Reinventing SaaS Customer Service Through Product Expertise

Tallie’s Product Expert role is more than a standard SaaS customer service position, but it hasn’t always been that way. When I joined the team in 2011, we were the Customer Support team. Our primary focus was to ensure our clients always received the answers they needed, trusted our guidance, and felt appreciated as a customer. But as time went on, we realized we had the opportunity to grow and develop our team into something much greater than a traditional customer service provider.

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Tallie’s Product Expert Team redefines what it means to provide exemplary SaaS customer service in the financial industry.

In 2012, we built on the SaaS customer service model to develop the Customer Experience umbrella. In an effort to foster collaboration with the Sales team, we executed a formalized communication strategy between teams to ensure all members had visibility into client progress. Acknowledging that our buyers were experts in their field, we wanted our expertise and customer engagement to help guide the sales process. This created a seamless transition from purchase to implementation and support.

Late in 2013, we evolved into the Product Expert team. It became clear that our team had the most amount of product knowledge within the company, and there was an opportunity to leverage that knowledge to influence all facets of the organization. Product Experts are in the unique position to welcome all new employees, regardless of department, and strengthen their knowledge of our product before launching into their new position. As a result, new members are empowered to explore a natural transition into any company department, from marketing to development and beyond. This proves to be a tremendous differentiator for Tallie.

By focusing on expertise, we were able to restructure the onboarding process for new customer service employees. For us as a team, this was incredible. Now, new members embark on a rigorous training path beginning with complete product immersion. Once through the initial training phase, our day-to-day is comprised of managing client relationships and participating in cross-functional collaboration groups with other departments.

Using an innovative SaaS customer service approach to transform the Product Expert team has proven fundamental to the growth of our company. Together, we attract new clientele and directly influence the future of our products. What’s more, the move has ignited a passion and drive that has immeasurable impact on the spirit and character of our team.

QuickBooks Desktop: How to Manage Billable Expenses Using Service Items

Invoicing expenses is generally a fairly straightforward process in QuickBooks (QBD) which can be made even more effective by simply following a few best practices related to using Service Items. The general process begins with a check or a bill marked as billable to a customer, which will then allow it to be added onto an invoice in the Invoices area.

Quickbooks power user tips offered by Tallie-expenses

Here at Tallie we aim to provide power user tips to our QuickBooks clients regularly.

This can be a one-off: You’ve negotiated with a client an expense reimbursement package for a business trip. Other times, this is a recurring event: You’re constantly adding billable expenses to invoices each invoicing cycle. In both scenarios, if you map those bill or check line items to a Service Item rather than directly to an account, you can capture the cost and income more effectively and have the billable expenses appear in a clearer, more organized manner on an invoice.

Here’s how.

First, you’ll want to create a new Service Item. In most versions of QuickBooks Desktop, you can do this by clicking on “Lists”, then “Items.” Once there, click on “Item” in the bottom left-hand corner and choose “New”. With a fresh new item to use, here are a few best practices.

Assign Both an Income Account and an Expense Account

Check “This service is used in assemblies or is performed by…” The options will change and you’ll now see a spot for both an Income and an Expense account to be assigned. Utilizing an item in this manner is often referred to as either a Double-Sided Item or Two-Sided item.

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Tallie explains how to easily and efficiently manage billable expenses using service items in QuickBooks Desktop and offers expense support.

Now, when you invoice billable expenses, you can track income and cost.

Utilize the Description Field

If you have a billable expense mapped to an account when you add it to an invoice, you may see it associated with “Reimbursable Group” or worse, just as an amount with no description. If you instead fill out the “Sales Description” field, you’ll have complete control over the description that appears on the invoice for the charge. Note that if you fill out the “Purchases Description” field, it will automatically populate the sales description.

Adding a Billable charge mapped to an Item onto an Invoice

If you need a billable charge to an invoice, simply open up an invoice for the client and click “Add Time/Costs.” You’ll find the charges under the “Item” tab.

