Setting Client Expectations and Ending Bad Client Relationships: Two Valuable Skills to Help You Thrive

Business Development Working on Deals

According to statistics from the Internal Revenue Service, a total of 148,390,000 tax returns were received last year. Visits to the IRS website have increased by over two percent, too. Despite the popularity of do-it-yourself programs such as Turbo Tax and Tax ACT, many Americans will ultimately decide that they need professional help, and many seek it for the first time while filing their return.

This is great news if you work in the accounting field. However, before you start taking on new clients as tax season approaches, it’s crucial to learn that you have the right to set expectations, and let clients go if things aren’t working out. Read on for two suggestions that can help you manage clients when you work as an accountant, but can easily apply to any service industry.

Be Careful About Promising Too Much

It’s natural to want a client to see you as motivated and willing to finish a job. However, as a service provider, it’s also up to you to set expectations that are in accordance with your rates and ability levels.

In many cases, it’s not as much about about having the necessary skills as setting aside enough time in the day. For example, if a client wants rush preparation for a tax return, it might seem like an easy way to apply your knowledge carefully and efficiently.

However, tax returns, and any other type of complex paperwork can become increasingly intricate depending on a person’s specific situation. To keep your nerves intact during a client project, emphasize accuracy over speed. This will give you the time you need to do things thoroughly, without feeling that you’re crunched for time.

Similarly, be careful about making promises. In the tax industry, a client might become overly hopeful about getting a sizable return because they’re basing their expectations on past experience.

Whether you’re filling out tax forms, acting as a business advisor, or providing another particular service, remind your clients that you’ll use knowledge to the best of your abilities, but some things will simply remain out of your control.

Go With Your Instinct

Whenever you provide a service, it’s common for clients to want you to treat them as if you’re they’re your only concern in the world. They do deserve attention, but within reason. Set expectations at the beginning of your working relationship, and give details about any specific skills that you have.

If your customers are made aware of what you can offer from the beginning, they’ll be less likely to expect something that you can’t necessarily deliver to their expectations. Know your abilities, and promote them, but don’t become overly ambitious.

Finally, pay attention to your gut feeling. Often, it’ll be the first indicator that it’s time to end your relationship with clients who expect too much from you, or want you to bend over backwards to meet their needs. Ending a relationship is rarely easy, but if you feel strongly that it’s no longer a good fit, have a serious talk with your client.

No matter which industry you’re a part of, always keep things in perspective. It’s great to have a full roster of clients, but not if it puts you at risk for getting burned out. You have the right to be choosy. Good luck!

Tara Daines writes for finance blogs. If you’re interested in pursuing a degree in accounting but you don’t want to quit your day job, check out Online MS in Accounting options.

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