I hesitate about this post as some may take it the wrong way. So if you're of a nervous disposition or suddenly see red, then please, post a comment. Get it off your chest.
In my news aggregator I have a subscription to Accountants Pick. Most of it is rubbish and thank goodness it renders better in FeedDemon than on the original site. One thing caught my eye. This article about care home operator problems from Business Gazette. Why? because I used to have a client in that sector and my daughter works in a private care home.
The words came from Dodd & Co. So I visited their website. Guess what? It's a website with no immediately obvious contact form. It has a survey that I can't understand and one question that's virtually incomprehensible.
I did find an interesting tax bulletin about hotelier's staff accommodation but to find it you have to go the press section?? It is (almost) written in plain English so the average person should get the gist. Elsewhere, the firm shows off its expertise in farming and other, localised industries.
The report that was referred to isn't on the site - or at least I can't see it. I did find a bulletin about the care industry. But it is so 'packed' I struggled to get through it. It's also detail heavy and there is an assumption that business owners will want to wade through facts and figures. Wrong!
I have no doubt that Dodd & Co are a great firm. They've grown from 3 to 100 in 25 years so they're doing a lot of things right. They have clear expertise in a number of areas and, if you're technically inclined, they clearly have strong depth. In other words, from reading their stuff, I as a professional got a great deal out of it. But...
I didn't see anything that appealed to me as a prospective customer. I don't know anything about the individuals, I have no real idea who's got which expertise, unless I am prepared to trawl the site - which I'm not. There is no client testimonial section. There is no personal message from the senior partner. In other words, they're voiceless. There is no conversation.
I wanted to hear from customers Dodds have advised on the care home regime. I wanted to hear how Dodd has worked to help its customers and the benefits they expect to see. How I wish I could get that out of their site. But I can't. Would they be on my shortlist if I was selecting a firm for my business? Maybe.
But top of the list of my questions would not be: "What is your expertise in...?" but "How do you plan on maintaining communications with me?" If they say anything other than 'electronic' then I know my fees are inflated by the amount of time, effort and physical cost involved in sending letters.
Isn't it about time professionals ate the dog food being fed by HMRC by which I mean a requirement to file online by 2009? Isn't it about time professionals took the opportunity to engage with customers? In time, I believe that customers will measure the profession as much by the way it conducts its relationships as it does for its technical expertise. It will be those firms that understand this issue that will truly thrive.
For the sake of fairness, I have forwarded an email containing this post to the person who was mentioned in the article.