In this webinar recording, learn how you can take advantage of your OfficeTools Client Portal! Watch how it allows for your clients to book a time to meet with your staff according to their availability, update their own contact information, and more. See how it simplifies your work!

 

About Free Training Thursday: Since the beginning of 2017, we have been holding these free, 30-minute training hosted by our industry-leading experts and innovators who will teach you about AbacusLaw, Amicus Attorney, the Abacus Private Cloud, and now, Results CRM and OfficeTools Software. If you would like to request a topic, please email webinars@abacusnext.com.

Video Transcription

Hello everybody. Thank you so much for joining me. Today's seminar webinar is going to be Online Scheduling with the OfficeTools Client Portal.

If you're using the OfficeTools Client Portal, you may have not known that you can actually have your clients schedule appointment with you or with your teams through the portal. It's very cool. We're going to talk about it today. I'm going to sneak in some other portal related goodies that you may or may not be aware of. The big picture here is talking about scheduling.

As everybody knows, or maybe you don't know, my name is Philip Phares. I'm the Director of Education here at AbacusNext and an OfficeTools product specialist. What I do is a lot of training. I do a lot of education both in webinars and one-on-one online stuff. With AbacusNext being the parent company, I've got to see a lot of really cool things come from OfficeTools being hosted in the APC environment, in the Cloud environment. We've actually done a lot of work on it to make sure that OfficeTools not only is maximally efficient in this Cloud environment but that all of the other tools that you need are also there and available.

If you are considering going to the Cloud, you really want to look at APC. Go to AbacusNext.com, check out some of the information there. If you're using OfficeTools, it's really a perfect fit. It's a match made in the Cloud, so to speak. If you would like more information on it, or you have more questions about APC, the Abacus Private Cloud, let me know.

OfficeTools, obviously has the client portal, and it's attached directly to OfficeTools. This is really helpful because when you're inside of OfficeTools, and you need to upload a document to a client, or you need to retrieve a document from a client, you can do all that from one place. You go to the Client OfficeTools, you click on the documents tab, you see all the files for the client. You simply select what you want to send, and you hit the portal button. It then uploads that file, and they can download it at their discretion. It's all secure, and it's all done from within the program.

Alternatively, or in addition to that, there's some other things that the portal can provide. When your client logs in... and I'm going to go ahead and pull up the client view here... Get this in a view that makes more sense. I'm looking at it now from ABC Company's perspective. That's my client. So I could login, and I can see my invoices. I can download my documents that have been uploaded to me. I can do all that from here. But, there's also a button here for schedule. If I wanted to schedule an appointment with my tax or accounting office, I could actually come here, choose the person at that office who has actually set up availability. Choose the person I want an appointment with and request it right here on the schedule.

I'll show you this here in just a moment. What's going to happen is it's going trigger a whole event of things. Notifications are going to go, emails are going to be sent. This is a really cool way of having an online scheduling presence when you're working with and dealing with your clients. But let's go back into OfficeTools for just a moment. Let's go back into OfficeTools and figure out how we get there using the Client Portal.

The good news is, it's already set up. If you have OfficeTools and you have the Client Portal, everything is already there and ready to go. The only thing that you have to do is navigate to the actual schedule tab, okay, make sure you're logged in under your name. Then there's a portal button now available here at the top. If you click on this it's actually going to give you an opportunity to open up the Manage window, for availability. From here, you just choose the dates and times that you want to set up your availability. Maybe it's Monday from noon to five and Tuesday from eight to noon. You can go ahead and build your availability throughout the week, the month, even the year.

There's some tools that allow you to do this in other ways. You know, you want to set something up for only Mondays and Fridays or you want it to roll over every month, that type of thing. Makes it very quick and very convenient to block off availability. This is also reflective of your actual OfficeTools calendar. For example, I have availability set up from noon to five today, but if I make an appointment for a different client or for a staff meeting or for some other purpose, then that, obviously, will be reflected on the client's view of my schedule. They will not be able to book a time within that frame.

Again, it protects us from being overbooked, or double booked, and it's very easy to set up. Everybody will have to set this up. If they do not have, or if you do not set up your Portal availability on the schedule, your name will not be visible for clients to request appointments with. Let me be clear on that. If you don't set up availability, you don't have to worry about clients scheduling things. But the moment you do those blocks will be visible on the website.

It's very cool, and it's very easy to do. We've set up our availability, we're ready to go. We're saying from noon to five everyday we can go ahead and set up availability, or schedule appointments. Let's go back to the client's view. They log into the secure portal. They choose the schedule tab. I'm Nathan today, so I have Nathan's name chosen here, and the client can go ahead and select a time. They can make some adjustments. They can put in a subject if it's something different than the default. They can send that request.

