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Software user support

How much do you support clients with their software queries?

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We are a small but fast growing practice with clients using a range of record keeping methods ranging from the good old shoe box to software such as Xero and Quickbooks

We have seen a sudden increase in clients using Xero and therefore a big increase in clients needing support in how to use this software.  I am struggling to strike the balance between being helpful and spending all day effectively training clients on how to do their own bookkeeping and how to use their software (for free).  I can lose hours a week replying to emails or taking calls to talk clients through how to use their software - and while I have reasonalble knowlege on most of them, I'm not a helpdesk I'm an accountant and don't have the detailed knowlege to answer every software question or fix every problem ... 

So where do you draw the line, how much "free" support do you offer before you either start charging or send them to their products tech support helpline?

Tx

Replies (13)

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RLI
By lionofludesch
09th Sep 2019 14:57

I don't offer any free training beyond the truly trivial.

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By Louise76
09th Sep 2019 15:02

Thank you so much for your reply ... so may I ask when clients are asking for advise do you simply refer them to their software help desk?
And what do you do when you log into their software and it's a complete mess - charge them to fix it or send them away?

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Replying to Louise76:
RLI
By lionofludesch
09th Sep 2019 15:24

I'd fix it if I could. I'd charge them for it. Of course I'd charge them a big fee to correct a big mess.

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By zarar
09th Sep 2019 15:11

What sort of questions are they asking?

I either direct them to the software help pages or suggest a training session at £x per hour

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By In a Daze
09th Sep 2019 15:51

We make it clear from the outset if clients want to do their own bookkeeping they must be competent we don't offer training. As above we point them to the software support section of the software.

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By Louise76
09th Sep 2019 16:22

I do, but I'm not very good at enforcing that ... may I ask do you have something formally written, like a "doing your own book keeping policy" or do you make this clear just verbally? Tx

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By In a Daze
09th Sep 2019 17:46

Yes. We have it as part of the engagement letter. Although i have a sound knowledge of the main bookkeeping packages i found it was just to time consuming to offer software support.

I would say 80% of our clients engage us to do the bookkeeping as a result.

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By Moonbeam
09th Sep 2019 17:23

I tell everyone on Xero that I will support them. I give them a training session of around an hour either in person or over the phone for £50. I make sure my fees cover the rest of the queries. I tell people not to send me long emails, as it's much faster for me if they call me. As most clients are start-ups there aren't billions of queries, so learning is gradual. At least two of them are going to get a revised fee quote because their affairs are getting quite complex and that requires more time explaining how to handle bookkeeping for new matters.
I try to make sure I don't take on anyone who isn't very bright/doesn't have access to a good bookkeeper.

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By Jdopus
10th Sep 2019 14:03

We offer a free hour long training session to get clients familiar with Xero and I'll answer any questions they ask me about how to use it if they contact me at any time.

From my point of view, any time I spend getting the clients to do more of the work themselves accurately is going to save me more time in the long run than the training or query answering itself.

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By Alex_T
23rd Sep 2019 13:10

I don't offer support on software queries. I think it is best practice to refer them to the software's customer care team. Harsh?

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By SouthCoastAcc
23rd Sep 2019 13:41

I'm a sucker for this too, spend too much time helping.

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By johnhemming
23rd Sep 2019 14:31

I would have thought that it would be a good idea to put this as an optional extra service charged by the hour as part of client contracts.

In the end accountants tend to develop a certain amount of expertise in using technology. I would think that it would be possible to charge for this by the hour.

Alternatively people can go through to the help desks for support.

If you consider how things are going with the greater use of computer to computer interfaces and the like the boundaries between accountancy and tech get more blurred.

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By johnhemming
23rd Sep 2019 14:55

duplicated

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