HOW DID WE DO? WHAT ELSE CAN WE DO?
A recent survey indicates that up to 20% of tax preparation companies were not ready for working remotely and just chose to close their doors. Sadly, even among those who stayed open, most just stuck to tax preparation and did not advise their clients on how to navigate through the various changes dealing with the new Covid-19 legislations such as the CVRSA act, FFCRA Act, and the CARES act.
We worked remotely right from the start.
We had already developed the ability to work remotely and barely had a hitch transitioning all of our staff to working from home. As long as we had power in Millbury, our secure server allowed us to serve you in preparing your returns. Our phone system was already cloud-based, so our phones work remotely as well. Many of our other systems are also cloud-based, like our Portal, and do not depend on our Millbury server to remain running. In the background, we installed “Slack” — a product that allowed the staff to communicate instantly.
We also had the ability to communicate with you via Zoom video call. This last feature also allowed us to go over tax returns live, via screen sharing, with those who chose this valuable service.
The only slowdown was related to clients who could not work with our portal and messaging services. If you had to mail or drop off documents, your return took much longer to prepare and get signed as we only had one staff member going to the office on a weekly basis to scan your documents and send completed returns in the mail, then wait for your signature to be returned in the mail.
COVID-19 legislation. We all learned together!
As we learned about the three Covid-19 related legislation passed by Congress, we began to post all that we knew about the law. We started by sending a blast email to all our clients and requested they go to our website where all we know about the law and how to deal with it was posted and continues to be posted to this date.
We also requested that you “like” our Facebook page so you could get up to date information on any further updates. This choice means you get the information without having to keep checking our website.
Many of you were asking the same questions, so having this information on the Covid-19 FAQ page allowed us to continue to serve you without clogging up the phone lines and email. Since this was new, whenever we did receive a question that was already answered, we responded by sending you to a link to the response. We hoped to educate you on what was already available by doing it this way.
We then held a group Zoom call where we tried to answer your open questions. That seemed to have been received well, and with some glitches, as I learned to work with such a large group.
GOING FORWARD. HOW CAN WE BETTER SERVE YOU?
We are looking for ideas on how we can do even better now and even when the crisis is over.
What do you think would make this new process more smooth for you?
We will most likely continue to work remotely, and that will mean only certain days of physical availability at the Millbury office outside of the tax season with more days (obviously) available during the tax season.
We encourage you to take advantage of the Zoom calls for exit interviews. The ability to share our screen with you means you don’t have to scramble with pages, and if there are ‘what-if’ scenarios, we can manage them as easily as if you were on site. This feature can also save you time without having to travel to our office. Many of our out-of-state clients take advantage of this feature already.
Portal for uploads/downloads and secure messaging.
I know some have issues with the use of the portal, but much of the frustration with passwords and PINs are mandated by the IRS for security purposes and cannot be changed.
Despite that, we continue to work with the Portal provider.
To help us best serve you, please take a moment to leave us feedback by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org or sending us a portal message.