A couple things will happen from my desk at my office. I'll actually receive a pop up notification alerting me that this client has requested an appointment. It's also going to refresh and show up on my OfficeTools calendar. I'll just do that manually here real quick, to speed it up. That appointment will actually show up on my calendar as a request. It maybe small, maybe a little hard to see for everybody looking through their screens, there's actually a yellow question mark here showing that this is requested. We can see request appointment.

What I can do is, I can click on it and actually confirm it, or I can remove it and cancel it. Regardless of which one I do, whether I confirm or deny this appointment, the client will then be notified of that choice. They'll receive an email. It'll show up on their Portal page showing them that the appointment has been confirmed. I can click on it. I can go ahead and confirm that appointment. It updates in OfficeTools, an email is then generated to be sent to the client telling them "Yup, great, see you at 1:00" and we're done. This was all done online and this was all done through the Portal. Obviously, I'm not really going to send an email but the template that goes out you can also customize by the way. If there's a particular language you want to use in your email you can go ahead and modify and customize it. Otherwise it just says dates times and subject.

That's it. We're done. We have an appointment. When the client actually arrives, okay, this appointment can then be marked arrived. That's just a very quick, very easy way of pulling together the scheduling in OfficeTools with the Portal solution online and getting your clients access to do that. It's going to save a lot of phone calls, a lot of confusion. There's a thing that occurs when somebody calls to schedule an appointment. There's that back and forth. Well, are they available at this time? No they're not. Well, what about this time? No. And there's that whole dialogue that occurs between the scheduler and the client.

This can really help clarify and eliminate a lot of that back and forth. They can very clearly see what is available to them and they can choose a slot that works best. Really efficient. Speeds things up. It's really nice service. It's all built in. The only set up part is that you have to go and create that availability.

Another thing that this will do is this will actually give you the opportunity to use a kiosk check in system. That's another built in part of the Portal. What I'm going to do real quick is I'm going to change gears just a little bit and let's just say hypothetically I want to use a kiosk. What I'm able to actually do is have an iPad or a surface, some kind of tablet device. Touch screen is preferable but really it can be any computer. I can have that at my front desk. Now what I'm able to do is actually set this device up in the front and if appointments are scheduled whether mainly within OfficeTools, or online, the client can actually walk into the office at the scheduled time, put in their email address, when they booked their appointment and if they have an appointment in the system they can go ahead and actually begin to check in.

What's really cool about this is that they can update their info. It'll show, it'll say "Hey, have you changed your address?" "Do you want to update your phone number?" Those types of details. They can do that right here from the screen. This information that they update is then actually pushed back into OfficeTools and upon approval will update OfficeTools. This is fantastic. They can make an appointment online. It'll show up on everybody's calendars and everybody gets emails and notifications. When they come in they can go up to a computer, they can check in on that computer and actually update their info. Once they do update that information it will automatically then update in OfficeTools.

Okay, I'm going to move this appointment a little bit. Let's go ahead and actually ... Oops, see I have my availability so I can't move that appointment. But all of these things again are conveniences for the client. They are going to reduce administrative burdens when it comes to tracking. To be honest with you, it's also going to reduce some mistakes. The more that people touch things, when it comes to entering data of various kinds, there's always an opportunity for things to go wrong, for mistakes to be made. Having an automated system handle this really helps reduce those potential errors, those human errors. It being all in one system is going to speed up the process. So there's a lot of benefits to it.

What I'm going to do real quick is go ahead and log in so we can see that check in form here real quick. When the client goes to login, or I'm sorry, when they come to the kiosk if they have an appointment, and I just moved that appointment to simulate what would happen if this was the actual time. The client can come up to the kiosk, enter the passphrase, actually login, and here is the screen that they're then presented to update their info.

There's three different tabs. They can change their contact info, they can update their address, and you can actually even use custom fields, so any of the custom fields that you're using within OfficeTools on the contact tab can be available on here. You can turn all these on or off and you can require some to be required, or un-editable. For example, you may not want them to modify certain information, you can block those particular items off.

I'm going to go ahead and check in. That's it. We're done. You're appointment time is 10:30 AM, great I'm checked in. It goes back to the main screen. This kiosk can again just sit up at your front desk and as appointments get scheduled they can check themselves in. It updates everything in OfficeTools. Any changes are then requested and pending, so if ABC company did want to change their phone number I may or may not want to approve that. You have that level of control also.

