The OfficeTools Client Portal boosts efficiency by allowing client check-in, online appointment making, accessing invoices, making payments, and more. There are features to help your remote staff to track their time accurately and promptly. And the integration of Abacus Payment Exchange (APX) in the portal means you can accept client payments from all major credit cards, e-checks, trust & operating accounts, and get paid nearly instantaneously!
The Client Portal built-in to OfficeTools boosts efficiency by allowing client check-in, online appointment making, accessing invoices, making payments, and more. There are features to help your remote staff to track their time accurately and promptly.
To get more info on APX, visit abacusnext.com/apx
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Hello everyone and welcome to today's webinar. My name is Amanda and I'm the marketing coordinator here at Abacus Next. Today I have Brandon here with me and he'll be showing us why the OfficeTools client portal is more than just documents. The webinar will be approximately 30 minutes total, with a 20 minute presentation, followed by around 10 minutes of Q and A session. Please feel free to enter your questions into the GoTo Webinar control panel throughout the presentation and we'll answer them at the end. Without further ado, I'll turn it over to Brandon, and let him take it away.
Thank you very much, Amanda. Again, my name is Brandon. I'm from OfficeTools. Today we're just going to be talking about some of the more advanced, a little bit beyond the obvious features of the portal. So for those of you guys who use the portal, you probably have heard about the secured document transfer component and kind of know how to set a client up on the portal, send documents back and forth, but what you may not know is some of the more advanced features that we have available inside of that portal. And for those of you guys who are brand new, this is just going to be kind of an overview, so you can get the idea about all the different things that the OfficeTools portal actually offers.
So I'm just going to roll through these screenshots real quick on the slideshow that I have here for us. Here's some of the major things that we're going to kind of touch on today. One is going to be called client check-in. So when your clients come into your office and they're sitting in the lobby, if you have a tablet, computer, a laptop available in that lobby, they can actually check in for their appointments, update their contact information and even answer some sort of questionnaire that you have set. So you can automate the process and leave your staff to do more efficient things than actually getting people ready to meet with you. So that's one major thing we're going to touch on. Another thing, if you want, this is a little bit scary for some offices, but we do offer the opportunity for your clients to go online and actually schedule appointments with you, without even calling in. So if they have a portal account that's already set up, they can log into that portal account and you can allow them access to your calendar in obviously a controlled manner and they can update and add appointments onto that so that they can leave your staff alone.
We also offer some staff side things. If you have remote staff that are out in the field. Maybe you're doing audits or something like that. You can actually have them log into the portal using their staff login and enter their time and that will immediately push back down into your OfficeTools program. So even if they're not in the office, they have really no excuse to not be tracking their time. And last by not least, the feature that we've recently updated is the opportunity to send out a remote questionnaire, meaning that they don't have to be checking in, they don't have to be sitting in your office checking for an appointment that they have with you to answer a questionnaire. You can generate and send out questionnaires to people who are not coming into the office and they'll come back into OfficeTools and update into their document management system.
And so there's some other things in there that we'll get back to you, but without further ado, we're going to jump into the actual program and I'm going to show you some things that we're going to focus on today. So that first thing that we talked about for client check-in, the client check-in feature originates mostly from the OfficeTools side. There's not a lot as OfficeTools users are going to need to worry about here in the portal itself. Most of what you're going to be doing is going to happen from within OfficeTools for this client check-in. There's a couple of things that you absolutely have to have when you're trying to create this system for your clients. Under the contacts tab, they do need to have a piece of information, whether that be email address, social security number, or an FEIN number, entered into the contacts tab. In order for them to check in for their appointment, they will need to present one of those three pieces of information to identify that they are actually who they say they are, okay?
So when you're entered into OfficeTools, you will need to make sure that the clients that are trying to check in for their appointments have those three pieces of information, okay? Now, they don't have to have a portal account to use this feature. So they don't necessarily have to be set up on the portal to check in for their appointment. But they do have to have, again, an email address, a social security number, or an FEIN number to check in for their appointment. The next requirement to utilize this feature appropriately is that they do have to have an appointment on your calendar. And that appointment needs to be within an hour of the start time and end time of that appointment in order to check in. So if they come in to check in for their appointment and they're three hours early, their appointment won't show up in the check in option, right? They key in their email address, social security number, your FEIN number, it won't let them check in. So they have to be within that window.
