Tag Archives | Small Business

Intuit Does Customer Management for Small Business

As much as any major software company around, financial mainstay Intuit is in the ongoing process of reinventing itself for the Web. So it makes sense that its newest small-business offering is debuting as a Web service; Customer Manager is a little-company version of what big companies call Customer Response Management (CRM): A suite of tools for keeping track of your relationships with the companies who do business with you. It’s a browser-based, customizable, shared database of customer information that syncs with Intuit’s QuickBooks–you can see recent financial transactions, for instance–and can import and export information from Outlook and Exchange.

Customer Manager also has a shared calendar and to-do list; there’s also a BlackBerry version, with editions for other smartphones on the way.

Judging from the demo Intuit gave me, the whole shebang aims for basic features and simplicity rather super-sophisicated stuff. Which may make sense for the target customers: Small businesses who are still juggling data about customers using Excel, if they’re doing it at all. The price is right, too: $9.95 a month for up to five users.

So much of small-business America’s customer info is already stored in QuickBooks that Customer Manager feels more like a logical extension of what Intuit’s already up to than a brave new frontier. I asked Product Manager John Flora if we’d see the company branch out more with additional services for Web-savvy smaller companies. Yup, he said, we would. The world of QuickBooks is still fairly desktop-centric–the online version doesn’t try to replicate the desktop ones–and it’ll be interesting to see if it follows Quicken’s current fast-forward move to the Web.


Smart Security for Small Businesses

Small Business Security WebinarJust a quick reminder: I’m hosting a Webinar on small business security tomorrow, Wednesday, August 19th at 2pm EST. I’ll cover real-world security tips and strategies, especially those that can help prevent problems from happening in the first place. I’ll also field questions from the audience.

The Webinar will happen at Verizon’s Small Business Center, and if you can’t make it tomorrow, it’ll be available in prerecorded form, too. Here’s a page on the Small Business Center’s program of Webinars, and here’s the registration page for mine.

Hope to see some of you there!

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Intuit Turns Phones Into Credit Card Terminals

Intuit GoPaymentEver do business with a mobile service provider such as a plumber or electrician who doesn’t accept credit cards, or tries to convince you to write a check instead? Isn’t it annoying? Intuit aims to make accepting credit cards on the go simpler and more affordable with GoPayment, a service it soft-launched a few months ago and formally announced today.

The notion of using a cell phone as a mobile credit card terminal isn’t new–here’s an iPhone app that accomplishes it. But Intuit says it’s most important to support the phones that mobile service company employees use in the real world–which tend to be flip models rather than the latest smartphones. So it offers a Web version of GoPayment that can work on any phone with a browser, and the list of phones it’s supporting with a slicker downloadable application version of GoPayment includes the Razr and various other flip phones (and the BlackBerry Curve) but not the iPhone. (I asked Intuit if it plans to launch an iPhone version, and the company wasn’t willing to say it was working on one…but it did acknowledge that it was logical to support popular phones, and the iPhone is, indeed, popular.)

Small businesses can use GoPayment without additional hardware by tapping out credit-card information on a phone’s keypad, but that’s kind of clunky and introduces the possibility of error, and receipts must be hand-written or sent via e-mail (GoPayment can do the latter automatically). So Intuit offers an optional Bluetooth card swiper for $145 and a Bluetooth swiper/printer for $219. Both are a lot cheaper than standalone wireless card terminals.

GoPayment Hardware

Intuit says that its transaction fees for businesses that use GoPayment, which start at 1.64% for transactions that involve a swiped card and 2.44% for ones tapped in on a phone, are competitive with other card-processing options. Oh, and it almost goes without saying that GoPayment offers integration with QuickBooks to get transactions on the books (Intuit told me that half of GoPayment customers are also QuickBook users).

Looks slick and useful–and I’ll be interested to see if any service company shows up at my house with GoPayment any time soon.