The New Year is actually the start of tax season for accountants so an answering service becomes an indispensable tool at this time of the year when their business calls and workload skyrocket. For accountants, there are a number of reasons why answering services makes sense for 2015 with their benefits of particular value during the first and second quarters of the year.
For all sole practitioners generally but especially for accountants, productivity suffers when they must answer the phone while they are in the midst of competing client work or consulting with a client. For accountants, conceivably every hour during and beyond normal business hours during tax season will see them engaged with tax preparation or consulting a client in any given year.
Some accountants will try to utilize voicemail to take messages while others will look to hiring a receptionist for the busiest time of the tax season. Unfortunately, both of these options are flawed as they will cost both money and business.
If the business is thriving to the point where an accountant is so busy that calls must go to voicemail, then they will quickly begin losing business as those calls looking for an accountant will just move on to the next professional in the listings. It will eventually begin eroding their existing client base as longtime customers expect the same level of prompt service and responsiveness as when their business was thriving a little less.
As for finding a professional that can act as a receptionist during the busiest time of the year, this is also cost-prohibitive and very difficult. That’s because almost all of the potential candidates have no experience in the language of accounting, in which case you are spending time training them, which costs time and eats into productivity and profits. If you are able to find a skilled professional receptionist for part of the year, the costs will be highly prohibitive in terms of salary.
In addition, the likelihood of finding someone of the right experience and professional demeanor for several months rather than a year-round full or even part-time position is pretty rare. If business is good enough to warrant a year-round receptionist, they will be engaged in taking care of the administrative duties of the office, which makes it difficult to ensure that calls are answered on the first or second ring, so the accounting professional is right back where they started.
Having calls automatically transfer over to an answering service virtual assistant is the ideal scenario. Knowing that your published business number will automatically be picked up on the first ring ensures that existing clients that call will receive the highest level of service and professionalism. The answering services agent can be versed in the accountant’s brand, general business practices, and scheduling. Consequently, clients will be helped by a knowledgeable person that appears to be a part of the accountant’s staff working in their offices. Having a virtual receptionist also makes your small organization look bigger, but not too big.
Even having your office phone ring while you are with a client can lower your productivity and set a bad example regardless of whether you answer it or not. Having a professional voice answering service to screen an accountant’s calls will be both more efficient and professional. By having them take the message, they can help to provide crucial information that will help the accountant to immediately decide on priority in terms of calling back those clients rather than losing productivity by having to listen to voice messages.
Many accountants will have a number of high-priority clients that they will meet with at their place of business for taxation and accounting consultations. Relying on a personal cell phone to forward calls from the office is no good as it is both a distraction from productivity and rude to both phone and consult the client. Receive a text message or email message from the phone answer service will keep the workflow going.
With complete answering services that also handle outbound calls, accountants can provide them with their schedule for more efficient use of time. This allows the virtual receptionist to set meetings at appropriate times while also providing callers with an exact time frame on the same day when you will get back with them.
The answering service can also provide clients with appointment reminders from a live individual. This assures a higher level of service that clients appreciate while lowering the number of missed or canceled appointments. In the rare instance when a client does cancel an appointment, the virtual receptionist can immediately reschedule and fill the open appointment time with another client while keeping the accountant informed of the changes.
Although accountants that are in demand are profitable year-round, tax season is always a major portion of the year’s profits and are connected to other services that make a seasonal client a year-round client. Consequently, an answering service can be the secret professionalism and increased profit weapon for accounts looking to grow while keeping expenses low.