The world has seen some extraordinary times in the last few years. We’ve experienced the uncertainty of what it’s like to get through a pandemic as best as possible. The question is: Where do the effects of COVID-19 leave accounting businesses?
Both small and medium business owners have had to wrestle with the uncertainty of lost customers, lower profit margins, and unmet KPIs. To top it all off, there’s the uncertainty of the economy to deal with in the background. As an accounting firm, there are pandemic benefits and tax programs to be aware of and ensure your customers are covered.
What are some of the best ways you can keep every single one of your customers in the know without overwhelming inefficiencies and creating too much extra work for your practice? We go through some of the best options below.
In this guide, we’ll walk through each of the steps below:
- Start with an outreach plan
- Send broadcast email updates
- Ensure customers have access to a client portal
- Be generous with resources and communication
- Be ready for any questions or feedback
Ready? Let’s dive in.
Start with an outreach plan
Any winning strategy starts with a solid plan. While this might sound like a no-brainer, too many firms try to jump into action mode without a systematic approach to change. In the long run, this only leads to frustration, miscommunication, and a poorly executed approach to necessary changes.
As you prepare to keep your clients informed of all the changes and updates the pandemic has brought on, it’s key to consider important factors like:
- How will you reach your customers as efficiently as possible?
- How will you establish outreach ownership?
- How can you stay updated with the latest changes and how fast can you communicate them?
Questions like these can help you reach a place where you’re more than comfortable adjusting to last-minute updates and taking action as needed. Taking the time to create a contingency plan in a shared centralized database that’s accessible to everyone in your accounting team is an effective way to keep everyone on the same page.
It’s a great way to keep links to resources from the official CDC website, the IRS, and any other reliable source of information.
It’s also a way to avoid redundancies, miscommunication, and ensure frequently asked questions get answered accurately. The great thing about creating a contingency plan is that it doesn’t take forever to put it together with the right tools.
Does your accounting firm run a client newsletter? If not, now’s a good time to start one. When you’re running a business, engagement is important. It’s a way to keep your clients informed and also a way for them to keep your firm top-of-mind. In case they’re thinking about needing additional accounting services or thinking of switching to another provider, you’re always there offering value for free.Sending weekly or even monthly email blasts is a way to keep your clients updated on everything pandemic-related and how that can affect their tax filing. Click To Tweet
Sending weekly or even monthly email blasts is a way to keep your clients updated on everything pandemic-related and how that can affect their tax filing. It’s also a solid way to remind customers of any holiday promotions, sales, or changes in service packages.
For any matters that are more important and need more than a gentle reminder through a newsletter, we recommend you opt for e-signatures you can request through accountant-specific tools like ImagineShare’s file sharing features.
Ensure customers have access to a client portal
You don’t only have to rely on newsletter updates. An additional way to keep clients in the loop is to ensure they have access to a personal client portal. It’s a secure way to centralize where you keep your client records so that they have access to any paperwork and signatures they may need. You also get to skip the disorganization that comes with a disjointed client management workflow when you adopt the use of client portals.
Granted, not every one of your clients will be savvy enough with technology to want to deal with the ins and outs of logging in to a client portal. It might be a difficult process for some and a no-brainer for others.
But for those who love the idea, Mango gives you the option to easily get them set up with such helpful features. Not only is it a safe and secure way to share information-sensitive files, but you can also request legally binding electronic signatures for the necessary paperwork.
Be generous with resources and communication
There’s no use in gathering client resources if they aren’t accessible. Once you gather helpful client resources— whether that’s an informative blog post, a summary of tax changes, or links to government tax sites, you want to ensure your clients have access to the material.
This is where, again, planning comes in handy as a way to ensure you’re covering all your bases. However, yet another way to reach out to customers, especially with the way we’re all connected through our smartphones, is to send them automated text messages if they choose to opt-in.
It’s one of the best ways to reach customers no matter who they are. And it’s also a way to keep them engaged. As a business, keep in mind to keep this outreach option for the most important matters only. You don’t want to overdo it and bombard your clients with too many messages.
Be ready for any questions or feedback
Reach out and communicate with your clients about what changes they should be aware of, or if their taxes will personally be affected by any pending changes quickly and often. For example, if your firm prepares a weekly newsletter and sends it, it’s not a guarantee that your clients will see it or open it. That’s why it’s important to stay in constant contact with your most recent and past clients.
In fact, in a lot of cases, it’s easier to write an FAQ and have it readily accessible in their client portal or as an attachment in one of the newsletters. The idea is that you’re ready for any questions clients will inevitably have by doing your due diligence and preparing ahead of time.
Manage it all with ImagineTime
Managing a profitable accounting firm that’s set up for the long-term is hard enough. There are team members, tax compliance guidelines, and client preferences to juggle. Then comes tax season and all the management it brings along. If you aren’t prepared to manage your clients head-on, you’re essentially positioning yourself to lose business.
And with the long-term effects of the pandemic, you don’t want to get caught in any bottlenecks that might throw off your productivity. That’ll only slow you down, and you risk not meeting your income goals for the rest of the year.
It’s why we believe it’s paramount that every accounting firm takes the time to streamline their workflows and automate every task they can with automation—which software makes possible. This is where ImagineTime—an all-in-one accounting tool built by accountants for accountants—comes into play.
Get your accounting team in order and equip each member to do their best work without the hassle of disjointed processes and piecemeal tools.
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