Fix These Common Customer Service Mistakes

Fix These Common Customer Service Mistakes

If your company provides stellar service and outstanding products, your loyal customers can grow exponentially through social media, online reviews and more traditional outlets. On the other hand, when customers complain, your company’s reputation can be damaged.

Fortunately, your team can build solid customer relationships by fixing these common customer service mistakes:

  • Mistake #1: Ignoring customers. When busy, it’s easy to develop checkout lines or call- ing queues. This frustrates all customers, both those with concerns and those that simply want to order. The net result is everyone is unhappy! Fix: For call volume, consider creating a simple auto-response recording to quickly get customers to the right area. For online ordering, make it easy for online customers to get to someone that can solve their problem. For retail, show all customers that you care. Never give the impression that they’ve intruded upon your valuable time. Make eye contact. Smile. Invite their feedback. And constantly monitor employees looking for opportunities to develop improved communication.
  • Mistake #2: Minimizing legitimate complaints. Sure, there are a lot of complaints out there that may not be resolvable, or even based on fact. But sometimes customers have mistaken notions about your products or services. Fix: Resist the temptation to ignore feedback. With every complaint, ask whether concerns might highlight an opportunity to improve. When complaints seem to arise from several sources and focus on a particular issue, pay attention. If a product doesn’t work as advertised, consider discussing the issue with suppliers.

  • Mistake #3: Defensiveness. Customers need to feel that the company is trying to address their concerns. Even if your employees feel personally attacked, they should never lash out. Fix: Train workers to remain calm. It is best to listen, repeat the complaint back to the customer, and then ask confirmation that you understand their issue. Next, ask a clarifying question. This will help deescalate any tension. Most people respond better when the situation is handled calmly and respectfully.

 

businessman holding a cell phone making customer service mistakes on a call

 

As always, we hope you find our tips and news for businesses valuable, and look forward to receiving your feedback. Companies focused on growth have sought the help of Insero & Co. for more than 40 years. During that time they have consistently experienced the peace of mind that comes from knowing their CPA firm takes the concept of integrity seriously. Should you have any questions, please contact us directly.

Monitor Inventory to Keep Cash Flowing

Monitor Inventory to Keep Cash Flowing

Skillful inventory management is often one of the biggest factors in maintaining positive cash flow. Consider these techniques for controlling your company’s inventory to improve your cash position:

 

  • Track inventory turnover. The inventory turnover ratio measures the number of times inventory is sold and replaced in a given time period (annually, quarterly or monthly). It’s calculated by dividing cost of goods sold by average inventory. Let’s say you’re a retail business that has $5 million in cost of goods sold. At the beginning of the year, your inventory balance is $600,000; at year-end, it’s $400,000. That means your average inventory is $500,000 (the sum divided by two). To get the annual inventory turnover ratio, you divide the cost of goods sold by this average. So in this example, the turnover ratio would be 10 ($5 million divided by $500,000). On average, you’re selling and replacing inventory 10 times each year. Compare historical ratios and industry averages to get a clear picture on the state of your inventory management. Low or deteriorating turnover ratios may indicate that your business is carrying excess inventories. Research to find out why.

 

  • Scrutinize aging inventory. An aged stock or inventory aging report lists items grouped by the length of time they’re being held in inventory. Like an accounts receivable aging report, an inventory aging report enables you to quantify the cost of specific slow-moving inventory items. A way to calculate this is to take the number of units on hand and then determine how many months of sales it will take to sell out of the item. If certain items aren’t selling, they may be obsolete or beyond their shelf life. You may need to write down values in the company records, provide discounted sales, or write off specific items by removing them from inventory.

 

  • Consider just-in-time (JIT) inventory management. JIT is designed to increase efficiency, reduce costs and minimize waste. Companies order goods only as needed. Depending on your business, JIT might be used to lower inventory holding costs, reduce problems with order fulfilment, and improve cash flow. Given the risk of being out of stock, JIT can work for your business if your products can be manufactured or supplied quickly, and your company’s order fulfillment system is efficient.

