Tax season preparation can be a bear for small to moderately-sized tax businesses. Staying organized and providing exceptional service to your clients is critical. To successfully grow your business and reputation for excellence, you need:
You handle large volumes of personal and business financial information. Your clients need to feel confident you are doing all you can to protect that information, and by extension, their financial stability, from hackers and thieves. To avoid that embarrassing and business-damaging letter stating there’s been a breach of a client’s private information, be proactive and get solid security from the start.
Rather than learning complicated programs, you want to spend time on tasks that bring in money. Workflow software should be easy to use, both for you and your clients. It should also come with all its necessary features in working order without charging you extra for improved functionality.
You must manage your time to enhance customer satisfaction and increase efficiency. No one wants to get (or make) the call saying, “We must reschedule your appointment because we double booked the time slot.” Anyone receiving that call will think the business is disorganized, which can quickly damage client trust.
You need a way to securely communicate with your clients, send and receive sensitive documents, and review and store documents for the current tax season and, hopefully, years to come.
You must juggle tax law compliance and filing, managing client information securely, and providing a personalized and stress-free customer experience while running your business. Clearly, a workflow and client manager app is optimal for any tax professional with multiple clients.
However, there are several to choose from. How will you know which one will best suit your company? Here are seven key features to look for when comparing business management software:
1. US-based Support:
Look for a company based in the US that supports its own product. We’ve all been on that call. You’ve been on hold for forty minutes. When the customer service agent comes on the line, their accent is so thick you need them to repeat nearly every instruction. Anything but basic questions they can answer from a flowchart gets referred to the experts. Since those experts are the software company (in the US during US business hours), you should go straight to the source and speak to them directly.
Any company with quality software and excellent customer support knows this and will field its own support requests. They understand they are the experts who can resolve the issue expediently and back their software, knowing there will be very few support tickets since it’s so user-friendly.
2. Free Onboarding Or Training:
When you purchase a program, you should be able to use it quickly, not enroll in a class that takes days or weeks to complete. Nor should you have to pay them to show you how to use their product. It’s in their best interest that you be satisfied with the service so you continue the subscription. Charging for onboarding is double dipping.
3. A Ready-To-Use Interface:
Core features should be ready to use. Find a company that targets tax professionals so you don’t spend days redesigning and customizing the pages to suit your needs. You make money doing people’s taxes. Don’t let clunky programs get in the way of your valuable, earning potential time.
4. Integration With Google And Outlook:
Your existing calendar, documents, and spreadsheets should integrate with the new program. You shouldn’t have to rewrite or scan everything to access them in your system. Choose a system that works with standard calendar, document, and spreadsheet programs and save yourself the headache.
5. A Single Platform:
Just because it integrates with standard software doesn’t mean you must log in to each platform to get work done. Look for software that combines all the necessary apps so you don’t have to use multiple programs. Using one platform for all your workflow needs increases your efficiency and productivity.
6. Real-Time Updates:
Any changes in a file should immediately be visible to everyone who may work with that file. That way, coworkers aren’t accidentally duplicating work. All notes are visible so anyone answering a call can see what the preparer was waiting for from the client, and the tax preparer working that file doesn’t waste time playing phone tag. It also prevents essential tasks from falling through the cracks.
7. A Client Portal:
An interactive and practical client portal allows them to:
- Send and receive required documents through a secure system
- Schedule appointments in the available time slots without double booking or booking appointments too close together
- Communicate with their tax preparer
- Receive appointment and document request reminders
- Receive invoices
- Pay their bill
It’s a lot to think about, but finding the right software makes every other aspect of your business work more efficiently and with less frustration. Take the time to research your options thoroughly. Try the software through a demo or free trial period to verify the system works for your business. Contact customer service with questions to see what kind of support you can expect. Look at their security to verify it meets industry standards. It’s better to find out a system won’t work for you now than during tax season.
Investing in the right tax management software from the start not only streamlines your business operations but also provides the foundation for exceptional client service and business growth as you scale up your company. Your software choice can make all the difference for a successful, demanding tax season.