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The Power of Empathy and Care: Navigating Conflicting Expectations with a Valued Client

Michelle Mitchell
Posted by Michelle Mitchell on Aug 1, 2023 1:32:46 PM


In the accounting industry, I am not just a numbers cruncher but also a builder of meaningful relationships and a keen listener to my client's unique needs. Let me take you on a personal journey where I faced the challenge of conflicting expectations with one of my clients. Through genuine empathy, care, and an unwavering commitment to my client's success, I salvaged our relationship and forged a stronger bond based on trust and understanding. Join me as I share the story of Amber, a client whose business complexity brought new challenges to Mitchell Consulting. 

The Client's Identity and Conflicting Expectations: 

To maintain confidentiality, let's refer to her as Amber. Three months ago, Amber engaged my services as the owner of three personal care treatment locations across Virginia and Texas. From the start, I saw immense potential in Amber's business, but I also understood that her goals came with unique challenges. 

During our initial consultation, Amber expressed her vision for financial security, improved net profit, and a clear understanding of her business's operating costs. Excited to embark on this journey with her, I identified these priorities as our guiding principles. However, as our engagement progressed, we encountered conflicting expectations and shifting priorities. It became evident that while forecasting cash flow was crucial for her business, Amber's focus shifted towards opening a new location in Texas, raising concerns about the working capital required. 

The Challenge: Pushback on Pricing and Advisory Services: 

Within the first month of our engagement, Amber reached out to me, expressing her dissatisfaction and uncertainty about the advisory services' deliverables. She felt that she wasn't getting value because there weren't any tangible deliverables for advisory services. As an accountant, I understand the importance of delivering exceptional service, and this feedback weighed heavily on me. I knew immediate action was needed to address the issue and preserve our client relationship. 

Scheduling an urgent meeting with Amber, I approached the conversation with an open heart and a genuine desire to understand her concerns. My primary goal was to resolve the conflict and find common ground. I firmly believed that empathy and care were essential in navigating this delicate situation. 

The Power of Empathy and Caring: 

During our meeting, I actively listened to Amber's grievances, acknowledging the disconnect between her expectations and the services provided thus far. Instead of becoming defensive, I genuinely empathized with her frustrations, validating her feelings and concerns. This approach reassured Amber that I was committed to finding a solution that addressed her unique needs. 

I understood that at the core of Amber's concerns lay the financial security of her business and the successful funding of the new Texas location. I had previously raised the issue of working capital and expressed reservations about funding the Texas venture solely from the profits of the Virginia locations. Unfortunately, my concerns came to fruition, resulting in cash flow constraints and Amber's request to downgrade our services. As an advisor, I know this was not the ideal scenario for her, but I also understood the pressures she faced to meet financial obligations while expanding her business. 

The Road to Relationship Restoration: 

Despite the downgrade, I refused to let our relationship deteriorate further. I knew that Amber's business had numerous complexities, and advisory services were crucial for its long-term success. With genuine care and dedication, I sought alternative solutions to support Amber's business, even within the limited scope of the engagement. 

I revisited our initial priorities, focusing on revenue projections and cash flow management. I crafted a tailored plan to improve cash flow, maximize profits, and mitigate risks. By demonstrating my commitment to Amber's success and leveraging my expertise, I hoped to instill confidence in her once more. 

I ensured that Amber felt heard, understood, and supported through ongoing communication. I consistently provided insights, recommendations, and resources that went beyond the traditional scope of bookkeeping and controller services. My unwavering dedication and genuine care rekindled the trust between us, enabling us to work together toward a common goal. Amber expressed her sincere appreciation for my support, and this acknowledgment meant the world to me. 

The Transformation: Strengthening the Relationship: 

As our journey progressed, I witnessed a transformation in Amber's perspective. She began to recognize the value of our advisory services and the dedication I had shown throughout the challenging period. With renewed trust and a clearer understanding of each other's expectations, we forged a stronger partnership that extended beyond numbers and financial reports. 

Despite the pushback on pricing and advisory service deliverables, my commitment to Amber's success highlighted the power of empathy and care in the accounting profession. By taking the time to understand her needs, frustrations, and aspirations, I exemplified the true essence of a trusted advisor. 


My experience with Amber is a powerful reminder of the transformative impact accountants can have when they approach their clients with empathy and care. Despite the challenges posed by conflicting expectations and financial concerns, I resisted the temptation to discount my services. Instead, I demonstrated unwavering commitment and genuine care for Amber's success, ultimately preserving and strengthening our relationship based on trust. 

In the accounting industry, success lies not only in numbers and financial reports but also in fostering meaningful relationships and understanding the unique challenges faced by each client. By truly caring about our client's well-being and success, we can elevate our services, creating lasting partnerships beyond the transactional and bringing about genuine transformation. 

Topics: Client Experience


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