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Guide to Client Communication for Accountants

Why is Client Relationship Management Essential?

Accountants are often expected to go beyond crunching the numbers for clients. As an accountant, you’re a financial expert who’s trusted to advise clients on all their financial endeavors. Effective client relationship management is absolutely essential to build trust and win new clients, understand what your client expects and needs, and grow your accounting firm. 

Furthermore, managing client relationships is crucial for accountants to improve client relationships and grow referrals. When your clients feel valued and heard, you will retain your clients over a longer period and increase the opportunity to attract new customers through referrals from satisfied clients.

What is a Client Communication Strategy?

A client communication strategy is an outline of how you, as an accountant, intend to engage with your clients. It demonstrates your commitment to your client's financial well-being and can set you apart as a trusted advisor in the industry. A client communication strategy sets the tone for how you will collaborate with your clients and forms an important part of a wider client onboarding strategy.

Client Segmentation

Segmentation will categorize clients depending on factors like industry, size, and needs. Segmenting your clients helps tailor a communication approach to each client's specific requirements.

Assess Client Goals & Needs

Client communication strategies will include an assessment of the client's financial goals, challenges, and expectations. This will assess the needs of the client to ensure your services align with their objectives.

Read more about how to conduct a business health assessment for your clients as an accountant.

Clear Communication Channels

The most effective communication channels for clients will be included within a client communication strategy. These may include email, phone calls, in-person meetings, video conferences, or even a client portal for secure document sharing.

Frequency and Timing

A client communication strategy will establish a communication schedule that specifies when and how often you'll connect with clients. This includes regular check-ins, quarterly reviews, or annual tax planning meetings.

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How to Communicate with Clients: A Step-by-Step Guide for Accountants

Are you ready to implement your own client communication strategy for your accounting firm? Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you satisfy your client’s communication expectations and give them the necessary guidance to reach their financial goals.

1. Understand Your Client's Needs and Goals

Before you can start effectively communicating with your clients, you must have a deep understanding of their financial needs and goals. Schedule an initial meeting to discuss their objectives, challenges, and expectations. This gives you the chance to ask relevant questions and note down their responses.

2. Establish Clear Communication Channels

Determine the most suitable communication channels for each client in your initial meeting. Some clients prefer emails, while others prefer phone calls or using instant messaging apps like Slack. Ensure that you have up-to-date contact information for all clients.

3. Develop a Communication Schedule

Create a comprehensive communication schedule outlining when and how often you will interact with each of your clients. This schedule should include regular check-ins, quarterly financial reviews, and annual tax planning meetings and training sessions on QuickBooks Online for new clients. Consistency in your communication efforts helps build trust and keeps clients informed on your efforts as their accountant. Make sure to plan ahead of time and send an invitation for online meetings and block out your calendar to reduce the need for rescheduling.

4. Personalize Your Communication

Ensure you personalize your client communications depending on your clients’ financial literacy, goals, needs, financial health and current business structure. Personalizing accounting advice and communication strategies shows your clients that you’re dedicated to their financial health and well-being. 

For example, accountants can help clients in early stages of their business improve their financial literacy by directing them to QuickBooks Online webinars and events for small business owners.

5. Use Clear Language and Be Transparent

When discussing your clients' finances, avoid complex jargon or terminology that may confuse or overwhelm them. Visit our QuickBooks Glossary to help explain accounting and business terms to your clients. Remember to clearly explain your accounting firm’s pricing, fees and how you will work on your client’s books - this helps your accounting firm stand out as honest and transparent.

6. Provide Regular Updates

Don't wait for clients to reach out to you. Be proactive in providing timely updates on their financial accounts, tax deadlines, and any regulatory changes that may affect them. Clients value accountants who keep them in the loop.

7. Adopt Powerful Technology

Accounting software like QuickBooks Online Accountant can help accounting firms and CPAs securely share financial reports and documents with your clients in real time to improve your communication efforts. Consider also adopting a secure messaging platform or client portal to enable instant messaging between your firm and clients.

8. Encourage Questions and Feedback

Create an environment where clients feel comfortable asking questions and providing feedback. Encourage them to seek clarification on financial matters they may not fully understand. Their questions can guide your communication efforts and improve how you interact over time.

9. Offer Education and Resources

Building a training program to educate new clients on QuickBooks Online is essential to ensure seamless collaboration between you and your client. We’ve got you covered with an abundance of training materials on our QuickBooks Resource Centre.

10. Keep Track of Conversations

Record your meeting minutes, any email exchanges, and notes during every meeting with clients. Documenting your conversations, no matter how casual, will help you keep a reference point for all future discussions. Keeping track of conversations allows you to anticipate objections and growing concerns, as well as document any follow-ups.

11. Address Concerns Promptly

At some point, clients will likely raise concerns. Address any issues quickly and professionally by listening to their perspectives and offering actionable solutions and estimated due dates. When a complaint is raised, follow up with the client regularly to ensure your actions are satisfactory. By resolving issues professionally, you can demonstrate your commitment to your clients.

12. Maintain Professionalism and Ethics

Reference your regulatory body to ensure you meet professional standards, legal requirements, and ethical guidelines whenever you converse with clients. Always maintain your client’s privacy and prioritize their financial wellbeing.

Free Webinars for Accountants

Maintain your Continuing Professional Development (CPD) with QuickBooks free on-demand webinars and learn how QuickBooks can help you run your accounting practice

Practice Effective Client Communication with QuickBooks Online Accountant

The features available in QuickBooks Online Accountant leverage powerful accounting software technology to help improve client communication and collaboration. QBOA allows accountants to access clients’ real-time financial data to generate reports and provide timely advice. You can collaborate with clients through QBOA in real-time and share documents safely and securely. 

Sign up to QuickBooks Online Accountant for free to improve your client/accountant communication efforts.

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