True knowledge exists in knowing that you know nothing – Socrates
When I worked at KPMG, a partner gave me one of the most important lessons that I have carried throughout my professional career. When a client asks you a question to which you don’t know the answer to, the best thing to do is admit you don’t know and tell them that you will look into it and get back to them.
Doing this accomplishes two things. The first is that it demonstrates to your client that you are comfortable in your own skin in showing your vulnerability which in turn demonstrates confidence. Confidence is not “I know they are going to like me” rather it is “I will speak the truth and be okay with the consequence”. The second benefit of this approach is that you demonstrate to your client that you have their back in following up with an answer.
I have had clients tell me outright that I earned their loyalty in saying “I don’t know” because they felt they could trust me more as opposed to trying to make up an answer that sounded smart.
I have relayed this ever valuable lesson to every one of my staff members when I ran my own accounting firm and will continue to do so under my new firm Agustus Tax Counselling. It’s an important lesson that should be taught to every employee that will be expected to communicate with clients.
The hardest thing to understand in this world is income tax according to Albert Einstein. It’s okay if we tell our clients that we will continue to try on their behalf.