Communicating with clients

Communicating well with clients doesn’t always from naturally to accountants. But sadly, accounting is largely a people based industry, and more often than not, accountants will often rely on their technical skills, rather than their personal skills when engaging in communication.

Here are some tips for maintaining and improving communication:

Communicate regularly
Develop a unique service plan for each client to ensure you communicate with him or her on a regular basis. Make sure you address the client’s concerns every time you communicate with them.

Be responsive
Understand and respond to your clients’ priorities and deadlines. Return their calls, and solicit and action their feedback. Respond sympathetically to negative calls.

Make sure your staff are sensitive to clients’ needs
Where any junior staff members have to spend time in front of clients, make sure they are regularly briefed on any issues concerning them.

Send management letters/emails to clients
These should include statements, forecasts of any problems, and jargon-free answers to questions.

Wherever possible, review work with clients
This achieves two things. First it increases the comfort level in the mind of the client, and second it gives you an opportunity to understand better the client’s needs and expectations.

Be your clients’ eyes and ears
Monitor rulings, articles, circulars, press releases, or anything else that might concern particular clients, and send them copies of anything to which you want to draw their attention. Develop systems internally that will allow you to send articles to clients without overwhelming partners and other employees. The Internet is a wonderful tool for this. There are many websites where you can set up your own personal news alerts, check industry news or otherwise find these sources of information for your clients.

Use every client contact to develop new business
Try to conduct each tax return interview personally. This gives you an opportunity to discuss other services from which the client might benefit. If possible, try to secure his or her agreement during the meeting, otherwise arrange a follow-up meeting to discuss the matter further. The main point is to make the client aware that you are aware of his or her needs and concerns.

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