Good client relationships are crucial to the success of a professional service firm. However, the billing practices a firm has in place can sour a good client relationship. Billing systems should be innovative and focus on the needs of clients. Clients do not care about the accounting process, just what the accountant has promised to deliver.
Clients expect a total fee estimate of an accountant’s service. Once the fee is accepted, the client expects to pay this amount. Presenting an invoice that totals much more than what has been quoted without prior warning can trigger the client’s move to another firm. Providing the type of fee and cost information before you start an engagement can help avoid “client invoice shock”.
Another common complaint is when the client does not understand the bill. Some bills either lack sufficient clarity or contain too much confusing detail. The client must be able to evaluate the work done for the fee charged and the bill must stack up with your original fee quote. If a bill does not match what was stated in the proposal or engagement letter, then you have a serious credibility problem on your hands.
Essentially, there should be no surprises when it comes to billing your clients. Clients expect good service and reasonable fees based on sound professional practices. If you have delivered what you promised and your total billings are in line with what your original quote, the client will nearly always pay your bill without question.