5 Tips For Dealing With New Clients
Taking on a new client can be exciting and refreshing for accountants but there is no doubt it can also be a little daunting. You are now dealing with an entirely new set of people and accounts.
The connection between accountants and their clients is an important relationship in the business world. Not only do clients trust their accountants with detailed — potentially embarrassing — financial secrets, they also expose many of their business decisions, including the good, the bad, and the ugly.
At the core of every good relationship is effective, transparent communication and accountants and their clients are no exception.Here are some top tips for dealing with new clients and improving communication, so you can create an effective sense of community and understanding.
Lay the groundwork early
Are your clients aware of how your relationship with them will work? Setting, and sometimes updating, client expectations is the best way to prevent future misunderstandings or disagreements. Emphasising key deadlines and being transparent about fees are simple ways of setting client expectations. Giving a brief presentation on your first day with the company is a great way to get these messages across. It will give the client an idea of how you like to work and will be a chance for them to get to know you a bit better. Your last slide could be some fun facts about yourself - this personal touch will help build rapport.
Ask plenty of questions
Questions are one of your most powerful tools as an accountant, especially because they give you insight into not only how the business works, but also what makes its owner tick. You can then use these insights to custom-design your accounting services for each client.
Ideally you should be asking about:
- Their long and short-term goals as a company
- Their plans for expanding or scaling the business down
- Their thoughts and plans in the event of high/low interest rates, supply chain issues or fluctuations in the price of commodities that pertain to their business
Communicate bad news early
For many clients, surprises and unexpected changes will cause stress and emotional clients. As the accountant, it is your job to communicate these changes regardless of how uncomfortable it might be. Letting your clients know about unexpected developments ahead of time can reduce their negative impact and strengthen your bond. With open communication, even adverse events like the pandemic can strengthen connections with tax clients, especially when conveying unexpected news.
When it comes to communicating this sort of news be sure not to beat around the bush. Do your best to be very clear and communicate surprises in as few words as possible.
Don’t forget to communicate unexpected good news as well
This is important, especially for strategic reasons. For example, suppose a client is going to have a significantly smaller tax obligation than anticipated. That’s great. Letting them know ahead of time can give them a chance to strategically invest some of the money they’re saving. Furthermore, be sure to let them know when you see positive results from any changes you’ve made even early on. This will help to win over the client and build their trust.
Be the firm the client is seeking
It is so important to understand the needs of your clients. Make sure to set some time aside to sit down and get to know your client and understand exactly what they expect of you. Once you’re clear on the client’s needs you can go about prioritising and planning for the months ahead.
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