HTML in Client Task Emails - Send Beautiful client tasks

  • 28 December 2021
  • 28 replies
  • 715 views

Userlevel 7
Badge +19
  • Sr. Karbon Community Guide
  • 1238 replies

Goal:

Make collecting information from clients as easy as possible

Steps:

  1. Create a questionnaire in Typeform
  2. Add hidden fields

     

  3. Publish (You’ll get a URL that looks like this but with your own typeform_key and form_key)
    https://typeform_key.typeform.com/to/form_key#preferred_name=xxxxx&client_name=xxxxx&work_item=xxxxx&contact_name=xxxxx
  4. Add a little HTML link to a Karbon client task. This page may help you understand what’s going on here: https://www.w3schools.com/html/html_links.asp
     
  5. Replace the placeholder “xxxxx” with your the dynamic tags in Karbon
    (update typeform_key and form_key to your unique values)
    Add dynamic text between the <a> tags
    <a href="https://typeform_key.typeform.com/to/form_key#
    preferred_name=<%preferred_name>&
    client_name=<%client_name>&
    work_item=<%work_name>&
    contact_name=<%contact_name>">

    <%client_name>'s <%work_name> Questionnaire

    </a>
  6. Send and test
    This is how it displays in Gmail
    The link pre-loads the client’s information to automatically personalize.

     

You may notice that I have a “&” in my client name, which breaks the tag as it’s passed through the URL. Best not to have any “&” symbols in your client names for this to work well.

The possibilities for this are nearly limitless. I’m curious to see what you all come up with.


28 replies

Userlevel 7
Badge +19

Next level would be to use Zapier and a webhook to have Typeform tell Zapier to fire a webhook over to the Karbon API to update the work item status upon completion of the questionnaire. If anyone figures that out, let me know 😀.

Userlevel 5
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@max you’ve made my head spin - in a good way and think how I can do this differently in the future! 

 

You guys are awesome when it comes to ideas and implementation. 

Userlevel 7
Badge +19

Thanks @Coral!

You may find that just using a little HTML to format your client task emails is a good place to start. I haven’t tested it, but we are planning to use bold to set off important dates like this:

If we do not hear from you, we will file your 1099s by <b>January 31, 2022</b>.

Here’s a list of text formatting HTML tags that should work. I’d love to hear about any of this you implement.

Link: https://www.w3schools.com/html/html_formatting.asp

Userlevel 6
Badge +10

@max I’m curious, how do you manage the information coming in on the back end in TypeForm?  I’ve found it’s not in an easily extractable or pretty format.  Also, do you request sensitive information in the TypeForm, or just Y/N and dollar amount type questions for the applicable tax year?

We’ve been toying with TypeForm for our annual questionnaires, but the security and back end format so far have pushed us to use Adobe fillable forms for our questionnaires.  

Userlevel 7
Badge +19

Hi @kylenecarse!

Typeform meets our policy requirements for security and privacy as it meets HIPAA standards:

https://community.typeform.com/suggestions-feedback-34/how-to-get-a-hippa-baa-in-place-for-compliance-1057
 

We collect general information, enough to know what further details we need. We’re experimenting with having clients schedule a quick call when they submit their documents as a way to go through and confirm that we have everything we need to finish the return.

We have traditionally planned to have a second round of document gathering and a second ‘prep’ step halfway through as clients never seem to get everything to us the first time. With the upfront phone call, we’re hoping to avoid those middle steps.

Any important documents or sensitive info would be exchanged while on the phone via Karbon or verbally.

Our hope is to get a really good idea of what DAY we’ll be completing the client’s return, thus avoiding another time waster, clients calling for the status of their return.

As for the formatting, I’m planning to populate a spreadsheet with the answers and fill a “pretty” document with the fields. I’ll let you know how that works out, lol.

Is any of that helpful?

Userlevel 6
Badge +10

Thank you @max !!  Yes very helpful.  We’ve also considered doing quick calls to ensure we have all documents, just unclear yet on how to roll out and who to offer the service to.

Would love to know how the spreadsheet population goes!  Are you thinking you will manually dump the data from TypeForm to a spreadsheet or are you thinking automation could do this?  I’m all about a pretty presentation, especially a spreadsheet, but also gotta be practical and useful and quick!

Userlevel 7
Badge +19

Are you thinking you will manually dump the data from TypeForm to a spreadsheet or are you thinking automation could do this?

