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Accounting Customer Service: CSI vs. The Big Guys

February 20th, 2024 | 6 min. read

By Bryan Cremeen

When small businesses are looking for a monthly accounting service, great customer service is often on the short list of must-haves. 

This is usually because they’ve already used an accounting solution that made them feel small and unappreciated.

CSI Accounting & Payroll has worked with small business accounting for over 50 years. In all that time, we’ve heard lots of horror stories about customer service from other accounting services. 

Here are common questions we get about the differences between customer service from the big guys and the small guys like CSI:

  • Why is it hard to find an affordable accounting solution with good customer service?
  • What is customer service like from the big guys?
  • What is customer service like from the small guys?

Affordable Customer Service

While attentive customer service often makes the short list of priorities from an accounting solution, it’s usually placed after price. Why?

You should never sign up for a service that you can’t afford. However, outsourcing already saves you more money than the fee differences you would find between any outsourced service.

Plus, we’ve seen an undeniable trend; services that appear cheaper will often end up costing more in the long run. This includes a lack of tax savings, a lack of good advice, and the cost of fixing their mistakes.

“The big guys” have the resources to be able to offer a lower price, but once a company grows to a certain size, it tends to lose a personal touch. You pay less, but you also get less.

Luckily, if you shop around enough, you can find a great combination of affordable price and attentive customer service. Don’t settle for one or the other!

Large Providers’ Customer Service

“The big guys” can mean a few different things, but let’s focus on the usuals: conglomerate online accounting services and digital support from your bookkeeping or tax software.

Conglomerate Online Accounting Services

These accounting services make big promises about customer service, but they often fall short. 

While you may get a designated point of contact for their service, you’ll need to work with other companies as well (with other "designated" points of contact) due to their lack of service offerings.

You can also expect to be passed from representative to representative due to their lack of employee retention

The employees who stick around for a while deal with a large number of customers, so good luck reaching them when you need them! Emails and voicemails go days with no response, and if you miss a returned call, the timeline repeats.

You’re also more likely to need help with corrections from these types of services due to them recruiting independent contractors and not checking the quality of their work.

Accounting Software Digital Support

There are different customer service needs for this type of accounting solution. When you’re doing your own bookkeeping or taxes with this software, you can receive assistance if you run into an issue.

You will usually get immediate help from whoever is online or answering calls in the support department instead of having a designated point of contact. This means quick help, but you can have different experiences with each support person.

One thing to keep in mind is that the level of support can vary by your subscription level. You may be asked to raise your subscription level to receive more help. 

Plus, even with the highest levels of assistance, if you’re doing your own books, they aren’t going to go through all of your work to make sure it’s correct month-over-month. If your books were wrong in January, they’re still going to be wrong in December (since numbers build on themselves in accounting).

Small Providers’ Customer Service

With a small monthly accounting firm like CSI Accounting & Payroll, you regain that personal touch. You have a dedicated contact, and since we have a wide range of services under one roof, you don’t need to have other contacts with other providers.

Our accountants are treated well, so we have much better employee retention. You can expect to work with them for a long time. Currently, the only new accountants we employ are due to growth!

Even outside of your monthly meetings, you can direct dial your accountant to ask unlimited one-off questions at no extra cost. If you contact them in the morning, they’ll get back to you by the end of the day. Afternoon calls are addressed early the next business day.

They're already familiar with your business and ready to address any challenges or opportunities without asking for more information. 

While we offer the best customer service that money can buy, we also put a lot of effort into making sure you rarely need it! We review the books of new clients during onboarding to ensure they’re audit-proofed, and we offer audit representation moving forward for the work we do.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but we see the beauty of this deal. You might pay a little more than some of the big guys charge (but still way less than hiring an in-house employee), but you gain way, way more quality, services, communication, and support that will take you a long way.

Get Better Customer Service Today

Now that you know about the correlations between price and customer service with “the big guys” and “the small guys”, are you ready to check out monthly accounting services?

If so, please consider CSI Accounting & Payroll! To see if we can be a good fit for your business, click the button below for a free consultation:

Not ready to talk? That’s okay! First, learn more about what it’s like to work with CSI by clicking the image below:

Bryan Cremeen

Bryan joined CSI Accounting in 2019. He joined the team after CSI purchased his accounting firm, AccountSource LLC, which he had owned since 2005. He graduated from St. Cloud State in 2001 with a Bachelor's Degree in Accounting and has been an Enrolled Agent since 2010. Before owning his own accounting practice, Bryan had worked at the State of MN handling financial reporting and had been in private industry as a Controller. His primary responsibilities include overseeing the accounting department and making sure clients are receiving quality service. Fun Fact: Bryan has played soccer since the age of 4. He still plays soccer year round through various adult leagues and is an avid supporter of the Minnesota United MLS soccer team. COYL!!! (Come on, you Loons!!!)