Simple Web site tools to eliminate redundant phone calls
By Chad Brubaker, CEO, www.emochila.com
You have your Web site up, and you have outlined a description of your services, or staff biographies, and the name of the firm and your contact information. All of these pieces of information are geared for the purpose of your current or potential clientele.
Equally as important, though, is the content you can provide that might be able to save you time. Think about the most redundant phone calls that you and your staff receive throughout the day. Do people ask for copies of their old returns? Do people ask how to physically get to your office? Do people ask for references to IRS clarifications based on their particular tax situation?
Of course, the answer will vary for each firm, but regardless, create sections of your Web site geared toward answering these very issues. That way, over time, you can wean your client base from making an unnecessary phone call, and get them to reference your Web site for simple answers.
Here are a few of the most common ways to eliminate redundant phone calls:
Store .pdf files of returns online – The easiest way to stave off the dreaded phone call, “I need copies of the last two years for…” is to make those returns accessible online. Your bank places your statements online. Your broker/dealer places your quarterly reports and prospectus online. Why not make a tax return available online?
Purchase a Web site that allows for unlimited storage (so you are not paying per file) and begin to place copies of your clients’ current and prior year returns online. Once your client realizes that it is as easy as online banking, the phone calls will cease.
Create maps with driving directions – This might seem like a no-brainer but there are a surprising number of accounting sites that just provide an address and phone number. Why not include a map to proactively answer the question, “How do I get there?”
MapQuest, Yahoo Maps, and Google Maps, among others, allow you to easily embed a map indicating the location of your practice with turn-by-turn driving directions. While seemingly simple, it is a feature commonly overlooked.
Reference IRS forms – Are you getting called by clients requesting an SS-4, a W4, or any other IRS form? Instead of mailing, faxing, or even e-mailing them, why not already have them right there on your site for you clients to download? IRS.gov provides all forms in .pdf format and you can easily link them directly to your site.
If your site is just a business card that sits on the Web with basic information, you are wasting an opportunity to make it a real benefit to your business, even if you do not wish to advertise. These are three easy upgrades that can end up saving you some unnecessary phone calls, and, in turn, free up your time for more important tasks.
About the author:
Chad Brubaker, Emochila president and CEO, earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration and Computer Science from the University of California, Berkeley. He has worked as a developer for several Web-based companies and as an Internet security consultant for PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP. Clients included Daimler Chrysler, American Airlines, WellPoint Networks, Unocal, and Transora.
Voice of the Editor
Even though any accounting auditor would tell you it seems like there are an awful lot of tax accountants out there, surely one-third of the country isn't made up of tax preparers, so it's rather startling news to learn that one-third of Americans like to do their taxes. Who knew?
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