As a numbers person, you are probably a wiz when it comes to managing your clients bookkeeping tasks. But many of us accountants and bookkeepers struggle with the communication aspect of working with our clients. It just doesn’t seem to come to us as naturally as the numbers do sometimes. We have created this guide to help give you some simple tips to improve your communication with your clients.
Know Your Client and Speak Their Language
The first step to effective communication is getting to know your client’s level of understanding and experience on financial matters. Knowing this can help you tailor the way that you speak to them. If they are more experienced they may be able to grasp a more complicated and detailed explanation, if financial matters are not their expertise then avoid using complicated terms, simplify your explanations, and try to present information in a way that’s easy to understand.
Don’t Just Tell, Show Using Pictures and Graphs
For the majority of people, numbers can be confusing. When presenting financial data, don’t depend on the fact that your clients will understand what you’re saying to them based on numbers alone. Try using visual aids, like charts and graphs, to make complicated information more simple. Taking this extra step can significantly improve your conversation quality and help your clients understand the points of interest faster.
Connect Numbers to Real Life Through Storytelling
Nothing helps get a complicated concept across like a well-thought-out illustration. When you are trying to explain complicated financial concepts, try turning them into an illustration that is relatable for your client. Connecting this concept or information to something they already know well will help them grasp your point much faster. Explain how the numbers affect their goals or how they fit into their bigger picture, as opposed to dumping a bunch of data on them.
Keep Your Clients Informed Through Regular Communication
You should always be taking charge in communication with your clients. Don’t wait around for your bookkeeper to reach out to you, proactively check in with them regularly, giving them updates on their financial status or progress on their important tasks. Regular and proactive updates show you’re looking out for them. This helps you to build a stronger trust and a better relationship with them.
Keep the Conversation Open By Encouraging Questions
Questions are a great way to connect with your client and promote open and transparent dialogue. Encourage your clients to ask questions, this will help them feel comfortable seeking clarification and give you an insight into how they may be feeling. Hearing and addressing any questions or concerns early on prevents any misunderstandings and shows your commitment to their understanding.
Use Everyday Language
When speaking with clients, skip the complicated jargon. Most likely your client is not as informed on the latest financial lingo and using this type of language will only lead to misunderstanding and frustration. It’s better to just keep it simple. Use straightforward everyday language and if you ever need to use a technical term, explain them in a way that is easier to understand. When working with clients, clarity is always more important than trying to impress with technical language.
Have a Clear Goal in Mind and Sum It Up in Writing
Make sure you go into every client meeting with a clear goal in mind. Prepare an agenda to set clear expectations for the conversation. Knowing what you want to achieve helps you and your client to stay on topic during the conversation and it helps you collect or convey the important information that is needed. After every meeting, send a follow-up email summarizing the main points of the conversation. This helps everyone to remember the key takeaways and have a clear understanding of the next steps that are required. This keeps things moving forward smoothly and keeps everyone on track.
When we work with our clients, our goal should always be to create a positive and open environment for both parties to express themselves and understand. We want to be able to collaborate with them and empower them to make informed decisions about their money without feeling overwhelmed. Next time you are working with a bookkeeping client, try these strategies and see how your client relationships improve and if you are looking for more strategies to improve your client interactions check out our blog post on strategies to handle challenging clients and build stronger partnerships.