Seeing is believing

The first instinct of many accountants may still be to pick up the phone to clients, argues Emma Woods. But increasingly, forward-thinking firms are making use of Skype for Business. It may be the ideal way to communicate with your own professional adviser.

Outside our workplaces, we’ve all become used to Skype – or similar apps, such as iPhone’s FaceTime. They’re a great way of catching up with friends and relatives and are very easy to use.  Even technophobes have probably got the hang of video calls.

But what about the business environment?

More and more companies have been installing Office 365, which comes complete with Skype for Business, but many don’t install or register it. Once you’ve taken the step, however, there’s a seamless integration with Microsoft Outlook, which means you can see immediately who’s potentially available for a call.

There are lots of possible benefits to businesses embracing this technology – not least the opportunity for remote working or working from home. From your own perspective, it might be a game changer in terms of your relationship with your accountant too.

It may not always be convenient to visit each other’s offices. Sometimes our own clients may be based overseas. Technology means it’s still possible to create some of the interaction of a face-to-face meeting. Email and phone calls are hugely important, but they just aren’t quite the same, as you can’t get all the nuances that come from body language.

So why not have a conversation with your accountant about the possibility of using Skype? You may find that they’ve already embraced the tool for conversations with other clients. It’s very simple to use – just point and click – and all that’s required is an exchange of email address.

One word of advice though. If you haven’t previously used this kind of system and still need to experiment with things such as microphone settings, it’s maybe best to avoid experimenting at a time when a major deadline is looming. Plan proactively and then make it part of your regular professional communication.