 

By skillfully managing inventory, your firm can continue to generate positive cash flow, satisfy customer demand, and invest in new opportunities.

 

Charts and graphs of cash flow and inventory management

 

As always, we hope you find our tips and news for businesses valuable, and look forward to receiving your feedback. Companies focused on growth have sought the help of Insero & Co. for more than 40 years. During that time they have consistently experienced the peace of mind that comes from knowing their CPA firm takes the concept of integrity seriously. Should you have any questions, please contact us directly.

What Sales Orders Are and When to Use Them

They’re not as commonly used as invoices. But if you need them, they’re there.

When you want to document sales that you can’t (or won’t) fulfill immediately, but you plan to do so in the future, you can’t create an invoice just yet. This is where sales orders come in.

You may never need to create a sales order for a customer. Perhaps you have a service-based business, or you never run out of inventory. Or you simply don’t enter an order unless you know you have the item(s) in stock.

But if you plan to use sales orders, you must first make sure QuickBooks is set up to accommodate them. Open the Edit menu and select Preferences, then Sales & Customers. Click the Company Preferences tab to open that window.

Company Preferences Screenshot

Before you can use sales orders, you’ll need to make sure that QuickBooks is set up for them.

Sales Orders Are Required for Some Tasks

There are a few situations where you must use a sales order:

  • If you have a customer who orders very frequently, you may not want to create an invoice for absolutely every item. You could use a sales order to keep track of these multiple orders, and then send an invoice at the end of the month.
  • If you’re missing one or more items that a customer wanted, you can create a sales order that includes everything, but only note the in-stock items on an invoice. The sales order will keep track of the portion of the order that wasn’t fulfilled. Both forms will include the back-ordered quantity.

Warning: Working with back orders can be challenging. In fact, working with inventory-tracking itself may be problematic for you. If your business stocks enough of multiple types of items that you want to use those QuickBooks features, let us help you get started to ensure that you understand these rather complex concepts.

Creating a Sales Order

Creating sales orders in QuickBooks is actually quite simple and similar to filling out an invoice. Click the Sales Orders icon on the home page, or open the Customers menu and select Create Sales Orders.

 Sales Order Screenshot

A sales order in QuickBooks looks much like an invoice.

Click the down arrow in the field next to Customer: Job and choose the correct one. If you use Classes, select the correct one from the list that drops down, and change the Template if you’ve created another you’d like to use.

Tip: Templates and Classes are totally optional in QuickBooks. Templates provide alternate views of forms containing different fields and perhaps a different layout. Classes are like categories. You create your own that work for your business; they can be very helpful in reports. Talk to us if you don’t understand these concepts.

If the shipping address is different from the customer’s main address, click the down arrow in the field next to Ship To, and either select an alternate you’ve created or click <Add New>. Make sure the Date is correct, and enter a purchase order number (P.O. No.) if appropriate.

The rest of the sales order is easy. Click in the fields in the table to make your selections from drop-down lists, and enter data when needed. Pay special attention to the Tax status. Let us know if you haven’t set up sales tax and need to.

When everything is correct, save the sales order. When you’re ready to convert it to an invoice, open it and click the Create Invoice icon in the toolbar. QuickBooks will ask whether you want to create an invoice for all the items or just the ones you select. You’ll be able to specify quantities, too, in the window that opens.

Specify Items and Quantities Screenshot

When you create an invoice from a sales order, you can select all the items ordered or a subset.

As we’ve said, sales orders are easy to fill out in QuickBooks. But they involve some complex tracking, and you may want to schedule a session with us before you attempt them. Better to understand them ahead of time than to try to troubleshoot problems later.

For more QuickBooks tips, tricks and info on training from our team of Certified QuickBooks ProAdvisors® subscribe to The QBC.

