My dad spent his career as a CPA, ultimately doing 45 tax seasons in a row before he retired a few years ago. I remember how, come January, his stress level would inevitably start to climb. Slowly at first, faster come February. By early March, he would reach a full-on panic mode that then lasted for the next six weeks. Miniature versions of the cycle would occur before each extension deadline.
When I would ask him about what was happening, he would always respond with some variation of, “It’s not the taxes, it’s the clients.” There were always clients who were anxious or upset—nobody likes paying taxes. But there were also the clients who were no-shows, or wouldn’t show up on time, or would show up without the right information and need to be scheduled for a follow up visit. He wasn’t the one who was scheduling meetings, sending follow up reminders, and rescheduling no-shows—that fell to the office manager or secretary. Still, by causing him to waste time preparing for meetings that either didn’t happen or were misfires, these clients were adding acute notes of stress to an already very stressful time of year. Luckily, it needn’t be that way.
In this blog post, we’ll look at how automated appointment reminders can help CPAs, accountants, and other tax pros to reduce stress and improve workflow ahead of and during tax season—and all year round. With a reminder app like Reminderly, you can quickly start sending reminders via text message, email, and/or phone calls. As our tax pro clients have seen, taking this simple step will virtually eliminate no-shows, and it can also significantly decrease client confusion about what information they need to bring to their appointment.
As you know if you’re a tax pro, when a client is a no-show for an appointment, that lost billable hour isn’t countable as a deduction. Unless you get a cancellation in time to fill that slot with another client, it’s just time and revenue down the drain. Of course, you can work on another return while waiting for your next appointment, but it’s inefficient and draining to have your planned schedule for the day suddenly change.
Reminderly allows you to create templates for text reminders, email reminders, and/or automated phone call reminders to deal with this issue. These notifications to your clients about their upcoming appointments are meant to elicit confirmations, which are incredibly effective at decreasing no-shows. Surveys show that 90% or more of confirmed appointments will not become no-shows or even need to be rescheduled.
As we’ll see below, automated messages can serve as more than just reminders. They can also be used to help get clients oriented toward tax season in advance and come to their meetings with the needed client information. But a basic reminder message can be extremely simple. Let’s take a look at a text reminder template, as an example...
“<Client name>, your upcoming tax appointment with <business or preparer name> is on <date> at <time>. Please respond Confirm or Cancel. You can also respond to this text or call <business phone number> with questions.”
Note how simple this text message reminder template is. Automatically formatted to your client’s iphone, android, or other type of cell phone, it’s the easiest possible way for them to be reminded about their upcoming appointment with you. And since 85% of people say they want appointment reminders, sending messages like these is giving your clients something they’ll appreciate.
In addition, with Reminderly’s two-way communication ability, your customers can immediately respond with questions via text or email—another option that most people say they want from businesses. These messages will be aggregated for you in your communication hub, so you can respond whenever is convenient.
Lastly, if some of the phone numbers on file for your clients are landlines—likely to be the case, especially with clientele over the age of 65—Reminderly automatically detects that an sms message won’t be possible and converts the reminder to an automated phone call.
Reminderly offers a range of fully automated and semi-automated integrations covering all major types of appointment scheduling software, including Office 365 and Outlook 365, Google Calendar, Calendly, Zapier, Excel or Google Sheets, and API integrations. This means that our reminder software simply formats the appropriate messages based on your appointment calendar each day and sends them out. You can tweak your templates and timing whenever you like, but otherwise, you just set it and forget it.
I’m sure you’ve worked hard to get your appointment booking process as smooth as possible, so why not make cancellations and rescheduling equally smooth? Whether you want to funnel clients who need to be rescheduled to your online booking system or to a live call with someone, Reminderly’s automated messaging can achieve the result you’re looking for. If you have a question about how this would work for your office, don’t hesitate to reach out and talk to us—we’re happy to discuss a solution that’s a perfect fit for your tax business.
Because a reminder service already has the complete database of your clients’ contact info, it’s incredibly easy to use it for other types of messages. Tax businesses, for instance, might want to send out a message to all clients—or a subset of those with more complicated tax returns—to suggest tax forecast meetings early in the year. You can also use a reminder app like Reminderly to send client messages in the fall, encouraging people to schedule their tax appointments early and get it out of the way.
Likewise, if you have other updates you want to communicate to your clientele—pricing changes, staff announcements, etc.—you can include these with your reminders or send them as separate messages.
If the client isn’t adequately prepared with their financial information, tax preparation appointments either can’t go forward or need to be supplemented with additional meetings or calls. As soon as the client says, for example, “Oh, we made about $50,000 from that part of the business this year. Or wait—was that last year?”—you know you have to ask them to reschedule and come back with their information in order.
Here’s where intelligent use of automated reminders comes in. In addition to accomplishing their basic function of eliminating no-shows, these messages can also reduce the number of clients who come in unprepared for their meeting. Let’s look at an email reminder template as an example...
Subject line: What you’ll need for your upcoming appointment with <business or preparer name>
Dear <client name>,
Thanks for choosing <business or preparer name> for your tax preparation needs this year. We look forward to seeing you at your upcoming appointment on <day, date> at <time.> If you need to reschedule, please go to our <online scheduling link> or call us at <business phone number>.
<Preparer name> has set aside an hour to meet with you and go over your tax situation. In order to make the most efficient use of this time, please come prepared with all of the pertinent documents related to your income this year. If you aren’t certain what to bring, please follow <this link> to an article on the topic. Or email your preparer at <preparer email address>, and they’ll be happy to let you know what you should bring.
<Office manager or business name>
<additional links, attachments, cancellation policy, etc.>