RubinBrown: Totally Satisfied Clients, Superior Quality & Service

RubinBrown stands out for client service because of team members’ commitment to delivering totally satisfied clients and to creating deep, personal relationships while serving as a trusted advisor.

RubinBrown: Totally Satisfied Clients




INTRODUCTION THE FOUNDATION TO SUCCESS ................... 1 CHAPTER 1 CORE VALUES & TOTALLY SATISFIED CLIENTS . . . . . . . . . . . . .7 CHAPTER 2 CLIENT SERVICE EXPECTATIONS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11 CHAPTER 3 ADDING VALUE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17 CHAPTER 4 CREATING LIFELONG BONDS ....................23 CHAPTER 5 SERVING EACH OTHER FIRST HELPS SERVE CLIENTS ..........33 CHAPTER 6 LOOKING TO THE FUTURE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37



The Foundation of Success

A t the heart of any successful business is great client service. It doesn’t matter the profession, industry, size of the company, or if the organization produces a product or service; client satisfaction should always be the upmost priority. At RubinBrown, our founders established an expectation for client service and quality from the very beginning. When the firm was founded in 1952, client service was very different than it is today, but the overall goals and principles are still the same. Some might say client service is easier today than it was in 1952, and some might say it is more challenging. With clients and their teams being constantly connected in today’s environment, watching new trends evolve in real-time and expecting quick, reliable responses, client service in this day and age can be non-stop. But, that does not mean it’s not as important now as it was in 1952. Clients still expect the same level of service now as they did in the past.



Sometimes, it can be difficult to wrap your mind around what exactly is “great” client service. It could vary in definition from person to person or team to team. You might think you are really good at client service, until you come across someone that does it even better. Think of it this way: we all know great client service when we see it.

CLIENT SERVICE TIP Sweetening the Deal Stop at a well-known place, like a chocolate store, and drop off treats to keep the relationship alive, even when not serving the clients. Always think about your clients, especially when they are least expecting it. Drop into the client's office outside of business cycles. Many team members will order treats to be delivered to a client's office to celebrate the end of work or when clients have something personal happening in their life.

Great client service might seem to be a more tangible

concept when looked at from the lens of the

restaurant or hospitality industries. Have you ever had a really terrible experience with customer service at a restaurant or


The Foundation of Success

hotel? This experience is usually something that sticks with you because in the hospitality industry, you have come to expect a certain standard of service. When you go on vacation or dine at a restaurant, you expect the level of care and attention that you paid for. Why not create similar standards of yourself for your clients at RubinBrown?

“All of us can relate to great client service. Treat your clients like the best hospitality experience you’ve ever had.”

Partner, 20 years of service RubinBrown’s founders, Harvey Brown and Mahlon Rubin, established client service and quality expectations when they started the firm and those expectations are still alive decades later. In the early 2000s, the firm started measuring client satisfaction through various types of surveys. The survey is still used today and asks clients two questions. The first question is regarding the quality of the work performed. The second question is regarding the level of service experienced. The best response a client can give to either question is totally satisfied. The other options include somewhat satisfied, somewhat dissatisfied and totally dissatisfied. Clearly, the goal is to deliver a totally satisfied client every time.



Mahlon Rubin was particularly dedicated to totally satisfied

CLIENT SERVICE TIP More Than A Client We take care of people; it's what we do. Many times clients become closer and trust those who are more than just service providers. Remember to check in on

clients. Each year, the Mahlon Rubin Award honors a team member at the firm who is dedicated to delivering superior quality and service to ensure totally satisfied clients. This award is a huge recognition for team members and speaks to their ability to live up to the core values of what we believe as a firm. Today, the RubinBrown name and reputation are still synonymous with experience, integrity and value, just as in 1952.

clients for birthdays, for holidays, and throughout the year.

RubinBrown stands out for client service because of team members’ commitments to deliver totally satisfied clients and to create personal, high-level relationships while serving as their trusted advisor.

“Deliver every time. Do what you said you would do, when you said you would do it. If you do that, everyone is happy.”

Partner, 34 years of service


Chapter 1

Core Values & Totally Satisfied Clients

A t RubinBrown, the firm’s core values serve as the foundational basis for how we make every decision. These values are the moral compass across the entire firm and RubinBrown’s reputation depends on adherence to these core values. It would only make sense that core value #1 focuses on superior quality and service. Putting this core value at the top of the list reiterates how important client service is to our firm as a guiding principle. It is ingrained in our culture and all team members understand totally satisfied clients is a result of both superior quality and superior service.

