Top 5 Steps CPAs can Take to Tackle COVID-19 Pandemic

More than 1.5 million confirmed cases and counting – the COVID-19 crisis has brought the US economy to a standstill. Though standard accounting practices can help CPA firms to withstand the impact of natural calamities and cyber security, the COVID-19 pandemic has made the life of the CPA a bit difficult. The reason? Well, corona-virus outbreak is unprecedented and it is hard to fight against this invisible enemy. 

It is fair to mention that all CPA firms are not fully prepared to combat such a crisis. Many CPA firms have adopted the work-from-home or remote working concept to follow social distancing rules. Here we consider this concept and make a list of the right steps to minimize the impact of COVID-19 on CPA firms while ensuring business continuity for clients. It starts with preparing your existing clients.

1. Client Update is Must

First things first. You must inform your clients about the situation and your measures to curb the spread of COVID-19 pandemic among your employees. You can share updates through various social media channels and phone calls. What’s more, it is necessary to send real-time updates regarding various changes like the extension of filing deadlines and other government reliefs. 

You can build a dedicated portal for clients for document collection and process. While battling such a contagious disease, you need to minimize the person-to-person interaction and maximize the use of technology. Personalized approach while communicating with the clients can enable you to remove confusion. 

2. Enable and Encourage Employees to Work-from-Home

These days, most of your corporate clients have adopted the work-from-home concept. You should follow suit by enabling and encouraging your employees to do work from home or remote places. Here, cloud technology lends a helping hand. Accounting for CPAs can be seamlessly run on a cloud-based solution. Xero and QuickBooks Online are some of the noteworthy applications that securely provide complete functionality. You can make your employees ready to use such solutions and applications. 

Since no one has a clue about how long the COVID-19 pandemic will last, it is better to switch to the cloud right away and continue your accounting practices. 

3. Establish Remote Collaboration

The biggest challenge for every business while implementing the work-from-home concept is to keep your employees to stay connected. You can use Skype, Teams, Slack, or other online communication tools for establishing a seamless collaboration. Software giants like Google, Microsoft, Facebook, and Cisco offer free trials of their premium services these days. Once implemented, a safe, swift, and secure transition to the work-from-home concept is essential. There, remote collaboration and communication tools can help you out.  

4. Make a Task Force

As a reliable CPA Partner, you need to build a channel between your firm and clients. Simply put, you can come up with a task force that consists of dedicated team members who can regularly stay in touch with clients and employees. You can define the accountability of the task force for ensuring all the guidelines given by the CDC, WHO, and NIH are followed properly. 

The task force remains updated with the latest developments in the COVID-19 outbreak and informs your clients about the possible impact of them on business. 

5. Outsourced Accounting

Meeting deadlines is quite a task for CPA firms in such trying times. On one hand, the CPA firms have limited resources in the pandemic situation, and on the other hand, many companies want to leverage the benefits of taxation and other relaxations. Outsourcing can be a viable and cost-effective option for CPAs in this scenario. Just like corporate houses, outsourcing of accounting can offer many benefits to CPAs.

All you need to have is a reliable and robust outsourcing partner who can assist you to meet compliance requirements while meeting the deadlines. Outsourcing can also save you various costs and valuable time that you can spend on other important accounting activities.

Concluding Remarks

COVID-19 situation keeps on changing and has become a great reason for confusion and chaos in the corporate world. Very few offices have managed to work in such a grim situation, and the CPA office is one of them. However, it is necessary to follow these steps to reduce the impact of the COVID-19 crisis and help your clients sail through troubled waters. 

KiRi Accounting is your perfect outsourcing partner. Our customized solution CPA Support Program (CSP) designed specifically to support CPA firms during this pandemic can ensure peace of mind for you while handling accounting and taxation needs effectively.

Importance of eCommerce Customer Support Services – Revealed

eCommerce customer support services

Be it a brick-and-mortar business or an eCommerce business, the customer is king. In today’s challenging and competitive eCommerce sector, good customer support services can be a game-changer for your business. On one hand, the eCommerce customer support services can answer your customers’ queries, and on the other hand, these services build trust among customers, which ultimately leads them to purchase.

