One of our objectives this year was to make some progress on Xero for Farming. Today we’re releasing a Farming Integration guide that provides a blueprint for seamless farming and accounting software. We have a number of providers with solutions in progress.
Farm solutions have traditionally included farm management and accounting. They are also traditionally disconnected from other software. The farmer works away on forecasts, livestock and fertilizer planning on their software while the accountant in town often processes bank transactions from the bank statements – the same work being done twice.
We’re solving this problem by helping farm solution providers use our API to connect the farm management side of their business to accounting in Xero. Here’s our thinking:
Payroll is a hard thing to love! The greatest compliment that we ever receive is the joy our customers feel for something that is now simple, that was once so complex. Our goal here at Xero is to bring you the most beautiful US domestic payroll product that we possibly can. Over the next few blog posts, we’ll share with you our plans for seamless accounting and Payroll, provide some snippets of the product and invite you on our roadshow to see it all in action – live and up close.
Since the idea was first born to bring payroll to the Xero product here in the US, we’ve focussed on making the experience seamless and simple. No longer is it acceptable to separate payroll and the general ledger. This potentially introduces costly mistakes through export and import, or synchronization.
The Accountant’s Technology Showcase Australia (ATSA) conference in Brisbane last week kicked off with the traditional CEO Debate & Forum featuring our very own Chris Ridd (Managing Director in Australia), Tim Reed (CEO of MYOB), Brad Paterson (Intuit) and Alan Osrin (Sage Software Australia).
It was encouraging to learn that in a ‘Leaders & Laggard’ survey by Smithink and MYOB, concerns expressed about the cloud in previous surveys had decreased significantly in 2013. This is a sign that forward-thinking accountants and their clients are beginning to really embrace the benefits of collaborating via the cloud.
Today, Xero employees are traveling across the US to bring Xero to the backyards of US accounting professionals. Personally, I’m out at Accounting Today’s Growth & Profitability Summit and looking forward to speaking this afternoon about the virtues of the cloud and how Xero can help you take your small business clients and your accounting practice to the next level.
Today also marks day 1 of the Xero US Roadshow and, from our counterparts in Australia, week 2 of the Xero AU Roadshow for our accounting Partners or anyone interested in becoming a Xero Partner. We’re specifically kicking off in Baltimore, MD and Seattle, WA. Registrations have been phenomenal and we’re looking forward to meeting both existing Partners and those interested in Xero, face-to-face at 20 cities across the US over the next month.
A month ago in Chicago I was fortunate to attend a cloud conference for a future add-on. As the representatives demonstrated how to move the data from QuickBooks into their solution, it was clear how painful it was – multiple steps, saving of files, finding files, backup required, and validation of the integrity of the systems after importing the data. In contrast, when they demoed the integration (in beta) with Xero, it was simple, smooth and – well – worked as expected. Night and day difference.
As a follow-up, I took the stage, talked about Xero and fielded questions from the crowd. Like most conferences and other speaking events I attend, the first question was, “This is great, I have been waiting for an alternative to QuickBooks and I love your product. But can you migrate my data from QuickBooks to Xero?”. People leaned forward… the room got quiet… and I responded, “Yes. Yes we can. You provide your QuickBooks file, and we’ll provide you a Xero organization with all your data in it.” The huge applause from the audience, to be honest, felt pretty good. (Note: We are talking Quickbooks US only)
QuickBooks conversion has always been regarded as something hard, complicated and almost impossible to do. In July Gene Marks wrote in a Forbes article that “No one’s figured out migration. They may talk a good game, but none of these vendors have really come up with a seamless way to migrate data from your old system to theirs.” Well, Gene we’ve done it and we are working on making it easier and easier every day.
As you might have heard last week in the US press, we announced the release of Xero’s free QuickBooks conversion service. No more manually entering in conversion balances. No more recreation of transactions. No more confusion regarding conversion balance dates – just provide us a file and we’ll do all the rest. It is something that the industry has been waiting for, deemed by some as the last barrier to elevating Xero as THE alternative to Intuit’s QuickBooks in the US.
But what products, versions and data do you support?
Following on this week’s news on our updated Xero Touch iOS App, we’re very pleased to announce Xero Touch was last night named winner in the Line of Business and Best Web App categories at the 2013 Australian Mobile Awards in Sydney, which “celebrates creativity, courage and innovation in mobile achievements.”
The app enables small businesses to use key Xero features when they’re away from their desks. It also offers a range of features that are only possible with a mobile device, such as the ability to instantly capture and attach photos of receipts for expense claims.
So much work in all businesses happens away from the computer and office, so it makes sense to enable people to manage their data wherever they are. With the Xero Touch app, our customers manage their information on the move. Wherever people are, they can stay productive and in control of their business by creating invoices, reconciling their bank accounts and much more.
Our Help Center provides a wealth of information about using Xero, including “how-to”, “getting started”, “about” and “troubleshooting” content. Over the past few months we have increased the number of videos within the help centre and these are proving popular with customers.
We’ve now created a short 2 minute user survey and are asking for your participation and insights. We would love to hear about your experiences, including when, why and how you use the Xero Help Center. We want to make sure we are providing the information you want, when you want it.
Our goal is to provide relevant step by step information that’s easy to locate when needed. We want to provide it in various formats because we know everyone learns differently.
We’d appreciate 2 minutes of your time to give us your point of view and help us make the Xero Help Center even better. Thanks!
From time to time we get the question, why doesn’t Xero support offer phone assistance?
We know that busy small business owners hate waiting on the phone to speak to someone who often can’t even help them. We also want to ensure that when you talk to someone at Xero, that person can solve your problem, as quickly as possible.
Trying to guess how many people to have sitting around waiting for customers to call is an impossible problem to solve. So we deliberately came up with a different model, where you can tell us the problem, automatically giving us as much information as possible, then get on with your business. Then one of our Xero customer experience (CX) team can have a look at what’s going on, let you know what to do, or give you a call to sort things out.
This video explains how Xero support works.
We track our response times and the number of contacts it takes to resolve a problem closely. If we see times slipping that gives us the business case to hire and train new customer experience team members.
Continuing the strong momentum we have seen in Australia, I was invited to speak on Sky Business News by Peter Switzer, host of Switzer TV and recent Xerocon MC. The focus was on the imminent shift among SMEs to the cloud. I also spoke about Xero’s strategy in the Australian market and why our partners are such strong advocates for our company.
The success we have seen in Australia is huge. We are signing up 200-300 new clients every day, and have grown to 79,100 paying customers. This is almost two and half times the previous year. It has proven that small business owners want an alternative to traditional desktop solutions.
A few weeks ago I made my way to Smiths for UnXpected, a gig held by one of our gold partners, NWN Blue Squared, for their clients and prospective clients. UnXpected was the result of four months of planning by UK accountant NWN, Whiteoaks PR, Net Mentor and Xero to try to create something totally different, something progressive, something that, in the words of Nick Lawrence, CEO of NWN, ‘was not a boring seminar or, my worst nightmare, a day of golf!’
The aim of the event was to attract new clients from NWN’s main customer base – artists in the creative industry. You can read more about how UnXpected came about in Making a client event extraordinary. The event also gave the team a great opportunity to increase their PR by inviting journalists to a totally different kind of client event – one that they would really enjoy!
With over 100 people packed into Smith’s great basement venue, a few drinks and some lovely nibbles, it was a cool and trendy affair, with an eclectic group of artists (all Xero users) providing the music for the evening.