Using Technology to Answer Client Questions for Tax Season
Have you ever had the same questions from multiple clients when you meet with them about their taxes? Because you keep answering the same types of questions from clients, perhaps you feel like you are in your own version of the movie “Groundhog Day” where the character keeps reliving the same day.
Well, it’s time for a new day! In this article, we have some short steps and tips on how you can prepare for these questions, and attract potential clients to your firm when they search for answers to those same questions.
Take a few minutes and think back on those common questions you receive each year. Perhaps you are asked, “Am I withholding enough from my paycheck?,” “How does the new tax law affect my business?” or “When saving for retirement, which is the best in terms of saving money on taxes?” Make a big list of these questions, even asking others in your firm to add to it. Hold on to this later- it will come in handy!
Choose a question that has wide appeal to your client base and potential client base, and is relatively easy to answer. For example, instead of highlighting all the changes in the tax law, discuss the change in meals and entertainment expenses, instead of the changes to fines and penalties paid to the government. This is likely – and hopefully- more relevant, and of interest to most clients!
Tip: Having a niche market helps to select the topics that appeal to not only your existing clients, but also to potential new clients.
Research the answer, if necessary. If discussing a change in the tax law, what was the rule before, when did it change and when does it go into effect? Don’t get too detailed, but context is helpful. Also, are there basic definitions someone would need to understand? Keep in mind that your audience are not tax experts and may need to be reminded what, for example, depreciation is, or the difference between a tax credit and a tax deduction.
Tip: Select a client’s books and provide “before and after” calculations (of course, not mentioning a client’s name or specific circumstances) on the change this would have on a “typical” client. Seeing the financial effect can be very impactful for clients and make it much more understandable.
Write the response as though you are speaking to your favorite client. Imagine this client comes in to the office and asked you the question, what would your response be to them? Speak in conversational words, not like you are speaking to a colleague. Remember, they are not staring at tax laws and accounting rules all day. Look at it from their perspective, help them understand the downside and upside to this information, and how you will help them watch for these types of issues in the future. Remember to state that you can help them with this, and more, when they contact you.
Tip: Use the Voice Memo app on your phone or download the app TranscribeMe! to do an audio recording and have it transcribed. This may also help if you are better at speaking than writing.
Tip: Find the time of day that works best for you to create or write articles. Some people like early mornings before they look at their ‘to-do’ list, and others like to use the mid-afternoon lull for their creative outlet. Either way, schedule some time to write or voice-record some answers every week.
Rinse and repeat. Write up several answers to frequently asked questions and before you know it, you’ll have a whole series of articles. And if writing isn’t your thing, outsource the writing to a blog writer. You can hire a writer on outsourcing sites like Upwork, Fiverr and Freelancer. You can give them the idea and perhaps an outline or some bullet points, a link to a couple articles, and they can do the heavy lifting.
Tip: Use an app like HootSuite or Buffer to schedule these throughout your busy season to keep your blog fresh. With these apps, you can also post to multiple social media accounts, like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn all at the same time.
With the answers to frequently asked questions, create a “master list” of these articles in a handy document with links, or even as an FAQ on your website. Now you and your team can easily copy and paste them into responses to your clients, improving your response time to clients and pointing them back to your website where they can learn other valuable information you have prepared just for them.
Now you have content for existing clients and marketing content for potential clients. You are improving your SEO (search engine optimization) so potential clients can find you easier, and letting everyone know what a knowledgeable tax and accounting professional you are without having to say it! And, you are serving your current clients even better with faster response times and informative articles they can read when they are ready.
Congratulations – you are being super-productive and February hasn’t even arrived yet!