And then as long as you have an appointment for them on your calendar and as long as you have a social security number, or an FEIN or an email address in that client, the last piece is you actually need to go to the portal website on whatever device you're going to use to have them check in on. And remember that this is something that they will have to have in the lobby or wherever you guys are planning on having them do this, and it will actually be logged into the portal. Now, here's the tricky part. You do have to log into the portal under your staff login. So not under the client, not under and administrative login. It has to be under a staff login.
Once you've logged in under you as a staff member, you're going to go to the portal and you're going to hover over the Office Tools, or whatever your company name, in this case shows up in the black bar here at the very top, and you're going to go down to this option that says check-in form. And when you do that, it takes you to a specific section of the portal where your clients can't go back and see the information that you have in the portal. They're going to be locked into this window. So if you have some sort of tablet, or computer, you might want you IT to lockdown so that they can't get out of this website and search the web, or they can't hit the home button on the iPad or whatever it is to make sure that this is where the information stays. But from here, you'll notice that you have that email, that social security number and that FEIN number that they can key in to check in for their appointment.
Once they do that, they'll actually go through a questionnaire type of thing where they can update their information, they can plug in all of their new phone numbers, their new email addresses, all that kind of stuff, right into there. And that will push back through into the OfficeTools program, on the appointment that you have with him and allow you to actually accept those or deny those changes, because maybe they put in some data that isn't tax related or something like that, put in some nicknames, and that'll allow you to update the OfficeTools database, without you having to manually key in data. So you're allowing your clients now to, while they're checking in for their appointment, letting you know that they're here, to also do some of that data entry for you. That way you don't have to have your staff or even yourself enter in phone numbers, new emails. It's all going to automatically pop into OfficeTools. You can do a quick overview, make sure it all looks right, accept it, then push it into the OfficeTools contact list.
And obviously there's a little more to it. If you need some help or you're looking to implement this feature, definitely get in contact with the Pro Serve team. We'll be more than happy to help you out. But that's a newer feature that we've implemented to allow, again, some automation and to allow your clients to do some of that work. So if you're looking to do some of the check ins, then you can absolutely get in contact with us. We'll help you get that rolling.
Alright, so the next piece that we have, that we're going to talk about is going to be online appointment making. And I know, again, I said this kind of can be a little scary for some people because the idea of allowing your clients to have access to your calendar can sometimes be a little daunting. Alright, but just understand this, is that you control the access that they have. This isn't a free for all. They're not going to schedule you for five in the morning or 12 at night. This is just going to be controlled in a way where you can set your availability, that they have access to on the portal, and they can work within that availability. So if you're looking to implement this piece, it's actually going to start, again, from the OfficeTools side here. And when you guys go to the schedule tab, you'll notice that there's a portal button here in the tool bar. And this is where you need to start to set up your availability so that your clients can access your calendar on the portal.
So when we click on this portal button, you'll see it says manage availability. And when we open up this window, you'll notice here on the left, you have a calendar and you have a staff member. So you want to make sure that you're creating the availability for the appropriate staff member for the appropriate day. So in this case, you can see that the admin staff that we have in here, that's just a fake staff member. They have availability set up from eight to 12, and from one till five. And you can see that goes on for a few weeks. And the way that you created that availability is by clicking on this create availability option. You'll specify a start and end time. You'll specify a start date. You'll specify an end date, if there is one. You'll tell us how often you want this availability to reoccur, on what days. So if you want this to be Monday, Wednesday, Friday, availability from this time till this time and then an availability from Tuesday to Thursday, then you create each one of those opportunities. That way, again, you're controlling the access that your clients have on the portal.