“RubinBrown puts a focus on making clients feel heard and valued. This encourages you to take a step away from the work and focus on great client service.”

Accountant, 4 years of service


RubinBrown: Totally Satisfied Clients

RubinBrown’s reputation for superior quality and service is a valuable asset that is entrusted to each team member and must be protected without compromise. The firm strives to build close personal relationships with all clients, creating lifelong bonds, and never taking them for granted. All team members are committed to exceeding client expectations for service by holding themselves and their work to the highest standards.

CLIENT SERVICE TIP Planning for the Future There are clients who have been around for generations, allowing the unique opportunity to work with many individuals in an organization. Building a lasting client relationship requires trust from the client and a strong succession plan. Team members should anticipate things before they happen. Clients should be familiar with the entire team to better understand who they will be working with well into the future. Developing these long-lasting relationships not only keeps existing clients, but enables a network of people who can refer new business back to the firm.


Core Values & Totally Satisfied Clients

“Client service is like an iceberg. The client only sees or experiences what is above the waterline. There’s a lot below the waterline that can materially affect the client service experience. Our goal as a firm is to endeavor for the client to only see and feel the tip of the iceberg.”

Partner, 20 years of service Core value #1 is an important part of RubinBrown’s vision to delivering totally satisfied clients. This means that in any and all business situations, RubinBrown is committed to clients being totally satisfied with the work the firm produces, and we as a firm are dedicated to going above and beyond for clients. To ensure this standard of commitment is met, team members must go above and beyond and create more in-depth, personal relationships. This is a key differentiator in how RubinBrown’s client service standards differ from other competitors. Client relationships are cherished and should not be taken for granted. We strive for lifelong relationships, built on close personal connections with all clients. We are committed to exceeding clients’ expectations for service and creating meaningful relationships. Remember always…

Accountant, 4 years of service

“Show up and be genuine.”



Client Service Expectations

RubinBrown is committed to superior quality and service as core value #1, but what does that mean? What are the expectations of totally satisfied clients?

In the early 2000s, a group of leaders at the firm sat down and set client service standards for all team members to follow. These standards outlined how we as a firm ensure totally satisfied clients through each and every client interaction. These standards later became what we call our firm’s Client Service Expectations. These expectations are broken down into one simple phrase, "Be responsive and likeable." This means, every team member should promptly respond to clients whether that be answering an email, returning a phone call or following up on an unanswered question. And, it means maintaining a positive, and likeable attitude to ensure great client service.


RubinBrown: Totally Satisfied Clients

Every team member at RubinBrown displays a pennant in their workspace to remind them of the firm’s collective devotion to superior quality and service with the be responsive and likeable message displayed on these pennants.

“These expectations are easy to remember and understand for the team. It’s even easy for new team members and interns to deliver on these expectations.”

Partner, 13 years of service

“The thing that’s great about the basic fundamental of being responsive and likeable, is that anyone can do it, no matter your background or role at the firm ."

Partner, 8 years of service

“Stop focusing on what you are trying to achieve and just go help people and don’t worry about the results. Just helping people is what it’s all about.”

Partner, 8 years of service


Client Service Expectations

Being responsive and likeable means taking easy steps such as returning phone calls and emails from clients promptly. Even if you don’t know the correct answer or will need time to find it, clients want reassurance that they have been heard and that they are working with someone they like and can trust to get the correct information to them. Being responsive and likeable means being on time for meetings, being prepared with an agenda and

CLIENT SERVICE TIP Communicate Often There is immense power in communication, when working with a client start with intense communication and continue that pattern. Talk face-to-face, in-person and begin to develop a relationship beyond the digital world. Consider going for lunch, coffee, or another type of in-person activity. Especially in the beginning, develop a plan to stay in touch and follow through with the client. The relationship can take off if you are able to create and follow a client communication plan.

discussion points, and providing a recap of action items post meeting.

Additionally, talk to clients about other ways we can assist.


RubinBrown: Totally Satisfied Clients

“Everybody at the organization is a client. Treat everyone with respect. From the person that welcomes you and on from there.”

Partner, 22 years of service

It also means delivering work on time and exceeding expectations when this work is delivered.

“If you do what you say, this carries weight.”

Partner, 31 years of service At a client’s office, it means focusing on etiquette when you are in someone else’s space. Follow the dress code outlined by the client’s office, minimize cell phone use, and check your messages from a private location. “It’s never too early to develop the relationship. Don’t just sit in the conference room and work at a client’s office. You don’t have to talk with the CEO or CFO to make a difference, develop a relationship with the staff accountant or anyone else at the organization.”

