A college professor once asked us to submit a 50-page literature review on accounting. We were free to write anything and everything from the history of the profession to current trends in the career.
It was captivating to review the history of accounting, which dates back thousands of years. It was also interesting to look at some current trends including the rise in accounting automation. The basics of accounting seem not to have changed significantly.
As a system through which financial transactions are recorded, summarised, analysed, verified, and reported, accounting remains a critical function in any business. Without accounting, it would be impossible to keep track of a firm’s financial performance. Accountants play a key role in businesses. They give meaning to the numbers. Most are especially keen on accounts receivables maybe because accounts these are the next most liquid asset after cash.
Are accountants as customer-focused as they should be? Do they consider customers important? Do they handle them with care? Do they realise that the cash in businesses largely comes from customers? Do they consider pain points in the payment process? Do they seek to make the payment processes easy and painless?
Whether or not accountants are focused on customers or their money is debatable. Focusing on the client means seeking to understand and to meet the needs of the customer. It also means committing to customer satisfaction and loyalty and building strong long-lasting relationships. Ordinarily, the majority of customers are good and ready to pay for the services and products that they purchase.
In my business life, I have met accountants who treat customers with great respect. Such are intentional about building healthy relationships with their customers. They aim to make the payment process seamless and painless. I have also met accountants who treat customers with lots of suspicions. Such makes it difficult for customers to pay.
They often do not keep track of payments done and keep the customers in the dark with no updates. Such accountants become a source of grief for businesses. Some firms have even closed shop because accountants have withheld their payments for no reason. An error in accounting for example might send customers away, never to return.
Recently, the Senate passed The Prompt Payment Bill, 2021, which seeks to streamline payments for goods and services procured by the government. As I looked at the Bill, I wondered why payments in businesses had been left out. Is it possible for accountants in the public and private sectors to offer great customer experiences?
I believe businesses need customer-focused accountants. Accountants who aim to eliminate any pain the customer may be experiencing when transacting. Accountants who keep their eyes focused on winning customers’ trust. Accountants who care deeply about customer retention. Are you an accountant? Do you make it easy for your customers to pay you fast and with much ease? Firms need accountants with a human touch.
Dr Lucy Kiruthu is a management consultant and trainer. Connect via Twitter @KiruthuLucy