The value of a knowledge sharing platform to your firm’s client experience, and its ability to optimise tax planning meetings cannot be understated. The quality of your organisation’s client management services has the potential to make or break your business. A negative experience can lead to a bad referral, unfavourable reviews and high client complaint rates. A positive client experience can improve customer loyalty and boost sales.

As such, it is imperative to equip your staff with skills that allow them to navigate tricky client situations. While generic online training on client service skills can assist, a knowledge sharing platform offers a far better (and often cheaper) alternative. A knowledge sharing platform allows you to capture the exact details, processes and points of difference in your own client experience.

This is particularly true for specialised client experiences like tax planning meetings for accountants. It is impossible to purchase off-the-shelf training for such specialised client interactions. A knowledge sharing platform, however, can provide your staff with completely customised training based on the proven best practices in your own business. Let’s consider how to optimise tax planning meetings to see how a knowledge sharing platform can benefit both clients and your business.

Use scenarios to improve clients interactions

A great way to utilise a knowledge sharing platform to improve the value your staff offers clients is by incorporating real-world examples to help prepare staff for potentially tricky situations. Online knowledge sharing platforms can easily capture the most common scenarios raised by clients – on demand, and with consistency – and present them for your staff to respond to. This can include difficult technical situations, as well as troublesome client behaviours.

In the context of tax planning meetings, you could ask your top accountants to each create one difficult tax planning scenario and include their suggested response, advice and common mistakes. This can rapidly turn into an interactive knowledge sharing topic for other staff to explore.

  • PRO TIP: Split the creation of knowledge among a few team members. A quick discussion at a team meeting can flush out the top five scenarios encountered in tax planning meetings. Assign one to each accountant, and ask them to frame the scenario using an existing client for inspiration. This allows them to easily give the scenario some real colour – and their example client some real behaviours – to model off.

Capture expertise from your entire staff

A good knowledge sharing platform allows each staff member to continue adding knowledge to existing topics. Other experienced employees can then add additional tips and tricks from their experience as they complete each scenario…or volunteer to create new scenarios for the topic. This allows the topic to expand over time, continually capturing new scenarios and changes in client behaviours.

Just as tax legislation changes, you can rapidly introduce new scenarios. Your existing scenarios provide the framework for new scenarios, so it’s easy to duplicate old scenarios and then update them with new ideas. In this way, the same topic can be re-used each year by your staff as a ‘refresher program’ before tax planning season. Adding new scenarios can be a requirement for promotion, or the maintenance of the topic can be like a ‘torch passed along’ with a new accountant taking over the topic and leading the latest updates each year.

  • PRO TIP: Tribal Habit’s ‘Insights’ elements allow your staff to quickly rank and capture their favourite ideas in each scenario, and to contribute new knowledge about each scenario for other staff to benefit from. In this way, your knowledge sharing topic on ‘handling tough scenarios in tax planning meetings’ will evolve over time to capture all the collective wisdom within your firm.

Educate, prepare and engage clients ahead of tax planning

A knowledge sharing platform should be equally useful for clients. In common meetings, like tax planning meetings, you will often share knowledge with clients – and they with you. In each tax planning meeting, each of your accountants will repeat the same tax update information and regulatory news to clients. An alternative would be to capture that educational component of the meeting once – and then distribute it to clients ahead of each tax planning meeting via a knowledge sharing platform.

  • PRO TIP: Use a knowledge sharing platform to engage the client with some meeting preparation. While traditional cloud-based accounting platforms can capture client financials, a knowledge sharing platform can do a far better job of capturing the subjective, emotional or qualitative data from a client. You can ask more open ended questions about client goals or life changes, as well as prompt them to consider some key decisions in advance of your meeting. You could then (re)educate them about the process of your meeting, and outline what information they should send in advance or how to prepare their financial information in the best format for you.

Results: Better meetings, shorter meetings, valuable meetings

How does this all add up?

  1. First, your staff are better prepared. They learn from each other and develop a strong culture of collaboration and best practice. They also learn to innovate – testing themselves against scenarios, sharing improvements and then working on new scenarios to test others. These are huge cultural advantages that are often hard to develop in professional services firms.
  2. Second, clients are more engaged. Clients come to tax planning meetings with educational components of the meeting already complete, and with a much better sense of what will happen in the tax planning process. Clients can see the process at work and how their accountant is committed to delivering a great experience.
  3. Third, because both staff and clients are better prepared, the educational components of the meeting are complete, and some initial data capture has been completed, the tax planning meeting itself can be shorter or more focused. A shorter meeting can result in lower costs for the client, or higher margins for your firm. And clients prefer shorter meetings anyway!

Consider that you might save 15 minutes from every tax planning meeting by centralising the education, preparation and data capture processes. If you’ve had 100 tax planning meetings in your firm, that alone is 25 hours of saved time. If your clients are better prepared, require less follow-up to provide data, and provide data in better formats which are quicker for you to work with, that’s another 15–30 minutes of reduced client management time for every meeting.

A knowledge sharing platform can conceivably save an hour of time for every client you conduct tax planning for (or any other form of common meeting). It can also result in better client outcomes and happier clients. How much is that worth to your business?