Art of Accounting: Apologize and move forward

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It’s tax season and there will be some mistakes on returns you send to clients. Hopefully not many, but there will be some.

When the mistake is uncovered, whether by you or the client, apologize, explain that it won’t happen again, that you will be more careful, that it is an isolated instance, fix it quickly and move ahead.

Mistakes happen. Everyone knows that. If you handle it correctly, appropriately and promptly, it can erase the bad experience and create a new positive one. What people expect is taking responsibility and not making lame excuses or placing blame somewhere else.

It is unpleasant dealing with mistakes you or your organization have made and the additional steps of dealing with the client. I get more upset at the errors we made than trying to calm down a client. If you don’t, then you might be in the wrong business.

I also never delegate bad news when dealing with a client. Good news I am happy to delegate, but not bad news. That’s why I get paid the big bucks!

Mistakes happen. Fix them and move forward.

Edward Mendlowitz, CPA, is partner at WithumSmith+Brown, PC, CPAs. He is on the Accounting Today Top 100 Influential People List. He is the author of 24 books, including “How to Review Tax Returns,” co-written with Andrew D. Mendlowitz, and “Managing Your Tax Season, Third Edition.” Ed also writes a twice-a-week blog addressing issues that clients have at www.partners-network.com. Art of Accounting is a continuing series where Ed shares autobiographical experiences with tips that he hopes can be adopted by his colleagues. Ed welcomes practice management questions and can be reached at (732) 964-9329 or emendlowitz@withum.com.

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