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QuickBooks Online Email Invoice Improvements

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QuickBooks Online Email Invoice Improvements

August 28, 2013 | By Charlie Russell | Reply More

Although the majority of the changes in the new release of QuickBooks Online have to do with the user interface, there has been some major QuickBooks Online email invoice improvements with the new release. If you send a customer a copy of an invoice via email, QuickBooks Online now gives you the ability to easily edit your email message before it goes out, and you have a very interesting ability to exchange messages with your customer.

As with my prior articles, I’ll refer to the new version of QuickBooks Online as the “Harmony” release, as different from the “Classic” release. These are NOT the official product names from Intuit

Sending Invoices via email in QuickBooks Online Classic

Let’s take a look at how you manage invoice emails in the Classic version of QuickBooks Online.

You can control the content of the email message that goes to a client with an invoice by setting these preferences:

QuickBooks Online classic - email preferences

When you send the invoice the program doesn’t give you an opportunity to customize the email message. Your only option is to edit the email address in this window:

QuickBooks Online classic: Confirmation

After you have sent the invoice you will see a last delivery message at the top, which only shows the LAST email delivery of the invoice.

QuickBooks Online Classic: Last Delivery

Here’s the email that the customer gets – the “from” email address (which I have obscured for privacy here) is your email address.

QuickBooks Online classic: Invoice email with PDF

In this case, I had selected the option to have the invoice included as a PDF attachment. You don’t have to do that, you can have just the email message without the attachment.

Invoice Email Improvements with QuickBooks Online “Harmony”

Now let’s go through the same sequence with the updated version of QuickBooks Online.

We have a new preference, Email a link to view and pay invoice online.

QuickBooks Online Harmony new preference

In the Classic version we had two options – send the email with or without the PDF attachment. Now we have an additional option to send a link to the customer (with or without a PDF attachment). I’m very happy that you still have the original options (simple email with or without attachment) – the new option is VERY interesting but it does work VERY differently.

Regardless of which of these options you select you will see that there are some nice improvements in the process. When you create the invoice and click the Save and Send button, you get a preview of the invoice along with the ability to edit the subject and text of the email message.

QuickBooks Online Harmony send invoice via email

I really like this improvement as it easily lets me personalize the message going out, and it lets me double check the appearance of the actual invoice document itself (you can manipulate the PDF in that window, scrolling and printing, if your browser supports that).

One minor quibble, you cannot edit the “to” email address when in this window, unlike the “delivery” window in the older version. That probably isn’t something that most people will do, and you CAN edit that address in the original document before you click the save and send button.

If you select the same preference as before, it works the same way. That is, the customer will get an email message with your own email address, with or without a PDF copy of the invoice attached as you have specified.

Link to View and Pay Invoice Online

Now, let’s take a look at what happens if you pick the new preference, Email a link to view and pay invoice online.

Here’s the email that the customer will receive – note that it can have the invoice as a PDF attachment if you specify that in the preference setting.

Invoice received from QuickBooks Online Harmony

There are a lot of interesting differences here from what we had before. Some that I’m not sure that I’m entirely happy with, although I have to put some more thought into the implications:

  • To see the invoice, the customer will click on the view invoice now button to see the invoice. Of course, you can still send the invoice as a PDF attachment, so they don’t have to do that.
  • Note that the return email address is not MY email address. That might not have been clear in the earlier screen shot as I had blurred the sender’s address for privacy reasons, but in the older system the email address was mine, not Intuit’s. The customer cannot reply to this email message via another email message.
  • Look in the lower right corner, see the send message to your invoicer link? Very, very interesting…

Let’s take a look at what the customer sees when they click the View Invoice Now button.

This will take them to an Intuit website (currently at  https://connect.intuit.com/) and display the invoice in a window (and, yes, this works with a wider range of browsers than this version of QuickBooks Online currently supports).

Customer view of invoice from QuickBooks Online Harmony

Again, lots of interesting things going on here!

  • Your company name is at the top, making this look like a “branded portal” page. Very nice.
  • The due date shows along with the invoice info, which is nice. Rather than just showing the PDF, the website is pulling info from the actual transaction.
  • If you click the save button, the PDF file name is formatted well. In this example, the PDF would be saved as “Invoice_1008_from_Academy_Photography.pdf”, just as it would if you send the PDF as an attachment.
  • At the right, see the “messaging” section? A VERY INTERESTING new feature, I’ll go into more detail on this below.

