Sorry we scared the horses

We love that Xero’s users are passionate and don’t hide their feelings.

It seems we scared the horses on our recent online invoicing functionality.  Our intentions were to ship Online Invoicing with some more flexible emailing options but we didn’t quite get that out this release. Ordinarily we think, ship early and iterate and accept that in this case it would have been better to have both features at once.

When we took customers and partners through the features last week at #xerocon we had a great response but of course we couldn’t preview this with all of you.

So the team has been working to put it right.  We’ve quickly added 3 options when sending invoices either individually or in bulk.  The change has been coded and is now in testing to be released early next week. You can see from the screen shot below how it works.

This was what we could do quickly. In the next release you’ll see extended email formatting settings and more features that allow you to build your relationship with your customers.  All of these will be optional. We’re really excited about them.

Again our apologies and thank you for your feedback and passion. We love hearing it all. Good and bad.

30 Comments

Ben Kepes
October 3, 2012 at 10:00 am

Kudos – as Alan Martin used to say: “it is the putting right that counts”.

James R
October 3, 2012 at 10:14 am

Great Stuff. Thank you for listening.

Gayle Buchanan
October 3, 2012 at 10:59 am

ditto @Ben … remember Alan Martin too lol! thanks Rod, appreciate the fast response

David Barton
October 3, 2012 at 11:33 am

Good response guys and even better that you (Rod) responded. Terrific learning experience – shows the collaborative and interactive nature of Xero and its customers and the way it has played out in the public domain

Justin
October 3, 2012 at 2:31 pm

Excellent Rod, well done!

Quick Q – for recurring invoices will we need to go into all invoices and click on an option? Which is the default?

Andrew
October 3, 2012 at 3:27 pm

Great response – well done and thank you for listening.

Sonya Jones
October 3, 2012 at 3:38 pm

@Justin – to send the recurring invoice without the online link set them to approve (not approve and send) and change the option, then bulk send. This will be fixed in the next major release.

Jeremy Sanders-Smith
October 3, 2012 at 8:30 pm

Thanks for the response Rod. You included:
“In the next release you’ll see extended email formatting settings and more features that allow you to build your relationship with your customers”. No mention explicity here about removing Xero branding. Will that be turned off by default and can I substitute my company logo on invoicing e-mails? Please advise.

Rod Drury
October 3, 2012 at 9:50 pm

@Jeremy Here is a link to a sample online invoice http://blog.xero.com/wp-content/uploads//2012/10/Invoice.png

Xero is in the URL (as it has to be) and we have a greyed out logo at the bottom. Your logo is big, front and centre – based on your invoice templates.

A few things to say.

1. The online invoice needs to be hosted somewhere that is reputable so that those making payments and other optional features have confidence in the provider. So we do need to have some brand there to establish trust. We have been very subtle with our branding to avoid distracting the key relationship between you and your customers.

2. Online invoicing is just the start of a strategy we have of connecting businesses to each other. This foundation gives us huge opportunities to save you more time and money and create new opportunities.

3. Do we hope this new service will attract new customers to Xero? Unashamedly. But that will only happen of we do a good job and be responsive to our customers.

For us a partnership is two way. We hope that we are such a good provider to you – by investing heavily in a beautiful product and delighting you with features that save you time and money – you’ll use online invoicing.

We hope that this is so successful we can avoid spending money on marketing and spend all our money on making a better product for you.

A great way to feel even better about this buy some shares. We love it when our customers become owners of our business.

Matt Green
October 3, 2012 at 11:18 pm

Thanks Rod. I personally rave about Xero and when Online Invoicing is in the right shape I’ll be happy to adopt it. It needs to be seamless, customisable and unobtrusive though.

Having the ability to opt-out for now is a major and it’s great you are acting quickly on this.

Some comments on your points 1 and 3: I agree but this needs to be introduced to *our* customers by us as the supplier. Email templates that allow us to introduce B2B via Xero in a personalised way are really a pre-requisite. Equally we should have the personal choice as to how evangelical we chose to be about our accounting software.

Mike Block CPA
October 3, 2012 at 11:43 pm

This is a great program addition and an outstanding collaborative response. Now PLEASE add the endlessly requested voting on feature requests soon. Then we all can see what most of us want. We certainly should have this for feature requests when we have long had it for API requests. Xero also should recognize request proponents, with public announcements, Xero Hero certificates and nominal prizes, when it uses their ideas. Google “public new feature and bug tracking” for more on this.

Chris
October 4, 2012 at 12:29 am

Ok that helps but …. option 1 needs clarifying, as it could be read as you can send a link to the online invoice but no pdf. Maybe the pdf is accessible via the link as opposed to as an attachment to the email, in which case all’s well. Can you confirm this?

Jeremy Sanders-Smith
October 4, 2012 at 7:14 am

Hi Rod – As I say new to Xero and dealing with boss already! What’s not to like about this company? Thank you for your responses I am only sorry I missed the London conference. The sample invoice works fine for me. I think on-line invoicing is an excellent enhancement to the system – as you say certainly a plus feature. I will be switching to Xero sooner rather than later. I’m impressed.

