Before COVID-19, we were seeing a small (but growing) group of CPAs, EAs, and tax professionals embracing virtual tools. From value pricing and eSign to KBA and secure portals, many forward-thinking practices were already making significant transitions into the digital age. What may have taken 3-5 years before has happened in a matter of months with the COVID-19 pandemic: The virtual practice has been pushed to the forefront.
What does a virtual practice look like?
It is much more than a VOIP phone or virtual meeting software. It takes multiple touch points: client awareness, onboarding, contactless engagements, eSign, KBA compliance, and much more. COVID-19 has limited your contact with existing and potential clients. This change in human behavior is moving smart tax and accounting professionals to rethink how they find and work with clients in the digital age. So, in making this transition, it is essential to identify areas that previously required manual tasks. The goal is to find ways to use technology to save time for your staff, improve your client experience, and increase productivity. A virtual tax and accounting practice can utilize one or all of the following seven digital technology tools:
1. Online Scheduling
If you want clients to choose the type of appointment that works best for them – in-person at your office, virtual video conference, or appointment by phone – an online scheduler is a must. Making it easy for a prospect who found you online to take the next step will help you convert more web visitors to paying clients. No one likes playing phone tag – or worse, being ignored when they are ready to make a buying decision.
2. Due Date Reminders
With virtual conferencing the norm, cutting down on no shows will be crucial to maximizing your time and profits. More importantly, tracking down clients and no shows is a manual task that takes your staff away from more profitable efforts.
3. Video Conferencing
The contactless virtual interview is here to stay. Many enjoy the time saved and convenience of being able to work with their professional from the comfort of their own home or office. This also makes it possible for you to work with clients regardless of geography, time zone permitting. Our TeleAccountant™ platform offers a remote, convenient method of communication. Plus, as more people are experiencing virtual appointments over time, it’s often their preferred method. Integrating your appointment scheduling and document portal into the video conferencing tool is a major time-saver. Using a browser-based video conferencing tool also cuts down on the technology challenges many clients encounter when downloading an App for the first time.
4. Branded Client Portals
Securing your website and your client’s communications is a must for any virtual practice. Adding your branding to your client portal helps build that trust – when your branding is on your video conferencing software as well, that’s even better.
5. Discovery Calls
Some of our best performing campaigns now include 15-minute discovery calls. In this day and age, it makes sense that taxpayers and small business owners want to test out your service before investing in it. With a discovery call, professionals will discuss the prospect’s needs, goals, and current situation to discover whether they are the right fit. It’s not a call to offer free advice or to give a hard sell. Instead, you’ll explore any challenges your prospect is facing and see whether your services could be the right fit. If not, you can recommend another provider who can help. It’s a win-win.
6. Digital Engagement Letters, E-Sign and KBA
The IRS has nerve-wracking and ever-changing requirements when it comes to E-Sign and knowledge-based authentication (KBA) of your clients. If you are not following the IRS regulations, you may be in violation. In addition, a digital engagement letter makes it much easier to get the ball rolling when onboarding new clients.
7. Digital Workflows
Nothing makes a virtual practice more efficient than scrapping the manual workflows and replacing them with paperless workflows. From setting up tasks to reminders for staff to completing recurring tasks, a digital workflow makes it possible to work with staff and clients, remotely, anywhere, anytime. Check out our free Business Tax Preparation workflow on Trello. By starting with the seven technology tools on this list you will be well on your way to establishing your virtual practice. Of course, all of this is for naught if you have not established a digital footprint where your web presence is dominating Google and social media. Integrating these technologies into a single accountant marketing platform can drive huge results. With an integrated solution, your staff can track web visitors, monitor your appointment requests, start contactless interviews with a click of the mouse, and much more. If you want to learn more about value pricing and packaging check out our previous blog article, “Price Is No Object: How to Avoid Bargaining and Charge Based on Value.”
If you have questions about setting up a virtual practice with video conferencing, we’re here to help! Contact us today at 1-800-442-2477 x3 or set up some time to speak with one of our digital marketing experts.
See the insights of this article summarized in a video by our CEO and founder, Lee Reams II: