani, Stakeholder Management Practice Leader for North America, NFO WorldGroup, and leader of the TRI*M Stakeholder Management Services study (a research-based platform for measuring, monitoring, and managing multi-channel relationships). “Accountants need to get down to basics and make some changes,” she says. Issues of ethics and integrity, such as ‘readiness for change’ and ‘being a company I can trust,’ were all rated very highly. But issues such as response rates, keeping clients up to date, and maintaining a ‘staff we can rely on to provide the right advice,’ were rated mediocre to poor.
According to the survey, only 35% of the respondents would recommend their current auditing service, while 27% would not, and 42% were unsure. In addition, only 55% of the respondents ranked overall performance as excellent or very good compared to 70% to 75% typically seen in the professional services such as banking and information technology. The solution: know and understand your clients’ expectations, offers Ramchandani. “If the smaller, more fundamental issues are addressed and resolved,” she says, “then approval ratings will rise.”