This has been an area where I’ve felt that Intuit hasn’t kept up with the times. Support and integration with email is just not very good. This year there are a number of changes in this area. Is it enough?
- The entire send email feature has been overhauled so that you have more control over the message that you send out from QuickBooks if you use Web Mail.
- You now have the ability to send a customer payment receipt via email.
- The Customer, Vendor and Employee Centers now have a tab for Sent Email, where you can see a history (of sorts) of the emails that you have sent to a client from within QuickBooks.
Overall, there are a lot of good enhancements here, although I do think (as usual) that they can take this further.
This is not a full integration with an email service like some people would like to see – but that kind of integration is something that has gotten Intuit into trouble before. These features are all internal to the QB program, not relying on outside products.
QuickBooks 2014 Email Overhaul
Intuit is putting a lot of effort into improving the way that QuickBooks users can communicate with customers. One of the frustrations in the past has been the relatively simplistic controls we have over the email messages that we send from transactions inside the product. If you are using Outlook you at least had the ability to alter the email before it is sent, but that is tedious. QuickBooks 2014 expands the capabilities, although this is primarily focused on “web mail”.
Remember that you have three email options in QuickBooks:
- Web mail (using a web based service like Gmail).
- Microsoft Outlook (if you have it installed).
- QuickBooks E-mail (through Intuit servers, it is available if you have purchased certain Intuit services).
This overhaul only applies to people who use the Web mail option.
Comparing to QuickBooks 2013
First, let’s take a look at what we have in QuickBooks 2013.
The default text for my messages are in the send forms preference setting:
If I choose to send my invoice by email using web mail, I get this window – I can edit the text from here for this one transmittal:
What’s Improved in QuickBooks 2014
Let’s start with the Send Forms Preferences.
This is considerably different. Instead of one “template” for each transaction type, you can create a list of email templates for each transaction type.
This is a BIG IMPROVEMENT. You can define multiple templates for each transaction type, and you have a list of special codes that you can use to insert values from the transaction or from your company information. Here’s the list of codes that are available now:
The ability to insert the transaction number in the email subject actually is something that we’ve had for a couple of years already. I am not aware of other codes that can be used here. Note that the format is different than what you use in the body of the message, using < > to specify the code.
Let’s take a look at how this works when emailing an invoice. I’ll click on the email button – note that you have an option to include any attached files that you may have attached to this invoice using the QuickBooks Attached Documents feature. BIG improvement (although I have to say that I don’t like the QuickBooks Attached Document feature due to its lack of security).
I’ll click the option to email invoice and attached files:
Note that there is a limit to the total size of the attachments, 2 MB when using web mail. Anything bigger than that you shouldn’t send as an attachment anyways. You should never send confidential material by using email attachments. For Outlook users, the restriction is a total of 25 MB.
Intuit has packed a lot of nice improvements into this feature, and I hope that they continue to expand it. A lot of people have been asking for the ability to include the attached documents, and having multiple templates for email makes life a lot simpler.
Some expansions I would like to see down the line:
- Additional formatting capabilities for the message.
- The ability to control the name of the attached PDF invoice.
- More field codes – such as open customer balance.
- The ability to insert live web links (and possibly set your company website as a live link) – although you need to have control over that as in some cases you might not want links in the email, as that can tag your message as SPAM.
- The ability to specify the email template to use, in the customer record.
- Heck, if I’m going to ask for things, why not ask for a customer messaging system like they added to QuickBooks Online?
One big disappointment is that this pretty much only applies to web mail. I can’t test the QuickBooks Email service, but if I select Outlook then I cannot select the template to use. The message is not created with the “default” template that I specify. The only improvement for Outlook users is that you the additional attachments will be included if you select that option in the email button.
And there are a few bugs in the email system that have been around for awhile that haven’t been fixed. One example – if I have an invoice marked to “send later”, and it is for a “job” under a customer, then the Send Forms window (under the File menu) only lists the job name in the “Send To” column. You can’t tell who you are sending the form to if you use a job name like “Remodel” or “New Carpet” under a customer…
Email Customer Payment Receipt
This is a useful addition. The Receive Payments window now has an option to send via email, rather than just printing.
Do you see that there is no email later check box on the form? It would be nice if there was one, so I could control this. In fact, this is a bug in the version I’m testing – if you have a customer whose preferred delivery method is set to email, and you have checked the send forms preference Auto-check the “email later” checkbox if customer’s preferred delivery method is e-mail, found in the my preferences tab, then this payment receipt is added to the batch email list. The only way to control this is to turn off that preference or change the setting in the customer record. This most likely will be fixed in an early update.
Email History in Centers
You can send an invoice to a customer from QuickBooks, and that process works pretty smoothly. The problem, though, is remembering IF you sent it, and WHEN you sent it. If you use Outlook for your email you can go there and search. If you use web mail or the QuickBooks email service it is harder – we often see recommendations that you always do a “BCC” to yourself so you get a copy.
If you go to an individual invoice you can select the Transaction History and see a window that tells you some information. It isn’t much, and you have to go into each individual invoice to locate this information.
QuickBooks 2014 tries to improve this by adding an email tab in the Centers (Customer, Vendor and Employee). This will keep a list of the email messages that you have sent from QuickBooks from the various transaction windows.
Looking at the Customer Center as an example, you can see that there is a record of invoices, estimates, sales orders, sales receipts, payment receipts and credit memos. Statements don’t show here, since they aren’t generated in a transaction window.
This is better than what we had before – you can see all of the email message records from this one list, for this customer, rather than having to look at the history of each individual transaction. You can sort the list by any column heading, you can double click on any line to open the transaction for a closer look.
Let me point out a few details, though:
- This isn’t a copy of the email record itself. You can’t see the actual message, just a record that it was sent. No integration with your email system.
- You cannot tell if there were additional attachments sent.
- At this time the date field is the date sent, not the date of the transaction itself. I would like to have a column for the transaction date also (and the ability to customize this display).
- There is only a date filter in this view, so if you have a customer who has a long history, you can’t filter it to a particular type of record.
- The date is not always accurate. This is a bug, I assume it will be fixed in the near future. All of the transactions I show in the screen shot above were entered on 8/29/2013 – most of the transactions themselves had different dates. Why did the last two show with a date of 8/30/2013? That has no connection to the transaction date or date sent.
- It would be nice if this could be printed as a report also.
This is a nice step forward, I hope that Intuit will continue to refine the feature.