Managing Your Taxes Remotely During a Virtual Tax Season
Oh, how easy it would have been at JDB to call the entire staff back to the office on January 1st. Then, plan the tax season out just like last year. Put up the plexiglass, keep a mountain of hand sanitizer, and have our staff handle client customer service as in the past and not devote any time, effort, or energy to out of the box thinking and the unlimited potential that the virtual world brings. Since October, we have been constantly brainstorming of how we were going to run a virtual tax season. The commitment to keep safety a priority and not loose client contact was a hurdle that we knew we could tackle.
This year gearing up for tax season was one of the most difficult planning times at JDB. We had to rethink what and how we would operate and then bring in strategies to overcome a paper filled tax season into a streamlined success. With many unanswered questions, we tried to think of everyday as if we were in a virtual remote office. The JDB staff has heard Julie say many times, “we must think how to communicate more and document more because I will not be able to just walk past your office to have those visits about work in process or have files on their desks ready.” We knew our planning ahead was going to engulf us and, as we do say, tweak as we go to overcome things we had not envisioned.
The first part, and the most important concern, was our customer service. Thoughts were expressed that the tax season was going to be a time for clients to be able to come to an appointment in person or virtual and have that consult for all financial issues, but also a time to talk about the trials and stress that COVID has brought on their business, work, and family. Every person, profession, owner, and family have experienced hardships through this year or have ones that are still going on currently. We wanted their tax appointment to be a haven to visit, express those trials, and find a place to vent and make a plan at overcoming these obstacles. Like Julie tells our JDB team, we are a lifeline to so many and are valued not just for preparing a tax return but helping clients through life.
Taxes to us are extremely personal but need to be so strategic. This can come with tons of anxiety and emotion, but it is important to have a team in place to get you through these tough times. Even with having computers ready and documents in hand, that type of planning was the old way of being ready at JDB. We now had to think about safety, virtual communication, virtual processing, and linking our JDB team to a remote production.
This year, we brought options to clients and not mandates. We wanted a relaxing office setting that had a hybrid of virtual and in person to create the best workspace and meeting place while keeping our JDB teams efficient.
Our first noted change was how you would be greeted by our front counter employee. How difficult could that be? Why are we devoting our time to a new strategy? As they say, if it is not broke, don’t fix it……. Well, it wasn’t broke, it just needed to be upgraded.
Planning to launch a virtual experience as you enter the JDB office was a risk we were willing to take to bring out the positives of the virtual work world. Our JDB team launched a virtual assistant in our newly remodeled virtual lobby. We found a new technology company called Teleportel. Teleportel is a company from Belgium that took virtual customer service to an entire new level. We partnered with them and are excited to have an interactive virtual assistant in both of our CPA offices!
This is just one of the many vast technology upgrades that we did at JDB. You can now sign your tax return virtually and send or receive documents through our secure portal. We like to think of this as your personal vault and you can store your documents and tax returns electronically indefinitely. Also, our exit conference with the JDB team went fully virtual. Wait, what? How? Well now, you can walk into your tax appointment, be greeted virtually, then meet with Julie in person, and then when you are all finished, you will sign electronically and have a virtual assistant walk you through the end process. We can even print your taxes virtually while you are in the virtual exit conference room. The entire start to finish process that you experienced last year is now the same positive customer service with a twist of being virtual.
This new process has been the best of both worlds bringing in advanced technology, but also not sacrificing the quality of customer service! Here is to one of the best tax seasons, yet!