QuickBooks and QuickBooks ProAdvisor are registered trademarks and/or registered service marks of Intuit Inc.

Establishing Preferences in QuickBooks

Before you start entering data, make sure QuickBooks is set up appropriately for your company.

QuickBooks was designed to serve the needs of millions of small businesses. To do that, it had to include the tools and processes suitable for a wide variety of companies. But Intuit recognized that every organization is unique, so your copy of QuickBooks can be customized in ways that make it work best for you.

You could just dive in and start adding records and transactions. But we recommend you do some setup first. If you don’t, you may run into some issues later, such as finding that some features you need haven’t been turned on, for example, or that QuickBooks is simply not doing some things the way you do. The good news is that you can change many of these.

Getting There

QuickBooks refers to these options as Preferences. You’ll find them by opening the Edit menu and selecting Preferences.

To start customizing QuickBooks so it works best for you, open the Edit menu and choose Preferences.

As you can see, the left vertical pane contains a list of Preference types. Click on any of these to change the option screens to the right. Always click the tabs labeled My Preferences and Company Preferences to make sure you see everything that’s displayed for each type (sometimes one will have no choices).

Setting Up Reminders

Let’s look closely at one set of Preferences: Reminders. It’s very important that you visit these screens when you begin using QuickBooks. Depending on how big your company is and how complex your accounting processes are, there may be things you need to do every day, like pay bills and follow up on overdue invoices. It would be nearly impossible for you to do everything on time if you didn’t ask QuickBooks to keep track of critical dates and remind you of them.

Click Reminders in the left vertical tab. You’ll see one option under My Preferences. Do you want QuickBooks to show Reminders List when opening a Company file? If so—and this is a good idea—click the box in front of that line if there isn’t a checkmark there already.

Then click Company Preferences. Here’s where you’ll tell QuickBooks whether you want to see summaries or lists for each reminder, or neither. You can also specify how much advance notice you want for specific tasks by entering a number of days. QuickBooks comes with default settings, but you can easily change these.

QuickBooks comes with default settings for Reminders, but you can enter your own Preferences here.

As you can see, it’s easy to specify your Company Preferences. Click the appropriate button under Show Summary, Show List, or Don’t Remind Me. If you’ve requested a reminder, delete any number that appears in the box in front of days before or days after and then enter your own.

Critical Areas

We recommend that you look through all of QuickBooks’ Preferences and change any that don’t fit your company. Some simply have to do with the way QuickBooks displays information and how it functions, but others have direct impact on your accounting work. As always, we’re available if you have questions here.

There are many that you will probably want to visit. They may have numerous options, but here’s some of what you can establish in each:

  • Accounting. Do you want to use account numbers and classes?
  • Checking. Which accounts should QuickBooks automatically use for tasks like Open the Pay Bills, Open the Make Deposits, and Open the Create Paychecks?
  • Finance Charge. Will you be assessing finance charges on late payments from customers? What’s the interest rate, minimum finance charge, and grace period?
  • Items & Inventory. Do you want inventory and purchase orders to be active?
  • Multiple Currencies. Does your company do business using other currencies?
  • Payments. Can customers pay you online? What methods can they use?
  • Payroll & Employees. Will you be processing payroll using QuickBooks?
  • Sales & Customers. Do you want to use sales orders? How should QuickBooks handle invoices when there are time and costs that need to be added?

You can see why it’s important to study QuickBooks’ Preferences early on. It’ll help you avoid unnecessary roadblocks and ensure that your company’s needs are reflected well in the software.

For more QuickBooks tips, tricks and info on training from our team of Certified QuickBooks ProAdvisors® subscribe to The QBC.

QuickBooks and QuickBooks ProAdvisor are registered trademarks and/or registered service marks of Intuit Inc.

Anatomy of a QuickBooks Inventory Item

If you have an item-heavy business, you need tools to track your inventory. QuickBooks provides them.

