5 Tips to Effective Communication in Accounting
For accounting professionals, practicing effective communication with clients can often fall into the background.
But improving your communication and, perhaps more importantly, maintaining a steady level of frequent communication with clients is among the most essential aspects of running a healthy, thriving business.
Whether your client communication skills need a little work or you just want to learn the most current practices, the steps toward becoming an intelligent and thoughtful communicator are within reach. We’ve compiled a list of the five most relevant tips to consider when growing as a communicator along with the many benefits of practicing good communication in accounting.
1. Establish Expectations Early
One of the most important things you can do to set yourself up for sustained success while working with a client is to make sure both parties understand each other by the conclusion of your first meeting.
If a client’s needs aren’t clear or you’re skeptical of your ability to produce quality results based on their expectations, odds are it won’t be the final hiccup. Always approach client intake and onboarding as importantly as any meeting you may have for the rest of your working relationship.
Take note of how often your client would like to be in contact with you. What communication channels do they prefer? Would they like to receive weekly calls or perhaps bi-weekly emails? Are in-person interactions more or less meaningful to them considering the public health trends related to COVID-19?
Each of these questions will factor into the relationship you build with your client and should be examined during and just after your consultation. More options are always better, just the same as offering a variety of services or accepting multiple payment methods.
2. Identify the Appropriate Tone and Temperature
Another element of effective communication in accounting is being able to quickly change your communication style based on the person with whom you’re speaking. When you’re chatting with a colleague or another accounting industry professional, you can assume they have the same level of familiarity with regulations and processes that you do.
However, when communicating with a client, you have to find the right balance between showing respect and ensuring they understand what you’re telling them.
If your words and phrases are too technical, you may confuse your client, or worse, add stress to your relationship. Industry jargon typically reserved for accounting professionals may come up in regular conversation with a client if you aren’t paying close attention to your messaging.
That doesn’t mean you are required to talk to your client in elementary terms. Instead, try to find just the right temperature in your language—not too specialized but not overly simplified. Meeting clients on their own level will show that you respect them as intelligent and experienced business owners.
3. Host Virtual Town Halls
Depending on your average workload and how much support you have, there are plenty of hurdles in trying to show all of your clients the same level of attention. Nevertheless, demonstrating to your clients that you’re committed to open communication is a crucial part of a positive client experience.
One technique our users have discussed is holding regular virtual town hall meetings to address relevant topics, issues, and questions with a wider audience. This option is easily accessible through virtual meeting platforms, and your clients will appreciate having an additional channel in communicating with you.
With this approach, your business can establish a platform for bringing in outside guests with industry knowledge who can offer their insight and share their expertise. Prospective and current clients are more likely to view your business as genuine and modern and one that cares about supporting its clients.
4. Utilize Professional and Personalized Email Marketing
Since the average professional receives over 100 emails every day, a crucial aspect of business communication for accountants is knowing how to make your messages stand out.
Email is one of the most commonly used messaging channels for your business, so it’s important to tailor your communication to make clients and prospects feel like a priority. Find a style that appropriately suits your relationship, then confidently craft language that fits the stage at which you and the other party reside. Although your relationship is based in a professional setting, find room to be warm and inviting.
Just as important as the language itself is the manner in which you present it to the recipient. Short, consistent emails are key in keeping a reader engaged. When an existing or potential client receives an email with unclear or cluttered writing, it not only reflects poorly on your firm, it also increases the chance the recipient will misunderstand (or even outright ignore) your message.
You may also consider transitioning your paper invoices and bills to email. If clients are on the lookout for emails with required action, they’ll be that much more likely to open your other emails as well.
5. Dedicate Time to Your Social Media Presence
Your business’ social media presence may be in the beginning stages of a growing brand, or it could be one that’s already established with a large audience. Either way, supporting some level of social identity is a must for professional businesses and firms.
Despite the increasing number of social media platforms available, you’re under no obligation to be active on all of them, especially not right away. Start by finding the channels you and your staff are comfortable monitoring on a regular basis and then scale your strategy from there.
LinkedIn is helpful for both individual professionals and businesses searching for updates related to company news and career trends, while Facebook remains a huge social network for users and has incorporated many advantages for business pages.
In addition to spreading awareness about your business, social media is also an excellent way to promote your news, content, and resources. Create a content calendar to schedule social posts a few times each week on various platforms. You’ll be able to see which posts are generating traffic to your website and further adjust your posting strategy to fit your audience.
The benefits of good communication in accounting are vast, and effectively communicating with your clients can have a huge impact on your firm’s success. Start by applying the five tips in this article, and you’ll be well on your way to establishing your firm as modern and client-centric.