Accountants are always in competition with others and the digital transformation in many industries have only intensified this. Accountants have to deal with demands from clients in a particularly accurate and timely manner.
Being able to work together, show progress and generally engage with a client indicates a willingness to address their needs, which in turn can help to foster strong relationships and earn a good reputation within your field.
What is client collaboration?
Generally, effective communication and sharing information is the backbone of collaboration. Collaboration with clients can be meetings, online document sharing, working together on documents, file sharing, and having channels for client communication.
Now more than ever, there are demands put on internal processes, to have useful and positive client collaboration.
Knowing what tools to use, and what steps to take to ensure good collaboration, is vital. In light of this, we explain some of the most important things you need to know to achieve effective client collaboration.
Embrace team discussions on working with clients
An essential part of any collaboration is having team members discuss with each other, to share ideas, give feedback, and synchronize the team effort.
How can you have effective discussions and collaboration with your team? Here are some useful tips:
Share files online and collaborate with your team
Valuable, efficient and secure document sharing is a vital step. There are numerous tools for file sharing, which we’ll come back to later, but in general it’s important the tool you use allows for documents to be easily accessible by all relevant parties and able to be worked on together in real time.
Sharing alone isn’t enough, to get your team involved, easy online document collaboration is a must. so everyone can work together in real time and changes can be tracked, regardless of where they are located.
Create chats and channels for communication
One space for both formal and informal communication is a great way to facilitate useful discussion and ensure you don’t lose any important information.
You can have chats, channels or groups for different purposes. For example, you may want to create one space for everyone to chat about a particular project or subtask to keep discussions focused and easily traceable.
Ensuring your team can coordinate and communicate well, will in turn allow for effective communication with clients..
Have virtual meetings set up at regular intervals, in order to allow team members to share what they have been working on, discuss difficulties, and have proper conversations rather than messaging.
This goes some way to replace the types of conversations that are lost when working online.
Keep a log of all important conversations.. Having a central workspace is a useful way to do this.
Make sure it’s clear who has created what document and when, and that they are all properly titled. This way reports, meeting summaries and collaborative documents, are all kept securely and are accessible.
Set expectations with clients upfront
This advice applies for how to achieve effective communication with clients. Before any work has really begun, you need to establish the expectations between you and your client.
One significant thing that is required to be agreed upon is how you will communicate. Client communication is a key part of fostering good relationships, and it has to be done easily for all parties. If a client wants to use email, but you prefer a particular program, then this should be agreed upon.
In a similar vein, agree what document sharing platforms you will utilize. These platforms allow people to share and collaborate on files online, where multiple users can review or edit documents simultaneously. This is a great way to collect client feedback and gain digital signatures. Organized file sharing is a must and needs to be demonstrated.
Any other software you use, that involves some input, feedback, or collaboration, should be communicated with your client.
A great way to set off on the right foot with a new client is to explain turnaround time, what they can expect and by when. This way, the client will not have any unrealistic expectations, and save everyone’s time.
Picking the right collaborative online document sharing tools
Clients today are more demanding, expect faster turnarounds, and have a range of accountants to choose from. To compete, the needs of the client need to be taken into account and met.This means that you must be able to communicate your understanding on their needs and demonstrate your workload to prospective clients easily.
Effective collaboration with clients will help you and your accounting team work faster and more efficiently. Setting up collaborative work documents with clients to show your progress can do considerably well in delivering on your client’s needs and expectations. This is where the right tools come in to help.
Client communication tool
Communication tools such as Slack are useful ways to communicate, internally and externally. These tools allow you to create chat channels, have private conversations and integrate with other applications. Ensuring that they are easy to use with both clients and team members, is an indispensable part of identifying useful tools. They also should have a capacity for easy file sharing.
Client collaboration software
Client collaboration software provides remarkable ways to share documents and information with clients. Some such as Notion display everything, from workflows and roadmaps to calendars and more. Google Workspace is a great way to link a range of Google tools across the board, and synchronize all Google information, including calendar, hangouts, docs, and more.
Document sharing platforms such as Google Workspace or Microsoft 365 allow for the sharing and collaboration of documents of any kind. For accountants who need to share tables particularly, this is useful. It is crucial that whatever file sharing software you use, it has secure document sharing, to protect sensitive information and provide peace of mind to everyone involved.
Generally, it is important to keep processes together in as few places as possible. Have a client collaboration software integrated with your file sharing platform, and your communication tools. This keeps everything together, logged, so that your team and clients can all be on the same page.
We provided some tips that are useful for collaboration, client communication, and file sharing with clients. Having teams effectively work together and being able to work with clients and show progress is essential in the modern world to give an edge over your competitors.