In the online world, user experience matters the most for converting one-time visitor into a loyal customer. These days, there are many ‘distractions’ for your potential customers on the internet. Social media channels and YouTube are to name a few. It is fairly possible that at any point, your potential customer can close the browser window. There, customer experience can make all the difference.

In the words of Tony Hsieh, “Customer services shouldn’t just be a department; it should be the entire company.” Today, every eCommerce brand claims to put customers on their top priority, but in reality, very few brands provide excellent eCommerce customer support services. There is no exaggeration in mentioning that your brand should consider customer support services as a chance to build a lasting relationship with your existing, new, and potential customers.

It is always better to wow your customers and keep them by your side. Good customer support services can help you achieve this goal.

Let’s go through seven points that show the importance of effective customer support services for your eCommerce business:

  1. No more missed opportunities
  2. In business, every missed call is a missed opportunity. The round-the-clock customer support services ensures that no customer leaves your product. Better customer service can get you more customers. It is a single touchpoint to connect your customers with the business.  Online shoppers cannot interact physically with your brand or thousands of products but the customer services can help you offer a personalized touch to every customer. As a result, your eCommerce business will not miss any opportunities.
  1. Support builds credibility
  2. A loyal customer base is a competitive advantage. The eCommerce customer support services can build the credibility of your brand and online shoppers never think of changing their decision in favor of other brands. In a way, you can win the loyalty of your customers. Your eCommerce business strives for retaining customers and building trust. Extensive customer support can help you resolve queries of your customers and build an online reputation.  
  1. Reduced abandonment rate
  2. When the customer gets support in real-time, their frustration goes away immediately. You can integrate the eCommerce accounting system with the customer support services to resolve their queries related to payment and checkout. It results in a reduced abandonment rate. Customers with no frustration will never abandon the cart in the middle. What’s more, your business can get an advantage of cross-selling and up-selling, thanks to happy customers.
  1. Online marketing
  2. Customer support services can act as a foundation for online marketing. You can plan your online marketing campaign around customer-friendliness. You can convince potential customers that your customer support services are capable of resolving their issues and queries through promotional content. Be it social media channels or forums, it is possible to promote your business by highlighting the qualities of your customer support services.
  1. Strengthen your brand’s position
  2. Word of mouth can work wonders even in the Internet-driven world. Apart from enhancing your brand’s strength, quality customer support services can strengthen your brand’s position and you can stand out from the competition.
  1. Increased Productivity
  2. A dedicated customer support services can free your employees from giving responses to annoyed or unsatisfied customers. 24/7 customer support can reduce the load on your employees significantly. They can focus more on other important business processes and ultimately, it results in higher productivity.
  1. Customer Satisfaction
  2. Do you know that customer support services can be a core competency of your eCommerce business? Customer support services can help you exceed the expectations of your customers. You can surprise and delight your customers to make them satisfied. Customers can forget brands but they cannot forget the experiences or services they get. Gone are the days when customers considered price while selecting products. Today’s tech-savvy shoppers are willing to pay a premium for brands they like the most as long as they get good customer support services.

Customer support services are crucial for online and offline businesses alike. It can help your brand stay ahead of the curve in a highly competitive business environment. From establishing a lasting relationship with customers to building your brand online, eCommerce customer support services can benefit your business a lot.

KiRi Accounting understands this and hence, has designed a customized solution for eCommerce businesses that embeds customer support services alongside accounting and tax services so that you can focus on growing your business. Let’s connect to take your eCommerce business at a new level.

A Guide to Chargebacks for eCommerce businesses

chargebacks management

Chargebacks have always proved to be a hassle for eCommerce businesses. Statistics reveal that 40% of consumers filing chargebacks are expected to repeat the action within 60- 90 days.

Banks and Credit Card companies look to resolve disputes in the customers’ favour while eCommerce companies are expected to shell out money.

Those managing an eCommerce shop are bound to deal with these situations regularly, even after they do most things right. An eCommerce chargeback refers to charges by online stores, disputed by the buyers as they believe that the charges are invalid. Chargebacks cost these online stores not only lost revenue but even huge processing fees incurred to dispute it.