So in this case, we have availability set from one till five and that's all you guys really need to do. The process that happens at this point is that when your clients log into the portal, under their own login, they can go to this schedule tab. So right now I'm logged in as a client into the portal. And when they go to the schedule tab, you'll notice that there's these gray sections, which, if you try to schedule an appointment in there … Let me actually log in here. I guess that didn't work as well as I thought it was going to work. So give me just one second guys. The pressure. Alright. So get logged back in here. Alright, so now we're in the schedule. It's going to take a second to load up for us. Alright. So now if I click on that gray box and I try to schedule an appointment within the timeframe that exists, I plug in my details, I hit send request, you'll notice it says that that staff member is not available for that selected time.
So it's not going to let them get outside of what you've allowed them to be in when they're scheduling appointments. So they can only schedule appointments in the white boxes that they see. Now even though you set your availability from, let's just say in this case, eight to 12 and then from one till five, if another client comes in here and schedules an appointment from eight to 12, or from eight till nine, then that area will be blocked off gray. So it's going to update as you put appointments on your own calendar, and as your clients schedule appointments with you, the availability will shrink to show the timeframes that are available. It's not just going to be eight to 12, and one till five, at all times. It is going to update as your clients populate in their appointments.
Now when they come onto the portal here, and they can schedule in an appointment with you, it'll push back through into the OfficeTools program, and when you see the appointment here, it will actually alert you that it's a request, and you still have the capability of denying or accepting that request. So just because they went online, they scheduled an appointment from 11 to 12, doesn't mean that you're locked in. You still have the opportunity to accept that appointment. And if that simply doesn't work any longer, or you need to move them up 15 minutes or move them down 15 minutes, you can make those appropriate changes within OfficeTools, and it will prompt you to send out an update to you client to let them know those changes. And it will also change your availability within the portal itself.
So although initially it seems kind of daunting and maybe a little bit scary, that system is controlled thoroughly by you. So you don't have to be that afraid, right? But you still want to make sure that you're managing it correctly, because in the long run, it is a good service to provide to your clients. A lot of other industries like the medical field, are implementing that to help with the automation and the staffing issues that you might have keeping people working on what's important.
The next feature that we want to touch on little bit here, before we jump into questions, is going to be touching on the staff time tracking component. Now if you guys are familiar with OfficeTools and you're tracking time within our program, there's the time tab right here, inside of our program, and this screen is where everyone keys in their time, or where all their time is accumulated. Now the reason why I bring this up is because even though there's no protal button in here or anything that directly ties to the portal, the columns that you guys have set across the top up here, these columns right here, are going to be the columns that are available to you if you logged into the portal to track your time.
So you want to make sure that the columns that you have in the OfficeTools program are the columns that you need. And if you are familiar with the fact that you can even change those columns, they're located under the settings up here at the top, and you can turn on or off whatever columns you need on your time sheet. So if you don't run start and end times, you only post plug in quantities, it's important to turn off those start and end times. That way, you're not having to do extra button mashing or trying to skip through those fields. You can just go straight to the quantity, plug it in and call it a day.
So a little bit not portal related, but portal related training there. Make sure that your columns on your time sheet are correct. That way, when you guys go into the portal … So we're going to head back to our OfficeTools version, and we're going to return to the portal here. Because remember, we're in that client check-in window. Now we get back to our portal. You'll notice that there's a time button up here at the top, where when you click on this, it'll actually give you a breakdown of your day, just like normal. And so inside you here, you can actually come in and start tracking time. So the grid will display each of the different columns that you have available in the OfficeTools, and it's just a matter of coming in and actually tracking your time directly against this specific client, specific time, specific workloads, specific projects, and you're good to go and you're running through.
And all of that automatically pushes down into OfficeTools, onto that staff member's time sheet. So as long as you guys are running your service host and all that's running correctly, this will be available to you if you have, again, staff that are maybe working in an audit, out of the office, not available. You don't have remote connection for security purposes. You don't have a terminal server. You're not an APC for whatever reason. This allows you access to your time sheet. That way, again, maybe for billing purposes, everything is being updated and pushed through.
