Celebrity Author Anthony “Tony” Robbins identified six fundamental human needs that everyone has in common, and states that all behavior is simply an attempt to meet those six needs.
These Six Human Needs are Certainty, Uncertainty/Variety, Significance, Connection/Love, Growth and Contribution.
As an accounting services provider, if you can identify the ways to meet these six needs of your clients (and your staff), if you can recurrently and consistently do things that lead to clients (and your staff) actually experiencing the satisfaction of these needs, you are more likely to improve your firm’s performance. The question to ask is, “WHAT should I do to ensure that my services/products fulfill these needs of my clients?”
For now, let us focus on your clients. Here are some suggestions on what to do to fulfill six fundamental needs of your clients.
Certainty: People generally like to be in control of their financial assets. They want to the power to decide yes or no. Surprises take away their ability and desire to “consent or decline”. Therefore, if you can provide your clients with perceivable certainty i.e. assurance that you can help them either avoid pain and/or gain pleasure, you can expect more success.
As an accountant, you can provide certainty by providing compliance to avoid pain (e.g. being compliant to avoid IRS queries) or by providing gain pleasure (savings in taxes, helping them with consulting advice for better returns on their capital/investments, etc.).
Uncertainty/Variety: Strangely, as strong as the need for certainty is, many a times uncertainty is something that is actually a crave. Uncertainty is the need for the unknown, change, and new stimuli. In a research, Neuroscientists found that “human brain finds unexpected pleasures more rewarding than expected ones”, thereby suggesting that surprises, if any, should result in pleasant experiences. Just like certainty, if your clients experience a surprise of avoiding a loss or experience a surprising gain using your services, they will feel rewarded. Example: sometimes, car rental companies “surprise” you by upgrading you at no additional cost to the next higher level of car than what you paid for.
As an accountant, you can deliver unexpected pleasure to your clients your by giving a “paid analytical report” (which gives significant business intelligence that the client can act on instantly) that the client has not subscribed to. (This can also demonstrate your additional competencies to the client and/or make the client aware that he/she can buy those services from you).
Significance: Robbins describes the desire for significance—a belief that one’s life has meaning and importance and hence feeling unique, important, and special or needed is a natural want for people.
As an accountant, you can make your clients feel important and needed by sending birthday / anniversary greetings, receiving them personally when they visit your office (versus letting the receptionist guide them to a meeting room), calling them up for some advice in the matters that they are expert in, etc. The key is to do this repeatedly to make the client feel it’s not a one-time courtesy.
Connection/Love: A strong feeling of closeness or union with someone or something is one of the six core needs of human beings, so says Robbins.
As an accountant, you cannot afford to be not there on your client’s radar always. Out of sight is out of mind. You can make your processes to force you to “touch base” with your clients at least once a month. A phone call, an email, personalized notes with financial statements, a newsletter, personal visit, breakfast or lunch once in a while, a Facebook like or nice comment on a picture, sharing an article through email, endorsing a skill on LinkedIn – there can be several ways to increase your closeness with clients. There are cloud based software that actually bring you all relevant alerts about each person that you are connected with, automatically and instantly.
Growth: Human beings are driven by the quest for growth i.e. an expansion of capacity, capability or understanding. We simply appreciate and feel highly obliged when someone helps us achieve growth (and the principle of reciprocity gets triggered).
As an accountant, you can help your clients grow in ways that hardly any other professional services provider can. You have the most intimate knowledge of their financial lives. You also know a lot about financial benchmarks in their industries. You can easily share such knowledge, periodically, to help their growth. E.g. a successful restaurant’s prime costs are always 65% or less; informing “your financing costs are higher than that of your peers”’, by giving qualified referrals; etc. One important thing though: make such sharing “actionable” – many a times people may not know what to do with a piece of new information.
Contribution: Contribution is the sense of service and focus on helping, giving to and supporting others. Human beings want fulfilment and that can be manifested through friendship, community, society, business networks, social groups etc. and all these manifestations are based on “contributions by oneself”.
As an accountant, you can satisfy this need of your clients by enabling them to contribute more towards what makes them feel fulfilled. It could be seeking their advice in their field of expertise, referring them with someone whose business or knowledge needs can be satisfied by your client, engaging the client in the business network that you know of, inviting the client to deliver a speech at your quarterly clients’ meeting etc.
The How to: These “to-dos” can be automated through calendar events or reminders, use of apps, automation etc. The important things to remember are: consistency, frequency, relevancy and sincerity of your efforts.