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You’ll find the charges under the “Item” tab. Tallie shows how to send a billable charge to an invoice using QuickBooks Desktop.

Tallie fully supports using items on expenses. For more information, see this guide: Expense Categories

Advancing SaaS Best Practices for the Expense Report Industry

While Tallie is innovative software disrupting the traditional expense report industry, our company features an engineering team equipped with 20+ years of experience in SaaS development. It’s that collective experience that helps us continue to advance the standard for SaaS best practices in the financial industry, balancing stability and reliability with innovation.

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Our team of Tallie expense report software engineers.

The best engineering teams take a proactive developer approach, continually evaluating the systems and services in place to ensure that their product operates at an optimal level. We recently made a big improvement by releasing a major server upgrade. As a result, our customers will experience the following updates: faster product performance, new features, added redundancy, enhanced prevention of outage and product downtime, and improved stability during disaster recovery. This server upgrade constitutes a major step for our expense report software towards AICPA SOC (Service Organizational Control) certification, guaranteeing our customers complete audit compliance.

Tallie now has access to more Amazon services such as provisioned iOps for faster disk speed. We have employed the usage of a VPC (Virtual Private Cloud) for even greater advanced security, scalability, and reliability of our services. We developed scripts to help bring services and servers back online with ease using Chef to leverage our pre-existing programs. These services may not make the most sense to non-engineers, but they represent the best in open source technology available today.

Why choose open source services? Simply put, open source services are peer edited and peer reviewed. Our counterparts across the globe have worked with these services through beta testing and development, allowing our team confidence in their stability and functionality. Tallie engineers’ commitment to choosing services that have successfully completed the beta stage is of paramount importance to us.

Ultimately, the Tallie Engineering Team is devoted to implementing the best services and advancing standards of best practice in the financial SaaS industry. It is our intent to use this practice to strengthen Tallie as a product, and serve as a solid foundation for our expense report software.

RootWorks Deems Tallie’s Expense Report Software a “Game Changer”

Tallie continues to build momentum as more and more CPA advisors are endorsing Tallie’s automated expense report software to their clients. Now RootWorks, a premier membership-based accounting education organization, has joined the list of Tallie partners.

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“[Tallie is] setting the standard for automating expense workflow.” – Darren Root

When I spoke with Darren Root, CEO of RootWorks, he told me: “Tallie is a game-changer. They are setting the standard for automating expense workflow, a core requirement for Next Generation Accounting Firms™.”

At its annual Winter Academy Conference in Sarasota Florida last month, RootWorks introduced Tallie as an integral part of its CPA practice curriculum. The RootWorks model is designed to help firms improve operational efficiencies by implementing optimized workflows and technologies and applying proper branding and marketing strategies.

RootWorks has been at the forefront of a fundamental shift in the accounting industry towards workflow automation, helping hundreds of firms implement technology solutions and improve business operations. Tallie’s advanced expense report software and integration with QuickBooks, Bill.com, Right Networks and SmartVault makes it a perfect pairing for RootWorks members.

RootWorks is one of many accounting practice advisors that have chosen to endorse Tallie’s expense report software. Tallie has received similar endorsements from accounting consultants including BMRG, National Advisor Network, and The Sleeter Group.

2014 IRS Mileage Rate Updated in Tallie Accounts

Last month the IRS issued Notice 2013-80, announcing the 2014 updated standard mileage rate. As of January 1, 2014, the standard mileage rates for the use of a car (also vans, pickups or panel trucks) will be:

  • 56 cents per mile for business miles driven
  • 23.5 cents per mile driven for medical or moving purposes
  • 14 cents per mile driven in service of charitable organizations

The business, medical, and moving expense rates decrease one-half cent from the 2013 rates.  The charitable rate is based on statute.

To determine the minimum mileage rate, the IRS conducts an annual study of the fixed and variable costs of operating an automobile. It is believed that a dip in fuel prices last year is the probable reason for the rate shift. In the notice, the IRS reiterated that taxpayers are not required to use the standard mileage rate should they prefer to track and deduct the actual costs of travel themselves.

