Creating a good impression with clients is essential all year long, but it’s especially vital during tax season. This is a time to show off your firm’s talents and capabilities. And, not just the technical ones. Demonstrating your prowess in soft skills and project management abilities can validate for clients that your firm is the right one for them.

Have an Action Plan for Each Return…and Stick to It!

People like to know that you have a strategy for their work and that you’re thinking of their specific needs. A great way to show this is to have an action plan for each return you prepare. You can include your client in the design by showing them the work strategy and getting any feedback they might have. It could help them to remember an important upcoming event that could impact the plan. It might even help them recall that vacation they’ve planned that starts a week before you intend to have their returns finished. Something like that’s great to know earlier than two days before they prepare to leave, especially if they expect to be gone until after the filing deadline has passed.

Show You Care by Having a Conversation

One of the best ways to show a customer that you care is by asking how they’re doing. And not necessarily in a totally casual way. Show your concern by talking about what’s going on in your client’s life. Try to show real empathy. Besides, making a connection with your customer can strengthen the relationship. It can also help you to know more about what’s going on in their lives. That can sometimes make the difference between getting the reporting of a transaction right or having to amend later. Understanding the facts is key to getting things correct and knowing your client is key to understanding the facts.

If you and your client discussed a specific upcoming event, it might be a good idea to note the date of the event and then follow-up after it happens. If it was a fun event, it might be an enjoyable conversation to have the client relate to you what occurred. No matter what, it shows you were thinking of them, and you care.

Be Welcoming and Courteous

People love it when they feel welcome. Think about how you feel when you walk into an office or business, and you’re greeted warmly. You already have a good feeling about the place, and you may not know anything else about it other than you received a friendly welcome. Don’t discount the importance of you and your staff being warm and courteous. Sometimes, that’s the difference between you and another firm. And, you can always use an edge.

Be Knowledgeable and Do Your Homework

Maybe you already know of a question that the client is going to have. If so, do your homework and be ready for the response. Clients understand when you need to research to find them an answer. But, if you already know the question, being prepared to answer looks good. Another great idea is to take notes of client conversations. That way, before the next meeting, you can review the notes and be up-to-date on the facts, at least as they stood at the last meeting. Also, this technique works great when you only see a client once or twice a year. Reviewing the notes from prior meetings helps you to be familiar with the client and their particular situation.

Be Clear in Your Communications

Clear communication can be tricky, even when you try very hard. Making your best efforts to be clear on things can go a long way toward keeping a client happy. They don’t need to know about everything that’s going on. But, try to think about items that would be important to them. If their tax return is a complicated one, keeping the client updated on progress can give them a really good feeling.

Deliver More Than Expected

When you share the action plan with the client, you should share a specific finish date. But, try to get the work done even earlier than that. Delivering early helps to make a great impression. It shows you’re paying attention to the timing and respecting the client’s schedule. Then, try to do just a little more. If you can provide some written insight into something that they could do just a bit different for a better result, it might be great to give that. It doesn’t have to be a lot. In fact, less is probably better. Just a quick tip that can help them can be quite memorable.

Use the Appropriate Communication Method for the Situation

These days, it’s even more important to be in tune with the client’s preferred method of communication. But, it can be trickier than in the past. There are so many ways to communicate now; you need to know what works best for each client. And, for each situation. If you need to discuss something, a phone call might work best. But, if you have documents to send or receive, maybe it’s email. But, be careful. If you have sensitive information, you might not want to use email. A secure site might be the best way to go. Or, maybe it’s a quick question, and a text message would work best. But, different age groups tend to use different messaging applications. It’s essential to know which one to use. Also, if you don’t get a response in a timely fashion, you need to make sure the method you used works for the client. You don’t want to message a person on Facebook only to find out later that they stopped using that app months ago.

Making a good impression this tax season doesn’t have to be hard. But, it’s important. You want to stand out from other firms and in a good way. So, have a plan, talk to your clients, show you care and communicate effectively. That way, the client will know that they and the firm they use are a perfect match.