Successful Account Firms Have Great Internal Communications
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Successful Accounting Firms Have Great Internal Communications

The key to success for accounting firms is effective communication.

As we all work to become more agile and effective despite remote and hybrid work situations, one thing that has stood out across the board is managing effective communications with colleagues and clients. Since we work with accountants – who have long worked in paper-only environments – this issue has been front and center. 

To better understand the challenges accountants face with communications both inside and outside of the firm, we conducted a survey of over 150 US-based accountants and found some interesting insights.

More accountants say it’s easier to communicate with clients than with each other.

This was a surprising finding, with 70% of accountants and staff saying that clients are usually more responsive than coworkers and 76% of senior partners noting that they had to “over-communicate” with staff to explain what they’re referencing. This lack of effective internal communication has led to 40% of firms having an employee who quit.

With 61% of accountants affirming that their office communications need to improve, only 37% are sure they know how to improve it. 

Every firm is different but there are many ways to improve internal communications with messaging apps like Slack or daily team huddles. But by and large, the most effective way to improve internal communications is to use a cloud-based platform that puts conversations into context. Not only does it save time and effort, but it also enables the team to understand what’s needed and as a result, execute faster. Practice management software tends to be a great solution for this since it consolidates client information and then enables firm employees to easily reference parts of a client’s file. 

Accountants will benefit from adopting communication platforms or tools for productivity and client happiness.

Our survey found a couple more interesting insights that highlight the benefits and need for technology:

  • First, the majority of accountants think that in-person meetings can be done via chat with 60% of accountants and staff saying their in-person meetings would be as effective in a Slack thread;
  • Second, group chats increase productivity and client satisfaction. We found that accounting firm owners see a 50% increase in productivity when using group chats and a 59% increase in client satisfaction when using chat with their customers. 

Typically in firms, clients have fewer – and more technology-focused – avenues of communication with their accountants than colleagues do: email, support chat, client portal, or meetings. But colleagues can stop at your desk, text, call, direct message, email, set up a meeting, use a sticky note, or meet in the hallways, but many of these conversations and action items need to be properly recorded. It is absolutely worth doing an audit of your current internal communications and seeing if your firm could benefit from a practice management solution.  

Additionally, it is worth noting that in a study we did earlier this year with over 1,000 small business owners, nearly 80% of them said that they would consider switching accountants to one that uses the latest technology. That’s because with the volume of work accounting firms have today, technology streamlines communications processes for both employees and their clients. Finally, 92% of firms that aren’t growing told us that they have ineffective office communication. 

Our final takeaway is, when internal communications are strong, accounting firms work and vice versa.

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