Tallie engineers have adjusted the default mileage mapping calculations setting to reflect the new IRS 2014 standard mileage rate. Current Tallie accounts using the default setting have been automatically converted to reflect the new rate, while accounts using any custom set auto-calculated mileage rate have been left unchanged.

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Tallie users have the option of adopting the 2014 mileage rate through the Settings tab in an Administrator’s account.

To view, edit or add new mileage rate categories, log in to your administrator account and select the Settings tab. From there, click on the Manage Lists link, followed by Expense Categories and then Mileage.

Additional Mileage Rate Information from the IRS Website:

“Taxpayers always have the option of calculating the actual costs of using their vehicle rather than using the standard mileage rates.”

“A taxpayer may not use the business standard mileage rate for a vehicle after using any depreciation method under the Modified Accelerated Cost Recovery System (MACRS) or after claiming a Section 179 deduction for that vehicle.  In addition, the business standard mileage rate cannot be used for more than four vehicles used simultaneously.”

 

Tallie Expense Software Integration Chosen as Model for Bill.com Developer Program

Bill.com recently made the strategic decision to adopt an open architecture approach, opening its code to third parties through a new Developer Program. This is a significant move because it further establishes Bill.com as the de facto standard, and positions the financial apps industry towards a model of system-to-system interoperability. Tallie was the first partner chosen to explore the full potential of integration with the Bill.com platform. Our selection was motivated by the ability of our engineering team to build a revolutionary bidirectional data integration, coupled with our willingness to work hand-in-hand with Bill.com’s development team. Find out more about their Develop Program on Bill.com’s website.

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Tallie’s expense software is featured prominently on Bill.com’s Developer Program page.

Since our integration launch last October, Tallie’s expense software has received high praise from leading accounting advisor practices including BMRG, The Sleeter Group, and Rootworks. Bill.com founder and CEO René Lacerte affirmed, “The future of business software the right combination of highly specialized, best-in-class SaaS solutions working together in a simple, completely integrated way. We have built the Bill.com App Center around this vision, and have chosen Tallie as a marquee solution because it is very simple for employees to use, yet also offers a rich set of features for accountants and financial professionals. The combination of Bill.com and Tallie is the expense report ‘killer app’ that finance professionals have long searched for.”

When we announced our unprecedented bi-directional integration with Bill.com back in September, support from BMRG and Rootworks quickly followed. It was this same integration that earned Tallie’s expense software the Sleeter Group’s 2013 Awesome App Award. This recognition from industry luminaries combined with Bill.com’s new open architecture Developer Program confirms that the movement towards the integration of SaaS financial apps, such as the Bill.com/Tallie partnership, will emerge as the leading model of success.

Using Client Feedback to Optimize Accounting Workflow

It is somewhat ironic that businesses labeled as a ‘Software as a Service’ company typically deprioritize customer support in pursuit of growth. At SpringAhead and Tallie, we look at it from a different perspective. We believe the ultimate metric of success is customer satisfaction. Highlighted in a recent SalesForce/Desk.com case study for customer support, SpringAhead has successfully maintained a 99% satisfaction rate through 796% growth period. We are continuing the same tradition and commitment to customer satisfaction with Tallie.

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Tallie featured in Desk.com feature regarding accounting workflow optimization.

Our high customer satisfaction rate is not a result of a disproportionate investment in post-sale customer care. Rather it’s the by-product of our redefinition of the whole customer support function. We do not settle for just a customer support department. Instead we have a team of product experts to engage practitioners throughout the product lifecycle, from product specification, to implementation, to accounting integration and bug fixes. The purpose is to incorporate their accounting workflow experiences into the decision-making of our designs.

The same team facilitates the implementation process and remains engaged to assess the effectiveness of our product.  Ongoing user feedback is the backbone of feature refinement and engineering roadmap prioritization.  We consider our customers as an important input to the solution, rather than taking them for granted as an output. When customers are treated more like partners, accounting workflow becomes smoother and both parties are left with optimized business.

