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Your Complete Guide to QuickBooks Online Customer Management

Your Complete Guide to QuickBooks Online Customer Management

Customers are integral to your business—and so is the way you strategize customer management on the back end. Customer profiles, sales tracking, and invoice optimization can all make or break your customer relationships and transactions. The dynamic tools in QuickBooks Online can set you and your clients up for success.

This guide takes you through the nuances of managing customers and jobs in QuickBooks Online, equipping you with strategies to reach the full potential of your customer interactions.

Customize Your Customer Center

The customer is always right! But maybe sometimes your view of the customer in QuickBooks isn’t. You can customize the way you view customer information unique to your user login so you can quickly pull up the information you need.

To modify and tailor your view of customer information in QuickBooks Online, you’ll first need to open the customer center:

  1. Navigate to “Sales” on the menu.
  2. Select “Customers” from the drop-down menu.
  3. Click the small gear icon at the top of the grid and select the columns you would like shown.

The settings you adjust here impact the type and layout of customer information when viewing your customers. Your capabilities depend on your version of QuickBooks Online, but the following columns are available in all versions:

  • Address
  • Email
  • Customer Type
  • Attachments
  • Phone

There is also an option for other columns, including whether a customer is active or inactive, and a column to list Projects.

  • Custom Fields: Utilize the unique fields you create to display information based on your needs, including customer type, company name, or order type.
  • Column Display: Add or reorder columns to prioritize the information most important to your business, like the last transaction date or preferred contact method.
  • Sorting: Find and sort your customers by chosen criteria.
  • Filtering: Narrow down customers by specific criteria like open invoices, location, or a transaction date range.
  • Grouping: Group customers by common characteristics.

Customer Center customization settings are done on a per-user basis, so every user can set up their own layout and settings.

Keep in mind that QuickBooks Online remembers these settings even after closing the Customer Center, so check your view after closing and reopening customer information.

Create Customer Messages on Sales Forms

Have something you want to say to your customers? Say it with a Customer Message.

In previous versions, the Customer Message was an extra field that required manual input on every individual invoice or sales transaction. Now, you can create standard messages that appear across the bottom of each sales form, including:

  • Invoices
  • Estimates
  • Sales Receipts
  • Credit Memos
  • Statements

This allows you to assign a customer message unique to each of the different sales form types.

Here’s how to add, edit, and remove messages from the list that you can use directly on sales forms:

  1. Select the large gear icon in the upper right corner.
  2. Click “All lists,” then “Custom form styles.”
  3. Select the sales form you’d like to edit, then click on “Content.”
  4. From there, you can type your message in the text box under “Messages to customer.”
  5. After you’re finished, click “Done.”

On the invoice or transaction document itself, these customer messages are located near the bottom as shown, and will appear each time you use that form type.

Add a New Customer

Step 1: Set up a new customer in QuickBooks. Step 2: Repeat this step again and again! Wouldn’t it be nice if it were that easy to get new customers?

Still, setting up customers is easy when done correctly:

  1. Click on “Sales, then choose “Customers.”
  2. Select “New customer.”
  3. In the “Customer display name” field, give the customer a unique identifier.
  4. Then, enter other important information in each section.
  5. Select “Save.”

In addition to essential customer data, you can use this feature to edit or add other customer information, such as:

  • Attachments: Add additional files, like resale certificates or contracts, by attaching them to the customer.
  • Notes: Create a note to help all users remember important information.
  • Payment information: Add their payment terms, methods, delivery method, and tax status.
  • Language: Choose the customer’s preferred language when sending sales forms.
  • Customer type: Select the customer’s type from the dropdown box.

You can also set up a customer as a sub-customer (similar to setting up a job), which is helpful for reporting.1:

  1. Navigate to “New customer.”
  2. In the “Customer display name” field, give the customer a unique identifier.
  3. Select whether the customer is a sub-customer. This gives you the option to bill the customer with the Parent Customer or bill just at this customer level.
  4. In the Parent customer dropdown, click on the desired parent account.

With QuickBooks Online Advanced, you also have the ability to incorporate custom fields in your customer profiles.

Edit Your QuickBooks Online Customer Types

If you have different types of customers and need information on each type, use this feature to segregate your customers.

Customer type is a powerful field in QuickBooks Online. Customer type categories enable you to filter by type when running sales reports, such as:

  • Sales by referral (e.g., “Where did you hear about us?”)
  • Sales by customer type (e.g., retail, nonprofit, wholesale, government)
  • Sales by customer territory

It’s simple to edit customer types and break out information about your different customers:

  1. In either “Sales” or “Customers & leads,” select “Customers.”
  2. From “Customers,” click on “Customer types.”
  3. Select “New customer type.”
  4. Enter a name/label for the customer type.
  5. Then click “Save”.

Customers can be classified by these customer types at the outset, but this information can also be added later to your customer profiles.

Paste Customer Data from Excel

Paste from Excel is one of the ways you can get data into QuickBooks Online. We’re going to focus on the customer list; this is helpful when we want to get mass amounts of customer data into QuickBooks easily:

  1. In the “Sales” dropdown, select “Customers.”
  2. Click the dropdown arrow next to “New customer.”
  3. Choose “Import customers,” then select “Browse.”
  4. Complete the steps to upload your Excel file, then choose “Next.”
  5. Map both the file and the QuickBooks data fields, then select “Next.”
  6. Choose the customers to be imported, then click “Import.”

Keep in mind your Excel sheet should be prepared ahead of time before beginning this process.

Manage Duplicate Customers

Do you have two records representing the same customer, with just a slightly different spelling? Other typos such as spaces, periods, or dashes in duplicate Customer Names may also be difficult to detect at first. Fortunately, merging these customers will also merge their transaction histories and other data.