Manager, 7 years of service


Client Service Expectations

“It’s important to make your time at a client’s workplace enjoyable and not stressful for clients. This makes for a better experience when the client is looking forward to your arrival.” Accountant, 3 years of service Finally, it means using your best judgement on the forms of communication to use with clients and when different styles are appropriate.

Face to face helps build relationships and obtain a more in-depth understanding of issues that may

be at hand. Email is good for providing immediate, semi-formal responses, while a phone call is more personal than an email or written communication.

No matter how you are communicating, it’s important to be responsive and likeable in communication with clients.

“A client once told me, my current accountant talks at me, you talk with me.”

Partner, 19 years of service



Adding Value

C lient relationships are delicate and take time to develop. Sometimes, establishing a client relationship is simply a matter of matching the right personalities together to create a good fit. Other times, knowing and

understanding a client’s industry is key to delivering great client service and creating new relationships. At RubinBrown, we pride ourselves on our vast industry knowledge and understanding of our clients’ businesses. This is how we provide value and expertise to our clients. The more in-depth knowledge our team members have of a client’s industry, the more we add value to that work because we can relate to and understand the challenges that clients face.


RubinBrown: Totally Satisfied Clients

Think of it this way, if a client knows that RubinBrown has vast knowledge and experience in their industry, and they are looking to hire a new accounting or business consulting partner, our expertise will stand out among other competitors that may also be trying to win that business, but don’t have experience in that industry. It’s all about the added value we can provide to our current and potential clients. Understanding the value your potential client provides and then helping

CLIENT SERVICE TIP Adding New Value Be willing to communicate and look for a way to solve issues for your client, outside of the scope of work. Being able to offer clients more than just business-as-usual is a huge differentiator in the industry. Whether it's taking meetings on a Sunday to be available for the client, attending a sporting or other kind of event a client expressed interest in, or offering help on projects outside of the established work, all provide an added layer of value.

them through sharing knowledge to make their job easier is key.


Adding Value

This is why it’s consistently important to get in front of clients in multiple ways to share knowledge. If potential clients can see the value that RubinBrown brings through things outside of the firm’s traditional services, like webinars and e-focus newsletters, they are more likely to keep RubinBrown at the forefront when they have a need for our services. Take the time needed to learn a client’s industry and business. This research can seem overwhelming, but can pay big dividends at the end of the day.

Having this knowledge will not only help you get your client work done more efficiently and effectively, but also help create a bond of trust between you and your clients.

“With client service, the client wants to have a relationship they can trust. They aren’t just going to do business with some random stranger.”

Manager, 6 years of service


RubinBrown: Totally Satisfied Clients

In addition, make sure your clients understand that you are here to help them with things they may need beyond just their industry. Make connections for them out in the community or with other team members at the firm that may have another area of expertise that they would find valuable. “We are here not only to help with audit and tax, but to help with any type of question. If a client needs a loan on a house, we are here to help them find the right banker. So much of my day is spent jumping from being a listening ear or sounding board to tax advisor to random financial consultant.” Partner, 19 years of service



Creating Lifelong Bonds

O nce you have had a client relationship for a long time, it can be easy to become complacent and take that relationship for granted because it’s familiar and built on a high-level of trust. In the book, “ The Trusted Advisor ”, authors David H. Maister, Charles H. Green & Robert M. Galford describe a trusted advisor as a strategic partner that a client sees as an asset to reach their goals. The authors described four elements of a trusted advisor. This includes (1) consistency; (2) compassion; (3) communication; and (4) competency. Each of these four elements is necessary in a trusting relationship, but only result in a trusted advisor relationship when all four are present together. At RubinBrown, we strive for trusted advisor relationships with all clients while at the same time exercising caution to maintain independence in these relationships. This is especially important in order to deliver high integrity and quality work for these clients.


RubinBrown: Totally Satisfied Clients

“There is a big difference between business friend and business associate. Business associate means you are not taking time to get to know that person.” Partner, 25 years of service However, sometimes this familiarity doesn’t always serve longer term relationships as well because you can grow too comfortable with just doing the minimum. The last thing you want is for a client to feel like their relationship is being pushed to the side because they are not a new or more exciting client. This puts you at risk for not securing additional business with this client in the future or the client deciding to look for a new strategic partner. “Treat every client, whether it’s a $500 or $500,000 client, like they are the most important client.” Partner, 39 years of service

“If a client refers you and gives you more business, then you know you are doing a good job.”