I’m using the Office365 plugin to automatically populate a spreadsheet. Still a work in process, and I would love for there to be a way that TypeForm outputs a PDF that could be automatically saved to the client’s folder in OneDrive. If I figure that part out, I’ll let you know, lol.

Userlevel 6
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Thank you @max I am going to get my technical/creative team on this, and will let you know if we come up with anything as well!!

Userlevel 7
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Thanks @max this looks great, we are currently working on solutions similar to this.  I will also happily share anything we come up with.  It’s all about getting the info, with minimal friction for the client while making sure the team gets everything they need with out constant chasing.

Userlevel 3
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Great discussion here everyone.

@Eshah17  - FYI for our tax process improvement :)

Userlevel 7
Badge +19

Would it be helpful if there was a working session about topics like this?

I’m thinking I could schedule a 2-hour open office time where you could drop in and get setup on your end, work together on solving unique issues, and stuff like that?

Cross-pollination of ideas and exposure to each other’s work could benefit all involved, I think.

 

Your status quo might be a leap improvement for others (like me)

 

What do you y’all think?

Userlevel 3
Badge +3

I think that’s a great idea, Max. If we’re screen sharing, then there will of course be client data in view that we’ll have to figure out a way to manage. Other than that, I’m open to something like this for sure!

 

We’re in Toronto, Canada by the way.

Userlevel 7
Badge +19

It’s a good point. I’m trying to get Karbon to let me have a sandbox account so that there would be no client data exposed. I could share my screen and people could ask questions about and see in real life how it works.

Another thing we could do is have everyone sign an agreement.

We have options. 😀

Userlevel 4
Badge +5

@max Do you send a separate data collection questionnaire to get the tax forms from the client? I am a Lacerte user (was CCH for decades), and I am debating whether to use Intuit Link.  The best thing about link is the percentage completion of requested docs on the dashboard.  This way you can chase clients ahead of putting the return into ready to start.  

However, I have always liked using forms that are much more slick on Web and Mobile, so clients really enjoy the experience interacting with my firm.

 

Userlevel 7
Badge +19

Hi @Tom Kneeland! 😀

I’m not familiar with Intuit Link, but here’s how we handle document gathering:

Last year we experimented with a generic request list. We matched it up with the UltraTax tax return sections.

We had good success with general requests. We found that clients find a specific list useful, but it was cumbersome to produce a custom list for each client. We also found that the custom lists allowed clients to leave out new documents that we didn’t have in their history, and we were requesting more information in the middle of the work item even when we had excellent document request lists.

This year we think we found a way to create custom document lists very quickly, so we may A/B test it with clients and see which way works better.

Is that helpful at all?

Userlevel 4
Badge +5

Very helpful.  How are you thinking of creating the list? Also, when I have used product like TaxCaddy etc. the generic list always is tough for those with Schedule C/E etc.

Userlevel 7
Badge +19

How are you thinking of creating the list?

I think, but I’m not sure, that there may be access to client tasks via the API. If so, I’ll make a list of past requests.

Alternatively, we may have the accountants make comprehensive document request lists and store them in a spreadsheet and link the spreadsheet to the work template. It’ll be an admin step to open the spreadsheet, copy the unique tasks, and paste them into the client request section. Pasting from a spreadsheet gives you the option to create a unique task for each row.

We may come up with something total different as well. I’m still not sure.

Also, when I have used product like TaxCaddy etc. the generic list always is tough for those with Schedule C/E etc.

That’s a good point about the Schedule C returns. We discovered that the work is different enough that they get their own list and work template, which is something we plan to implement this year. We toyed with the idea of creating a work item for just the schedule C-related tasks and treat it like we treat the partnerships and s-corps where the individual return waits for the business return to complete. Also, once the schedule c is done, any of the younger preparers can finish up the return. The CPAs don’t need to spend their time doing the rest of the return when their expertise is only really needed for the schedule.

We’re still playing around with it. 😀

Userlevel 3
Badge +3

@max I’m curious, how do you manage the information coming in on the back end in TypeForm?  I’ve found it’s not in an easily extractable or pretty format.  Also, do you request sensitive information in the TypeForm, or just Y/N and dollar amount type questions for the applicable tax year?

We’ve been toying with TypeForm for our annual questionnaires, but the security and back end format so far have pushed us to use Adobe fillable forms for our questionnaires.  