This is how to take two customer records and merge them into one:

  1. Click “Sales”, then “Customers.”
  2. Open the customer profile you don’t want to keep.
  3. Select “Edit.”
  4. In the “Customer display name” box, enter the name of the duplicate customer profile you want to keep. Make sure to type this exactly.
  5. Select “Save.”
  6. QuickBooks will ask if you want to merge the two profiles. Select “Yes.”

The above steps are ideal when you’re aware of a duplicate name. Of course, this isn’t always the case.

In this scenario, we show a customer list that potentially has duplicate names since we are selling to a consumer instead of a company. Using some tricks in Excel, as well as understanding the way QuickBooks will handle this data, we show you how to manage duplicates:

  1. Open customer information in Excel. Create a copy as a backup.
  2. Create a new column and use the CONCATENATE function to combine the information from the first and last name columns into the new column as Last Name, First Name (separated by a comma).
  3. In another new column, use the IF:THEN function to check if the concatenated name appears more than once in the list.
  4. Use the IF function to return “Duplicate” if the concatenated name appears more than once, and “Unique” if it appears only once.
  5. Filter the column containing the IF function results to easily identify and manage duplicate names in your Excel sheet.

You can spot-check and cross-reference other identifiers, such as ID numbers, address, representative, and other information. Once duplicates are managed through Excel, the information can be incorporated or imported into QuickBooks Online.

When we are talking about converting data from an outside system into QuickBooks, the most important thing to understand is what data will QuickBooks accept and what format is required.

When importing data, you generally have the following options:

  • Utilize third-party apps or support
  • Import data from Excel files
  • Integrate Intuit-approved apps for data migration

Whichever method you choose, before you get started, heed these tips:

  • Set up any customized lists ahead of time.
  • Pay attention to formatting details like data types, characters, and line formatting.
  • Review the QuickBooks fields available, including the layout of the fields.
  • Map the data fields from your outside system to the corresponding fields.
  • Review and adjust in QuickBooks Online to make sure the data has been transferred correctly.

There are a number of fields you can utilize, making the import process adaptable and as comprehensive as you need with the information you’d like to import.

Utilize Customer/Projects for Unique Use Cases

If you do not use customers and project tracking in your file, use these fields for something else. This list is one of the most powerful available in QuickBooks Online versions because you can add it to most transactions—including:

  • Journal entries
  • Bills
  • Checks
  • Credit cards
  • Inventory adjustments

Case in Point

In the case of a retail quick-service client who was using Square in their two restaurants, they tracked the customers in their rewards program but not with QuickBooks fields, leaving the customer lists unused.

The client went to a few weekly farmers markets and also worked events every year. They previously ran the events on their class list along with their store location tracking. The issue was that the list was growing and growing.

The solution? We repurposed the customer list for these events.

We set up header customers for the farmers markets and jobs for the placement within the market. By categorizing events as Customers and Jobs, we gained valuable insights into sales performance and profitability across different venues and timeframes.

Further, because you can also use lists on expense transactions, they unlocked event profitability insights to empower their event managers to stay within expected labor, marketing, and material costs.

Track Customer Deposits

There are tools to accept deposits in QuickBooks Online that streamline the process and track these transactions. We walk you through the process of accepting customer deposits through Progress Invoicing from start to finish.

First, we need to make sure Progress Invoicing is turned on:

  1. Go to the top-right gear icon.
  2. Select “Account and settings.”
  3. Click on “Sales” and click the pencil icon.
  4. Make sure “Progress Invoicing” is toggled to the on position.
  5. Choose “Done.”

Then, create an Estimate. The Estimate can then be sent to the customer. Now, create an Invoice. A box will appear, allowing you to select from different options:

  • Invoice for the remaining total of all lines
  • Invoice for a percentage of the total
  • Invoice for a custom amount of each line

Select from these options and create the Invoice.

Alternatively, you can set up deposits and retainers with an Other Current Liability account. This can help you streamline reconciliation and track deposits if you need increased visibility into these transactions.

Use Subtotals on Customer Transactions in QuickBooks Online

Subtotal items help add discounts to several lines on a sales transaction, or possibly to break up the transaction into multiple phases. These steps take you through setting up a new subtotal item as well as how it can be used on a sales transaction:

For Discounts:

  • Complete the Invoice or Estimate.
  • Select “Manage” and click the “Payment options” dropdown.
  • Turn on the “Discount” setting to add a discount field.
  • Choose $ for a flat discount or % for a percentage discount.
  • Select “Save.”

To only apply the discount to a portion of the balance, click “Add subtotal” and apply it beneath the lines in which you want to apply the discount. Then you can add a discount to the subtotal.

For Job Phases:

  • Complete the Invoice or Estimate, labeling different job phases.
  • Click “Add subtotal.”
  • Break up the intended phases by inserting the subtotal between each phase, which will calculate the lines above it, totaling the phases independently.

Subtotal items can also be applied in both cases, with a discount and phase framework for an Estimate or Invoice.

Build a Stronger Customer Management Structure with Fourlane

QuickBooks is replete with tools to help you understand your customers’ needs and master the art of customer management. At Fourlane, we help the businesses we work with maximize the tools that are often hiding beneath the surface of their processes and walk away better off than when they came to us.

Whether you need help with QuickBooks customer management tools or advice on which QuickBooks to buy—or are outgrowing QuickBooks altogether—our knowledge and services can help.

Get in touch with our certified ProAdvisors and learn more about how we can help you build better customer relationships.

This is a general statement, because all of these capabilities are available in QBO, but some of them aren’t in that column view. It depends on the version, how they access it, etc. Basically it’s a process that Fourlane could help people with.



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