Ask the expert: Client service

Featuring Greg Lockhart, President, Lockhart Industries

Improving brand experience

Do your clients think of you as a trusted advisor who understands their specific needs — or do they see you and your tax return service as a “touchless,” faceless digital service that is easily replaced?

Q  Why do accountants and CPAs lose their clients, and how can they gain a competitive advantage over other CPAs and firms?

A  The truth is that too many CPAs see their services as transactional — instead of relational. According to a recent survey, the main reason CPAs lose clients is “poor client service and inattentiveness.” Another survey found that 3 out of 4 small business owners changed their CPA or accounting firm because they only received “reactive service” when they wanted informed, proactive advice. Business clients want to feel their CPA understands their business and is anticipating their needs — not just doing perfunctory tax returns. Smart CPAs can gain a competitive advantage by “touching” their clients emotionally.

Q  With “paperless” and “touchless” accounting practices and jargon on the rise, how can accounting firms still improve their brand experience?

A  To build brand loyalty and improve your brand experience, you have to take the time to “walk a mile” in your client’s shoes and imagine the experience of your brand from their perspective. For instance, how does your digital portal experience build loyalty to your brand? Do your clients enjoy printing their own tax returns and buying all that expensive ink? Is that a satisfying brand experience that builds client loyalty? The best CPAs find ways to “touch” their clients’ emotions using the “power of print.” That’s why higher-end firms still invest in sending physical tax returns to their clients in beautifully branded tax folders. Printed materials have an emotional, brand-building power that digital simply doesn’t have. Smart brands use this!

Is there any scientific evidence for how print performs against digital?

Yes. There is a lot of evidence from recent studies in neuroscience! Just Google “why paper is better than digital” and start reading. Or Google the word “haptics” (the science of touch). A study by Sappi North America found that “more than half the brain is devoted to processing sensory experience — and much of that sensory receptivity focuses on touch.” In this digital age, CPAs still need to find a way to “touch” their clients’ emotions — and paper is still a great way to build your brand experience. Paper generates more emotion and memory, which helps to develop more positive brand associations. That’s one way to build a better brand experience and differentiate your business from your increasingly invisible and “touchless” peers.

To learn more about Lockhart custom tax folders, visit


For almost half a century, Lockhart’s custom-branded Tax Return & Presentation Folders have helped thousands of prominent accounting firms and financial professionals brand their image of excellence, improve their brand experience, and impress and win more high-value clients.

Where to find March’s flipbook issue

The Journal of Accountancy is now completely digital. 





Get Clients Ready for Tax Season

This comprehensive report looks at the changes to the child tax credit, earned income tax credit, and child and dependent care credit caused by the expiration of provisions in the American Rescue Plan Act; the ability e-file more returns in the Form 1040 series; automobile mileage deductions; the alternative minimum tax; gift tax exemptions; strategies for accelerating or postponing income and deductions; and retirement and estate planning.