You know the drill, they take until March 14 to FINALLY give you the stuff, and expect everything to be filed the next day. You never want to be hounded by clients expecting something you can’t possibly deliver.
Here are some simple, fast steps to manage your clients expectations – it keeps them off your back, and happy with your work.
Tip #1 – Be Pre-emptive. Beat them to the punch! Regular contact throughout the tax engagement (even if you have no news to report) keeps the connection with your clients. They aren’t left wondering about the status of their project. More importantly, when you reach out regularly, your clients are not making up their own ideas about when something should be complete, or (especially) how easy something is to do.
I’m not suggesting that YOU do the communicating. This is an easy task to delegate, and automate if you use a good email tool.
Tip #2 – Tell them what to expect. You don’t need a crystal ball or a firm date for completion (although both would be nice). Even suggesting a long date range can be sufficient. At the start of engagement either a verbal or email outline of expectations goes a long way. Here’s a script you might try:
“Thanks for getting all your information in. Here’s what you can expect in the process. We’ll start with an initial preparation of your returns, they will then move on to be reviewed for accuracy. At this stage we may also have additional questions for you or need more information. We’ll be calling you about this should the need arise. Once the project is complete, Mary will give you a call to schedule your signing appointment. That should be somewhere around 3-4 weeks from now.”
Take this script up a notch by combining the preemptive approach:
“Mary will call you each week during the process just to let you know how things are coming along, and here is her number in case you have questions along the way.”
These two ideas will save you time and aggravation and help make tax season a lot smoother!