The service industry is on the rise, and for accountants, that’s good news.

But with that economical growth comes a rise in competition, as well. Client service is more important than ever, as you attempt to not only maintain your client base but also grow it incrementally. Here are five things you should avoid that could scare away your firms clients—both current and future.

1. Complaining

This one may seem like a no-brainer, but no one wants to do business with someone who is complaining. It doesn’t matter what you’re complaining about—your work, your health, or your family—maintaining a positive attitude will give your clients confidence in your professionalism. Imagine, for example, how you would feel if the waiter at a restaurant were complaining about the food or the chef. You would not want to eat at that restaurant. Likewise, remember you are serving the client and should act in a positive manner.

2. Fraternizing

As as staff at your firm you should be amicable with your clients, but, there is a line you shouldn’t cross  Be wary of becoming too friendly with client personnel. For example, making pleasant small talk is fine, but you would never want to ask your clients about personal issues—or mention your own. Make sure you maintain an attitude of professionalism. Anything too familiar can create question and unintentional conflict.

3. Making mistakes

Mistakes happen even though we all do our best to avoid them. When a mistake happens, own it, and move the conversation toward correcting it. Spending time discussing blame or giving excuses will only make the issue worse, so focus on solutions.

4. Staying silent

You need to communicate progress often, keeping your client as well as your team informed along the way.  Frequently you are viewed negatively the moment you walk through the clients door, “oh no, the auditors are here.”  And by the way, your goal is not to play “got ya” or “caught ya”. So communicate that your on track and appreciate your clients helpfulness. It will go a long way. 

5. Forgetting information

Similar to making mistakes, forgetting information is not an option. Someone who is paying you and your firm expects you to be well prepared. Prior to meeting with clients, ready all the information you will need and review previous meeting notes so you are able to answer any questions that might come your way. Remembering things your clients have told you is a vital part of retaining business.

In short, it’s vital that you’re aware of every aspect of how you are perceived by clients. Complaining, fraternizing, making mistakes, staying silent, or forgetting information will ensure your—and your company’s—demise. Staying head and shoulders above the competition will take some work, but you and your firm will be better for it.