In this QuickBooks Online tutorial, we’ll explain how to set up customers in QuickBooks Online. We will show you how to add customers manually in QuickBooks and import customer data from an Excel or comma-separated values (CSV) file.
We’re excited to help you learn QuickBooks Online, our best overall pick for small business accounting software. We encourage you to follow along in your own account. If you don’t already subscribe to QuickBooks Online, you can sign up now with your choice of a free 30-day trial or 50% off for three months.
This tutorial is one of our Free QuickBooks Tutorials. To complete this tutorial, you can watch the video below, read the step-by-step instructions, or do both. The video was made with a slightly older version of QuickBooks Online. The processes are unchanged, but the layout of buttons and menus may have changed. The screenshots in the step-by-step instructions are from the most current version of QuickBooks Online.
The Importance of Setting Up Customers in QuickBooks Online
You should set up profiles in QuickBooks Online for all customers you intend to invoice. You can then create an invoice quickly by selecting the customer from a drop-down menu, which will populate most fields on the invoice automatically.
Setting up your customers will allow you to:
- Expedite customer billing: Create invoices for your customers quickly with data pulled from the customer profile
- Track sales by customer: Track items purchased by your customers to learn what your customers like and personalize your marketing strategy
First, we’ll explain how to add customers in QuickBooks Online manually and then show you how to import a list of clients from an Excel or CSV file into QuickBooks Online.
Gather Your Information: Checklist for Adding Customers to QuickBooks
Before starting this tutorial, you should gather all the information you have for each of your customers. Unless you’re only adding a few customers, you should gather the necessary information in a spreadsheet so it can be imported into QuickBooks. If you already have client information in another software, determine if that information can be exported to a spreadsheet.
Print to PDF: If your existing software won’t export customers to a spreadsheet or CSV file, try printing the customer list to a PDF and then converting that to a spreadsheet or CSV. It might take some research and a trial subscription to software capable of the conversion, but if you have a hundred or more clients, it will be worth it.
Gather the following information for each client:
- Company name
- Contact name
- Email address
- Website address
- Telephone numbers
- Opening balance (what the customer owes you)
If you’re gathering the information in a spreadsheet, look ahead to the Prepare Your Spreadsheet section to make sure you separate the information in the correct columns for easy import. Even if you are importing your client information, I recommend reading how to add the information manually so that you have a good understanding of the fields available for client information.
How to Add Customers in QuickBooks Manually
You can add customers in QuickBooks Online in three easy steps:
- Navigate to the customer center by hovering over Sales in the left menu bar and then clicking on Customers.
- Click on the green New customer button in the upper-right corner of the customer center.
- Enter the new customer’s information and click Save.
Next, we will provide an illustrated discussion of adding customers to QuickBooks, along with a description of the customer fields available.
1. Navigate to the Customer Center
To set up customers in your company file, navigate to the customer center by hovering over Sales and then Customers on the left menu bar:
2. Create New Customer
Click on the green 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 we are setting up for our fictitious company, Paul’s Plumbing:
The fields in the customer information screen will carry to multiple forms throughout QuickBooks and make generating customer-related forms both easy and accurate.
- First and last name: Provide the name of the customer, or the name of the contact person if the customer is a company.
- Company: Enter the company name or leave it blank if the customer is an individual.
- Display name as: This field will auto-populate based on the information entered in the customer name field but can be changed if you wish. This is how your customer will appear on your customer list in QuickBooks.
- Print on check as: You must specify how to print the customer’s name on checks. You may check the box to use the “Display name as” field or type in a different name.
- Address tab: The billing address specifies the address to print on invoices you send to your customers.
- Shipping address: This is the address that will be used to ship products to your customers. The default setting is to use the same as the billing address.
- Email address: The email address will be used if you choose to email invoices to your customers.
- Phone/Mobile/Fax: The contact telephone numbers can be stored by QuickBooks for your future reference.
4. Enter Payment & Billing Information
By setting payment terms, QuickBooks can alert you when a customer invoice is past due. You can also indicate your customer’s preferred payment method―check, cash, or credit card―preferred invoice delivery method―email or United States mail―and their opening balance if the customer owes you money.
Below is the Payment and billing tab that we have set up for our fictitious company, Paul’s Plumbing:
- Preferred payment method: The preferred payment method determines the default payment method applied when you receive a payment from the customer. However, it can be changed to another form of payment easily, if needed, when payments are received.
- Preferred delivery method: You can override the default delivery method that we set up for all customers during the tutorial on How to Set Up Your Invoices.
- Payment terms: Unless you specify a payment term here, the default payment term you have set up for all customers will be used for this new customer.
- Opening balance: The opening balance is any amount this customer owes you where the transaction occurred prior to starting to use QuickBooks. For example, enter the total outstanding invoices your customer has from your prior bookkeeping system before converting to QuickBooks. When that customer sends you a check, you can apply it to this opening balance in QuickBooks.
