Happy Summer! Tax season is over, the lull after the storm has passed, and it is time to reflect on how tax season went and what opportunities could improve future tax seasons. During tax season clients, staff, vendors, new clients, family, friends, and acquaintances are all fighting for our attention. Since we only have a finite amount of time, CPA’s must utilize that time efficiently and effectively. This past tax season I found that deficiencies in communication led to lingering questions and reduced the high level of customer service I expect to provide. As I reflect on the opportunities to improve customer service and communication, I look forward to utilizing the following technology to improve the efficiency and effectiveness:
I had the opportunity to speak with Scott Hoppe of the Hoppe Tax Group based in San Francisco. While swapping stories of technology that we utilize in our respective firm, he told me about a new way in which he presented tax returns to clients. In the typical client/ CPA relationship, the client comes into the office, chit chats for 20 minutes to an hour and the CPA reviews the tax return with them. The problem with this scenario is a lot of wasted time during a very busy time of the year.
To remove this time waste, Scott records a 5-10 minute video that he sends to his client. The client loves it because they review the important issues of their tax situation at leisure. The CPA loves it because he or she gets up to an hour back to keep work moving. Scott recommends Jing or Camtasia for creating and editing the videos.
Sharing text messages
My firm texts with clients often. The problem with these text messages is that the communication stops with the person who has received the message. In my firm, we already have a system to easily share email data (KarbonHQ) but text message communication continuously was held up at the owner of the text. Recently, I found Export SMS PRO, an app that my firm has installed on our phones in order to transition text messages to emails. Once in an email format, the email is stored away into the project it is related to. Problem solved!
Secure file sharing
Having a secure place to store and share client documents and information is key to staying organized and efficient. If each client has their own folder in the cloud, I can share their entire personal folder at once or pick and choose individual documents to share. When documents are ready to be shared with clients, I send the client a single link where he or she can download every asset I choose. To maintain control of the information, I can set expiration dates for the link, restrict download access, and require logins.
On the flip side, clients can upload documents through the client portal and I receive notifications of uploaded assets. These two features of ShareFile drastically reduce the amount of phone calls I take and make! And since tax documents are full of sensitive information, keeping the files encrypted both in use and at rest is a priority.
As accountants, we like to think it is all about the numbers. But If you want a thriving accounting practice, it is all about the results. Part of those results is in the way clients view the service the firm provides. By leveraging the communication technology that the next generation is using, your firm will have the upper hand in offering the best in class customer service – all while saving time!