Intuit has announced a new offering around QuickBooks targeted at retaining growth companies for longer. It is launching QuickBooks Online Advanced, this is effectively QuickBooks Online Plus with an additional service wrap around it.
One of the key metrics for SaaS companies is churn. The move is recognition that the more sophisticated ERP vendors such as NetSuite and Sage Intacct are quick to persuade companies they need to move to their solution. One that can offer the kind of service wrap that mid sized companies expect.
In recognizing this Intuit have launched the add-on service wrap to QuickBooks Online Plus to retain those businesses for longer. This is not a new software solution, nor does it include additional functionality, although it does allow up to 25 users. With the additional applications the QuickBooks App Marketplace can create a virtual ERP through a mix of different add-on applications. These include TSheets Time Tracking, Methods:CRM and Expensify.
What’s missing was the level of service level. Intuit could not afford to offer this for the current price to all its customers.
What do you get for your money
It should be noted that there is a significant price difference. Currently the cost per user for Intuit QuickBooks Online Plus is $60 per user per month (discounted by 50% for the first three months). The new QuickBooks Online Advanced is priced at $150 per user per month (again discounted to $75 for the first three months). Online Advanced grants access to QuickBooks Priority Circle membership. This is a higher level of support for companies that often have more complex questions. It includes several elements:
Dedicate Customer Success Manager: This is a single point of contact for any technical or product questions a business may have.
Priority Care: An enhanced service offering that gives those callers a higher level of priority in the call queues. During peak times especially this could be useful.
Training: Each customer will receive five complimentary online training courses, valued at $2000. Whether this is repeated every year is unclear.
Some companies have already transitioned. It demonstrates that QuickBooks is no longer just for the startup but can also service larger companies. Don Smith, CEO of Elite Electronics commented: “As a mobile automotive repair company, all of our employees are remote and need access to QuickBooks to create and send invoices. When we reached 90 employees, my CPA noticed we were outgrowing QuickBooks. I connected with the QuickBooks team and they recommended transitioning from QuickBooks Online to the new QuickBooks Online Advanced.
“QuickBooks was with me every step of the transition and ensured the process was pain-free. The level of attention, support and care that I receive with QuickBooks is what has kept me a very loyal customer for more than 12 years and it is great that QuickBooks has been able to grow with my business.”
Is more functionality coming to QuickBooks Online Advanced
The press release did state two product enhancements that will be launched soon. However, it is unclear whether there are purely for advanced customers or for plus customers as well.
- Import Invoices functionality, will give users the ability to import hundreds of invoices created outside QuickBooks. There is no detail in the press release, but there will no doubt be a specific format that need supporting. However for some business this could be very useful.
- Custom User Permissions, in larger organisations there is more separation of duties. This functionality will enable financial controllers to apply permissions to manage data and and function access to staff.
Intuit also promises more functionality over the coming months.
What does this mean
There are some questions Intuit need to answers around this announcement. It seems a defensive measure to counteract against the churn they are experiencing from larger customers. While they are having to put more resources (CSM’s) in place the revenue gained should cover that.
Alex Chriss, Senior Vice President and Chief Product Officer, Small Business Self-Employed Group at Intuit commented: “Intuit has been helping small businesses grow for decades, and we are often one of the first partners a new business chooses in their journey. As these businesses grow, many are faced with the decision to move off our platform, forced to transition to the next level of enterprise software that is both expensive and too complex for their needs.
“Not only does this involve the transfer of data, it requires learning a whole new system to run their accounting. We can now serve customers who are self-employed all the way to those with hundreds of employees and a high volume of transactions.”
The other question that needs answering is whether this service is only available in the US. Pricing does not appear on the UK, Canadian or Australian website. If successful in the US it may well be rolled out elsewhere. This is a clever move by QuickBooks. Whether it is one that will see it actually target the mid-market seems unlikely. What it may do is protect its customer base from the mid-market accounting and ERP firms a little longer.