In case of chargebacks, cardholders report chargeback to the bank or credit card company, who return their payments. The bank or credit card company then negotiates the dispute with the online retailer, determining the nature of the disputed transaction.

Top Reasons for Chargebacks

  • Fraudulent transactions from malicious affiliate marketers to cash out before their crime is made aware
  • Fulfillment issues arising out of faulty packaging, shipping, and delivery processes
  • Miscommunication or lack of customer service leading customers to feel confused and unsatisfied with the purchases
  • Authorization issues from the payment processor’s end

Chargeback Costs

Chargeback costs have impacted all kinds of online retailers, negatively affecting their bottom line. Retailers are charged fees with every chargeback occurrence leading to wasted marketing effort to entice customers to buy from them.

  • Acquiring Bank Fees
    With every chargeback, the acquiring bank adds a fee between $ 20 to $ 100 to cover costs, based on the associated risk. Acquiring banks monitor relevant chargeback ratios to help protect against risk. Online retailers that experience high chargeback ratios have to shell out higher costs as the seller is deemed “risky.” They could be blacklisted too.
  • Operational costs
    Operational expenses involved in the value of product lost, packaging labour, time and cost included in shipping and delivery, inventory costs, and expenses involved in fraud detection systems are lost for every chargeback.
  • Marketing Expenses
    Marketing and advertising expenses involved in selling the product are lost whenever retailers incur chargebacks.

Every business is attached with good or bad chargeback rate based on their domain, sales history, and product type. Every company is expected to have a chargeback rate of less than 1% of their total sales. A chargeback rate above the benchmark will get the online retailers to be labelled as high-risk, costing them business.

Chargebacks Filed – what next?

It is usually a waste of time to dispute chargebacks. Most eCommerce businesses feel that filing a dispute will help in rectifying the situation. In theory, it sounds like a good action plan. But the chargeback process by banks and credit card companies has been designed for customer protection and is tough on the online retailer; even if not at fault.

Research reveals that 80% of consumers file chargebacks without communicating with the retailer for getting a refund. This instance is referred to as “friendly fraud” wherein the customer unwittingly commits fraud without realizing that it is illegitimate.

Here are some steps to handle chargebacks efficiently:

  • Respond to chargebacks as soon as possible, as it adds to the customer service experience. Delays in response could appear unprofessional.
  • Retailers should ensure full authorization for orders with proper verification based on the dollar value of the order. Get authorization for orders before shipping them out.
  • Refund information should be provided with every shipment, making it easy for customers to ask for refunds in case they are not satisfied with the service. A refund is less costly and consumes less time than disputing chargebacks.
  • Online retailers should have a process that requires a signed proof of delivery for each shipped package that can serve as evidence, in case of chargebacks.

Again, you shouldn’t expect to have a high success rate with your disputes. But if you’d like to deal with this process, it’s best to have chargeback experts like KiRi Accounting do the heavy lifting for you instead of dealing with the banks and/or credit card companies directly.

Avoiding Chargebacks

eCommerce businesses need to prevent the chargebacks problem by dealing with it directly so that the problem does not happen regularly in the future. Below are some pointers that can help keep the chargebacks in check:

  • Excellent customer service should be the first priority. Help the customers to get access to representatives through multiple channels, including live chat and a customer service number displayed clearly on the website. Monitor social media comments regularly and have someone to respond to them actively with low turnaround time.
  • Monitor transactions for all kinds of fraudulent activity with a robust address verification system that curbs criminal activity, nipping it right in the bud. With an address verification system, criminals with access to stolen cards won’t be able to make purchases without knowing zip codes.
  • Send post checkout emails directly to customer’s email addresses, about the billing of their purchases with the right brand name and credentials mentioned on them. Customers need to be familiar with companies charging them on their credit cards or else they will file chargebacks. Get feedback on the orders after delivery.
  • Sometimes, orders are still on the way and not delivered in time leading the customer to commence on the chargeback process. They could receive the order later, but the damage is already done. Hence, do not promise deadlines you can’t meet. Let them track shipping online instead and communicate, in case of any delivery delays.
  • Subscribe to chargeback alert notification system like Ethoca, Verifi, etc. that can provide valuable time to avoid chargeback before a transaction actually turns into a chargeback.

