As we discussed in a previous blog, keeping your current clients is crucial. Current clients represent a steady revenue stream and if retained, will provide you with referrals to help continue the growth of your business. Being a tax preparer is not all about numbers – it’s about developing relationships with your clients as their tax professional. Without that relationship, your client feels like another number and is not likely to return. This is why it’s so important to hire personable tax preparers with strong customer service skills. It’s also important to implement some operating standards that are customer centric and will help provide that “wow” factor when clients come in to have their taxes prepared.
Here are some things to implement in your tax office that will increase customer service and client retention.
Standard Phone Answering Procedures
One of the worst things you could do is leave a bad impression before a current or potential client even walks in the door. Whether you have a receptionist or not, be sure to train every person in the office how to answer the phone properly. You need to stress that the person calling is just as important as the person walking in the front door. It’s important to have a pleasant tone on the phone. Some people answer the phone and it’s obvious that they are either not a people person or they are not in a good mood. This will turn off the person on the other end immediately. As silly as it sounds, try to smile when you answer the phone. The person on the other end of the line really can tell. You should also make sure everyone is equipped with the information they need to answer common questions.
One thing we stress at Peoples Tax is “owning the problem”. If you answer the phone and the person on the other end has a problem – it’s now your problem. Rather than just passing that person off with a “not my problem” attitude, that person is now responsible for ensuring that they see the problem through. Their responsibility for that problem ends when that problem is solved. This way, nothing falls through the cracks, and the client is left with a genuine feeling that everyone at your office cares about them.
The reception area
Note that we do not call it the waiting area, and it is not a separate room, but a seating area that is visible to the tax preparers so they are not oblivious to clients waiting. No one likes waiting. You know what people like worse than waiting? Not being acknowledged when they come in. If you can, try to give them some sort of timeframe as to how long the wait may be. Other things you can do include giving the option to make an appointment if they don’t already have one, drop off their paperwork with their contact information if they are comfortable with that, or even give them a client information form to get the ball rolling while they are waiting. If your office doesn’t have a receptionist, then you should at least train every employee to immediately acknowledge every person who walks through the door. If the reception area is hard to see from the work-stations, or offices, install a bell on the front door so employees can hear when someone walks in. At Peoples Tax we incorporate transparent panels in our cubicles and windows in our private offices to enable our tax preparers to see clients in the reception area and for waiting clients to see that our preparers are serving other clients and not ignoring them.
The reception area should also be clean and inviting with plenty of seating, some magazines and even a coffee or water station.
Be kid friendly
A lot of people have children and many times have no other choice but to bring them to their appointments. We’ve found at Peoples Tax that parents really appreciate a kid-friendly environment when they come in to have their taxes prepared. This can mean anything from having toys and coloring books in the waiting room to having a DVD player available for children to watch movies – anything to keep them entertained. Having a few distractions for the children will help the tax preparation process move quicker and reduce what can sometimes be a stressful situation for both parties.
Anything you can do to improve the customer experience is a win. How does your tax office go out of their way for clients? Leave a comment!
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