And then the last thing that I want to bring to your attention, because it's come up a lot recently, and I want to make sure that you guys are aware of this, while your clients check in, right, we've covered that check in in the beginning … When your clients check in, there is a questionnaire that they can fill out. We kind of talked about that, touched on it a little bit. But a lot of questions have come through recently where what happens if the client doesn't have an appointment? They're mail in or something like that and we still want this specific questionnaire filled out, that way we get the information that we need to work on whatever job we're doing for them. Well, we just recently added the functionality to send a remote questionnaire to your clients that aren't on the calendar, that aren't checking in for an appointment in your office. The setup for the questionnaires is the same. There's not a separate section to set the questionnaires up. So you'll still do that under your portal settings.
But to send that out to the client, if you click on the contacts menu at the very top left of the program and you go down to send remote questionnaire, this allows you to select the questionnaire that you want to send, and this again, pulls from that previous list you have under your portal options, and then once you've selected the questionnaire, you now choose the clients that you want to send this to. And you can get very specific here. You can choose contact groups, you can choose individual entity types, you can choose a selection based on the custom fields that you have filled in. You can go in and just pick one client. But you control who is actually going to receive this questionnaire.
Now the key here is, and obviously you might have thought this through, but if they do not have an email address, then this won't work, because this is going to be sent via email, piggybacked on the portal, so if you don't have the portal, this also won't work. So you have to have the portal. The client doesn't have to have a portal account, but you have to be subscribed to the portal. It'll send them an email where they get the questionnaire. They can answer all of the questions in there, and then when they complete it, it'll send back to you and update automatically into the documents tab located over here. So it all connects, just like if they answered the questionnaire while they were checking in for their appointment. It automatically attaches to your appointment and pushes to the documents tab. So we just allowed a little bit more access to that feature, even if your clients aren't sitting in your office checking in for an appointment, you can still utilize that functionality to provide a service, to give yourself information, and make sure that it's all tied together.
Now that was where the basic … Those were kind of broad strokes there. If you want more information, or you're using the portal, we are available, you can access the training team. We have an email, so you can always email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. But we're going to do right now, is I'm going to have Amanda come back on and ask the questions that you guys have put in. And then we're going to jump into those and kind of focus a little bit more on what you guys have to say.
So Cody would like to know does the scheduled availability sync with Outlook as well if the calendars are linked? And if an appointment gets scheduled outside the portal, will it still show them as available?
That's a great question. So just to kind of recap the question, the availability, does that show in Outlook and how does the OfficeTools slash portal slash Outlook calendars all connect? Now, if you guys aren't aware, we do provide an Outlook sync. And the Outlook sync is really so that you can see your appointments mobiley. So when you are putting calendar appointments in OfficeTools, they can sync into Outlook. Now the availabilities that you're creating, whether that be in the portal or in OfficeTools directly, those do not sync into Outlook. So what that means is that … And here's why … We want you to be scheduling your appointments in OfficeTools, or utilizing the portal. So when it comes down, it's already matched up against your availability, which means when it pushes into Outlook, it doesn't need to worry about that. But, your appointments can be synced from OfficeTools to Outlook, and in some cases, there is a necessity to sync it also from Outlook to OfficeTools. So the availability does not sync, but the appointments will remain synchronized, that way you don't have to worry about managing it in both places.
Renee would like to know are clients able to select 30 minute or 60 minute time slots, depending on what they think is necessary, or will it only allow the default setting?
That's a great question. When they go in to schedule their appointment, they can set their own duration. Obviously, there's going to be a default one, and there's also a max one. So you can set how long your max appointments can be, but when they do go into schedule an appointment, they can set their start and end times right here. And you can control the actual access that they have to this area.
So Edward would like to know will this work on an iPad or phone?
That's a great question and that actually comes up a lot. People are a little bit worried about compatibility and that type of thing. The good news for everyone is that the portal itself is not an application, which means that it's not something that you're downloading to your phone. So platform doesn't really matter. As long as you have, on whatever device you are trying to use, internet and a web browser, then this will work. You will simply login to your portal website, access it under your staff member login, and then if you're looking for the check-in feature, they can do that. If your clients are logging in on the portal, it's web-friendly. So it's simply a webpage, it is not an application. So the platform that it exists on actually doesn't matter.
