Put yourself on the outside of your firm for a minute. If you had audit and tax work to be done, would you select your firm to do it? How would you go about making the decision to engage? What would be your criteria for making the decision?
We tend to spend much of our work life in a bubble. Our days are consumed with the tasks at hand and we rarely have the opportunity to step back and take an objective view of our processes. We don’t look at ourselves from the perspective of the client except if there is a crisis that forces us to deal with an issue.
Most clients value the knowledge and expertise of their CPA firm. It’s likely you were selected because of these traits. However, once on board most clients want something else – they want it to be easy. They want a minimum of friction when it comes to their audit and tax work. Clients want the work done properly and have it completed as quickly as possible so they can get back to focusing on their business.
The question we should be asking ourselves is: how easy do we make it for our clients – to be our clients?
As you think about this question, there are three areas to consider:
- Collecting data: We need information from clients to do our work. Despite the checklists and data collection forms we provide this can be a struggle. We get frustrated with the client; the client becomes frustrated with us. It’s time to find new ways to solve this problem.
- Communications: This plays on two levels – internal and external communications. Internally, everyone needs to be on the same page with the progress of the work to ensure deadlines are met and nothing falls through the cracks. Externally, it means keeping the client informed throughout the process to prevent any surprises.
- Process: Finally, there is workflow. Many people, systems and processes are involved in a typical job. How seamless is this in your firm?
Circling back to the original question – would you be a client of your firm? Make it easy and the answer is obvious.