Whether your tax office is in the beginning or middle stages of its business life, your strategy should be providing for a great customer experience. As a service provider, you want to offer exceptional customer service.
Customers look for businesses that put them first. Every business will tell them that they put customers first, but merely saying so is not enough. The customers will be evaluating their experience with your business. They are going to look at the results, the process that led to the results, and the customer treatment they received.
The good news is that offering top-notch customer service and experience will improve your reputation and strengthen your business position. You are likely to see steady or increased revenue as a result.
The bad news is that poor customer experience can damage your reputation and cause you to lose business. You’ll want to execute a well-designed customer experience strategy to prevent such issues.
CX Is for Competitive Excellence
Customer experience, also known as CX, can help your tax office stand out in a crowded industry. Advertising and marketing offer a well-trodden path to visibility and competitiveness. But they will also take a cut out of your budget.
An alternative strategy would be to focus on elevating the customer experience. It is likely to be a less expensive approach. Plus, your business would benefit from having improved relations with clients as well as potential clients. Your tax office will enjoy a more appealing image, and also see an increase in productivity.
A customer experience strategy can be the key to becoming the most trusted service provider in a particular competitive sphere or local area. Customer experience translates to competitive excellence.
The Key Elements to Customer Experience
Customer experience is easy to define yet difficult to grasp. You can view it as the sum of interactions between a customer and your service, and the overall impression they leave on the customer. It exists in face-to-face interactions, but also in less tangible connections, such as a person’s exposure to news and advertising about your business.
There are so many ways in which customers can perceive a connection to your business: through initial awareness, initial engagement, negotiating, contract signing, service relations, and evaluating results. Ideally, you want to manage the customer’s expectations from the very first stage. Then deliver credibly and consistently on the expectations you have set, at every stage of the relationship.
The elements of the customer experience can be viewed in terms of three distinct categories: touchpoints, service, and engagement.
Here is an explanation of these categories:
- Touchpoints – These refer to instances when your brand or identity leaves an impact on a customer or potential customer. That can mean advertising, social media encounters, newsletters, word of mouth, and so on.
- Service – This component highlights your ability to deliver results in accordance with the customer’s expectations. The customer’s trust and satisfaction may hinge on the success of your execution.
- Engagement – This element focuses on building a relationship. You want the customer to view this business relationship as significant, and be willing to be responsive to your overtures.
When you are designing a customer experience strategy, you need to plan for all three components.
Is CX the same as User Experience and Customer Service?
You may be wondering about such terms as “user experience” and “customer service.” How are these related to customer experience? Are they basically the same thing?
The simple answer is that they are contributors to the success of your customer experience strategy. In other words, they refer to more specific areas to build on as part of a larger objective—which is elevating the overall customer experience quality of your business.
“User experience” refers to the impact of using your services. What’s interesting is that your goal is often to create a seamless user experience. Basically, you want to make service interactions so simple for the client that they barely register going through the process. They are left with the impression that you made things easier for them.
“Customer service” is a broader term, but we can highlight a few important aspects. It often refers to the methods by which a business helps customers get past any confusing elements or vexing issues that crop up in their use of its services. Engagement can greatly contribute to the impression of good customer service.
Planning a Customer Experience Strategy
Many business owners are used to looking at the service they provide to see what they can improve. That is, they look at the methods, processes, tools, and employees. But a different mindset might be the key to designing more effective customer experiences.
Steve Jobs used to speak of “beginning with the customer experience and working backward to the technology.” In other words, he began by placing himself in his customer’s shoes. What experience would he want to have as a customer? This influenced the design goals of Apple’s product developers.
You can do the same thing. If you are already running a tax office, seek feedback from your customers. Ask them to describe their experience with using your services. If you are yet to start your tax office, then do research. Find people whom you can interview about their experiences with their tax preparers.
Use the feedback as a guide in designing your strategy.
Keep it in mind when you are:
- Establishing your systems and procedures
- Hiring customer support staff or receptionist
- Training your employees
- Planning your office layout
- Selecting client-facing software tools
Building Touchpoints and Improving Engagement
The three components of customer engagement are touchpoints, service, and engagement. Of course, every business owner recognizes the primacy of excellence in service. It is not necessary to belabor its importance.
So in this section, our focus will be touchpoints and engagement.
Touchpoints include all sorts of small-scale and large-scale impacts that your brand has on your customers. For a tax office, touchpoints will be relatively staid and straightforward. You can work on developing a social media presence, but you probably don’t want to put too much time and effort on that.
Engagement can prove to be the more significant area to focus on. A tax preparer will be interacting with clients regularly. You are privy to people’s personal and financial information and you are helping them achieve the best outcome possible when paying taxes. Relationship building is an intrinsic part of the tax preparation business.
Better Customer Experience Through Software
As you know, user experience is a key contributor to the overall customer experience. Designing a great user experience will be beneficial to you as well as your customers. Your support staff will spend less time and effort helping your clients, for one thing.
A good user experience makes things easier for everyone. For many businesses, the easiest way to deliver a good user experience is employing the right software tools. In your case, this can mean office management system software.
You want the software to enhance your ability to serve your clients effectively. It can do this by making appointment scheduling painless, or facilitating quick and easy client document processing. Look for a program that lets you set up a client portal—that will make it simpler for customers to set appointments and send documents electronically. Your clients will appreciate how these tools save them a lot of time and effort.
ProClient Office Management
ProClient is one of the best office management software systems for a tax office. It was developed by a highly experienced tax preparer for use by other tax preparers—but it makes an equally robust solution for any other service-oriented business.
ProClient ticks all the boxes. It gives you a simple way to set up a client portal for each individual customer. Each client portal is secure and accessible only to the client and their tax preparer team.
Clients can use the portal to send documents to your tax office without jumping a lot of hoops. They can also use it to schedule appointments, which you will be able to view and edit on your ProClient Calendar application.
ProClient makes appointment scheduling fast, easy, and intuitive. Customers and employees won’t have to spend a lot of time figuring out a scheduled time and date that works for both of them. Employees can block out unavailable hours, allowing clients to set a meeting schedule that will not conflict with the tax preparer’s calendar.
That’s only a small taste of what ProClient can do! It is a sophisticated office management suite that provides all the tools you need to manage your office workflow. Tools like a document manager, CRM manager, team manager, and a customizable email/text messaging system. It links to Outlook or Google Mail, too!