Welcome to the Fit Small Business QuickBooks Online training course! In this lesson, we’re going to cover how to set up customers in QuickBooks Online. We’ll explain how to manually add customers in QuickBooks and how to upload customer data from an Excel or CSV file.
To complete this lesson, you can either watch the video below, read through the step-by-step instructions, or do both. Let’s begin!
If you’d like to learn more about managing income, expenses, and reporting in QuickBooks, download our free, 39-course QuickBooks tutorial here.
The Importance of Setting up Customers in QuickBooks Online
If you invoice customers, then you definitely want to set up profiles for your customers in QuickBooks. By setting this information up ahead of time, you will save time later on when you need to create an invoice or sales receipt because you will be able to select each customer from a drop-down menu, and most of the fields will automatically populate sales forms for you.
Setting up your customers will allow you to do the following:
- Expedite Customer Billing – Quickly create invoices for your customers since all of your customer data, like billing address, shipping address, and due date, will automatically populate from the customer profile.
- Track Sales by Customer – Tracking items purchased by your customers is a great way to get to know what your customers like so you can market to them strategically.
First, we’ll explain how to add customers in QuickBooks manually. However, if you have more than 10 customers to set up in QuickBooks, I recommend that you proceed to the next section of this lesson, How to Set Up Customers in QuickBooks Online Using an Excel or CSV file.
How to Add Customers in QuickBooks Manually
If you have just a few customers to add to QuickBooks, then you can do it manually. However, if you’ve got more than 10 customers, you should import this information from a CSV file. To learn how to add customers in QuickBooks Online, head over to the How to Import Customer Information section of this article.
The six steps on how to set up customers in QuickBooks Online manually are:
1. Navigate to the Customer Center
To set up your customers in your company file, navigate to the customer center by clicking on Customers on the left menu bar:
2. Create New Customer
Click the blue New Customer button in the upper right-hand corner, as shown below:
3. Enter Customer Information
At a minimum, you need to enter basic contact information for your customers. This includes contact name, business name, bill to address, email address, and telephone number.
Below is a sample customer that we are setting up for our fictitious company, Paul’s Plumbing:
Below are the fields that you need to complete and an explanation of how that information will be used by QuickBooks:
- First and Last Name -Complete this for individual customers; this information will appear on all sales forms (i.e., invoices, sales receipts, and estimates).
- Company – Complete this for your commercial or business clients; this information will appear on all sales forms (i.e., invoices, sales receipts, and estimates).
- Display name as – This field will auto-populate based on the information entered in the Customer Name field. This is how your customer will show up on your Customer list in QuickBooks.
- Print on check as – If you have to write your customer a check for any reason, then this field allows you to change the payee name if it is different from the customer’s name.
- The Address tab is where you enter the billing address of your customer. This should be the mailing address where you send your customers their invoices.
- Shipping address – This is the address that will be used to ship products to your customers. If you do not ship products to your customers, then just leave the default setting (which is to make the shipping address the same as the billing address).
- Email – The email address that is entered here will be used to send customers their invoices if you choose to email them and not mail them.
- Phone/Mobile/Fax – Enter the contact telephone numbers provided by your customers.
4. Enter Payment & Billing Information
In order for QuickBooks to alert you when a customer invoice is coming due or is past due, you need to set payment terms. In addition, you can indicate your customer’s preferred payment method (check, cash, or credit card), preferred invoice delivery method (email or U.S. mail), and their opening balance if you are converting from another system to QuickBooks.
Below is the Payment and Billing tab that we have set up for our fictitious company, Paul’s Plumbing:
The fields that you need to complete, and an explanation of how that information will be used by QuickBooks, are:
1. Preferred payment method – You can indicate here what method your customer prefers to pay with. If it is a credit card, then you can enter the credit card information here so that you have it on file.
A WORD OF CAUTION: While it is convenient to keep your customer’s credit card information on file so that you don’t have to ask for it every time, it is also imperative that you safeguard this information. For example, if you have multiple users who access QuickBooks data, be sure that you limit access to only those who actually need this information.
2. Preferred delivery method – You can indicate here what method your customer prefers to receive invoices. During the lesson on How to Set Up Your Invoices, we set up a default delivery method for all customers. If you want to change the default delivery method for any customer, you can do so here in the customer profile.
3. Payment terms – In the Setting Up Invoices lesson, we set up default payment terms for all customers. If you want to change the default payment terms for any customer, you can do so here in the customer profile.
4. Opening balance – This field can be used to enter an outstanding balance for a customer. For example, if you are converting from another bookkeeping system to QuickBooks and your customer has some outstanding invoices, then you can enter the total outstanding balance here when you set them up in QuickBooks. When that customer sends you a check, you can apply it to this opening balance in QuickBooks.
Need more information on how to set payment and invoicing terms for customers? Our How to Offer Customer Financing article breaks down how financing works and how to determine if it’s right for your business.