If you have enabled your QuickBooks Online account to work with online payments, the Pay now button in the upper right lets the customer pay while looking at the form. That is good because making it easy to pay right at this point makes it much more likely that the customer will pay you now, so you collect your money sooner. HOWEVER, if you have NOT set up this service, I find this to be really annoying. It is bad enough that this button shows up for something that will NOT work, what is worse is the message my client will see if they try to click on that button:

Annoying text if Online Payments are not enabled

Sorry, Intuit, but that really isn’t what I want my customers to see! I understand that the main thrust here is to let the customer see the invoice online AND pay it online, but I’d rather not have this “reminder” showing up if I haven’t set up the online payment account – this new feature has value even without online payments.

Communicating With Your Customer

OK, so the customer is viewing the invoice, and they have a question about it. Something they don’t understand, or a problem of some sort.

They can’t “reply” to the email message, since that email comes from “donotreply@intuit.com” rather than your own email address.

However, they CAN ask a question in the Messaging area of the online invoice, and they can attach a file too to the message if they wish.

The customer can enter a message in that box and click Send. In this window, they can see a history of the actions (viewed the invoice, sent a message).

Customer message to QBO user

You, the QBO user, will get an email notice that a message has been sent. Thankfully, the email message contains the text of that message.

Message to the QBO user FROM the customer

If you click the View and Reply button you will be taken to that invoice in your QuickBooks Online account, where you can see the invoice AND your messaging history if you scroll to the bottom of the invoice window.

Communication history in the QBO transaction

If you choose, you can now enter a response to that customer:

QBO user responding to Customer

The customer will get another email message, very similar to before – with your response inserted. They can click on the View Invoice Now button in that email and be taken to the invoice online, where they also can see the history of the correspondence.

Customer view of updated messaging

Note that the customer has to click the NEW email message link to see this – if they have the window from the OLD link still open, refreshing it won’t show them the new message.

I Like It!

A lot of thought has gone into improving the invoice email system in this release. There are a lot of good features here.

I’m very happy to note that this “service” is included in all editions of QuickBooks Online, and there is no additional fee to use it.

Here are a few thoughts and issues that come to mind:

  • I’m very happy that Intuit still supports the old method that doesn’t use the online viewing. Some people just won’t want to do that, and they don’t have to. Using the old method you still get the advantages of the new Send Email screen.
  • Handling all the user correspondence via the web isn’t a problem for the QuickBooks Online customer – after all, the entire program is web based so you are comfortable working in that environment already. But what about the customer? They aren’t necessarily web-centric. Some customer might not want to use this feature to view invoices and correspond with the invoicer. Again, you have the option to use the old method, but I wish that we had per-customer preference to control this.
  • Having the customer view the invoice online exposes the customer to the “pay now” experience (if you have enabled that feature), and that is likely to improve your collections. That is the time to get them to pay, right when they first see the invoice, rather than having them set it aside to deal with later. I would expect some QBO users to see a shorter “average days to pay” if they use this.
  • Having the history of your correspondence right there in the transaction is a great feature. You can easily see the history of that specific transaction without having to dig through email messages or phone logs.
  • I do wish there was some way to track customer messages that haven’t been answered or viewed. A report or query – can I see all received messages and tell if someone has responded to them? That is missing.
  • I’m not happy that the email address on the messages that the customer receives is not my address like it was in the older system. I guess this might be to force the customer to use the new messaging system, but still…
  • How about changing the email system (when using the new “view online” feature) so that replying to that email adds the message to the system? I use a product called ZenDesk to manage support communications with my own customers, and in that system both the client and I have the opportunity to either log in to the web page OR just reply to the email message. Using either method has the same result in logging the message in the system AND sending the response to the correspondent. This is VERY convenient!
  • I did have some problems using the “attach” feature in the customer’s view window to send attachments back to me, but I’m using this before the service is officially launched, so the problems may be due to that.

All in all, I like the new feature. The issues I’ve run into are fairly minor, nothing is a show-stopper here. I hope that they continue to expand this in the future!

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Tags: email, Harmony, Invoicing, QuickBooks Online

Category: Cloud Accounting, QuickBooks Online, QuickBooks Tips/Tricks

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