New in Tallie: Email Receipt Processing for Audit-Ready Expense Management

Today, we are pleased to announce that any email-based receipt – whether it comprises text, image, html or includes an attachment – can be forwarded to receipts@usetallie.com for immediate receipt processing in the Tallie expense management workflow.

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Tallie expense management software processes email receipts, better preparing companies for audit with original images of receipt files delivered directly to Bill.com and/or SmartVault on export.

When an email receipt reaches Tallie, a high resolution snapshot of the receipt is collected by the system as an original file for reference in the approval workflow. While this snapshot is generated, the receipt is sent through our standard receipt processing service wherein the file is scanned for merchant, amount and date information. Just like all other receipts, an expense is then created in the user’s Tallie account populated with the snapshot alongside the scanned merchant, amount and date information. Tallie captures high resolution images of all types of original receipt files to establish the critical first step of an audit-ready expense management process.

Together with our integration partners Bill.com and SmartVault, Tallie closes the expense management audit loop by delivering all original receipt images directly into one or more of these systems on export. In Bill.com, all expense reports exported as bills are now accompanied by high resolution receipt image files as well as expense report summary files, which are always referenceable from synced accounting systems. When using the SmartVault toolbar in QuickBooks for Windows, high resolution receipt image files are mapped directly to transaction line items.

Learn more about our approach to audit preparedness via financial software systems integration here.

Tallie + Bill.com + Intacct = Seamless Expense Management

Evaluating expense management software is a difficult process. Finance teams require that any solution works seamlessly with accounting systems in order to deliver real automation value to the company.

We consider ourselves to be leaders in financial application integration and data synchronization, but the only way to judge our expertise is by experiencing the results first-hand. This is the first video in a series of product demonstrations that reveal Tallie’s powerful expense management and integration capabilities. We’d like you to be the judge.

In this 8 minute video, we cover Tallie’s expense management process from initial receipt capture all the way through to reimbursement and accounting using our Tallie – Bill.com – Intacct accounting workflow, one of many accounting workflow options offered by Tallie.

From the very beginning, the receipt image travels with the expense and report through to the very end, empowering managers and finance teams to appropriately evaluate expense and prepare for audit. Upon completion, a paid bill is logged in Intacct with all expense line items mapped to the general ledger and accounting dimensions, with direct access to original documentation in Bill.com.

Learn more about Tallie’s approach to financial software integration here.

Expense Management Makes for a Great SuperChunk

Last month Tallie participated in a panel at the Sleeter Group’s Solutions13 conference. In the panel, Tallie and Bill.com were introduced to attendees as a SuperChunk, which is a collection of software solutions that seamlessly work together to mobilize and streamline the entire expense management and accounting workflow.

The word SuperChunk stems from the term “Chunkification”, which was coined by Doug Sleeter. Chunkification is the ideology that accountants of small and mid-sized companies are abandoning the “all-on-one” solutions in favor of chunks, which he defines as cloud-based applications designed for specific financial and accounting processes. While chunk businesses do provide more control for accountants, the challenge is getting each application to effectively communicate with each other to create a unified accounting system.

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Tallie and Bill.com recognized as collection of software solutions that seamlessly work together to mobilize and streamline the expense management workflow.

 The common approach to software integration is to outsource the data transfer process to third party providers. The result is typically a manually triggered one-directional push of data into default fields. This approach completely misses the mark in building true automation. In order to effectively streamline the expense management process, Tallie engineers worked directly with Bill.com to provide bi-directional data synchronization. The result is a truly automated workflow from point of purchase all the way through reimbursement and why Tallie is the preferred and only expense management solution to connect with Bill.com.

Tallie’s deep integration with Bill.com is setting a higher standard and expectation for the future of accounting software integrations. Bi-directional synchronization will soon become the norm and software companies will be required to abandon the outdated third party method. This is a big win for the accounting community.

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