@max @kylenecarse hello! I'm reviving this from many months ago, but just curious if either of you landed on a more pleasant data extract from typeforms? We are deploying typeforms and Karbon client requests in our audit planning processes this year (if I can deal with our most complex requests, I know the system will work for our less complicated items next!)...and I have not been able to solve for this beyond a person logging in and downloading the response in excel.

I am not opposed to the Excel format (although well copy and paste/transpose right away so the responses go down instead of horizontally)...but am open to a more automated way of getting the responses to the right team member.

Last but not least, I'm loving the custom URL to the typeforms idea, Max. Some fun ideas brewing from there!

Userlevel 6
Badge +10

@Jonathan Gibson Good to hear from you!

We decided to abandon Typeform and found a tool that is easier to extract data from and the resulting PDF is also much easier to read.  We are now using https://paperform.co/ for several reasons.  

1 - much easier to read out put on the back end and also keeps stats on answers and tracks if clients are getting stuck on certain answers.

2 - there is an e-signature function for no additional cost so we have added our engagement letter to our annual questionnaire so that we only have to send the client one packet that they can complete at one time.    

So far we are liking it much better than TypeForm.

Only downside is the building of the questionnaires takes a little more time as the interface doesn’t work as easily as TypeForm for conditional questions.  

Can’t wait to hear what @max has been up to!

Userlevel 3
Badge +3

@Jonathan Gibson Good to hear from you!

We decided to abandon Typeform and found a tool that is easier to extract data from and the resulting PDF is also much easier to read.  We are now using https://paperform.co/ for several reasons.  

1 - much easier to read out put on the back end and also keeps stats on answers and tracks if clients are getting stuck on certain answers.

2 - there is an e-signature function for no additional cost so we have added our engagement letter to our annual questionnaire so that we only have to send the client one packet that they can complete at one time.    

So far we are liking it much better than TypeForm.

Only downside is the building of the questionnaires takes a little more time as the interface doesn’t work as easily as TypeForm for conditional questions.  

Can’t wait to hear what @max has been up to!

Thanks @kylenecarse! Will have to check out paperform. So you would prepare a personalized engagement letter and manually attach it to a customized questionnaire for each client?

Userlevel 7
Badge +13

We do something similar, but we have the links to the forms in the portal.  It is the first two tasks in the initial client task that automatically sends at the end of January.  They use the magic link to access the portal.  They can then click the link in the task and complete the form.  Once submitted, I get an email with the completed form attached and I tag it to the work item.  The questionnaire can be updated each year to include additional questions or remove questions that no longer need to be asked (Thank goodness no stimulus payments).  We also do this with our engagement letter.  Here is what it looks like.

This process has worked great this past tax season.

Userlevel 6
Badge +10

@Jonathan Gibson no, our engagement letters for our tax work are all standard language.  We are in the process of converting clients to monthly engagements, but we still have a lot of legacy tax only clients that we needed an easy way to get engagement letters and our annual questionnaire out in one easy consolidated way.  Here is what we send to our individual tax only clients:  https://bwco-individual-tax-questionnaire-2021.paperform.co/

We are hoping to eventually get back to the client requests in Karbon, but for now we are sending out in Liscio with our standard tax season message to clients.  @DianeK it’s great to hear the magic link and requests are working well!

Userlevel 7
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We are looking at implementing something similar to what @DianeK described, so I am also very happy to hear it’s working out well. 

Some of team have expressed concern around the client not wanting to engage with the portal either trust issues or wanting a more personal touch.  Has anyone had any pushback?

Userlevel 7
Badge +13

@Victoria Peters  We have a few clients that will not use the portal.  The beauty of the links is that they can be copied into an email and sent that way as well.  The client can then click the link from the email, without accessing the portal, to complete the form.  I still get the completed form in an email and can tag it to the work item. I have had very few clients be unwilling to complete the forms using this method.

Since the links just take you to the form to complete, I have also had success with having the client sit at my computer and complete the form.  This way I can hold their hand and assist if necessary.

I have also printed out copies of the form and had them complete the information on paper.  We have a few elderly clients that do not have computers or emails.  They complete them in the office or I will mail them copies and they mail them back completed.

I would say about 95% of our clients complete the forms from the task list. It has worked very well this year.

Userlevel 7
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Thank you @DianeK That is super helpful and I will share with my team!

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