When you started your business, maybe you were able to keep track of your inventory by peering in the closet or your garage. As you grew, that simply took too long. But you grew tired of running out of stock because you didn’t have time to constantly check its levels, and you forgot about items that didn’t sell and were tucked away in a corner.

You need inventory-tracking. QuickBooks can help you create thorough records for each product you sell. It keeps track of how much you have on hand and warns you when your stock is running low. And its reports tell you what’s selling and what’s not, so you can make better, smarter purchasing decisions.

Activating Inventory-Tracking

Before you get started creating item records and including them in transactions, you need to make sure that QuickBooks is set up to start tracking. Open the Edit menu and click Preferences. Click Items & Inventory in the left vertical pane and then select the Company Preferences tab. This window will open:

QuickBooks needs to know what your intentions are when it comes to inventory tracking.

First, of course, click in the box to the left of Inventory and purchase orders are active if it isn’t already checked. Click the next box down if applicable. The rest of this window deals with two concepts you need to understand. Quantity on Hand refers to the number of items that you actually have. Quantity Available subtracts items currently on Sales Orders. QuickBooks will warn you if you don’t have enough of a specific item to commit to a customer. You just have to decide which definition of Quantity you want to use.

When you’re done here, click OK.

Accuracy Matters

Now you can start entering records for the products you sell. Accuracy is absolutely essential here. You’ll see why as you explore QuickBooks’ tracking capabilities.

There are a few ways to open an item record window. You can click Items & Services in the upper right corner of the Home Page, or open the Lists menu and select Item List. Both will open a window displaying any item records that have been entered in a register-type view. Right-click anywhere and select New, or click the arrow next to Item in the lower left corner and select New.

QuickBooks Item List for Inventory

Double- and triple-check your work as you enter information in the QuickBooks item record window.

QuickBooks lets you create records for numerous types of items, including Service, Discount, and Inventory Assembly. To see how inventory-tracking works, select Inventory Part from the drop-down menu under TYPE. Next, enter an Item Name/Number in that field.

If you’ve already named a main category (like Hardware, in the example above) and want to place your product in a subcategory of it, click the Subitem of box and choose from the drop-down list. Manufacturer’s Part Number is optional. You can ignore UNIT OF MEASURE, if this isn’t an option in your version of QuickBooks.

Purchase Information

If you buy this item from a vendor, fill in this side of the window. Write the description that should appear on purchase transactions when you place an order. Enter the cost you pay for it, and select the COGS (Cost of Goods Sold) account if the default isn’t correct. Do you buy this product exclusively from one supplier? Select the name in the drop-down menu under Preferred Vendor.

Sales Information

Enter the description you’d like customers to see on invoices and the price you’ll charge. If you’re at all unsure of what to select for Tax Code or Income Account, we can go over your Chart of Accounts with you and explain how its accounts are used in records and transactions.

Inventory Information

Here’s where the software’s tracking capabilities come in. QuickBooks will probably default to your Inventory Asset account, which is fine. Enter the minimum number of items that should be in stock when you get a reminder to reorder, and the maximum you want to have at any one time. Fill in the On Hand field with the number you currently have. QuickBooks will automatically calculate the Total Value.

In the screen shot above, you see an example of what that last line looks like once you start using that item in transactions. You’ll see its Average Cost and the number that are currently on purchase orders and sales orders.

Creating records for every product you sell can be tedious, time-consuming work. But the payoff comes in the real-time knowledge you’ll have of your inventory that will lead to better, smarter purchasing decisions. As always, we stand ready to help.

For more QuickBooks tips, tricks and info on training from our team of Certified QuickBooks ProAdvisors® subscribe to The QBC.

QuickBooks and QuickBooks ProAdvisor are registered trademarks and/or registered service marks of Intuit Inc.

Audit & Accounting Update: January 26, 2017

At Insero, we make it our business to stay abreast of the latest trends and technical updates in accounting, tax, and audit and we understand how important timely updates are to our clients. As a member of the RSM US Alliance, we also have the benefit of access to the resources and subject matter experts of RSM US LLP (formerly known as McGladrey LLP). This includes regular updates on the latest financial reporting insights. We hope that you find these informative and useful, and invite you to reach out to us if you have any questions.