Well, it is next to impossible to avoid chargebacks altogether. However, by taking some adequate measures, as mentioned above and with chargeback management services from professional organization like KiRi Accounting, one can avoid and manage chargebacks efficiently to a great extent.

What to consider while choosing an eCommerce bookkeeping service provider?

eCommerce bookkeeping service provider

It is evident that eCommerce bookkeeping services can prove to be too expensive for startups in the eCommerce business. The nature of bookkeeping in eCommerce business is quite complicated as it differs from the regular bookkeeping services one provides. One can expect a detailed level of bookkeeping involved with every online store. Small businesses seldom need the granular financial data provided by an eCommerce bookkeeping service provider. But when an eCommerce business grows, the granular financial details matter and often prove to be the pivotal aspect of success.

The need for an eCommerce bookkeeping service provider is enormous since several online businesses are clueless about managing their records. The faulty bookkeeping process is bound to affect their business negatively. Hence, eCommerce businesses need to understand the basics of eCommerce accounting before hiring a bookkeeper for their business.

While hiring an eCommerce bookkeeping service provider, one needs to assess their knowledge and expertise with different criteria:

  • Experience with multiple sales channels
  • Awareness about payment gateway and online payment channels
  • Familiarity with the latest accounting software for eCommerce like QuickBooks, Xero
  • Understanding of inventory management
  • Technical expertise in handling online systems

Choosing Potential Bookkeeper for your eCommerce Business

Choosing potential bookkeeper could become tricky for any eCommerce business knowing that the needs are unique and complex. Hence other than the aforementioned criteria, one should have a thorough understanding of why bookkeepers need to be conversant with payment gateways, inventory management, and sales channels.

  • eCommerce accounting relies on the financial transactions happening through sales channels, and not through banks. For most businesses, commercial transactions shown in bank statements is the entire data they need. By recording deposits as revenue, most inexperienced bookkeepers understate the income and put in information erroneously. This practice could hurt the business in the long run. An ideal eCommerce bookkeeper will dig through all kinds of sales channels for recording the accurate financial data without errors. They are likely to utilize tools that pool financial data from the platforms to well-known online accounting software like Quickbooks, Xero.
  • Additionally, their knowledge about online payment processors is crucial to collect payments as there are fees involved here. Hence, it is essential to opt for reconciliation of payment processor tracking information with relevant sales channel reports periodically. Their expertise with online accounting software like QuickBooks or Xero comes in handy when working with online systems. These solutions include provisions to calculate sales tax, payroll processing, inventory management, and the like.
  • An eCommerce bookkeeper should be aware of gross profit margins that determine how much an online business can spend on marketing, hiring new personnel consultants, and set out a budget. The accurate record of revenue and COGS based on every SKU is essential to determine the budget as well as gross profit margins. The inventory mentioned on the balance sheet should also signify the value of the product. The inventory value should reduce based on sales of any product.
  • Since eCommerce revolves around technology, an eCommerce bookkeeping service provider should be tech-savvy and also have a strong understanding of the trends of online businesses and the basic principles.

Finding an ideal eCommerce bookkeeping service provider will reduce the hassles involved in any eCommerce business. All the info must be handy for the company to grow profitably. In time, your business would soon need an advanced eCommerce accounting system with multiple features and functionalities. Additionally, the advanced systems need professionals with know-how on handling sales tax compliance, product profitability, inventory management, COGS, and more. Hence, choosing the right eCommerce bookkeeping service provider is crucial to the consistent success of your online business.

KiRi Accounting is a dynamic accounting and bookkeeping firm that has consistently delivered innovative eCommerce bookkeeping services to its clients. Contact us today to know how an eCommerce bookkeeping service provider can provide advanced bookkeeping solutions to help your e-store to grow and expand its operations and profitability.

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