Get Engaged!

by Gordon Krater on March 28, 2014

15 years ago, we published our first edition of Universal Advisor, our corporate magazine distributed to clients, prospects, and friends of the firm three times per year. We worked hard over the years to make it a valuable information tool, full of ideas straight from our experts to address your business challenges.

EngageAbout a year ago, we began to do a little soul searching. How could we make Universal Advisor better? More inviting? A bit sleeker? After conducting a variety of research into what our readers would like to see, our editorial and design teams took this publication to the Himalayan Mountains and back. We dreamed big and created a publication unlike anything else out there today. A publication synonymous with the brand “Plante Moran.” A publication designed to delight and engage.

We invite you to check out our inaugural issue of Engage. (That’s right—no more Universal Advisor.) You’ll notice fewer features, more columns, more white space, and a more inviting tone. Think “more popular magazine, less business journal.” If you have any comments or recommendations for improvement, please provide your comments. We value your feedback and insights.

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Great Client Service: A Recipe

by Gordon Krater on March 17, 2014

In a completely unprecedented announcement, I’m prepared to divulge Plante Moran’s recipe for great client service. Ready? Start with:

  • 2 parts technical expertise
  • 1 part proactive advice
  • 1 part candid communication
  • 1 part responsiveness
  • 1 part caring

Combine, add to client, and voila! That’s the Plante Moran equivalent to the Colonel’s 11 secret herbs and spices. And it works every time.

Or does it? Those five ingredients look great, but the truth is that there’s no recipe to great client service. (Sorry to disappoint you.) Every client is different, as are the Plante Moran staff who serve them. One thing I’ve noticed over the years, however, is that great client servers tend to have at least one thing in common: an emphasis on personal service.

I think of Bruce Berend, who was famous for dropping by—in person—unannounced just to see how his clients were doing. I think of Bill Hermann, who didn’t like sitting in his office and was always out bringing proactive ideas to our clients. And I think of the many partners who make sure client deliverables are made in person to ensure understanding and complete satisfaction.

I recently had a conversation with Dan Doescher, a Plante Moran partner and great client server, who voiced his concern that we could be losing our focus on that personal touch. And he could be right. Why take the time to meet in person when you can: call/text/e-mail/instant message/Facebook/Facechat? All of these technologies make it easy to interact with one another without leaving the comfort of our own offices. But as useful as these technologies are, the irony is that the more they connect us, the less we feel connected to one another. Because nothing can really replace the intimacy of that one-on-one human interaction.

The trick is balancing these sometimes conflicting forces—the efficiency of electronic communication with the intimacy of face-to-face contact. We talk about the need for balance a lot at Plante Moran, and this is just one more opportunity to choose the right balance.

What do you think? Do you think technology brings us together or drives us apart? Do you think that one-on-one personal interaction is still important when it comes to client/customer service? Does video technology help?

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What Do You Do With a Talented Square Peg? Create a Square Hole.

March 3, 2014

Allow me to share one of my favorite Frank Moran stories. Frank was meeting with a client in the early days of the firm when he was introduced to a man named Bob Petz. Frank was immediately impressed by him—so much so that he decided to hire him. “You’re crazy,” said Frank’s colleagues who, at […]

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Boost your creativity: Make Exercise a Priority in 2014

February 17, 2014

When it comes to New Year’s Resolutions, exercising tops the list. It makes sense; depending upon who you consult, the average person gains between two and 10 pounds between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. And anyone who’s ever been to a gym in January can attest to crowds that dissipate in mid-February once the novelty […]

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We May Be (Unconsciously) Biased

February 3, 2014

Consider these statistics: Less than 15 percent of American men are over six feet tall, yet almost 60 percent of corporate CEOs are more than six feet tall. Less than 4 percent of American men are taller than six feet, two inches; yet more than 36% of corporate CEOs exceed six feet two inches. Similar […]

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How Sweet It Is…to Be on FORTUNE’s “100 Best” List for the 16th Year in a Row!

January 16, 2014

You might think that being named one of FORTUNE’s “100 Best Companies to Work For” could become routine, but nothing could be further from the truth. Receiving this recognition is just as thrilling in 2014 as it was back in 1999 when Plante Moran appeared on the list for the first time. Just to put this […]

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The Art of Communication

January 2, 2014

One of the most frustrating things for me when I first became managing partner was communicating to a large group, especially within Plante Moran. Not only do you have to be careful what you say (which is a good rule of thumb for whatever title you occupy in a professional setting) but you can’t assume […]

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Forget the Glass Ceiling—GM CEO Mary Barra Has Broken Through Sheet Metal

December 12, 2013

What an exciting time for the auto industry! Since General Motors (GM) announced that Mary Barra will succeed Dan Akerson as the auto industry’s first female CEO, there’s been much celebration. And deservedly so. We often hear about women at organizations like Yahoo and Facebook, but to have someone who grew up in a blue-collar […]

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Learning from Nelson Mandela

December 6, 2013

Much is being written about the life and legacy of Nelson Mandela, the former president of South Africa, who died Thursday. Though most of those writing have much more knowledge than I, I was moved to write something anyway. Having been touched by Mandela’s story and his vision, I asked myself: How do you spend […]

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Thankfulness Is a State of Mind

November 27, 2013

I recently heard a quote from a colleague—she said it came from Oprah Winfrey—that if you’re thankful for what you have, you’ll end up getting more, whereas if you concentrate on what you don’t have, you’ll never have enough. This really resonated with me, particularly with Thanksgiving upon us, as I sat down to put […]

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