By Mark Rowland Bookkeepers Bookkeeper Natasha Penny reveals the secret to happy clients 19 Jan 2018 Natasha Penny’s firm, Busy Books, has won multiple awards for customer service. She explains how to get it right – and when to bring out the baked goods. I fell into accountancy literally by accident – a car accident,to be precise. It left me with injuries that made it very difficult to do physical work. I was trying to get my cleaning business off the ground at the time but physical work was suddenly out the window. Since I was doing a bookkeeping course to help me keep track of my books and I was quite enjoying it, I thought: “Maybe I could do this.” Eleven years later, I’m running my own practice with five members of staff. The personal touch It was important for me that Busy Books really helped people, and that we weren’t just out to make money. I wanted to give the company a real personal touch. I think that’s more important than ever, particularly for small businesses and sole traders. Excellent customer service I’ve invested a lot of time and money in customer service. I employ with my heart and take on people with a similar ethos to me, in life and in business. You should spend a lot of time with new staff so that they approach client communication in the right way. It’s a good idea to introduce in-house procedures, and checklists to ensure clients have received all the letters and communication that they should be getting. But, if you over-rely on processes, you can become robotic. You need to give staff freedom to inject an element of their personality and common sense into the business, so that it’s as personal as possible. Becoming part of your client’s team When we do bookkeeping, we go on-site and become part of the client’s business. We’re like another member of their team, a real part of their business. You cannot overestimate the power of treats either. We send handwritten birthday and Christmas cards to our clients, and we often take cake and chocolate with us – just little things that are going to make the day nicer for everybody, and that make it clear we put our clients first, which goes a long, long way. This article appeared in our Jan/Feb 2018 issue of AT magazine. Mark Rowland is a journalist and former editor of Accounting Technician and 20 magazine.