David would like to know do they get email alerts and who gets the email? Admin or staff that will be in the client meeting, or both? And when the clients book an appointment and when they book at 8:59 for a 9:00 AM, is there a forewarning?
That's a good question. Remember, everything happens within OfficeTools. So that means when you add an appointment to OfficeTools, all of the people involved will see it. It'll pop up on people's lists, all of that happens. On top of, inside of your OfficeTools program, okay, when you go down to your settings inside of your portal, okay, you can set who receives notifications for what. So there's a whole tab inside the portal where all of your notifications can go. So there's always going to be notifications sent to the people involved, but you can also add more notifications if you wanted your receptionist to always get an email when someone checks in, even if the appointment isn't with them, you can set all of these different notifications inside of here. So schedule requests, schedule request confirms, canceled, updated, right? Notifications for the questionnaires, when the client checks in, when they update their information on the portal. All those notifications are actually controlled by you and you control who they go to.
So yes, you can absolutely control who in your office is receiving the alerts and within OfficeTools, if there's an appointment schedule in a relatively short amount of time, everyone involved will be notified immediately. And remember, it's not an automatic appointment. It's still an appointment request. So if it's too soon and you're not available, you can always deny that request.
So it looks like several people are asking how to set up and input the questionnaires and whether you can send a letter as a questionnaire.
Sure. So the questionnaires are very specific. So there is nothing else that you can have sent as a questionnaire, other than actually building it within OfficeTools, alright? And the questionnaires can be accessed under the setup menu. If you guys go to my company, information and settings, if you go to the integrations option, the very first tab is going to say portal. And this is where you can add, edit your questionnaires and make sure that they're linked to the appropriate types of appointment. So if you have an individual checking in, their questionnaire will probably be different than a corporation that's checking in. So when you go to add or edit, it's very similar to a lot of the other setup menus inside of OfficeTools. You're going to add or select your questionnaire over here. And then you start creating the actual questions themselves. And when you create a question, you actually define what type of question it is.
So we could say this is … Let me actually type it in there. So we're creating a question called this is a test. Then once that pops up, we now specify is this a check box that we can only pick one? Is this a pick all that apply? Is this a drop down menu? Or is this something where we want the client to type something in? And depending upon the type of question that we choose, we also need to select the answers that are appropriate. So if we have check boxes, where we mark one, we might want to add in yes and no into the options for answering that. So now we have this is a test, a checkbox mark one only, and the only answers that we have available are yes or no. So when they get that questionnaire, they'll check it off the answer that's appropriate, and then they move onto the next question. And then the last piece is, once you have the questionnaire built, so test one, for example, you can assign it to the entity type or types that this questionnaire needs to be sent to.
So we have a few more questionnaire related questions. So Larry would like to know can you import your own questionnaire?
So Larry, in this case, you have to build it here because we generate the actual questionnaire itself. So there's no import of anything. You can't attach files to it. You can't have a Word doc that you send out as the questionnaire. The actual questions and answers need to be built within OfficeTools, specifically. So right now, we don't have the capability of using an external force to drive these. It all has to be built within the OfficeTools program.
Debbie would like to know if two people set up an appointment at the same time, what happens?
Whoever set up the appointment and actually solidified it first, which there's always someone, will get the appointment. The second person, when they go to actually wrap up their information, when they click okay, it'll say that they're no longer available during that time. And so they'll have to pick a different time. So programmatically, there has to be someone that clicked it first, and so that person will receive the appointment. The next person will get an alert saying that they are not available during that time, and they will have to pick a different time.
When a client returns a completed questionnaire, what will be uploaded to each respective client's portal automatically, by OfficeTools?
So when a client finishes the questionnaire itself, nothing is actually uploaded to the portal. It actually comes in and if it's a check-in, they check in, then it attaches the questionnaire as a document, a PDF document, into OfficeTools attached to that appointment. Therefore, it sits in the documents tab. If it's an external, remote questionnaire, then it comes back into OfficeTools under the documents tab. Because remember that your clients do not have to have a portal account to utilize the check-in and questionnaire features. So there is no direct connection to their portal, only a direct connection to the document management system inside of OfficeTools.