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4 Ways to Audit Your Seasonal Tax Prep Answering Service

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Tax season is here, which means accounting and tax prep firms are working diligently filing taxes, doling out financial advice, and answering the most important question – ‘So, how much am I getting back?’ Because this is a taxing time (pun intended) for both accountants and civilians alike, accountants often hire answering services like SAS for seasonal help answering calls. Virtual receptionist services like SAS can schedule appointments for new and existing clients, take messages, route important calls like calls from specific customers or callers with IRS issues, and answer questions like what forms should clients bring with them.

If your tax firm uses or is thinking about using an answering service to help with seasonal traffic, we’ve listed 4 quick ways to audit your service to make sure outsourcing is paying dividends both for your business, and for your clients.

#1. Make sure your service is live and updated.

First thing’s first. Make sure your answering service is live and ready to accept calls. If you’ve retained your answering service account in the off season in anticipation of forwarding to them during the tax blitz, you’ll want to place a test call to make sure the line is still active. Maybe you forgot to pay a bill and the line got deactivated. Maybe there was an oversight at the service and your account was cancelled. Just like you smell the milk before you pour it on your cereal, you’ll want to test the answering service line before you forward.

If you don’t have a service, don’t worry. The good news is you have no lines to test! The bad news is you have no one to answer your calls. But that’s going to change really quick when you sign up for a free trial.

If you cancel your account when tax season is over, give yourself some time to reactivate the account and run through your call handling protocols. SAS retains your call handling for up to a year after you leave service, but that isn’t true for every answering service. If your service doesn’t retain call handling, you’ll need to start from scratch, so definitely give yourself some time to get everything moving. Some questions you should be asking your seasonal answering service include:

#2. Determine the reasons customers will be calling and prepare accordingly.

For outsourcing newbies, you’ll want to give some thought to your call handling. Call handling is what answering service agents will use to manage your calls, and if the handling isn’t 100%, your script can cause some trouble. We always recommend leveraging the experience of the service for guidance on what scripts will work, and which ones won’t. For example, protocols that you normally use in your office may not always work in a call center environment, so spending some time to get to know your new service will be beneficial for both you and your business.

A great script lets the answering service agents be nimble so they can handle most situations, and have a fail-safe for any situations they can’t. Some examples include:

While these are just a few examples of how your call handling can be set up, most answering services can customize protocols based off of how you run things in your own office. Speaking to an intake specialist will help you determine the best course of action if you’re not sure where to start.

#3. Place test calls to make sure your systems are functioning properly.

Before forwarding your phones to the service, it’s a good idea to place a few mock calls to make sure things are operating smoothly. This will allow you to catch any errors first, which if left unattended, could give your business a bad look. The quicker you can iron out kinks, the quicker you can start getting back to work.

Pro tip: Even after going live with your customers, it doesn’t hurt to make a couple test calls here and there just to make sure everything is still running like a well-oiled machine. 

#4. Make sure your clients know which number to call.

After you’ve made sure your service is active, updated, and you’ve ran through multiple tests, the final step is making sure your clients know which number to call. This can be done 1 of 2 ways:

Pro tip: Most answering services won’t allow you to take the forwarding number with you should you decide to leave service, so it may not be cost effective in the long run for you to put the number on billboards, business cards, etc. 


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