Partner, 5 years of service

Once these client relationships have been built over a period of time, ask yourself, what can I do to make this a fifth floor relationship? The idea of fifth floor relationships comes from a New York Times Best Seller by Tommy Spaulding called,


Creating Lifelong Bonds

“ It’s Not Just Who You Know .” Tommy

CLIENT SERVICE TIP Recognizing Clients When working with a client, remember to keep your eyes and ears open for stories of achievements, life and family events, and more. Target what's important to the client, then go the extra mile to memorialize the event in a framed piece by including an article, photo, or program and create a story around what you've found. Present the framed piece to a client over lunch or at their office. Usually, these mementos hang in high traffic areas of the office, workspace,

Spaulding is a leadership development, speaking, training, and executive coach, who compares relationships to different floors of a building. Floor 1 is simply transactional in nature; an interaction we have exchanging simple greetings such as with the mail carrier or a cashier. Floor 2 provides more opportunity to interact with others such as neighbors or co-workers and have simple conversations about things like the news, sports and weather.

or home leading to RubinBrown staying

top-of-mind for years to come.


RubinBrown: Totally Satisfied Clients

Floor 3 is where we feel comfortable sharing our thoughts and opinions with others and even debate issues where we might have differing views. And, we get to know the person more outside of the context of a usual social encounter like work or school.

CLIENT SERVICE TIP Work Your Network You never know where a potential

client relationship could come from. Many times clients will speak to their network to recommend services to others. Keep this in mind when working with clients.

Floor 4 is when we have broken down the barrier to a real friendship, and we value the relationship for its own sake.

For example, we could still have a relationship with this person, even if work or another activity didn’t bring us together on a regular basis.

And finally, floor 5 is where have more than trust with a person, we also have empathy. We can understand what this person is feeling or thinking before they tell us. When you get to this level, you become more than friends, but advisors and partners.


Creating Lifelong Bonds

Numerous clients have been with the firm for decades. Some of these clients have been at the firm since its inception in 1952! These clients have experienced generational relationships with the firm where partners have transferred their long-standing personal relationship to the next generation and beyond. In one specific example, a client with the firm since inception has had 6 primary partners over 7 decades.

The historical knowledge these generational relationships have on the business of the client is irreplaceable and provides a tremendous amount of value to the client as the knowledge is passed from generation to generation. The deeper and more meaningful client relationships become, the more trust the client will continue to place in you. These trusted and valued interactions are what ultimately lead clients to consider RubinBrown when they have a new business opportunity that we could help with.

“I hand write a note on every tax return or anything I send to the client. It adds a personal touch.”

Partner, 42 years of service


RubinBrown: Totally Satisfied Clients

Some ways to create these lifelong bonds include getting involved in an organization that you know is important to a client or attending charity events hosted or sponsored by a client. Your presence and interest in clients’ lives shows them that you care not only as their business partner, but also as a friend.

CLIENT SERVICE TIP Setting Expectations Client service is not always going to go perfectly. Sometimes client service is about what you do to handle a situation when things aren't perfect. Give clients permission early on to come to you when something may not feel right or when there are issues to address. This allows a relationship where situations are met with solutions sooner as opposed to later when it is too late to fix.

“Try to connect on a personal level and remember things in their life that you can ask about.”

Always ask, "Are we meeting your expectations and are you satisfied with our quality of work?"

Manager, 7 years of service


Creating Lifelong Bonds

“Take the client out for dinner, a sporting event, or some other form of entertainment. Get away from the business aspect. Once they like you as a person, everything becomes easier.”

Manager, 7 years of service

For example, take the time to have a plaque created for an award or accomplishment you see your client has earned. This shows that you care about them. Send them flowers or a care package for big life events such as the birth of a child, wedding, graduation, etc.

“Client service is a relationship. It’s a living thing that needs to be cared for consistently. People do business with people they like to interact with.”

Partner, 4 years of service

“ I am known for hand delivering returns to clients outside of the office. Just call me when you are coming, and I’ll come down and drop off your return.” Partner, 42 years of service Remember, sometimes there is bad news that must be delivered to a client, but that shouldn’t be cause for delay or procrastination in delivering this news.


RubinBrown: Totally Satisfied Clients

“Don’t surprise clients with bad news, be nice and timely about it. And, give suggestions to fix it.”