5. Enter Other Customer Information
Here is some additional customer information that you may want to keep track of in QuickBooks:
- Notes – Enter any additional information here that you would like to keep track for your customer (e.g., additional contact names or numbers). This information is for internal purposes and will not be visible to your customers.
- Tax Information – Enter your customer’s resale permit information here if they are not subject to sales tax.
- Attachments – Attach any documents that you would like to keep on file for this customer (e.g., signed contracts or copy of email correspondence).
6. Review Customer Setup
Now that you have completed the customer setup, the customer will appear in the Customer Center as indicated below.
When to Add Customers in QuickBooks Using an Excel or CSV File
Setting up customer profiles in QuickBooks Online allows you to quickly pre-populate invoices with customer data and track sales by customer. If you have more than 10 customers to set up in QuickBooks, I recommend that you put the information in an Excel document and import the data into QuickBooks Online. By doing it this way, you could create customer profiles in half the time it would take you to enter this information manually.
How to Add Customers in QuickBooks Using an Excel or CSV File
In order to add customers in QuickBooks using an Excel or CSV file, you will need to enter your customer data into a spreadsheet format. At a minimum, you should have your customer’s name or the name of a company, the first and last name of your contact, their email, and their telephone number. You also need the billing address for your customer if you plan to send invoices via snail mail.
QuickBooks allows you to capture a lot of data about your customers, but the key fields that you should include in your Excel or CSV file are:
- First/Last Name for individual clients or Company name for a business
- Billing address
Don’t worry about the format of the spreadsheet—just make sure that you have the above key fields in the spreadsheet. Once you have your spreadsheet ready, follow the instructions below to import the data into QuickBooks.
The five steps to add customers in QuickBooks using an Excel or CSV file are:
1. Navigate to Import Screen
To import into QuickBooks, click the drop-down arrow to the right of the blue New customer button and select Import Customers, as indicated below.
2. Select the Excel Document to Upload
Click the Browse button to locate your Excel file, as indicated below, and go to the next screen.
TIP: If you want to see a sample Excel file, just click the Download a sample file link as indicated below. Keep in mind that there is no need to reformat your spreadsheet. In the next step, we are going to map the data so that QuickBooks will pull the right data from your spreadsheet.
3. Map Your Data
In this screen, you will select which field in your spreadsheet should connect to the corresponding fields in QuickBooks. This will ensure that the correct fields in QuickBooks are populated with the right information.
The fields that you need to complete, and an explanation of how that information will be used by QuickBooks, are:
- QuickBooks Field – This is the field in QuickBooks where the data will import.
- Your Field – From the drop-down, select the field in your spreadsheet that matches the QuickBooks field (i.e., the field where the information should import to).
Once you have completed mapping your data, go to the next screen.
TIP #1: The fields in your spreadsheet do not have to match the field names in QuickBooks, like the above screenshot. For example, in QuickBooks, there is a field called Mobile. In your spreadsheet, you may call it Cellphone. As long as you map the Cellphone field in your spreadsheet to the Mobile QuickBooks field, the data will import fine.
TIP #2: Don’t worry about having more fields in your spreadsheet than what you see in QuickBooks. The only data that will import into QuickBooks are the fields that you match to the QuickBooks fields. You can indicate No Match for the fields that you do not wish to import into QuickBooks, as indicated above.
4. Perform a Final Review of the Data Before Import
This is your final opportunity to review the data and how it will import into QuickBooks. Be sure that you double-check the following:
- The number of records agrees with your spreadsheet
- Verify that the information is in the right fields (e.g., email address is in the email field, etc.)
If something is not right, click the Back button to go back and make any necessary changes. Select Import once you are ready to proceed.
5. Import Is Complete
Once the import is complete, QuickBooks will provide you with a message like the following: 10 out of 10 customers have been successfully imported!
How to Modify Customer Information in QuickBooks Online
You can change or update customer information anytime. From the Customer Center, click on the customer’s name, as indicated below, and make any necessary changes to the customer profile.
How to Delete a Customer in QuickBooks Online
Similar to Products and Services, you cannot delete a customer once you have used them in a transaction. For example, once you have created an invoice for a customer, it is considered a transaction. This invoice (transaction) is linked to financial statements, and those financial statements will be used when you file your taxes.
However, if you decide that you no longer will do business with a customer, you can inactivate a customer just like you can for products and services. The inactivate feature will simply hide the customer from the Customer Center, but they will still appear in all financial records if there’s been a transaction.
To inactivate a customer from the Customer Center, select the customer, click on the drop-down arrow next to Create Invoice, and select Make Inactive, as indicated below:
Confirm that you want to inactivate the customer by selecting Yes:
That wraps up the section on how to set up customers in QuickBooks Online. The next lesson in our QuickBooks Online Training Course is How to Import Vendors in QuickBooks Online. This lesson will cover how to add vendor information to your QuickBooks Online account.
If you’d like to learn more about managing income, expenses, and reporting in QuickBooks, download our free, 39-course QuickBooks tutorial.