Changes to revenue recognition in the technology industry 
Our white paper discusses how certain issues will significantly affect revenue recognition in the technology industry.
Read more

Clarifications to definition of a business
The FASB recently issued clarifications to the definition of a business, which affects many areas of accounting.
Read more

Consolidation of for-profit limited partnership by not-for-profit entity
ASU 2017-02 clarifies when a not-for-profit entity that is a general partner should consolidate a for-profit limited partnership.
Read more

Proposal: Balance sheet classification of debt
A recent proposed ASU introduces an overarching principle for determining whether debt should be classified as current or noncurrent.
Read more

Proposed changes to disclosure requirements for inventory
If finalized, recent proposed amendments to FASB ASC Topic 330 would require additional inventory disclosures.
Read more

FASB makes additional corrections to new revenue guidance
A recent FASB Accounting Standards Update makes technical corrections to ASC Topic 606, Revenue from Contracts with Customers.
Read more

Tool for audit committees: Preparing for the revenue recognition standard
A new Center for Audit Quality tool aims to help audit committees assess a company’s implementation of the new revenue recognition standard.
Read more

 

Audit and Accounting Updates for Business Owners and Financial Professionals

Source: RSM US LLP
Used with permission as a member of the RSM US Alliance
http://rsmus.com/our-insights/newsletters/financial-reporting-insights.html

As always, we hope you enjoy this edition of our newsletter and we look forward to receiving your feedback. Should you have any questions regarding the information contained in the attached materials or our service offerings, please contact us directly.

Ringing Out 2016 in QuickBooks

2017 is just around the corner. Now’s the time to do your end-of-year QuickBooks tasks.

Since early January of this year, you’ve been faithfully creating new records, entering transactions, and recording payments. You’ve run basic reports. You’ve done your collection duties. You may have paid employees and submitted payroll taxes.

Now the end of the year is rapidly approaching. In the midst of holiday get-togethers, gift shopping, and perhaps preparing for travel, you probably have a list of work tasks that must be completed by December 31.

Is your annual QuickBooks wrap-up on that list? It should be. Here are some of the things we suggest you fit into your busy schedule sometime this month.

Create and send year-end statements.

Create and send year end statements in QuickBooks

As your customers wrap up 2016, too, it’s good to send statements to past-due accounts.

In an ideal world, all of the invoices that are currently due would be paid off by the end of the year. We all know that that’s not usually the reality. Two reports can help you here: the A/R Aging Summary and Open Invoices.

Give everyone a chance to clear their accounts before December 31 by sending statements. Click Statements on the Home page (or Customers | Create Statements) to open the window pictured above.

You have multiple options here that are fairly self-explanatory. The screen above is set up to create statements for all customers who have an open balance as of the date you select, but not for inactive customers or those with a zero balance or no account activity. That way, no one who’s paid in full to date will receive a statement. Of course, if you didn’t want statements created for anyone who’s less than 30 days past due, you’d click in the box in front of Include only transactions over and enter a “30” in the following field. Questions about all of this? Give us a call.

Tip: You can also find out who’s overdue by clicking on the Customers tab in the left vertical pane to open the Customer Information screen. Click on the down arrow to the right of the field just below Customers & Jobs. QuickBooks provides several filters for your list.

Reduce your inventory.

Discount items in QuickBooks

Want to discount all or selected items in your inventory by the same percentage or amount? Open the Customers menu and click Change Item Prices. We can work with you on the whole item pricing process.

The week between Christmas and New Year’s Day might be a good time to sell excess inventory by having a sale. If you only sell a few products, you probably know what hasn’t sold well in 2016. If your stable of products is larger, you can run QuickBooks reports like Inventory Stock Status by Item and Sales by Item Detail to identify your slow-sellers and discount them. You may need to filter your reports to see the right data. Talk to us about customization options if you’re unsure of this.

