Voices

5 ways texting can improve client relations

Communication is a cornerstone of your CPA firm. If your clients aren’t already trying to communicate with you via text, they want to. It was recently reported that text messaging is the most requested communication channel for financial services.

But what situations are good for texting with clients?

These are five opportunities to create smooth client interactions by texting and how you can increase profits while texting professionally as a firm.

1. Get missing tax details ASAP. Clients send you their stuff, but they never send you everything you need the first time. It’s up to you (or your assistant) to ping them until you get what you need to properly prepare their forms. The bigger your firm, the more damaging this problem is.

How do you fix it? Most (if not all) of your clients have cell phones and can text you pictures of their documents. As Bill Burke, managing partner at Georgia CPA firm Burke, Worsham & Harrell explains: “Texting has significantly increased efficiencies in our tax preparation and advisory services. Clients seldom send us all the information we need to complete the task the first time. Texting allows us to easily contact the client and get a much faster response. Clients like texting as they can send us a picture of the missing document without going through the trouble to scan, email, or fax.”

This leads to increased profits because you’ll be able to complete more tax returns and other work faster without hiring more staff or bogging your current team down. This same concept applies to client payroll confirmations, too, as well as deadline reminders. In fact, you can text deadline reminders to all your clients at once to make sure they get you what you need to help them.

2. Quickly handle questions that stress clients out. Getting a letter from the IRS is one of the most stressful things a client of yours will go through on an average day. The question they always have when they get notices like this is, “What does this mean?” They want an answer fast, so they contact you.

Whether they call, email or text you, you need to see that letter before you can answer. Ask your client to text you a picture of the letter — or whatever document they’re concerned about — so you can answer their questions on the spot.

This applies to other customer service-related situations that come up, too. Clients always want to see that you — as their trusted CPA and advisor — care enough about them to be quick and helpful whenever they need you.

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3. Bring in new clients. People research your business before they contact you. You might do a good job on your website of explaining your brand and services, but potential clients would often rather ask you their questions directly than to wade through your website. Twilio reported that 89 percent of consumers want to text your business specifically for things like this. Why not let them text you from your website?

“Click-to-Text” is a button that opens a text to your office when clicked. SMS Chat is a live chat widget that starts text conversations. Both are great options for engaging clients at opportune moments and creating smooth, enjoyable experiences.

Let’s say a potential client is on your site and wants to know your rates. They text in, “Hi, how much for a tax return?” Someone in your office responds, “Hi, a personal tax return is normally $400. Want to come by and meet us before making your decision? Our partners have some time open on Thursday.” This is an easy way to stand out from competitors and bring in new business.

4. Make scheduling (and confirmations) a breeze. Many accounting clients book their meetings weeks or months in advance. A lot can happen in between, and those life events — or simply forgetting — often cause cancellations or no-shows that are costly to your business.

Text confirmations solve this problem. A day or two before the appointment, text your client a quick reminder such as, “Charles, looking forward to our meeting on Tuesday at 3 p.m. Let me know if something comes up. Thanks!” If they know they aren’t going to make it, they can reschedule through text instead of just missing the appointment.

Another way text messaging fits into scheduling is for sharing your office address. Here’s how Amanda Taraborelli, president of Pennsylvania-based Manada Tax Service, does it: “When a new client schedules an appointment with our office, we text them our physical address. (If they schedule via phone call, we ask if we can text them.) … Since smartphones turn addresses into clickable links, all the client does is click on the text we sent them to open up turn-by-turn directions to our business. It’s a great experience that clients appreciate.”

5. Get more raving reviews. Your firm thrives on word-of-mouth, and about 90 percent of people turn to online reviews to find personal opinions about your business. An easy way to earn more reviews (and in turn more new clients) is to text your clients asking them to leave you a review on a public platform like Facebook, Google, or Yelp. Just be sure to include a link to your review page, e.g., “Kelley, we’ve loved working with you. Would you share your experience with us on Google? We’d really appreciate it!”

How can your accounting firm manage texting?

You’ll want a professional texting service designed to be used by an office team, not just a few personal cell phones. Here are a few things you should look for:

  • An online dashboard that the company owns;
  • A multi-user dashboard so multiple team members can manage messages as needed;
  • The ability to text from your office landline or VOIP numbers;
  • Two-way individual and group (broadcast) messaging;
  • Everyday features like out-of-office responses, notifications, SMS Chat, etc.; and,
  • A permanent record of all messages sent or received.

From there, managing professional text messaging becomes easy — accountability, compliance and smooth client interactions will be baked into your processes. To get started, talk through this with your team. Once you’re on the same page about what you want to accomplish, find the text messaging tool that’s right for you.