How To Communicate Filing Changes via Business Text Messaging

Tax documents on a desk

Tax filing dates and requirements don’t change often. But in cases of national emergency, they do—and accounting firms have to react quickly. Somehow, they have to let all of their clients know about the changes. Enter business text messaging. 

Business text messaging is especially useful when firms need to quickly send information on a large scale or to specific clients. Clients are more likely to read texts than emails; texts have an open rate of 98%. Additionally, business SMS platforms help accounting firms send, receive, and organize client texts. These platforms are easy to set up if your firm doesn’t already have one. 

Read on to learn how you can quickly communicate and manage last-minute filing changes.

Set Up a Business Text Messaging Inbox 

Set up a business text messaging inbox if your accounting firm doesn’t have one already. This process shouldn’t take more than an hour. 

Keep in mind that you can:

  • Text-enable your landline. The process takes minutes and leaves your existing voice service intact. Afterwards, your clients can either text or call your business’s landline to reach you.
  • Set up roles and permissions. These tools empower you to control who in your firm has access to which client text messages. Carefully-created roles and permissions can help you protect client data. 

Once your business text messaging inbox is set up, you’ll be ready to publicize it. 

Publicize Your Business Text Messaging Service 

Clients can’t sign up for your SMS service if you don’t let them know about it. Create social media posts and website banners announcing your new SMS channel. Add it to your Contact Us page and next email newsletter, too.

In any content about your SMS service, include:

  • A list of benefits. Clients should know why they need to sign up for your SMS service. Let them know that SMS is the best way to keep them up to date on changes in the case of an emergency. Plus, they can send in questions and receive fast replies. 
  • Clear terms of service. You need to let your customers know the basics of your SMS service. Describe the types of texts you’ll send, how often you’ll send them, and what clients can text you. 
  • Opt-in instructions. Clients must opt in before you text them. This is a requirement of local and federal regulations. Include opt-in instructions on any advertisements. These might include specific keywords or links to a web form.  
  • Opt out instructions. Clients must be able to opt out at any time. This is another compliance must. Include opt out instructions on your advertisements and in your sign-up confirmation texts. 

You can start texting clients as soon as they have opted in. 

Create an SMS List (or Two)

You’ll be able to communicate changes quickly once your business text messaging platform is set up and clients have signed up for your SMS service. The first step to sending fast mass texts is to add clients to targeted lists. 

How you segment your SMS lists depends on

Accountant using business text messaging to communicate filing changes

how you organize clients. For example, you might have 3 lists like these, in varying orders of specificity:

  • All Cook County Clients
  • Cook County Business Tax Clients
  • Cook County Clients Paying Estimated Quarterly Taxes 

The more targeted your lists, the easier it will be to offer specific information and instructions when you start sending mass texts. 

Set Up an SMS Drip Campaign

With your lists set up, you can create a business SMS campaign. This is a great way to get information out and then send follow-up reminders. 

First you need to create a group of templates for each list. These should include the initial announcement and follow-up texts. Follow-ups can include checklists or paperwork reminders. Be sure to include spaces for custom fields on your templates. These empower your business text messaging platform to personalize each outgoing text. 

An SMS drip campaign template might look like this:

Hi {{first name}}, this is Cook Country Accounting here. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, your {{type of taxes}} due dates have been delayed until July. Please visit our website for more information. Text STOP to stop receiving messages. 

Set up a campaign for each list with a sequence of messages with reminders for clients to collect necessary documents and send in payments. 

Answer Questions Quickly

Clients may have questions once they start seeing your texts. Business text messaging makes it easy to answer questions quickly. 

To answer questions as fast as possible, your team can: 

  • Use auto assignments. With this feature, chats are assigned to the team member who clicks on them. This helps team members know that a customer text is taken care of, so they can answer the next one. 
  • Automate some replies. You can automate your SMS platform to answer simple questions. Set your platform to send a templated auto reply when it identifies certain keywords. 
  • Use private comments to coordinate. Private comments allow team members to work together behind the scenes on customers’ questions. While a team member is typing, an indicator will show up so the other team member doesn’t see it. Customers only see messages directed to them. 

Answering questions quickly ensures clients know they’re in good hands as you navigate filing changes together.  

Track and Log SMS Messages

Once you’ve started communicating with clients about filing changes, you may want to return to past texts to check for client details or compliance checks. 

To help you review past SMS messages, your business text messaging platform will empower you to:

  • Access saved texts from within your CRM. If you have set up the proper integrations, your business SMS platform will automatically save texts to the correct client in your CRM. An SMS Salesforce integration, for example, will do this for you. 
  • Export saved SMS messages. Your business text messaging platform should allow you to export saved SMS messages to a spreadsheet. With this tool, you can quickly share text messages with your teams, so they can easily review case details. 
  • Track overall usage and performance. Reports can tell your team how successful your SMS strategy is. For example, you may notice that you are receiving far more responses after sending certain types of texts than others. 

Tracking, logging, and reviewing text messages can help your team define client details, ensure compliance is met, and improve your SMS strategies for the future. 

 

Want to learn more about texting during a crisis? Check out our guide to COVID-19.

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