During a hectic tax season, any time away from actual accounting can be problematic, and this is especially true when scheduling your clients.
Ongoing phone tag and laborious email chains can take hours of work leading up to the April 18 deadline for income tax filing. But by following these four tips, CPAs can rededicate these wasted hours to filing returns and set themselves up for better client relationships in the years to come:
1. Coordinate document drop-off and pick-up with online appointment booking. Given the affordability and availability of SaaS appointment booking software for your site and social pages, there is no reason not to let your clients book appointments online during busy season. It’s easy and convenient, allowing you to accept bookings at any time of the day, even when you’re working with other clients.
You will be surprised how much less time you spend emailing or returning voicemail, and online appointment booking can prevent procrastination on your client’s part, allowing you to get to work earlier. Using an e-newsletter or mass email to announce the availability of online booking for income tax preparation appointments can remind clients of their responsibility to file and encourage them to take action early on in the season.
2. Prevent no-shows and make your meetings more efficient with automated reminders. Instead of emailing each client individually with a list of required documentation and wasting a ton of time managing emails, you can automate customized notifications via email and text message when a new appointment is made online. Making sure your client comes prepared with all the necessary information and documents is key to having a productive meeting and maintaining your work schedule.
You can also send a reminder to your client a couple of days prior to the meeting, drastically reducing the likelihood of costly no-shows. Your world may revolve around taxes in the next few months, but your clients likely have other concerns.
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3. Use online scheduling with co-workers or freelance accountants. If you are an accounting firm working with multiple employees, locations, or contractors, an online scheduling software is useful when delegating appointments during irregular hours or sending clients to the right location. All team members can have access to the calendar in real time and be logged in simultaneously from a web-enabled computer, tablet, or smartphone. They can view appointments and collaboratively make changes from anywhere, at any time.
This type of scheduling application significantly improves communication and boosts productivity amongst your team. In contrast to Google Calendar or Outlook, these tools also typically offer multiple levels of access if you’d like to protect certain confidential information from freelance accountants or clerical staff.
4. Build a comprehensive customer database for 2018 and beyond. A less-considered benefit of online appointment booking is that you collect your client’s contact information and other preferences from the very beginning of the relationship. This means they are automatically included in a customer database for your e-newsletters and promotions, as well as for your retention efforts if they don’t reach out the following year.
Follow-up with these clients via email after tax season can also be an effective means of generating online reviews, which are becoming increasingly important for attracting new business. If you maintain your online booking portal throughout the year, it can also be a useful tool for drumming up repeat business, cross-selling your services, or generating client referrals.
In short, these efforts can keep your schedule full well beyond tax season.