Welcome to the “Top 10 Tax Season Success Tips”, a series of ten blog posts and videos I've created to give you the keys to a successful tax season. You’ll recall that in our first blog post for the Top 10 Tax Season Success Tips, we talked about orchestrating the client experience so that every client receives the same seamless, white-glove treatment -- from the moment they step into your office, to the day when they walk out the door with a copy of their completed tax returns in-hand. Some of that advice bears repeating for today’s blog topic, such as offering a warm greeting and remembering to say the client’s name. But this time, we’re drilling down a little deeper to discuss how you or your staff interviewer can fine-tune your interviews with 1040 clients. Keep in mind that this interview shouldn’t take more than fifteen minutes. If your average is much longer than that, you might want to tighten up your process. The very best client interviews – the ones that leave the client feeling well cared-for and lead to the best overall service – are never done “on the fly”. They’re carefully plotted, step by step. To that end, I want to share with you the interview form/checklist that we use in my office.
Here are my 8 nuggets for better 1040 client interviews:
1. Maintain eye contact throughout the interview process like you would talking to your best friend.
2. Engage the client by asking questions and completely listening to their response. The golden rule is: Listen to understand, instead of listening to simply reply back.
3. When a client is missing information, ask him or her to write down:
a) what that information is;
b) when you can expect to receive it; and
c) how they will be delivering it (by e-mail, postal mail, or dropped off in-person).
Notice I said to have the client do the writing. This will be helpful to both them and you, because psychologically, the act of writing out the task strengthens their commitment to performing it in a timely manner.
4. Make sure the missing items are clearly noted in the clients' 1040 file or in your tax software so that your front office person can retrieve it when it arrives.
5. At the end of the interview process, pause for a moment, look straight in the client's eyes and ask them: "Is there any other information, any other expenses you incurred last year that I should know about."
6. For clients who have been loyal to you for many years, let them know you appreciate the long term relationship you've had.
7. To make the most of your time, book 1040 client interviews back-to-back. The high demand for you helps to build your value.
8. Make your parting words as warm as your welcome. Leave the client feeling good about their decision to work with your firm.
By the way, for those clients of yours that drop off their tax documents, the same nuggets I shared here apply. Next up in "The Top 10 Tax Season Success Tips", is a short video on how to get a boat load of new clients during tax season through the refer-a-friend program.
Until next week,
P.S. Haven't registered for the CPA Practice and Financial Freedom Superconference 2014 yet? The event is almost sold out. For more information and to register, please visit www.CPALiveEvent.com