While this may be a little confusing at first, you are seeing both sides of what's occurring here. Just to go over it one more time real quick. All you would need to do if you're using the OfficeTools Portal is create availability on your schedule. That's all you got to do. The client can log into their Portal account, see what you have available, request it. It shows up. You can then confirm it or remove it, deny it. They'll be notified of those acceptances or declinations. That's it. You're done. Very simple. Very easy.

If you want to use the kiosk system then you just need a computer that's accessible to your clients. They can go up to the desk. They can log in. Use their email address and their credentials, log in and it shows that they've arrived. That will then show up on your appointment. If you have a questionnaire, the questionnaire will actually attach itself to the appointment. Again, very cool, very quick, very easy to set up and use.

Okay, some other things that are going on with the Portal that people may not be aware of if you're not using the Portal very often. I know this is about the scheduling, but again, that's, in a nutshell that's kind of it. It's one of those really, really valuable tools that is super, super easy to use. We just wanted to bring some light on it because this time of year, as clients are scheduling things, we want to make sure that we have an opportunity to do that as efficiently as possible.

Another thing about the Portal that is a little less known is time tracking. That's a big one. If you have remote staff, or you're out of the office and you need to enter time for OfficeTools, you can actually do that again right on the Portal. There's again, there's two kinds of trains of thought here. One is I want to be able to view my time online, or I want to enter my time online and have it show up in OfficeTools. It can be a little bit of both.

Right now we're on the client Portal but we're on the firm view. So now I'm actually logged into the company's Portal account and I can see my name in there as a user. I can see all of the clients who are on the Portal, all of their documents and so on. Well there's a tab over here called time, and this is the actual time sheet that we also see within OfficeTools. As I enter time into OfficeTools under this time tab here, it will actually show up and reflect on the website. When I enter time in on the website, again it will show and reflect inside of OfficeTools.

It's very cool. It happens again more or less immediately. This gives us again two places to enter our time. More opportunity to do it online. What I've done, which is actually really cool, is you can log into the website on your phone, for example, on a mobile device, and then just save that page on your phone as an app icon, so to speak. While it's not a mobile app per se it's a link to a website that's available like any other app on your phone. So I can pick up my phone click the OfficeTools time button, it'll take me to this website and I can enter my time in real quick on my phone. It's very cool. It's very, very cool. It helps things, it helps me when I'm on the road or out of the office to view my time to make sure I didn't miss something, to also enter time. It works the exact same way as it does within OfficeTools. It's a very very cool feature in regards to the Portal and scheduling and time tracking. It's very very helpful.

Some other things about the Portal, again, that maybe a little less know or a little less obvious, is we've updated some things recently. When it comes to how you sync clients to the Portal and how you download files. I'm going to bring those to everybody's attention again, just to make sure that everyone's aware of this functionality. Now what you're able to do is sync more than one client at a time. Traditionally what you've had to do is go to a contact, they have an email address, you click the Portal button, it sends them the appropriate information and your done. Yeah, very quick but it is a client at a time.

Now, what you're able to do is if you actually navigate up the contacts menu here at the top, there's an option to sync multiple contacts to the Portal. This will allow you to choose a whole list of clients, all of them, or you can cherry pick a couple if you want. Click one button and they will all receive the information. They need to log in with their temporary passwords, all their credential information, it'll upload their data. They'll have a landing page when they log in. Makes it very quick and very easy to do.

In addition to that you can now view all of the files that are on the Portal also. If you want to see what's there and do some housekeeping, clean some documents out, you can do that from one place now. In addition to that, if we go over the documents tab under the Portal button, you now actually have the ability to download all of your documents for your client with one option. What you can actually do is click on the button, choose to view the files. It'll bring up the page, now this client hasn't, obviously, uploaded anything to me 'cause they're not a real person, but here I would see all the files that the client has uploaded to me and I can choose to download all files in one pass.

Again this is something that's in the newest update. Make sure that you're on version 2018.013 or greater to make sure you can take advantage of this functionality, 'cause this makes it much, much quicker to not only upload clients to the Portal but to download their files in bulk.

The last thing about the Portal that I'm going to talk about here is really the invoicing and payment side. The Portal, again I'm sure everybody now understands, is a lot more than just send and receive documents. That's obviously a big part of it. We know now that it can schedule and clients can schedule online. We have online time tracking capabilities. We can also do some billing stuff with the Portal. Really it's about sending a client invoices via the Portal and they can actually pay it on the Portal and you can pull that information back into OfficeTools.