Rod Drury
October 4, 2012 at 7:25 am

@Jeremey that’s how we roll :)

@Chris Yes, online invoicing does some cool things. It allows you to track an invoice has been read. From there your customer can

1. download a pdf
2. download a CSV file to upload your invoice into the accounting software of their choice
3. If they are on Xero they can with one click import the invoice into their Xero meaning they don’t have to key it in. We also load the pdf file for them. This save’s 3-5 minutes minimum per invoice.
4. See the total amount they owe you – hopefully prompting them to pay earlier
5. Pay you (right now just Paypal but more methods coming).

So not a bad version 1 right?

@Mike user voice style features and voting coming to community. Team working on that now I believe

Peter Spencer
October 4, 2012 at 7:27 am

Well done for that fast response. The link only option is right for me – I want to see my customers have read their invoice!

Nigel
October 4, 2012 at 9:10 am

Hi Rod,

My customers won’t understand they need to download the PDF to print out a proper looking invoice. Is there some text you can add to the Online Invoice to make that clear? Or better some CSS wizardry that will make the Online Invoice webpage print out a proper invoice with all the information on it? It’s a bit scrappy now!

Thanks,

Nigel

David Kime
October 4, 2012 at 9:43 am

Superb response times but no need to apologise. This is truly forward thinking and it just needs the rest of us to catch up a bit. I re-iterate my comments before – where we’re you when xero changed the way we deal with invoicing forever

Philip Fierlinger
October 4, 2012 at 11:45 am

@nigel – print style sheet are in the works.

Michael Martion
October 4, 2012 at 1:21 pm

Hey Rod – thanks for delivering this feature!

Finally getting the functionality that Freshbooks has. Been waiting for this for a long time.

That said, are sure about the hosting etc? I tried the process from a “customer” perspective (did a demo run on my live file), and the process is quite clunky, long-winded, ambiguous and a little user-unfriendly.

Is there any way to make it more seemless? Other people have reported it feels like your signing up for Xero, and I had to take a few moments just to properly comprehend what was going to play out. It worked out alright.

Some comment/requests:
1. Any plans to create a full blown customer portal, with other features such as the ability to load supporting docs to invoices (if required), and so that customers can view the history on certain invoices and their account overall.

It’s one thing to be able to see the history from the accounting side, but from my experience a lot of arguments and delays can be avoided if the history (especially the login/viewing history) for invoices is inescapably “in their face”!

I’ve had the opportunity to operate a system based on Freshbooks (hence why I like some of their functionality so much), and because the customer couldn’t see their history, they still tried the old line “I haven’t got that invoice, can you send it to me again please”. The worse part was if you try tell them you did, on such-and-such date, they said” no, you’re lying!”

I guess it makes it so that they have less places to hide.

2. I think the ability to theme the portal to reflect a businesses’ individuality, not be be confined to the blue bar and light grey background. I get that you want to have the logo on the page. Cool. Leave it as a watermark at the bottom.

Philip Fierlinger
October 4, 2012 at 2:09 pm

@michael – thanks for that detailed feedback, exactly what we love getting!

Yes, we see this as the first step with plenty of enhancements to come, focusing on making the collaboration/communication between business and customer better and better.

The first addition will be the ability for customers to post questions/comments straight from the invoice. We eventually want to expose the full dialog within the online invoice so that the audit trail goes two ways, as you suggest.

Your suggestion of allowing customers to upload documents is great, we’ll definitely look to include that in our plans.

In terms of customizing the look and feel of the UI, that’s not part of our immediate plans.

Cheers.
Philip

Matt Collier
October 4, 2012 at 2:34 pm

Hi Rod,

Thanks for quickly looking into the email invoicing options. We send all of our NZ and Australian invoices using this function and the new feature confused quite a few of our customers. The select options you have posted (.pdf will be just fine) look great. Thanks.

Matt C

Jen
October 5, 2012 at 5:43 pm

How long is the trialling period for Xero before you purchase the product?

Tom
October 5, 2012 at 7:19 pm

Overall t’s a great development.

Could we have a say in where the online invoice wording and URL is put in the email – at the moment it’s the first thing they see. I’d prefer it to be added at the bottom of the text I type in from the Xero interface rather than before it.

Rod Drury
October 5, 2012 at 7:29 pm

Hi Tom, yes we hoped to ship that at the same time but couldn’t quite get it done and tested in time (in hindsight we should have waited perhaps). You’ll have full control in the next big release.

Rod Drury
October 5, 2012 at 7:34 pm

Hi Jen. Demo and trials are set up using the Large pricing plan. The trial lets you raise up to five new invoices, reconcile 50 bank statement lines and is limited to a maximum of 180 days.

Philip Duncan
October 8, 2012 at 9:33 am

Had another look today, still cant see any options to turn off online invoicing.

Rod Drury
October 8, 2012 at 3:10 pm

Testing going well, fix should be out tomorrow morning.

Nigel
October 25, 2012 at 1:07 pm

@Philip – Thanks for saying that print style sheets are in the works. Will they just be operational one day, or will they appear in the release notes of a major release. They don’t appear to be operational as yet?

Craig Walker
October 27, 2012 at 7:12 am

@Nigel This is now done.

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