Clean up your contact lists.

If you don’t maintain your customer and vendor lists, you’ll eventually start wasting time scrolling through them when you enter transactions. So this would be a good time to designate those contacts that you’ve not dealt with in 2016 as Inactive (you can delete their records entirely, but we advise against that). Simply open a Customer record, for example, and click the small pencil icon in the upper right to edit it. Click on the box in front of Customer is inactive.

Send holiday greetings to customers and vendors.

It’s getting a little late to send a holiday greeting/thanks-for-your-business note in December. Consider doing this in January (Best Wishes for a Successful 2017!) when your customers’ and vendors’ lives have slowed down a bit. You’re less likely to get lost in the crowd. If your lists are short enough, personalize these cards as much as possible. At least sign them by hand if you can.

Tip: You can print customer labels for your cards directly from QuickBooks. Open the File menu and then click Print Forms | Labels.

Run advanced reports.

Here’s where we come in. If we’re not already creating and analyzing QuickBooks’ advanced financial reports (found in the Accountant & Taxes submenu of Reports) monthly or quarterly, talk to us about it. They’re important, and they give you insight that you can’t get on your own. This is another activity that can spill into January.

We’d like to thank you for being a client this year, and to wish you a successful 2017!

For more QuickBooks tips, tricks and info on training from our team of Certified QuickBooks ProAdvisors® subscribe to The QBC.

QuickBooks and QuickBooks ProAdvisor are registered trademarks and/or registered service marks of Intuit Inc.

How QuickBooks’ Custom Fields Can Provide Better Business Insight

The QBC: QuickBooks® Client Newsletter

QuickBooks’ customizability makes it flexible enough for countless business types. Custom fields are a big part of that.

QuickBooks makes it possible for your business to create very detailed records for customers, vendors, employees, and items. In fact, you may find that you rarely make use of every field each contains.
But you may also find that there are additional fields that you’d like to see in your predefined record formats. That’s where custom fields come in. QuickBooks lets you add extra fields and specify what their labels should be.

You can define up to 12 total fields for use in customer, vendor, and/or employee records. QuickBooks treats these just as it treats your built-in fields. They appear in the records themselves, of course, and are included when you export a file containing them. You can also search for them in reports.

People Records

There are separate processes for defining fields for your individual and company contacts and your items. Let’s look at how you can set up custom fields for customers, vendors, and employees first.

Go to your Customer Center and open a blank Customer record (in newer versions of QuickBooks, you’ll click on New Customer & Job in the upper left corner, and then click New Customer). Then click the Additional Info tab in the left vertical pane of the New Customer window, then click on the Define Fields button in the lower right. This window will open (with blank fields):

 

QBC 0415 image 1_zps2yqm8twk

Figure 1: You can create up to 12 total custom fields that will be shared by customers, vendors, and employees.

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Make Your Preferences Known in QuickBooks

The QBC: QuickBooks® Client Newsletter

QuickBooks is ready to use when you install it. But you can change its settings to make it work the way your company needs it to.

There are some features that all small businesses need in their accounting software. Everyone needs a Chart of Accounts and a good set of report templates. There must be tools to bill customers and to document income and expenses. Some companies need payroll management, and some need the ability to create purchase orders. These days, many businesses want to accept payments online.

But what does your company need? It’s unlikely that you would use absolutely every feature that QuickBooks offers, but you need to make sure that every tool you want to use is set up properly.
If you’ve been using QuickBooks for a while, you may have been directed to the Preferences window already (accessible by clicking on Edit | Preferences). If you’re just starting out with the software, it’s a good idea to acquaint yourself with the most important elements contained there. Here are some of them.
QBC0215image1_zpsf849645a

Figure 1: QuickBooks’ Preferences window. Some features are already turned on or off by default, but you can change their status.

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