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Six tips to strengthen client relationships (part 2/2)

Last Tuesday I shared some tips for improving client relationships. Today I’ve got the final three for you. This advice is great for any accountant, bookkeeper or business owner who wants to nurture client relationships.

4. Developing social intelligence

Humans unconsciously imitate the emotions of others. Moods often transfer between individuals – from the aggressive to the passive party. Actors use this principle of mimicking emotion onstage. It helps them get an emotional reaction from the audience.

Socially intelligent people can control the signals we send that mark our moods. Accountants who have mastered social intelligence can send signals to alter their client’s moods. An appropriate use of mirroring and displays of empathy (discussed in the next section) will often do the trick. These techniques will help bring about coordination of moods, which is the essence of rapport. Increased rapport, motivation and encouragement all assist in strengthening client relationships.

Emotional rapport in a meeting is mirrored by how close the physical movements follow as the participants talk. Nodding while another person talks and leaning toward them as they make a point indicates engagement. Studies of school classrooms show a strong connection between this synchronicity of movement and levels of engagement by the students.

5. Three ways to display empathy

Empathy is identifying and understanding the feelings of others. It is one of the principal conduits for managing emotions in others. This skill helps people to provide social support and make positive interpersonal relationships.

Active listening is one of the key ways of displaying empathy. Be present, not thinking about anything else. Look the other person in the eye. Show that you understand the content of the discussion by repeating it back in your own words. Acknowledge your emotion and share that.

Another key way to show empathy is to share something of yourself. Building empathy goes both ways.

Try to understand the viewpoints of other people without making any assumptions about them. Do not judge or make hasty classifications. This way you will gain a deeper understanding of the person. Remember that your impression of the other may not be the true person. They might just be having a bad day, received bad news, or just be having an off day.

6. Systemised learning and development

Recent studies show that emotional intelligence (EQ) is dropping among younger people. At the same time, IQs are generally rising. This trend will have long term implications for industries that have high EQ requirements. Accounting is one of these. Decreasing levels of EQ across the industry could lead to widespread dissatisfaction. This will create an environment ripe for disruption.

Accountants and their firms can combat the trend of declining EQ with education programs. These programs can help staff learn how to display warmth and build empathy. This education should cover all firm members, from associate level through to director. Remember, changes in the emotional intelligence of an individual tend to happen slowly. People need time to practice the new skills and habits that they develop. To accommodate this, the education process should start early.

Education programs should:

  • identify the particular skills needed
  • develop education content
  • deliver content
  • evaluate outcomes.

The skill levels of participants should be measured first so that the education can target the area of greatest need. Review skill levels immediately after the delivery of the education program. This will ensure that the education is meeting the desired requirements. Develop exercises to allow individuals to practice their skills. This will help you meet the standard you’re aiming for.

Strong client relationships benefit everyone

It’s wise to recognise the significant gains to make from deepening client relationships.

  • The average lifetime of a client extends and the value that the client contributes increases.
  • Employees benefit from higher EQ as they have more fulfilling business and personal relationships.
  • Clients gain a more open exchange of ideas and opinions, which gives greater depth to the advice they receive.

Specific skills, techniques and behaviours can enhance the characteristics of warmth (lovability). Many accountants seem to have these as natural talents, but all accountants can learn them. The challenge is to develop ways of training individuals. It may be profitable to be more loved than feared, but it may be more difficult to achieve.

 

 

Xero Graduate Programme launches today

Today we’re really excited to announce the launch of the Xero Graduate Programme in New Zealand!

The Xero graduate programme (NZ)

What is the Xero Graduate Programme?

Xero has made a big commitment to finding and developing great talent. This programme will support graduates making the transition from study to full-time work. It includes tailored onboarding, training and mentoring.

We want to bring exceptional junior talent into a fun, supportive environment. Then we’ll help turn their ideas into reality. Simply put, we’ll work to help graduates build an excellent skill set with which to start their career. At the center of it all is a dedication to living the company values and celebrating the start of a new career in a fun, engaging way.

