February 2011 - Posts
Last week we released the new portals. That's a big release. A couple weeks before that it was the MIurl.cc release. Another big release. But while these were being rolled out over the last few weeks, we still had several platform updates that went out more quietly. Sometimes it's the little things that make all the difference. Here's a highlight of just some of the features we added and changes we made.
Method Mobile is now "big finger friendly"!
- Selectable rows - Grid rows now make the whole row selectable instead of just a "select" link column. This is much more in line with what you would see in a "native" mobile app. The challenge for us was how to accomplish this generically in Method, since you can design your own grids, and you might have more than one link on a grid. The rule we made was: "If the first column of a mobile grid is a link rather than a field, and there is only one link, then make the whole row clickable and hide the link column." This frees up valuable mobile screen real estate, and makes it much easier to select a row if you have big fingers.
- Bigger dropdown icons - The mobile dropdown buttons and dropdown search buttons have larger, more visually appealing icons, making it easier to click on with big fingers.
- Bigger buttons - The buttons are now larger, making them easier to click on...yes...you get it...if you have big fingers!
In addition, we made the following screen changes:
- Mobile Estimate (new!) - allows you to make a QuickBooks estimate in the field and email it to your customer.
- Mobile Invoice - has been updated to include an "Email" button that sends your customer a link to view their QuickBooks invoice online.
Designer / Customization
- Section sizing - You can now set the width and alignment of sections from the designer screen. You may have already noticed this applied to the new portal, where each screen is centered with a 940 pixel width. It makes for a cleaner, easier-to-read interface.
- "Auto grow" on grids - Using the grid wizard you can now specify if the grid should expand vertically to fit its contents. As you may have already seen in the new Customers screen, the Activities grid now shows the CRM comments directly in the grid. If the contents are greater than 200 characters it will automatically create a "Show all" / "Show less" link so that you can see the remaining text.
- Pictures can show and hide - As you saw in the new portal with the Pay Balance and Pay Selected buttons, it is now standard practice to use pictures instead of regular buttons. Since many scenarios call for the need to show buttons only when certain conditions are met, we added the ability to show and hide pictures using the Show / Hide Field/Object action.
- Mapping Minimum Accuracy - The Reset Map action now lets you set the minimum level of accuracy of Google maps to "City, State", "Zip/Postal Code", "Street", "Intersection", "Address" or "Premise/Property Name". Previously, the minimum level was always set to "Street".
- Mail Merge currency symbols - To please our users in the UK, the Mail Merge option in the Character Function action now automatically detects the browser's default language & location and whether a field is a Money field type, and if so it applies the appropriate currency symbol.
- Renewal defaults - For those designing screens that have recurring services, you now have the option on the Calendar-Recurrence object to set whether or not it's scheduled appointments should default to be renewed.
Users & email
- Email Server settings per user - Previously, you could only specify one SMTP email server setting under Customize > My Account for all users. You can now go to Customize > Users, edit the user, and in Step 3: Email Setup, override the default settings for each user's SMTP settings individually.
- 50 email freebies - New users don't have to setup their SMTP server right away anymore. Method will now send up to the first 50 emails using our SMTP server before requiring you to specify your own.
- Email server validation - Prior to saving your SMTP email server settings, Method now attempts to send a test email. This way it can detect problems with your email server settings before your staff use them.
- Cleaner user invite emails - Under Customize > Users, the email invite template has been modified to be...well...more inviting! It also includes links to the mobile login. Hey....did we mention Method Mobile is more "big finger" friendly now?
- Easier user invite process - Under Customize > Users, it is now easier to invite more users to sign in. Previously, you had to first increase your total licenses under Customize > My Account, and then come back to add users. Now you can do it all in one shot - don't worry, we still give you a warning about increasing your subscription costs, and only the admin user can increase licenses.
- User count listing change - Customize > My Account now lists the total users, rather than the additional users.
- Balances automatically calculate - Now that all open balances are brought into Method, it has become possible to calculate the outstanding balance of a customer as soon as an invoice, payment, charge or credit memo is saved in Method. Previously, Method had to wait for QuickBooks to calculate the new balance. This has become especially important in the new portals since your customers now have the ability to make payments online and will want to see their updated balance immediately after their payment is approved.
- Tables/fields dropdown field hover tip - under Customize > Tables / Fields, you can now easily find out which table and field a dropdown pulls values from by hovering your mouse over the field name.
- Customize > Screens - new icons, display options. After noticing how many of our users were creating screens with names starting in "AA", we knew we had a problem! Custom screens were obviously hard to find in a big list of standard screens. So we added the Show dropdown that lists "All Screens" and "My Screens" (which sort the list alphabetically) as well as "All Recently Modified" and "My Recently Modified" (which sort the list by the last date a screen was modified). There is also now a filter at the top of the list so that you can see all screens by a certain user, certain screen name or certain app. Additionally, we applied a bold font to custom screens to make them stand out. Finally, we added "Copy", "Edit", "View" and "Delete" icons instead of grid columns to clean up the interface so that you have less to look at. Special recognition goes out to Victor, Dave and Richard from the development team for playing a part in reworking this screen.
