Online Collaboration
Online collaboration Vertical

Collaborating online and speeding up your client responses

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Executive Summary

  • Tax and accounting professionals must evolve to meet the expectations of our clients and ensure the quality of the services we offer.
  • Technology exists to help us meet these demands and create a win-win for your clients during tax season and beyond.
  • Give your clients the tools to work with you more efficiently and expediently.

There’s no doubt about it. We live in an on-demand world. Immediate gratification and impatience color many of our interactions, and it’s no different for our clients. The rise of e-commerce with easy access and on-demand technology has created a business environment where we, as service providers, must meet our clients where they are. If not, we risk losing them—and the opportunity to serve future clients.

One thing is certain: Clients have a need for speed, and expect us to respond quickly and accurately to their questions without having to actually talk to us. Sounds like a sweet deal to me! I would much rather be able to take care of business communications and document triage faster, so I can get back to doing the work I love. Accounting, tax prep, tax planning, and tax representation allows me to generate my practice revenue. Wouldn’t you?

Consider the following:

  • Clients expect to be able to collaborate online or at least have that option if needed.
  • Even clients who are not tech savvy were forced online due to the pandemic, and with that, new expectations around speed of service are still being set.
  • Clients increasingly expect to be able to reach and get responses from tax pros, immediately.
  • According to Intuit’s Taxpayer Insights & Intelligence Brief 2022, 66% of taxpayers expect to sign tax documents electronically, while 70% prefer the ability to easily upload tax documents in one location.

The tax and accounting profession is no longer immune from the “Amazon effect.” Think about it. If our clients are getting text reminders from their dentist office about their appointments, shouldn’t they expect at least the same concierge-level service from us?

They should, they do, and more and more of them will demand it in the future. This is backed up by the research Intuit® recently conducted. The brief noted above also reveals that 52% of taxpayers prefer the option of having all correspondence with their tax pro to be digital.

Are you ready to heed this call?

The good news is that technology exists to help us meet these demands seamlessly and securely, while also supporting a great experience for our teams and clients. The opportunity exists to really create a win-win for your clients during tax season and beyond. The most basic example of this is being able to work with your clients in the cloud. If you don’t offer this capability, it’s a real disservice to them for convenience and security. It’s also a disservice to your firm because of the risks created by operating with such inefficiency, lack of security, and the absence of a business continuity strategy.

How can you right the ship in this scenario and get it sailing full steam ahead? Here are three key practices to put in place now, before the heat of busy season is on us:

  1. Create a systematic, secure, and seamless client onboarding workflow that uses secure, digital communication as a cornerstone. Software such as Intuit Lacerte® Tax and Intuit Tax Advisor are perfect for this, complemented with apps such as Liscio, Karbon, and SmartVault.
  2. Use templates that allow you to offer an efficient and effective client onboarding and collaboration process. I am giving you mine for free when you click the “Get Free Resources” button at DawnBrolin.com.
  3. Reassess your tech stack to identify gaps that cost you and your client time and peace of mind, then solve for these gaps. You can start by looking at my “Starting Lineup” technology ecosystem at DawnBrolin.com.

When it comes to speed of service, there are always going to be the clients who drag their feet to get you their documents. The truth is that you don’t need to enable them to be tardy at tax time; you can give them the tools to work with you more efficiently and expediently. 

A case in point from my own practice. I have a client who was so difficult to contact and get a response through calls and email that it was extremely challenging to work with her. However, she was a great client from a business standpoint and a wonderful, amazing person. It was up to our firm to provide the technology that would “meet her where she was at,” so she could effectively and quickly collaborate and communicate with us.

We set her up on Liscio, where she was able to do everything from communicate with us to upload her documents securely right from her phone. She loves her phone, don’t we all? Yes! So, let’s use that tool—properly secured, of course—in our firms to create an effective client experience, provide timely service, and solidify our place as trusted advisors and service professionals in tune with the needs of their clients, potentially all without having to send another email again.

The accelerated pace of life in this country means that as tax and accounting professionals, we must also evolve to meet the expectations of our clients when it comes to speed of the services we provide, as well as the quality of the services we offer. While we can’t do much to speed up the IRS, we can leverage technology to reduce our clients’ wait time.

Not only can the right technology help us get the answers and provide the instantaneous access our clients are looking for; it can also make the transition toward advisory services a lot easier, without having to break the bank on additional staffing just to handle client inquiries.

Dawn Brolin, CPA, CFE

Dawn has in-depth accounting expertise, coupled with a personal understanding of the challenges of running a business. Through her experiences as a business owner, she has discovered the importance of the relationship between good accounting records, good business processes and running a successful business. If you are looking for an ethical, professional and qualified accountant, look no further. Dawn's passion is working with companies who are interested in being successful. One of the most important value-add areas that Dawn is able to bring to the table is her connections and relationships with individuals at Intuit®. Yes, individuals, not the corporation. Through these experiences, Dawn is able to get real-time, real access to answers to YOUR questions. Find Dawn on Twitter @dawnbrolin. More from Dawn Brolin, CPA, CFE

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