Are your clients ready for Making Tax Digital for VAT?

With less than six months to go until Making Tax Digital (MTD) for VAT, the time to prepare is now. With the right software and a comprehensive communications plan in place, the transition to MTD for VAT could be plain sailing. In fact, for forward-thinking accountancy practices, Making Tax Digital is an opportunity to grow their communication plan with their clients and look to digital means of data collection.

Getting your practice ready for the looming deadline is one thing but taking clients on that journey is just as important. Businesses over the VAT threshold of £85,000 will no longer be able to use HMRC’s service and will need to find compatible software from April 2019 to post their returns.

Some clients might process them through a bookkeeping product, while others use only spreadsheets to come to the nine figures only to then manually type them into the interface. Some clients may even produce their own manual calculations, before typing the figures into HMRC’s service. If your clients fall into the latter two categories, there is an opportunity for you to help them navigate the new MTD environment.

Communication is key to this relationship as clients will be relying on you to bring them firmly into the light. Effectively implementing a communications strategy will be a critical success factor in the transition to MTD for VAT.

Here are five simple communications steps to improve customer loyalty and reduce stress in the run-up to next April:

Talk to clients and get to know their pain points or concerns with MTD. Next, understand what processes or strategies you can offer to help minimise their pain points. Map out what communication you think would be helpful, the timing of it and the best medium (, email, workshop). Ensure that all your contacts are on one central database and brainstorm ways you can increase your database of prospective clients (eg. webinars, incentive scheme, trade shows, networking).

Consistency is key 
Send out regular communication with real value will help build your practice’s credibility and reputation. Use the lead up to MTD to introduce other services you can offer your clients like offering to make the VAT submissions on their behalf. Introduce a workflow to track responses and ensure that all client-facing tasks are efficiently managed.

Customer service
Ensure that all your account managers are up to speed on MTD and can answer all questions quickly. An efficient service will be highly valued by your clients.

Get personal
Not all clients are the same with the same needs so make sure your communications plan reflects that. Although sending an email can be quicker and easier, often more personal communication such as a phone call or meeting might be more effective with some of your clients to speak to their specific MTD needs. By tailoring your communications by client, you’ll be able to improve customer loyalty.

Get social
Use MTD as an opportunity to shout about your practice via social media. Choose one social media platform and give responsibility to a savvy person in your company to raise the profile of your company online. Think about which platform your ideal client may use and then concentrate your efforts on it. Use the millennials in your company to keep you updated on the latest social media trends.

The two key foundations for MTD success are the implementation of an effective communications plan and letting MTD software ease the transition. By concentrating on both, you’ll be able to set up your practice not just to succeed in April but to thrive.

For information and a comprehensive guide on how you can do just that, download the MTD for VAT eBook here.

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