Keep the feedback coming!
With today's release of the new portals, I can happily announce: the days of emailing PDF invoices are over. They are dead. Stick a fork in them. Emailing invoices just creates a hassle for your customers.
When your customers receive an emailed invoice they think to themselves:
- How do I pay for this? I have 2 minutes right now, is that enough to get this done?
- If I have to call to pay it, will they even pickup the phone, or will I have to leave a message or wait on hold? Ugh....I don't have time to find out - I'll do it later.
- My contact information is wrong. How do I change this, and how will I know it was really changed? Should I even bother?
- I thought I paid this already. There's no billing history in this email. Do I have time to dig into this right now?
- That reminds me, I need a copy of last month's invoice for my expense report. How do I request this? How long will it take them to get around to sending it to me? I need this now.
- Darn! More money out of my pocket! (okay.....we really can't help with that one)
Bottom line: today's customers are too busy to call or email you. They are doing their business on the web and getting their tasks done INSTANTLY, on demand, without having to wait for email responses or having to pick up the phone. The companies they value more are the ones who make it convenient for them to get their tasks done.
The new portals give your customers convenience, help them pay you faster and make you look professional - BIG COMPANY professional. Even better - this is all available "out of the box" in Method, with no additional setup required. In fact, chances are, you are only minutes away from sending your customers their first invoice the new way.
Here is your new invoicing process:
- Create your invoice in Method using the Customer Center > Invoices screen. Here, I am using our "Best 4 You Services" account, which has been customized with our own company logo and color scheme.
- Make sure Email notification when saving? is checked.
- Click Save & Email.
- You will be BCC'd on the email your customer gets.
- Notice that the email has a simple link to click, built using our new MIurl.cc short URL.
- Once your customer clicks on the link they'll be taken to a sign in screen.
- Note, only their email address is needed for authentication. This makes it easy for them to sign into the portal without any hassle.
- After signing in the customer is taken directly to the invoice.
- Here they can view or print a PDF, and pay their invoice online. Don't have a payment gateway setup yet? Get on it! Method currently supports Intuit Merchant Services, Authorize.NET and PSIgate. If you use Intuit Merchant Services, read my recent blog entry about how to setup Intuit Merchant Services for Method.
Other features of the new portals:
- Your customers can view and modify their contact information. When this happens, both you and the customer get an email notification. Of course, the new information flows instantly into QuickBooks!
- The portals now collect Social Media information about your contacts, such as their Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter user names.
- If you are a Method Full Blown or CRM user, your customers can search existing solutions, which are your frequently asked customer service questions.
- If you are a Method Full Blown or CRM user, your customers can create a customer service case.
- It's all customizable!! You can modify the screens, and create your own screens to further enrich the customer experience!
What does this cost?
- The first 500 portal sessions each month are FREE. This is a lot of sessions, so for the vast majority of Method users, portals are now totally free.
- Have heavy portal use? For each session beyond 500 a month you'll see 15 cents added to your bill. I think you'll agree this cost is an amazingly tiny little dot next to what it would have cost your staff to handle all those calls!
- What's a "session"? A portal session is 5 minutes of continued activity, which is typically more than enough time for your customer to get in and out. What if they forget to sign out? Don't worry, if they use it for 5 minutes, leave the portal open all day, and then come back and use it for 5 more minutes, it only counts as two sessions.
Want to Learn more?
Make sure you sign up for Wayne's webinar next week. He's going to give you a live look at portals on Wednesday Feb 23rd, at 3pm Eastern / 12pm Pacific. Click here to sign up.
So, what are you waiting for? Get started on the new way of invoicing TODAY!
Today I’ll be shining the spotlight on another one of our overseas friends in the United Kingdom. This spotlight features a real Method CRM user in the digital marketing services industry, in Bath, UK. realityhouse builds websites and delivers digital marketing such as search engine optimization, email marketing and social media promotion to business-to-business and professional services clients, such as lawyers and accountants. They’re a multi-national company, so even if you’re not in the UK, you can still take advantage of their services, and everyone can benefit from reading this spotlight to gain insight into realityhouse’s Method experience. Without any further ado, I present to you - realityhouse.
