How to answer clients' questions
November 16, 2015

Clients want to know everything about your accounting practice, and they demand to have it about five minutes ago. It's important to understand that in many cases, your customers are completely new to the idea of accounting, and they often come not when they're setting up their business or starting to do something new, but when they run into problems. That's not necessarily a bad thing, for if you can solve their problems, you can develop that into a relationship. You retain that customer for less problematic services and can even gain referrals. So it's a good idea to learn how to handle the barrage of questions they send your way.

Going through the basics
Some of the questions clients will ask will be very simple and seem too obvious, as Accounting Today suggested. An example is "how do I reach you?" They may not look over every detail or bit of research before they meet you. The key here is to play it cool, while giving them a realistic understanding of what works. If you don't know the answer to their question because you don't have enough information, be sure to frame in a way that encourages them to help you.

Another way of viewing these various questions is as business opportunities. Sometimes they'll ask about how to make their cash flow work. While guaranteeing to help out, you can present some of the services you offer that relate to cash flow. This can help expand your business relationship just as it begins.

Bringing them down to reality
Often, you'll get clients who come in and prop up some amazing accounting trick like a "triple Irish" or something to that nature that they learned from their friend who is not an accounting professional. Annoying questions about ridiculous accounting ideas should be shot down post-haste, but you have to do it in terms that help them understand why it's a bad idea, according to Accounting Web. Ask them what qualifications the person who made the recommendation has as an accountant or bookkeeper and if he or she is willing to take responsibility of the clever plan if it gets them in trouble with the Canada Revenue Agency.

There are other annoying questions to consider. Some will ask why their profits are higher than their bank balances, in which case you may need to patiently explain the difference between the two. Others will be more prideful and claim the only thing they need done is their statutory accounts, which you respond by showing respect but also acknowledging that you still need to look at their bookkeeping to make sure numbers match up. Grace and humility mixed with a dash of realism is often the best way to answer client questions.

Nexus: G-WEBCD2