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Best Communication Alternatives to Emails for Accounting Firms

Maanoj Shah
Posted by Maanoj Shah on Apr 26, 2024 3:00:00 PM

Once upon a time, email was considered the most cutting-edge solution for communication. Well, anything that starts with “once upon a time” eventually no longer serves its original purpose.

Email continues to be a widespread tool in all industries, and accounting is no exception. A recent study shows that 79% of accountants aren’t sure their firms could function without email. But does that mean it is the one true way to maintain business relationships with your clients? In the current landscape, most certainly not!

The problem with emails

No matter how much you might be in love with email because “Gmail is easy,” email doesn’t help you set even the basic standard in the modern-day accounting business landscape. There are many reasons why emails are ruining you and making you slow.

1. Never-ending email threads

Let’s face it! The email threads never end. How many times does your team of accountants end up spending hours trying to find an old email conversation? The situation worsens when you need to communicate with someone outside your organization. Navigating through a 50-message-long thread is like finding a needle in the haystack. There is so much back and forth that you lose some critical information. And we all know what that means for accounting firms.

2. Piles of files

As an accounting firm, your firm sends and receives a lot of files. Revised agreement letters, income statements, tax forms, newsletter, etc.─there is so much. When everything enters and exits from the same email address, where does that lead to finding a file sent to a client or internally six months ago via email? Sometimes, extremely important files get buried in spam lists and calendar invites.

3. Emails are slow

We live in a time when we want everything at a rapid pace. But when it comes to communicating through emails, how long do we keep our patience? If you are dealing with time-sensitive tasks, emails are most definitely a dead end. The wait for clients to open their inboxes and respond can be long enough to miss an important deadline. Some clients may not be as responsive as others, creating additional problems.

4. Negligible to no accountability

Another bigger problem arises when someone forgets to loop in somebody in their email. More often than not, most of us have been a part of the email where there are about 10 or more people looped in, only to know that the sender missed out on adding someone who would have been responsible for an action. Everyone chases someone to get the job done when the final hour arrives. This chaos can be detrimental to accountants, especially those on a tight deadline. It leads to miscommunication and endless delays.

5. Questionable security

It is paramount for accounting firms to safeguard the security and integrity of their firms and their clients. Every day, accountants seek and send out sensitive documents through emails. It is the worst form of communication in such a case. Spam is one of the most common affairs in the accounting field, and there is almost no better way to send your critical financial data to spammers directly than using emails.

So what is the alternative?

1. Project management software

First things first - your clients do not need you all the time. If you ask your clients, they prefer not to send their lengthy requirements with to-dos and everything in between through email. Clients want to save time to do something productive as much as you do. So, the question is how? Project management software! Tools like Asana, Canopy, FinancialCents, etc., allow clients to upload tasks with supporting documents and even get real-time updates. Managing business communication via email is tedious and confusing. No central system exists for file sharing, real-time feedback loop, or project visibility. Project management software does not require accounting firms or clients to follow up or check the progress through emails.

2. Video conferencing

There is no alternative to a good face-to-face meeting when discussing something critical. The next best thing is video calls. They allow both parties to engage in a candid, agile discussion instead of just sitting and waiting for hours. As the world moved to a remote and digital mode of operation, the value of video conferences has increased in multiple folds. Gone are the days when messaging or emails were the only way to connect. The client often prefers video conferencing so they can finish their work fast and efficiently. This is also a valuable tool if you have employees who work remotely. Bounce ideas in real-time or receive feedback instantly with immediate solutions─video conferences connect everyone better. The best part of these tools is that they do not need you to be at your desk to be connected.

3. Social media

Sometimes, accounting firms tend to send bulk emails to their potential clients. While they may be useful in some circumstances, they are seldom personalized. The world is on social media platforms, and it is high time for firms to leverage their business accounts to communicate effectively, understand the problem statement, and establish why your firm is best suited to solve your client's needs. Sometimes, it is as easy as making a post to let your clients know of an offering they might be interested in. You can also have additional members of the team as the admin, who you can attend instantly to responses.

4. Collaborative platforms

An accounting project or a client always needs more than one individual. Some of these tasks also need additional action from the client. Such a scenario can cause an enormous amount of back and forth, which results in chaos when done through email. There are messy email threads, knowledge silos across the boards, and several “revised versions” of the same draft. Business collaboration tools allow accounting firms to connect and collaborate from anywhere in the world. It prevents the chaos and clutter. One of the top examples of a collaborative platform is Google Workspace.

Besides keeping your favorite Gmail intact, Google Workspace also comes with Google Docs, Drive, sheets, slides, forms, and Keep. Especially for team communication, Google Workspace offers alternatives to Gmail: Google Chat and Google Meet. They create a centralized room for specific discussions and document sharing, making it easy for everyone involved.

5. Face-to-face meetings

No matter how much we move to the digital space, the value of face-to-face meetings never goes away. While this might be a time-consuming affair, if you want to create a long-lasting relationship with your clients, it is important to meet them every now and then. Meeting them helps establish trust and helps them instate their faith in your service offerings. Clients also feel valued when you decide to see them, understand their pains, objectives, short-term and long-term goals, and offer solutions.

Communicating with your clients the right way

Emails were the only solution of their kind a decade back. But that is not the case today. Accounting firms, especially, should avoid using emails as a tool for sharing critical financial information. It is not just about the long wait time or losing essential files over email threads; it is about security, which is crucial in determining and maintaining the client's trust.

It is necessary to be mindful that email is one of the key ways for fraud, phishing, identity theft, etc. Analyze and choose an alternative way that works best for the internal teams and clients.

Struggling to find a communication tool that is fast, safe, and easy? Seek outsourcing to find solutions.


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Topics: Practice Management, Business Technology


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