Yesterday afternoon, I received an automated call from my auto dealership reminding me that it is time for service.

Earlier this month, my husband received an automated phone call to remind him of his appointment for a medical procedure. The night before the procedure, he again received an automated phone call reminder outlining the exact steps he needed to follow. This information was documented in the written communication from the doctor’s office but it was nice to get the reminder.

My son and daughter-in-law are teachers. Their school system uses an automated system to text ALL the teachers and parents with important information about delays and cancellations due to bad weather.

All of this makes me wonder why CPA firms are not using this type of automated telephone/technology service to repeatedly remind their individual tax return clients that it is time to provide the firm with their tax data.

I hear many CPA firm leaders grumble about the clients who are always tardy in providing their information. The pressure, put on the tax team and the administrative team as the due dates near, creates high levels of stress. This could be greatly improved by using technology.

Firms would be happy to just receive most of the client information so they could go ahead and enter the data into the system. The client could mail-in the lagging information later, as it arrives to them, or upload it to the firm portal. Then it would be simple to finish-up the return and eliminate much of the last-minute fire drills.

The basic issue is the fact that the client needs to be reminded.

This topic is one of those déjà vu conversations that I featured in my January 2010 newsletter (if you are not on my mailing list visit my website to sign-up).

How many times have you had this conversation in your office?

Admin to Partner: Here’s the list of clients who we are still waiting on to get us their information. Are you going to call them?

Partner: Yes, I’ll give them a call. (Then the partner gets busy and forgets. Or, if you are lucky they send a quick email to the client.)

Preparer assigned to a return to Partner: I still need XXXX from Joe Client.

Partner to Preparer: Call him and ask him to get it to us.

Preparer: Okay. (The preparer calls, leaves a voice message and then never follows up again until this entire conversation is repeated a couple of weeks later.)

Sound familiar?

What if your firm used an automated telephone call system to remind clients to bring in their information? Honestly, I am not familiar with these automated systems but I did a quick search on Google and found several that cater to the medical profession and to business, in general.

Seems to me this would automate a significant challenge inside your firm and eliminate one of those déjà vu conversations. Plus, it would save a significant amount of time for those involved.

I do not know of any firms doing this but I am sure there must be some out there. If you are using this tool in your practice, please leave a comment on my website.

“How did it get so late so soon?” – - Dr. Seuss

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Rita Keller is a nationally known CPA firm management consultant, speaker, author, mentor and blogger. She is a former shareholder and administrative partner in a successful, regional CPA firm and has over 30 years hands-on experience in CPA firm management, marketing, technology and administrative operations. She works with firms across the country focusing on people, partners and internal management issues.

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