How successful accountants are solving the communication challenge

Jun 17, 2021 | Tips

Your ability to communicate clearly, effectively, and efficiently sits at the core of your capacity to successfully serve clients as an accountant.

If your communication strategy and technique isn’t as effective as possible, you could miss opportunities, potentially lose clients, and fail to deliver accurate and valuable advice.

As communication avenues become more diverse, siloed, fractured and impersonal, what are successful accountants and advisors doing to ensure excellence in communication?

The convoluted communication landscape

It’s no secret that modern modes of communication have undergone rapid change. In no small part, COVID-19 has acted to accelerate the impersonal and multi-channel communication landscape even further.

While communication with clients used to be either face to face, on the phone or through email, we now see the sprouting of a cornucopia of communications platforms and methods.

Video conferencing, workflow apps, social media, text, and professional messaging solutions of all kinds have migrated into our communications. Not only do we see diversity in communication formats, but there are also usually several iterations and preferences within each one.

The communication options presented to us are seemingly inexhaustible. How do you cut through?

The solution? Direct the conversation and the platform

  • To cut through this jungle of options, lead by example and offer limited communication options.
  • Avoid email where possible. It has a low open rate and visibility.
  • Prioritise chat and instant messaging platforms which offer easy file attachments and snappy back and forth interactions.
  • If a very brief and important reminder is needed, use SMS which has incredibly high open rates.
  • Choose your platforms, inform your clients, and stick to it. This also helps workflows as you can centralise communication between all clients.
  • Create a calendar of communication times and be the driver of initiating these conversations.
  • Complement your chosen platform with video conferencing or in-person meetings to ensure a personal touch, which will naturally deepen client relationships.

Getting back to basics

The accountancy game revolves around clear and concise communication more than many realise.

You may very well excel in your vocation and offer high value advisory skillsets and the capacity to add significant client value.

Where this can all fall over is in your communication skills. If you can’t communicate effectively and succinctly, your value is diminished, and your firm will suffer alongside your clients.

Fortunately, any shortcomings can be easily rectified with short courses and peer review.

Written

Sign up to a short course on effective and concise business writing. Many firms will encourage knowledge acquisition and there’s a plethora of affordable and brief courses to fill any gaps in your written communication skills.

Verbal

Similarly, there’s a large range of short courses aimed at improving your verbal communication ability. Peer assessment with a trusted colleague, manager or mentor is also an excellent avenue.

Tips to increase communication effectiveness

Here are a few things to keep in mind, whether you’re on the phone, video chat or messaging.

Transparency

Be upfront and direct with your clients at all times. They want trusted business advice, not an illusion of rainbows.

Clarity

Learning how to simplify a complex idea is an incredibly valuable skill. Keep messages short, simple and to the point. If you can say something important in three words instead of ten, do it.

 

Careful repetition

The more important a message is, the more times it needs to be reiterated. Otherwise it will be lost in the storm of information that people have to process each day.

Empathy

Someone’s business is at stake every time you conduct client work. Respect this fact and, as a rule, communicate with others as you’d like them to communicated with you.

Be yourself

Professional doesn’t equal corporate robot. People will respond instinctively to your natural tones over what is sensed as a confected ‘business identity’.

Flexibility

Be conscious of the various personality types you’ll encounter and adjust your style accordingly. Even go so far as to keep notes in your CRM as to their preferred methods and styles.

Context

If you receive client concerns, be sure to validate them and then contextualise the issue into a broader picture. Paint a larger picture of your advice or responses to client issues, don’t deflect and act defensively.

As a parting note – when working with busy business clients, speak when you have information to impart, a point to make, or questions to ask, never for the sake of it. As Plato once said:

“Wise men talk because they have something to say; fools, because they have to say something”.

 

To find out more about APS software, visit www.aps-software.com.

APS is a division of Reckon, an ASX listed company. We develop the software used by the best Accounting Firms in Australia and New Zealand to run their business’ and advise their clients.

Ready to request a demo?

APS is more than just software – our solutions are delivered with a relationship-focused approach. We understand what accounting firms need in Australia and New Zealand, and we can design solutions specifically for your business requirements to help achieve your firm’s goals.

Learn more