Who will benefit from the Xero Graduate Programme?

Graduate roles will be available in both the Auckland and Wellington offices. Grads with a wide range of qualifications will be eligible to join the company. There will be roles available in Product, Platform Services, Internal IT and Design.

“Junior talent is extremely important to Xero,” says Solutions Architect Chris van Reenan (Platform Services). “We need to think outside the box. It’s exciting to have grads with fresh ideas working for Xero and helping us move forward.”

How can you find out more?

The Xero Graduate Programme will see our team at career fairs and events around the country. Staff are really excited to get out there and talk to students, hear their stories and tell them all about Xero. They are also looking forward to helping mentor them when they come on board.

Development Team Lead Rowena Joe (Product) believes Xero is a great place for juniors to come along and learn. “People here are so experienced, but they’re also so willing to teach.  Everyone’s really excited to see our junior developers grow and develop. Eventually they’ll  become leaders themselves,” she says.

 

New release: Cheques in Canada and Quotes improvements

Today’s release delivers a collection of improvements to Xero. For the first time we’re delivering a feature for a country other than the US, UK, Australia or New Zealand: support for Cheques in Canada.

Here’s a quick update on what’s new in Xero this release.

Support for Cheques in Canada

We’ve provided support for US Checks for a long time, but with this release we move north. We’re delighted that small businesses in Canada can now account for cheque payments in Xero.

Cheques can be made on any outgoings from a business – everything from paying bills to refunding credit notes. After recording the payment you can style and print the cheque – even use your own chequebook or cheque printing software.

Improvements to Quotes

Following our release of Quotes, we’ve made a few more updates to improve how quotes are embedded in Xero. These include:

  • Quickly create a quote or purchase order from within a contact’s record. A small but useful improvement, making it more efficient to keep your business moving. You can now quickly create a quote or purchase order while you’re in a contact’s record. Look up a contact, click ‘New’, and you can now create a new quote or PO just as you can for other items.
  • Set a default expiry date for your quotes. If you usually send out quotes with the same expiry period, you can now set up a default quote expiry date which will automatically populate when you create a quote. You can override this if you need to when you create a quote.

Continue reading ›

 

Spreadsheets!

An excellent podcast here from NPR on the history of the spreadsheet. An accountant was the first user of VisiCalc.

Planet Money. Episode 606: Spreadsheets!

Spreadsheet history – VisiCalc

Would have liked to hear about the product history. Lotus 1-2-3 and then how Excel came about. Maybe they’ll do a sequel.

Was great to hear the same issue repeating that accountants face in the cloud today. The nature of work changes. The podcast reported that 400,000 workers lost their jobs to spreadsheets but 600,000 new jobs were created.

I remember the first time I used spreadsheets on an Apple II and then Lotus on a PC. They still seem magical.

 

NZ’s high performing partners sought for 2014 Xero Awards

2014 Xero AwardsIf you’re a high-performing New Zealand Xero Accounting, Bookkeeping, Industry or Add-on partner, we’d love to receive your nomination for the 2014 Xero Awards.

Celebrating the success of our high achieving Kiwi partners throughout 2014 (1 January – 31 December), the Xero Awards are the perfect opportunity to showcase your firm’s performance and enhance your professional recognition.

There are 10 categories up for grabs for performance in 2014:

  • Accounting Partner of the Year
  • Bookkeeping Partner of the Year
  • Emerging Partner of the Year (new)
  • National Practice of the Year
  • Add-on Partner of the Year
  • Emerging Add-on Partner of the Year
  • Xero Industry Partner of the Year
  • Marketing Innovation Award
  • 100% Xero Award
  • Xero MVP Award (not eligible for entry)

Partners can nominate themselves or an Add-on, Industry, Accounting or Bookkeeping Partner for an award. There is no limit to the number of categories entered, however, the Xero MVP Award is not open for entry – this is selected by the Xero team. It’s a really open process this year. You can nominate yourself or someone else – providing you meet the criteria in the nomination form. Continue reading ›

 

February Roadshows: it’s been another great ride

From the top to the bottom and from coast of coast of Australia, our Evolve February Roadshows have rolled into town across all over Australia. Registrations have been off the charts (to put it mildly) – we managed to fit in around 7,200 partner attendees. This easily makes it our biggest rollout of roadshows yet. We were keen to start 2015 in a big way, and attendance numbers like these are certainly a good sign.

Signs from the Evolve February Roadshow

This week we wrapped up the #xeroroadshow in Perth after visiting 20 cities and towns across the country, so I was keen to check in and have a look at the wonderful feedback from our accounting and book keeping partners:

It is great to see so much excitement for cloud accounting in the market.  @xero strategy validated. Feel the tipping point is very soon.

I attended the Xero Roadshow yesterday and I just wanted to say a massive thank you for your time and your knowledge. I have only recently ventured out on my own and I found the information you and James discussed very interesting and gave me some great ideas for my business. Continue reading ›

 

Panel discussion: mobilising the small business economy

During Xerocon London 2015, we pulled together a panel of business and technology experts to talk about the importance of tech. Specifically, how it will mobilise the small business economy in the UK. 

Our panel included:

  • Founder and CEO of Mumsnet and Gransnet, Justine Roberts
  • Xero small business customers and co-founders of the Cereal Killer Cafe, Gary and Alan Keery
  • Xerocon guest speaker and Editor of Wired David Rowan
  • Our own UK managing director Gary Turner.

Our experts discussed some important business advice and a call to government to provide a more accessible broadband service to small business. They also talked about how SMEs must run with the rapid progression of new technology and the need to keep pace with consumer behaviour change and evolving business models.

In a world moving fast towards ubiquitous connectivity, every business will become digital. Small teams of highly motivated entrepreneurs have a unique opportunity to evolve and adapt with new technology and position themselves ahead of large, slow-moving incumbent businesses.

 

Service disruption: Xero API (resolved)

Due to a change in SSL certificate installations, we are currently experiencing disruption to the Xero Partner API, used by most Xero Add-ons, and products such as WorkflowMax, Xero Practice Manager and Xero Workpapers.

The team is working on a resolution to this issue and we will post updates as soon as we have them.

This incident was first reported at 23:09, Feb 24th UTC.

Developers should monitor progress on our developer status page and subscribe to be notified of progress via email / SMS.

Update 12:11, Feb 25th UTC.
This incident has now been resolved. Xero support and developer relations teams are now contacting all affected partners to advise that the API is now fully functional.

 

Xero adds new Investor, Director and US President

Another big day at Xero this morning with three announcements that will excite our customers and partners.

Xero Attracts World-Class Investment + Talent To Fuel Growth

  1. Accel, one of the top US tech investors, has invested $US100m into our company. With other investors we have put another $NZ140m in the tank and will head into the 2016 financial year with over 1/4 billion in the bank to fund innovation and growth.
  2. Graham Smith, who was most recently CFO at Salesforce, has joined our board. It’s great to have Graham on the team.
  3. Russ Fujioka has been appointed US President. Russ is one of the smartest marketing and growth executives I’ve met. We’ve been working with Russ for five months and are thrilled to complete our US leadership team.

We’re already getting some great feedback – and we welcome any questions in the comments section.

Continue reading ›

 

Xero API Developer of the Year 2014

Each year we like to recognize a person who has contributed significantly to the Xero API developer community. The API and Developer Relations team have the privilege of connecting with an exceptionally talented group of designers, developers and company founders all over the world. Like iOS and Android developer communities, the Xero Developer community is a big part of what defines Xero as the platform for small business. They make a difference in the lives of small business owners through the creativity and care they bring to their products.

As we thought about integrations launched in 2014, the one that stood out was developed by Julian Applebaum at Squarespace. Squarespace, a leading website design/hosting company, is very similar to Xero in its design-driven approach to product development. Squarespace decided to expand their e-commerce offering and chose Xero as their integrated accounting partner.

Xero API Developer of the Year, Julian Applebaum of Squarespace, with Xero’s CTO Craig Walker

Continue reading ›