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Understanding your customers: Introducing Smart Lists, part two

I hope everyone read Craig Walker’s original blog entry: Introducing Smart Lists. This feature broke new ground for us for several reasons. It’s one of the first major Xero features that’s almost wholly dedicated to proactive business management rather than straight accounting. It’s more about accessing and analyzing data than it is creating data entry. Lastly, because it’s not contributing to the general ledger, there’s not a “right or wrong” way to use it. So, I’ve put together this quick demonstration to help kick-start your creative juices:

Now I’ll admit, there was one thing that was always on my mind: If a feature doesn’t drive a quicker end-of-period close or faster tax preparation, will our accounting and bookkeeping partners still get excited about it? Well, as a matter of fact, they should! Even if they don’t plan to use the magic of Smart Lists themselves, there are still great benefits to educate their clients. Let me explain:

  • The all-important data. In the educational webinars I run on Xero U (more on that in a bit), partners frequently tell me that they wish their clients had a better understanding of how day-to-day business transactions affect final financial reports. Most small business owners don’t need to understand the ins and outs of debits and credits. However, the more they do actual work in Xero and see the type of data being collected, the more likely they are to understand the data’s importance and to be able to provide that information both proactively and more accurately.
  • Better questions. Smart Lists and Xero bring this data front and center. Non-accountants can now easily understand and make use of the Smart Lists’ search results, and their resulting questions will include: “Am I happy with the data returned by the search?” or “Is there a better way I could have entered transactional information so that the search results would be more accurate or more rich in detail?” And so on. The trickle-down effect of this engagement and awareness will also help with the overall accuracy of accounting transactions in general.

School is now in session

When I first joined Xero’s Education team a little over a year ago, the advice I was given was: “Don’t just read to people out of the Help Center, they’re plenty smart enough to read that themselves.” My goal instead was to give a little something extra. I was thinking insight, perspective, maybe a quick laugh … and to truly help folks see the topic under a different light. (By the way, the Xero Help Center is still super awesome. You should read that after finishing this blog.)

Our team’s focus was mostly on helping Xero’s partners gain the knowledge needed to become certified users. Fast forward a year, and the size of the Education department has more than doubled. We’ve created a consolidated library of informative video content on Xero TV, while Xero U continues to expand its selection of live webinars and on demand courses.

Even more features on the way

Moving forward, you can expect to see a lot more content from us similar to this Smart Lists video. We want to serve small business owners and non-accountants in the same way we’ve helped Xero’s accounting and bookkeeping partners. The nice thing about being an online cloud accounting software is that we can release new features every three to six weeks. We look forward to giving you a similarly brisk flow of ideas on how to incorporate Xero into the way you work!

Happy Trails

 

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1 comment

Slightly disappointing that smart lists only work on one half of your business as they report nothing on purchases, only sales which is very frustrating and limiting indeed.

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