I had the pleasure of speaking with Mike Fieldhouse, Managing Director at realityhouse, who was kind enough to share his company background and Method experience with me (thanks again!). realityhouse has been around for 8 years and has 12 employees and contractors who work remotely throughout the UK, including 1 who works from Spain. Clients of realityhouse are located across the UK, as well as in Europe and even North America. After plenty of searching for, and performing trials of web based CRM systems that lacked QuickBooks integration, realityhouse was thrilled to discover Method Integration CRM Edition on the Intuit Marketplace website. Out of all of the solutions, including well-known, more expensive products, Method was the only web based CRM system that provided real-time synchronization with QuickBooks. Method’s end-user customization abilities also struck a big chord with realityhouse, as it would give them the ability to customize fields to match UK lingo and currency.
As you can see from the above screenshot of a beautifully customized Method screen, default dollar signs now appear as pounds. Of course, this is quite important to a service provider like realityhouse, as it would be awkward to track data and generate invoices for clients, like the largest employer in Europe, with the American dollar sign showing! Customizations to screens to reduce clutter and make them more intuitive were also made, so that project management would be an easier task for employees. In the next screenshot, you’ll see that vendors are now labelled “suppliers”, since that is how vendors are referred to in the UK, and most of the buttons have been removed to focus on purchase order creation.
In only two months, realityhouse had completed its first round of customizations and already had 7 users working in Method! They instantly noticed increased productivity, since everyone was accessing shared data with ease. Currently, realityhouse is creating a wish list of customizations they’d like to make in the future, and eventually plans to smooth out processes in Method even further, as well as increase their number of Method licenses. New changes will focus on sales and project management within Method, refining what they currently have in place.
Evidently, realityhouse has been working diligently towards increased efficiency for employees. Not only are they using a streamlined solution that they’ve customized to make even more intuitive, but they’re using Skype to chat via the web, dimdim for screen sharing, as well as Google Apps to share access to spreadsheets and documents. Pretty much everything is cloud-based, so all representatives can access data from anywhere, at any time.
If you, or anyone you know, are interested in learning more about realityhouse, or you’d like to inquire about their digital marketing services, please utilize the contact information below. Please note that realityhouse is about to re-launch their website in the next couple of months, so you’ll want to check back soon for updates and new additions to their site, such as Twitter integration and an excellent blog you’ll want to subscribe to!
Mike Fieldhouse, Managing Director
t. +44 (0) 845 643 9625
f. +44 (0) 845 643 9626
a. 6-8 Cotterell Court, Monmouth Place, Bath BA1 2NP
As they say in the UK – cheers!
With the release of the new QuickBooks Receive Payment screen, more and more Method users are beginning to accept payments directly in Method. That number is about skyrocket with the upcoming release of the new "Contacts Portal" since it allows you to easily send an invoice to a customer for them to view and make payments online.
So far, based on the feedback, the vast majority of you are using Intuit Merchant Services (a.k.a. Intuit Payment Solutions), so it's as good a time as any to give a step-by-step guide on how to set it up.
- Become a user of Intuit Merchant Services, if you aren't already: http://payments.intuit.com/apply-now/. Heads-up: you'll need the "Shopping Cart" feature turned on, which might run you $9.95/mo extra.
- In Method, go to Customize > My Account.
- Click view / edit... beside Payment Gateways.
- Click Add New Payment Gateway.
- Choose Intuit Merchant Services from the dropdown.
- You might want to change the Payment Gateway Name from "Credit Card" to something like "VISA / MasterCard" if these are the cards you accept. Customers will see this in the portal.
- The fields Default Payment Method, Default AR Account, Default Deposit To Account are required. When a customer makes a payment it will automatically flow into QuickBooks and use the values you setup. Tip: Have two A/R accounts? There's no harm in having more than one Payment Gateway.
- For the Connection Ticket, click the Click here to get a Connection Ticket link. This is the security token you'll get from Intuit that only Method will know and use.
- Put in your Intuit user Login name and Password. These you get from Intuit. The Login name is usually your email address.
- Click Log in.
- You might get this screen if you have multiple companies. Choose carefully as payments will be assigned to the company selected.
- For Login Security, choose No, and click Continue.
- You'll get your Connection Ticket. Copy this by highlighting all the text, right-clicking and choosing Copy.
- Return back to Method's payment gateway screen.
- Right-click in the Connection Ticket field and choose Paste.
- Ensure everything else is filled out, and then click Add.
- Go ahead and run a test! Create an invoice for yourself as a test customer, and pay it either through Customer Center > Receive Payments, or through the portal.
Add a comment below and let us know how you are integrating payment solutions into Method. Anyone done any custom screens for payment processing?
It might still be winter, but here at Method we’re already gearing up for and looking forward to this year’s Scaling New Heights Conference, taking place in a few short months.
From May 23-25, 2011, the third annual Scaling New Heights Conference, presented by Joe Woodard, will bring together QuickBooks ProAdvisors and Intuit Solution Providers from all over the world. And unlike in years past, this year’s conference will be taking place just 10 miles outside of Las Vegas, Nevada.
