With more firms moving to the Verasage pricing model (good on them – great move), we occasionally come across examples where firms haven’t really arranged their systems and processes to support the delivery of services.
We are fortunate enough to be picking up a new customer (via referral) from a competitor who has “productised” their offering and built their model around cloud accounting. Terrific.
The customer in question has been working with their accountant for many years and supported them as they moved the model to an agreed pricing platform (I don’t believe based on our discussions with the customer that the firm is anywhere near value pricing their services). They had been paying the monthly direct debit to cover all the services required. They had been providing all the information required to enable the firm to do what was required.
Now, put yourself in this customer’s shoes. They’ve been paying a monthly amount to the firm for the various compliance obligations for the past three years. However, they have only just now received the financials and tax returns for 2013/14 and 2014/15. Are they frustrated? Bloody oath.
To be clear here, they are pretty happy with the quality of the work they were getting – when they got it. They were driven up the wall by the constant chasing up to get information from the firm. They like the accountant they have been working with. But they feel like they have been “left for dead”. The experience they have had has been very unsettling for them. As they said – “we’ve paid for the work, why hasn’t it been done?”
Many firms are making the move to productising their offerings and moving more to an agreed pricing model.
They fall down badly though when their focus is on marketing and “brand building” rather than service delivery.
Having your customers pay into your account regularly is great for your cashflow. When you’re not delivering the services agreed to under that model, you have a problem.
The firm our new customer was going to is widely lauded as a “leader” in its field. It is held up as a paragon of virtue and “a major disruptor”. The problem is, the lived experience of their customers doesn’t support the hype.
We will be making sure we deliver our agreed services to them on time and support them up hill and down dale. We will also regularly check in with them to ensure they are happy with our delivery and service. The great thing is, once they get embedded into our firm, they are wanting to refer a whole heap of their mates to us who are also with this “progressive” firm as they are all having the same experience.
The other thing is, we are value pricing the engagement with the customer. They are wanting a heap more real-value services and they are more than happy to pay for them. This is money the “disruptive, progressive” firm was leaving on the table by productising their offering. The firm’s focus wasn’t on the customer, and that has created a marvellous opportunity for us.
When you do go down the path of changing your model, please ensure that you deliver what you agree to and keep the customer in the loop. It’s no use being a “leader” in the industry/profession if your walk doesn’t match your talk.
You also need to have the value conversation with the customer and listen to their needs and wants.
Ends up being a far better outcome for all concerned.