5. Enter Other Customer Information
The remaining tabs are optional, but can store some very helpful information:
- Notes: Use the Notes tab to store any helpful information about the customer, such as who referred them or their relationship with other customers
- Tax info: Indicate whether the customer is subject to sales tax and store their exemption number, if applicable
- Language: Select from six different languages for each customer’s invoices:
- Chinese (traditional)
- Portuguese (Brazil)
- Attachments: Attach documents to keep on file for this customer, such as signed contracts or a copy of email correspondence
- Additional Info: Assign the customer a Customer type in the Additional Info tab; Customer types can be used to group your customers into different segments for analysis
6. Save & Review the Customer Information
Click the green Save button in the lower right corner of the customer information screen to save the information you’ve input. If you’re not already there, navigate to the Customer Center by clicking on Sales and then Customers from the left menu bar. To review a customer’s information, click on the customer name:
You can now review the customer information screen by clicking the Customer Details tab. Click Edit in the top right corner to change any of the information:
When to Add Customers in QuickBooks Using an Excel or CSV File
If you have more than 10 customers to add to QuickBooks, I recommend that you put the information in an Excel document and import the data into QuickBooks Online. This will allow you to create customer profiles much faster than adding them manually in the customer information screen.
Many bookkeeping systems allow you to export customer information to an Excel or CSV file. If you’re converting to QuickBooks Online from another system, try to export the customer information so that it can be imported into QuickBooks Online as shown next.
How to Add Customers in QuickBooks Using an Excel or CSV File
You can import customers into QuickBooks Online in five steps:
- Prepare your Excel or CSV file by creating columns for each variable you are importing into QuickBooks.
- Navigate to the import screen from the customer center by clicking the drop-down arrow next to New customer and selecting Import customers.
- Select your spreadsheet file to import and map its columns to the corresponding QuickBooks fields.
- Review your data and click Import.
Next, we’ll provide a more detailed analysis of how to import customer data.
1. Prepare Your Spreadsheet
Each row in your Excel or CSV file should contain one customer. Likewise, each column should contain a piece of information you would like to import. Here is the customer information, or fields, that can be imported into QuickBooks Online for customers:
- Customer type
- Email address
- Phone number
- Mobile number
- Fax number
- ZIP code
- Opening balance
- Date of opening balance
It is OK if some of the fields are left blank or columns are omitted. Additional columns are also OK, but they won’t be imported into QuickBooks. The titles of your columns don’t matter because you’ll be able to assign each column to the appropriate field during the import.
Use only Sheet1: Only the first worksheet or tab within an Excel Workbook will be imported. Make sure your customer information is on the first worksheet of the Excel Workbook.
Here is an example of a worksheet with just some of the basic fields included:
2. Navigate to Import Screen
To import customers into QuickBooks Online from the Customer Center, click the drop-down arrow to the right of the New customer button and select Import customers, as indicated below:
3. Select the Excel Document to Upload
Click the Browse button to locate your Excel file and then click Next in the bottom right corner to go to the next screen:
4. Map Your Data
Next, indicate which column in your spreadsheet should flow to which available QuickBooks Online field:
The left column provides all the available QuickBooks Online customer fields that may be imported. The right column provides the column in your spreadsheet that contains the information corresponding to the field in the first column. Click on the drop-down menu in each row to select the appropriate column in your spreadsheet. QuickBooks Online will populate these fields automatically based on your column headers, but you can change these assignments, as necessary. Any field in the first column that is not in your spreadsheet should be assigned to “No Match.”
Once you assign all your columns to QuickBooks Online customer fields, click Next in the bottom right corner of the screen.
5. Perform a Final Review of the Data Before Import
This is your final opportunity to review the customer data and how it will import into QuickBooks Online. The number of records being imported should agree with the rows in your spreadsheet (minus one for your header row). Also, make sure all the information appears in the correct field. If something is not right, click the Back button to go back and make any necessary changes to the mapping. Select Import from the bottom right corner of the screen once you are ready to proceed.
6. Import Is Complete
Once the import is complete, you will receive a message that the import was successful. You can now view the customers’ information in the Customer Center.
How to Delete a Customer in QuickBooks Online
You cannot delete a customer once you have used them in a transaction because doing so would delete the transaction and create an error in your financial statements. However, you can inactivate a customer if you no longer plan to do business with them. Inactivated customers won’t appear in the Customer Center, but they will still appear in all financial records where there has 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:
That wraps up the tutorial on how to set up customers in QuickBooks Online. The next tutorial in our QuickBooks Online Training Course is How to Set Up Vendors in QuickBooks Online. This tutorial will cover how to add or import vendor information manually to your QuickBooks Online account.