For those of you unfamiliar with Scaling New Heights, it is an advanced, Intuit-centric training conference for Intuit Solution Providers and QuickBooks ProAdvisors . If you’re interested in learning more about QuickBooks and Intuit offerings, expanding the services you offer to your clients (like Method!), or networking with like-minded individuals, then you’ll want to look into attending Scaling New Heights 2011.
After exhibiting at Scaling New Heights over the past two years, as well as having a dedicated Method training and certification track in 2010, it was a no-brainer to return in 2011 as a Diamond Sponsor with a larger training and certification track. We’re very excited about our sponsorship at the conference and look forward to reuniting with some of our wonderful Method Solution Providers, as well as teaching some new friendly faces about the endless possibilities of Method’s implementation.
For more information about Scaling New Heights 2011, including sessions, information on the beautiful JW Marriott location, registration, and more, please visit www.scalingnewheights.com.
We hope to see you at Scaling New Heights in May!
The other day, I had a wonderful conversation with Antonio Macedo from CSConsult over in Liverpool, United Kingdom. After speaking with Antonio, I knew he’d make a great user spotlight due to his rapid implementation and impressive Method customizations over the past few months.
CSConsult began as a bookkeeping and accounting services partnership 3 years ago, but now also provides consulting services to small and medium-sized companies in the UK under the motto, “Helping your business grow”. CSConsult’s goal is to let business managers do more of what they do best: remain focused on their business strategy! As a business consultant, he does this by analysing their operations and then seeking out and implementing the most appropriate systems to solve his clients’ biggest problems. Recently, CSConsult discovered and started recommending Method as a solution for increasing productivity on many fronts.
About 4-5 months ago, Antonio had been approached by a small company specializing in maintenance and redecoration, with an impressive growth in the last twelve months – from 1 man to 11 people working in 2 teams. This company recognized the need for a technological solution, as its pen, paper and email processes were no longer satisfactory. They wanted to streamline processes and be able to work outside of the office. Antonio and his partner were asked to identify and deploy a system to support such growth and that would allow decentralized, online access to the company processes, such as lead management, quotes, field logistics, CRM and invoicing. CSConsult’s client expressed that their customers – big construction contractors – were urging their subcontractors to go paperless and provide online support, so remote access was a major requirement.
CSConsult searched and reviewed multiple options, including Method, which was discovered as a search engine result. CSConsult quickly identified Method Integration as the best possible solution, synced with QuickBooks and started customizing screens to meet their customers’ needs, with only the help of the forums, webinar recordings and self-service documentation. Antonio noted that this ability to customize without needing to be a developer or programmer was one of Method’s greatest strengths. You can see the impressive customization Antonio has done to the screen below.
Within the span of a few months, CSConsult had completed round one customizations for its client and successfully implemented the solution to the point where employees were comfortable using Method. As opposed to typical custom programs, which tend to take many more months to go from concept to deployed, not to mention at a far greater financial expense, CSConsult had Method operational for its client in no time. Antonio spearheaded the customization, alongside his partner, Caroline, based on the client’s guidance, and the client couldn’t have been happier with its ease of implementation for employees.
CSConsult’s client has been happily using Method and enjoying the QuickBooks remote entry while carrying out quotes and invoicing processes. In January, the client started producing and distributing work orders and job sheets to the Field Team Leaders via electronic means. Their next step will involve their customers accessing the Customer Portal to leave online requests for new jobs. Last, but not least, will come the customizing and deploying of Method’s CRM features. Productivity levels are now, and will soon be even more so, a far cry from their previous pen and paper processes!
CSConsult has since been approached by other companies interested in streamlining their field operations, and they’ve come to the realization that this solution, once believed to be a one-time solution for a single client, has a great deal of potential to be implemented for plenty of customers. As a result, Antonio has joined the Method Solution Provider Program as a Method Certified Consultant and will actively be seeking a market in the UK to promote, sell and provide Method services to. CSConsult is in the process of creating a page on their website to promote their Field Solutions based on Method Integration and will be tweaking their SEO in an effort to attract new leads in the UK market. CSConsult also plans to determine whether the Method Professional Services App will work well for their own use.
If you live in the UK and you think you might benefit from CSConsult’s services, please reach out to Antonio using the contact information below. Please also feel free to pass this information along to anyone you know who might want to take advantage of their offerings.
CSConsult – Antonio Macedo
M: +44 (754) 381.7722 T: +44 (845) 544.0858 F: +44 (845) 544.0158
E: firstname.lastname@example.org W: www.csconsult.co.uk
Follow on Twitter: csconsult_co_uk
Follow us on LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/company/csconsult_co_uk
Team’s Profiles: uk.linkedin.com/in/antoniomacedo; uk.linkedin.com/in/caroline2008
Like us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/csconsult
If you’d like to share your story with the community and be featured in a Method User Spotlight, please email me at email@example.com.
Thank you Antonio for sharing your Method experience with us