Hear me out. There is no doubt that tax season is inevitably stressful for preparers everywhere, but have you ever stopped to consider the stress and anxiety for your clients? Small business owners especially report being particularly anxiety ridden when it comes to filing taxes.
For them, tax season becomes a whole “I’d rather swim with sharks” scenario. Understanding the psychology of your clients during this stressful time can not only help you be a better service provider, but you might actually find a strategy for helping to battle the procrastination.
Just like the rest of us are probably designed to avoid a root canal until we simply just can’t any more, clients experiencing high levels of stress around preparing their taxes are going to do the same thing. If half your tax season battle is simply getting your clients to send you information, easing their anxiety is a key component to this happening more timely.
Here are 3 easy things that you, as the preparer, can do to help gently modify client behavior:
No. 1 — Help them be more organized
Sending organizers are key, but don’t just send out standard forms or generic checklists that get spit out by software. Clients need to know what they actually need to send you. A generic list still leaves them feeling overwhelmed and like they’re going to miss something. Try your best to create customized to do lists based on the prior year return. Having a road map for clients to follow will make it a lot more likely they reach their destination (i.e. sending you what you need) on time.
No. 2 — Plan ahead for roadblocks
Clients who have either experienced significant changes personally and/or who are impacted by changes in tax laws may not be prepared for what new information they need to provide. Making clients aware ahead of time of what changes might impact them and how they can provide you with the correct information will ease clients fears and overwhelmed states. Ideally you can do this before tax season starts, but it’s never too late. Doing a quick email blast on things that clients should be aware of can prompt proactive conversation from otherwise procrastinating clients.
If half your tax season battle is simply getting your clients to send you information, easing their anxiety is a key component to this happening more timely.
No. 3 — Teach clients how to prepare for taxes
Bonus points if you can create a how to video. It is personalized and makes it easy for your clients to follow. If you are not into starting a YouTube channel, things like Scribe are awesome tools where you can walk clients through step by step how to fill out an organizer or upload documents. Taking the time to let them know that you appreciate this isn’t normally in their wheelhouse will help build their confidence in you.
Clients who trust us open up their finances and often details of their personal lives to us. It can be stressful, maybe even embarrassing for some to struggle with something that they don’t fully understand. Letting clients know that you have their back and you are here to help can be the simplest way to encourage them to focus on completing tasks you need from them.