It's very easy to do, again, once it's set up. There is some set up involved in this. Especially when it comes to the payment area. If you're interested in this and you're not using it, give us a call. Send us an email to training@officetools.com and we'll be more than happy to talk to you about it and discuss what your options may be and what's going to work best for you. Really, what it comes down to is just navigating to the billing tab. Choosing a client and invoice that you want to upload. There's a Portal button right here at the top. You can upload that invoice.

Again, the client is notified of this. Information is sent via email. They can click on it. It will then take them right to their Portal where they can login with their credentials and view and pay their invoice. Very quick. Very, very cool.

That's about it for the Portal. I want to go and open up the last five or ten minutes or so that we have here. I am going to run a polling question here in just a moment, but I want to open it up to any questions. If you have any question about the Portal, any questions about the functionality that you've seen, if you want to see more, you want to see it again, let me know. If you have any questions about OfficeTools at all, this is a great opportunity to do that. You can enter those right into the questions area. I'd be more than happy to go over those.

Q&A

When confirming appointments with email, will Outlook keep asking us to allow access to each time or is there a way to keep that open?

There might be a setting with Outlook that is blocking you and wanting you to basically allow access. There's some Windows settings. You shouldn't have to allow access each time. Contact our support team at support@officetools.com. I think they do run across this quite frequently. It's more something on the Outlook side, but I'm sure they can guide you through on having that work without it bothering you for access every single time.

Will the update overwrite prior information or will it leave an audit trail as to what's changed?

I assume that you're referring to the updating of OfficeTools. This will not affect any data. We always recommend that you update OfficeTools as soon as an update becomes available. It does not overwrite or remove any data that you're going to have in the system. Everything is completely intact. Typically our updates are bug fixes or new features. We're very cautious about changing anything that might affect data. If we do, we test quite diligently to insure that doesn't really affect anything in a negative way. If you're not sure, what version you're on or if you want to check for an update, the easiest way is to actually just navigate up to the help button in OfficeTools up at the very top. There's actually an option in here to check for update on the web. That will let you know if you're on the most current version of OfficeTools or not.

I apologize, this person was actually referring to the Portal record. Yeah, if you update it, it's not going to overwrite. Well, here's the thing, if you're referring to them updating their contact info on the check in, then yes that will update and overwrite the data that's there. If it's approved to do so. But, John, what we might want to do is actually get on the phone and actually talk about some circumstances that you imagine going through and see if there's going to be anything affected. Really what it comes down to is all the information that's updated, whether it's client updating their own information or somebody syncing or re-syncing themselves to the portal, we've gone through great strides to make sure that we're not losing any historical data or audit detail.

I can blanket this still by saying nope nothing's going to get overwritten or removed from an audit historical point of view, however, if you have some specific things, please, again, just email training@officetools.com and we'll be more than happy to set some time aside and chat with you a little bit more about it.

Can you link the portal to a website?

Some other questions that popped up is about linking the Portal to a website. It's a great question actually. What you're able to do with the Client Portal, and again this kind of depends on whether you mange the Portal or someone else does, but what you are able to do is if you actually log into the website as a user, as an OfficeTools user, in the settings area there's actually a place in here for login widgets. What this is, is a bunch of html code, which, you know, it's a bunch of gibberish, but this code can actually be posted on your website, so that your clients can log into your website, which is obviously great for online presence, and there would be an option there for the Portal login. They would enter their credentials in and it would take them to the secure OfficeTools Portal, which is why we have a branding available from a logo, you can change the color scheme in order to accommodate it looking at much like your website as you want. Again, it's secure. It's very well protected, but they can log in from your website using the login widget code.

To wrap up today's training, just log into the Portal, go up to the top under settings. There's an option here for a login widget. If you're going to be using the scheduling and you're going to be using the invoicing or any of those additional Portal functions, you may want to revisit your settings. Specifically, the area under notifications because this is where you can control what notifications are generated for what type of event. Such as a client requesting an appointment, a client uploading a file, them checking in, so on and so forth. If you haven't been in here in a while, or you want to start expanding the use of the Portal and using some of these additional features, you definitely want to review your notifications for the Portal to make sure that all the information is going to the correct person based on what the event may be, them scheduling something or uploading a file.

Again, I just want to yell out to everybody thank you very much for joining me. I have a lot of fun with these. I appreciate all of the feedback so thank you for taking some time out of your day, but also for replying to the polls and joining me there. Again, everybody have a great day and thank you very much for joining us. Don't forget to visit the webinars page for upcoming trainings!