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What’s in Your Cup?

By Joey Havens

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My feet hit the floor in a rush. With the daylight peeking under our bedroom curtains I knew I had overslept. Yikes! It’s 6:30 and I have a video conference call at 7:00 a.m.! Although I might set the alarm, I always wake up before it goes off. I never oversleep, but obviously, I had today and the timing couldn’t have been worse. I do a quick change and turn on CeCe’s Keurig to warm up while I fire up my computer.


I run back into the kitchen and make a quick cup of coffee and then back to the office just in time for my video conference call.

About five minutes in I take my first delightful sip of coffee. Oh how I need this. But as quickly as the liquid hits my taste buds, I realize that in my haste (remember “Be quick, but don’t hurry”), I forgot to put a K-cup into the Keurig! So I’m smiling away on my video call as I hold and sip on a cup of very hot water. Total disappointment! No taste, no aroma (I love the smell of coffee), no caffeine and none of the wonderful pleasure that comes with my morning cup of coffee.

I had to laugh at myself as I held this sad, bland cup of hot water. Nothing about it met my expectations. 

But as I reflected on my disappointment, I thought about the prospect who shared that they could not see anything distinctive between five CPA firms they were interviewing. I tasted the disappointment of the client who shared they hadn’t looked at our report from three months ago. At the bottom of the cup was the client who called questioning our fees on some routine compliance work. I thought of the client who just hired another firm because they were simply cheaper. This, of course, means that we were not delivering value, creating a great client experience, and we were certainly not this client’s “Trusted Advisor” as people do not fire their trusted advisors. Needless to say, I put the cup down before I looked any deeper—I got the message.

I knew in my heart that too often we are serving our clients a cup of hot water rather than a cup of coffee full of aroma and boastful flavors. What are we serving our clients? How does our client experience stack up? Does our compliance mindset cause us to show up too often without the coffee? Do we even know what flavor coffee our client really wants? I’m sure it’s more than that cup of hot water I was holding.