Partner, 42 years of service

“ A personal relationship has a lot of intangible benefits. If you have a personal relationship with a client and something goes wrong, you usually get a second chance to fix it.” Partner, 4 years of service Finally, make sure to seek feedback from these long-term clients. It’s easy to assume the relationship is going well, but until we have feedback from a client, it can be hard to actually measure success and how to improve. “We do a good job of putting client service at the forefront. As you go into a busier season, we become more consumed with asking client questions rather than getting to know them. In these moments we must remember to continually connect with the client on a personal level.”

Manager, 8 years of service.



Serving Each Other First Helps Us Serve Clients W hen trying to deliver totally satisfied clients, it’s important to also keep core value #2 top-of-mind…Devotion to the People of RubinBrown. At RubinBrown, we strive each day to live out the philosophy, “ Be Your Best for Others .” This means, taking into consideration what is best for others when evaluating your everyday actions and decisions. This easily translates into delivering superior client service when you consider what is in the best interest of your clients and how you can better serve them.

We are only as good at client service for clients as we are at client service for each other. If a client needs something, and we are relying on other team members to help with the research or put together a deliverable for that client, we must first deliver for each other and work as a team.


RubinBrown: Totally Satisfied Clients

Teamwork is an important aspect of we serve clients at RubinBrown. Partners and team members do not refer to clients as “my clients”, they refer to clients as “our clients.” This allows us to surround clients with a team of highly talented individuals which provides all clients exposure to the best resources at the firm for their needs. Teamwork also helps us work through challenges and failures with client service. Since no human being is perfect, there are rare times that we fail to deliver the totally satisfied service our clients have come to expect.

CLIENT SERVICE TIP Be Present Keep details of client relationships, what have you done for the client and how can things be done better to serve them into the future. Spend plenty of time with clients at their office, in their environment, to understand what makes them feel most supported. Be prepared to try a new approach and remain open minded if clients respond better to a way different than how you traditionally conduct business. Team members should be able to adapt and change quickly based on the needs of the client.


Serving Each Other First Helps Us Serve Clients

When these challenges arise, we rely on teamwork to help each other and clients through the situation. We do what it takes to make things right for the client. We reinvent our approach which may mean changing the members of the client service team or doubling down on the current relationships to identify solutions for improvement. No team member is on an island by themselves at RubinBrown. In many instances, we have been able to work as a team to recover from the failure and eventually turn the situation into a totally satisfied client.

“We don’t serve our clients if we don’t talk to our team.”

Partner, 4 years of service

It’s as simple as keeping the client service expectations, be responsive and likeable, at the forefront when working internally. This then translates into great service for our clients. If we are helping each other, we are in turn, helping our clients. “We serve clients by serving each other. The best way to help team members is by showing them that you care about them and that motivates them to better serve clients.”

Partner, 4 years of service



Looking to the Future

We know client service has changed drastically since RubinBrown was founded in 1952; it’s also certain it will continue to change even more in the future.

In today’s world, a lot of client service interactions take place virtually or in other ways besides face-to-face. For RubinBrown, this also includes how we survey our clients to see how our relationships are progressing. “ Client service is much more difficult now than it used to be. Everyone is moving faster in this highly networked environment. There are many more demands placed on clients and team members. We are in the Amazon days where everyone wants everything immediately.” Partner, 19 years of service We do this by measuring client satisfaction through a tool known as the Net Promoter Score. RubinBrown has been surveying its clients for years, but starting in 2018, we added the Net Promoter Score to our one-question electronic survey. The


RubinBrown: Totally Satisfied Clients

Net Promoter Score is a tool that gauges the loyalty of an organization’s client relationships. The scoring system evaluates how likely our clients are to recommend RubinBrown to a friend or colleague and overall, how satisfied they are with RubinBrown’s quality and service.

CLIENT SERVICE TIP Handwritten Notes Remember to write handwritten notes. Many team members keep a set of note cards at their desk to write quick notes to clients. Sometimes, a simple explanation of what you're sending goes a long way.

“ We are doing a really good job. Our Net Promoter Score reflects this. We are well above the standard for delivering totally satisfied clients.”

Partner, 39 years of service

However, just because the data shows that our clients are happy with the service the firm provides, this does not mean that we should become complacent, especially understanding that the expectations for clients will always continue to change.


Totally Satisfied Clients Superior quality and client service continues to be one of the most important aspects of our business. While the expectations of clients will continue to change, RubinBrown is committed to

delivering totally satisfied clients and serving as a client’s trusted advisor for all aspects of their business.

The firm will continue delivering superior quality and service to our clients for years to come thanks to the dedication and commitment of our team members to the firm’s core values and “Being Your Best For Others.”


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