5 Tips for dealing with accounting clients

Client relationship management is an essential practice for every business.

Accounting is not always about numbers; dealing with different clients takes work. Most clients are calm, balanced and easy to handle; they understand accounting.

Experts say that nearly 5 to 10 per cent of clients are certified as demanding clients. There are clients who, no matter what you do, will always need help understanding your efforts.

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An accountant must be sure of which client to work with. These types of clients can be very time-consuming. These clients can be overly demanding, angry, rude, disrespectful and hard to work with.

Two categories of clients exist:

1. A few clients that provide challenges to the firm are essential.
2. Some are hard to deal with since they need to learn more about your company.

Here are some more details about dealing with difficult accounting clients.

Table of contents:

Who are difficult customers?
Types of difficult clients
5 Tips for dealing with accounting clients
Final thoughts

Who are difficult customers?

Accountants must identify the warning signals of demanding clients as soon as possible since they might present in various ways. They could display characteristics like being disorderly, intolerant of change, micromanaging easily, or too demanding.

Demanding clients may also consistently miss deadlines for submitting required paperwork or making payments, which slows down and interferes with the accounting process.

The first step to managing tough clients effectively is to recognise their traits.

Types of difficult clients

The following are the different personality types that are difficult to deal with.

1. The Skeptic

Clients with doubts about the accountant’s skills or the worth of their services may need more confidence. To acquire confidence in the professional’s expertise, they could contest advice, raise doubts about suggestions, and ask for further assurance.

2. The Micro-Manager

This kind of customer queries choices and asks for updates frequently, wanting to be engaged in all facets of the accounting process as per client expectations. They could find it challenging to put their faith in the accountant’s knowledge and feel compelled to supervise every aspect.

3. The Disorganised

It might be difficult for the accountant to make sense of the accounts of disorganised customers because of their disorganised approach to financial management and record-keeping. Reviewing disorganised documents and resolving conflicts might take much time and effort.

4. The Procrastinator

Procrastinating clients frequently arrive late for appointments and wait until the last minute to deliver necessary paperwork or information. When they are not prompt, especially during peak times, the accountant may have to rush through their task and feel more pressure.

5. The Late Payer

Regularly missing payments from late-paying clients strain the accountant’s cash flow and administrative workload. Their delay can sour the working relationship between the accountant and the customer, making it more difficult for the accounting practice to run efficiently.

5 Tips for dealing with accounting clients

Setting boundaries, being patient, and having practical communication skills are all necessary when working with challenging accounting customers. You must understand what makes a good accounting client to successfully handle demanding customers. Consider the following advice:

1. Set clear expectation

● First meeting: To start, have a comprehensive first meeting with the client to learn about their goals, expectations, and needs. Use this chance to make clear the deliverables, deadlines, and extent of the task.

● Comprehensive Engagement Letter: Draft a comprehensive engagement letter that outlines the services, costs, terms of payment, and any other pertinent terms and conditions that have been agreed upon. Ensure the engagement letter is reviewed by both parties and signed by them to attest to their comprehension and acceptance of the arrangements.

● Regular updates: Update the customer frequently with the work’s progress, highlighting any milestones reached, difficulties faced, and alterations to the original plan. To successfully manage expectations, swiftly notify the client of any changes or delays.

● Open Communication: Encourage the customer to express any worries or inquiries by keeping lines of communication open.

2. Communicate Effectively

● Active Listening: Pay attention to the client’s inquiries, concerns, and feedback when engaging with them. Ask clarifying questions and paraphrase their comments to show you understand and empathise with them.

● Clear and Concise: Communicate information simply and succinctly, avoiding technical jargon or terminology that might confuse the customer. Ensure the customer completely understands any difficult topics or procedures you present using clear, concise language.

● Timely Responses: Show that you are dependable and responsive by answering questions and making requests from clients as soon as possible. Even if you cannot respond immediately, acknowledge the client’s communication and offer a timeframe for when you will follow up.

● Choose the right medium: Whether it’s email, phone conversations, video conferences, or in-person meetings, choose the most suitable communication channel for each circumstance. When selecting the communication channel, take into account the client’s preferences, the message’s urgency, and its complexity.

3. Establish boundaries

● Define Scope of Work: Clearly define the scope of work and deliverables for the engagement, outlining what services are included and any limitations or exclusions. Communicate any changes or deviations from the original scope promptly to manage expectations effectively.

● Manage Expectations: Control the client’s expectations about deadlines, results, and probable difficulties. Be open and honest about what can be accomplished in the time and money allotted; do not overpromise or underdeliver.

● Enforce Consequences: Impose penalties, such as extra costs for scope creep or late payments, for crossing boundaries or breaking the terms of the engagement agreement. Use fairness while being tough when enforcing the rules of the agreement and holding the client responsible for their conduct.

4. Educate the client

● Assess Knowledge Level: Determine the client’s familiarity with and comprehension of accounting principles, procedures, and laws. Adjust your instruction to their unique requirements and learning styles, particularly in areas they might lack understanding.

● Simple Explanations: Avoid using technical jargon or terminology that may confuse the client and explain complex accounting concepts in simple, easy-to-understand language.

● Regular Updates: Give the customer frequent information on any modifications to tax laws, accounting standards, or industry developments that might affect their company. Inform them of any pertinent alterations or advancements and clarify how they could impact their financial condition.

5. Stay organised

● Utilise Accounting Software: To improve workflow, handle financial data, and produce reports quickly, spend money on dependable accounting software. Select a software programme with capabilities like bank reconciliation, spending tracking, and invoicing that meet your company’s demands.

● Set Deadlines and Reminders: Establish due dates for jobs and projects, and utilise calendar alerts or reminders to help you remember what has to be done. Sort jobs into priority lists according to their relevance and urgency, then allocate time and resources to ensure deadlines are met.

● Maintain Clear Records: Maintain thorough documentation of all correspondence, financial transactions, and client encounters. Record crucial information, choices, and agreements to guarantee accuracy and responsibility.   Review and update records regularly to reflect the most recent information and changes.

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Work with Ireland-based Experts for tax, audit, accounting, payroll, & EIS/ SEIS needs.

Have a question? Contact Us
Monday to Friday 9am – 4:30pm

Final thoughts

Understanding and listening to your client’s problem is important to maintaining an effective client relationship. It’s not easy to work with difficult clients, but regular check-ups will be a great help in dealing with them.