In case you haven’t noticed, the days of clients blindly accepting the results of our efforts are long gone. About 45 thousand times during each tax season, we have the shock and awe conversation with clients.
Client: “I paid a lot in taxes. How can I owe that much? Something must be missing.”
CPA: It doesn’t really matter what we say here. There are no listening ears on the other end of the phone.
You’ve spent four hours on a very simple return exhausting all possible deductions such as the medical deduction for treatment of serial nose picking syndrome. You know every number on the tax return by heart. You believe finalizing this return and getting paid will take longer than the Sistine Chapel paint job. And then the phone rings again.
Client: “I found a mistake in your return. My medical expenses are missing and you missed $50 in telephone expenses for my business.”
You go into the medical threshold spiel for the 809th time this year and promise to rerun the return with the additional $50 of telephone expenses. A very simple return uses up yet more firm time and resources.
The cloud changes this dance. Cloud based practice management brings clients into your workflow. They no longer see a return for the first time when completed. You deliver draft tax returns for approval. Clients get the shock and awe of large balances due out of their systems before you finalize the returns. One of our staff says that draft returns minimize the client crying in our office. That $50 additional deduction can still be a Pyrrhic victory for the client without costing your firm the additional time of a rerun.
The cloud lets us collaborate with clients on their returns by communicating in more convenient and less time intensive ways. Clients can communicate with us on their time schedules, and we can respond according to our schedules. Communication no longer requires multiple rounds of phone tag that annoy our clients and cost us precious tax season time.
You can ask clients tax return questions online, and they can respond when convenient. You aren’t asking a client driving on an interstate how much they paid in college tuition, knowing there’s no possibility in this universe that he’ll have the answer. You also get the answers in writing, useful for when clients have memory failures about what they told us.
Cloud based communication moves us into the post e-mail era, where our time isn’t wasted sifting through messages offering to enlarge our unmentionables. Unless of course, you are into that sort of thing – doubtful during tax season.
With cloud based client collaboration, we work effectively with clients across the country and around the world unconstrained by time zones and even weather. If you’re the best and most qualified CPA for a particular business, you get the client regardless of location. You continue to serve clients, who move away.
Moving to the cloud based practice management gives you a competitive edge in better serving your clients. And it’s a sticky application for clients. Once you hook them with its convenience and time savings , leaving you for another firm without it is nearly impossible.
Thanks for reading!
Frank Stitely, CPA, CVA