There are many great things about running your own bookkeeping business or working as an independent bookkeeper.
But sometimes, you might have to deal with some not so positive aspects. Like, if you have an issue with one of your clients, or if they have an issue with something you’ve done.
Part of being in business for yourself is dealing with those issues in a professional way.
And, if you handle it well, it can even strengthen the relationship you have with that client.
So, let’s look at some ways you can handle issues if they do happen to arise.
What To Do If You Have An Issue With A Client
Not to say that it will be a regular occurrence, but if an issue does arise between you and a client, you want to be prepared. It is essential that you handle the situation professionally and proactively to maintain a healthy working relationship.
Here’s what you can do if you do experience an issue:
1: Contact the Client
When any issue occurs, it is good to be proactive as it shows you are acting in the client’s best interests despite what has taken place. If you are the one to notice the issue, then the first step is to promptly contact your client to discuss what has happened.
If they are the one to bring the issue to your attention, then take on board what they have said and look into what has happened. Try to arrange a call or Zoom meeting to have a constructive conversation. At the very least, you’ll want a detailed email between you both so that everyone understands exactly what you are dealing with.
2: Establish the Problem
Do a bit of fact finding to see what the issue is and how far reaching it is. Will it be a quick fix situation or will it require something more in depth? Arm yourself with all the necessary information you need to fully understand the problem at hand.
When discussing the issue with your client, make sure you actively listen to their concerns and feedback. Understanding their perspective is going to be critical in finding an appropriate resolution.
3: Agree on a Solution
Obviously, you will want to rectify the situation and come up with a solution that is suitable for both parties. Here are some ways you can do that:
- Agree on what the issue is
- Establish how the issue came about - was it through an error, lack of communication, mishandled task etc.
- Review any contracts or agreements in place to ensure everyone is meeting their obligations
- Identify solution areas that you both agree on
- Set common goals for rectifying the issue
- Focus on shared objectives so that the solution can be delivered swiftly and effectively
- If appropriate, add steps to your processes and advise the client what they are to eliminate the potential for the same issue to occur in future
4: Take Action
Based on your discussion, you will hopefully have a solution to address the issue. Make sure you enact the solution in a way that is fair and is aimed at resolving the problem while meeting the needs of both yourself as the bookkeeper and your client.
Maintain professionalism throughout the process and communicate openly so that everyone is satisfied with the outcome.
5: Take Further Steps
If you are unable to reach an easy solution in those initial discussions, then keep working until you do. If you need another level of support for a resolution, then you can lean on the resources of the ICNZB. We have a large range of valuable learning resources available to browse and a huge number of peers and experts who can provide guidance and support.
You can also bring in a third party mediator to facilitate a fair resolution for all. It may be that the best thing for everyone is to end the working relationship. If this is the case, then ensure everything is closed off in accordance with the terms of your initial agreement and NZ Law.
6: What’s Next?
Most issues that arise will be easily resolved and you can move forward with your working relationship afterwards. Regardless of the size of the issue, remember to document everything that has taken place, from initially identifying the issue through to resolution.
Keeping records of all your communications, agreements, and changes to the working relationship will ensure everyone is on the same page and there is a record of what has taken place in case anyone needs to refer back to it.
Take the opportunity to learn from the situation. After the issue is resolved, assess what went wrong, what could have been done differently, and how you can prevent similar issues from happening in the future. Always maintain professionalism to protect your reputation.
ICNZB Member Support
How you handle conflicts can impact your business reputation either positively or negatively. Mistakes, errors and misunderstandings are part of being human, so it is inevitable that they will happen from time to time. If you are able to handle them proactively and reach a good outcome for everyone involved then it could actually end up enhancing your reputation.
Operating from a positive space is going to be crucial in handling any issues effectively. And, having the right level of support will help you remain in a positive mindset.
Becoming a member of the ICNZB gives you fantastic support as a bookkeeper. Not only are you backed by a credible institute which will enhance your reputation, but you will also have access to our comprehensive resource library, as well as regular regional networking meetings and conferences.
Find out more about becoming a member of the ICNZB here.