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Why good communication is key for accountants and bookkeepers

Good communication is essential for developing positive relationships with your clients. You’ll often need to translate news of complex legislative changes into messages that clients can easily understand, while reassuring them that you’re focused on helping their business succeed. Here we take a look at how good communication can benefit your practice and offer some handy tips on how to improve your messaging.

The benefits of good communication

It can help you to build more productive relationships

Establishing effective communication is an important step in building positive working relationships with your clients. By developing a clear and open dialogue, you can gain deeper insights into your clients’ individual needs and provide support that will make a tangible difference to their business. 

Communicating to your clients about their bookkeeping responsibilities could help to ensure that clients fully understand their bookkeeping responsibilities. This could help to reduce some of your time-consuming tasks, such as chasing up outstanding information or explaining bank transactions. It can also allow you to focus on more productive activities that will highlight the value you can bring to your clients. 

It keeps your clients updated

By communicating effectively, you can provide your clients with plenty of notice about important legislative changes that will affect their bookkeeping. This can help to avoid any last-minute confusion.

For example, Making Tax Digital for Income Tax Self Assessment (MTD for ITSA) will have a significant impact on how your clients record and file their financial information. By setting out an efficient communication strategy, you can ensure they are well prepared for the transition. 

It lets you become a trusted advisor

With cloud accounting technology taking care of many day-to-day bookkeeping tasks, accountants are increasingly able to focus on offering advisory services. And great communication is essential if you’re to become a trusted advisor for your clients.

Different clients have different communication preferences and by adapting your messaging to suit their style, you can present your advice in a way that will resonate with them. By generating communications that are tailored to each client’s specific needs, you can show that you have a deep understanding of their business and can offer them invaluable support and guidance.  

It can help you grow your client base

While poor communication could cost your practice clients, great communication can generate new leads and help you expand your client base. By tailoring your marketing messaging and strategy, you can stand out from the crowd and make your practice appeal to specific client groups. 

Once a prospective client has contacted your practice, ensure that you have a follow-up communication strategy in place to provide them with everything they need to decide whether to come on board.

Five ways to improve your client communications

1. Find the right channels

With so many methods of communication to choose from, it’s important to establish which channels work for you and your clients. Think about the kinds of messages you want to share and whether they would be best suited to emails, phone calls, face-to-face meetings or even virtual events like webinars. You could ask your clients how they prefer to be contacted as part of your onboarding process.

2. Speak the same language

Communications filled with accounting jargon and industry terminology could leave your clients feeling confused and may lead to misunderstandings. Instead, try to use clear, straightforward language and consider supplying definitions for any essential technical terms by linking to FreeAgent’s accounting glossary.

3. Make time to talk

Answering calls and emails can feel like an endless task, so consider setting a portion of time aside each day to reply to client messages. By dedicating a specific time slot to client communications, you’ll be less likely to miss important messages and you may find it easier to focus on what you want to say.

4. Manage client expectations

You may not always be able to offer clients an immediate response to their queries, but managing their expectations can help to minimise any potential frustration. If you know you won’t be available, consider setting an automatic email response or voicemail with details of when your clients can expect to hear back from you.

5. Ask for feedback

By asking your clients for feedback, you can get an insight into how they perceive your communications. As well as providing ideas for how you can improve your messaging, asking your clients for feedback also shows them that you’re listening and are receptive to their input.

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