This article is part of a larger series on Accounting Software.
In this QuickBooks Online tutorial, we’ll explain how to set up customers in QuickBooks Online. We’ll show you how to add customers manually in QuickBooks and import customer data from an Excel or comma-separated values (CSV) file.
This free tutorial is designed to help you get the most out of QuickBooks Online, our top pick for best 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.
Step 1: Gather Your Information
First, gather all the information you have for each of your customers. Unless you’re only adding a few customers, we recommend that you use a spreadsheet so that you can import your information easily 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. You may need to subscribe to software capable of the conversion, such as Adobe Acrobat DC, but if you have a hundred or more clients, it’ll 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, review the How To Add Customers in QuickBooks Using an Excel or CSV File section below to make sure you separate the information in the correct columns for easy import. Even if you’re importing your client information, we recommend reading how to add the information manually so that you have a good understanding of the fields available for client information.
Step 2: Navigate To the Customer Center
Step 3: Enter Customer Information
At a minimum, you need to enter basic contact information for your customers. This includes contact name, business name, billing address, email address, and telephone number. The animated GIF below covers all the fields for adding a new customer in QuickBooks Online.
You may encounter minor differences in the layout of the fields between the discussion in the video and the actual steps in the latest version of QuickBooks Online.
The fields in the customer information screen will be carried to multiple forms throughout QuickBooks and make generating customer-related forms both easy and accurate. Below, we discuss some of the important fields in each section.
Name and Contact
- 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.
- Customer display name: 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.
- Name to print on checks: 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.
- Billing address: 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.
Notes and Attachments
- Notes: Use the Notes tab to store any helpful information about the customer, such as who referred them or their relationship with other customers.
- Attachments: Attach documents to keep on file for this customer, such as signed contracts or a copy of email correspondence.
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.
- Preferred primary 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.
- Sales form delivery options: You can override the default delivery method that we set up for all customers during the tutorial on How To Set Up Sales Form Content.
- 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.
- Language: Select from six different languages for each customer’s invoices:
- Chinese (traditional)
- Portuguese (Brazil)
The remaining tabs are optional but can store some very helpful information:
- Customer type: 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.
- Tax info: Indicates whether the customer is subject to sales tax and stores their exemption number if applicable.
- 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,
Click the green Save button on the lower right corner of the customer information screen to save the information you’ve input.
Step 4: Review the Customer Information and Edit If Needed
To review your customer information and make changes, if necessary, 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’s name.
You can now review the customer information screen by clicking the Customer Details tab. Click Edit on 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, we 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 on 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
Step 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 are the customer information, or fields, which 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’s 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 specific 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’s an example of a worksheet with just some of the basic fields included.
Step 2: Navigate To Import Screen
Step 3: Select the Excel or CSV Document to Upload
Click the Browse button to locate your Excel or CSV file and then click Next on the bottom right corner to go to the next screen.
Step 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 isn’t in your spreadsheet should be assigned to “No Match.”
Once you assign all your columns to QuickBooks Online customer fields, click Next on the bottom right corner of the screen.
Step 5. Review and Import Your Data
This is your final opportunity to review the customer data and how it’ll 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 isn’t 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’re ready to proceed.
Once the import is complete, you’ll 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’ll 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.
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
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.