Product Update

New Feature: Enhanced Activities and Emails

By Hugh Cowling
Product Manager
Mar 14 2018 read

Today, we're excited to announce the launch of a number of major improvements to our Activities and Email functionality in Accelo!

Building on the Rich-Text upgrade from a couple of months ago, and thanks to the great testing and feedback of our clients during the last two weeks of beta-testing, we're delighted to get this release into the hands of all our clients. 

After the overwhelming response to the rich-text editing & formatting improvements, our attention (and frankly, that of our users) turned to what else they wish that they could do with Activities. In this respect, there were a number of things, and we're excited to be launching the following today:

Continue reading to see more detail about all of these, and at the bottom of this post you'll get a sneak peek at what's next in our plans to improve Activities. 

Forwarding Activities

Yep, we've really bitten the bullet here to accommodate more of your everyday email-client features. This change adds a simple new option for forwarding any email, note, call or meeting that's visible in Accelo. No matter whether the email was captured or created in Accelo, you can forward it to your team or clients either way. Just look for the little forward arrow to try it out:

fwd button

There are a few key reasons why users need this feature:

  1. Using the standard reply feature and including others in the conversation didn't guarantee that the quoted "previous message" would be included in the email sent from Accelo. This led to users getting emails without any context. The new forwarding feature explicitly copies the original message - including rich text and inline images - into your new email/note so it can't be missed.
  2. Sending attachments on the original email/note to others was a bit tedious. Now these will be automatically attached to the forwarded message you are composing.
  3. Users want to stay in Accelo and track their time & notes accurately, so having to switch between Gmail or Outlook just to forward an email means lost billable time!

fwd email

Note: While we allow any type of Activity to be forwarded, forwarding a meeting just means you're sending someone a copy of the meeting email in terms of the subject and body/description of the meeting - not actually inviting them.

Including Any Accelo Contact as Recipient

When we originally designed the Activity module in Accelo, we thought that the primary purpose would be to email the contacts who the work is for. Since all work in Accelo comes back to the client you're doing it for - be it a sale, project, ticket, retainer or something else - we thought it made sense to stay focused and limit the people you could include in an Activity to be contacts against that company, and optionally additional team members (contributors).

While this might be true most of the time, it is the times where it isn't true that the limitation drives you crazy. If you want to include a third party adviser or introduce two clients together, you have to remember to add them as team/contributors to some work first - all too much effort!

With this upgrade, we've overhauled the recipient's search process so that you can easily include any contacts from across your Accelo client database as recipients.

This change means you'll see three distinct result areas when typing in the recipient fields:

  • Contacts: those directly associated with the client whose work you're making an Activity, plus any other contacts you've linked as Contributors for the client work.
  • Staff: your internal team/users.
  • Other Contacts: this is the new piece; matching contacts from any other client in Accelo will appear here.

As you can imagine, the results area for Other Contacts could be very long, so to make the process of finding Other Contacts easier, the search will support firstname, lastname, email or company name - and you can mix & match your search terms, and even include partial matches.

other contact

If you can't remember the name of the person you're emailing - since you're that busy and it is a newish client - you can still click the "To", "Cc" or "Bcc" headings to show a list of the built-in Contacts (including Team/Contributors) and staff/colleagues.

recipient toUsing the new search mechanism allows Accelo to provide more relevant results - particularly when returning "Other Contacts" - for example, if you search for "George Washington" and there are 20 of them in your contact list, the ones that you've emailed recently or viewed recently will be ordered higher than the rest.

Creating Contacts On-the-Fly

Because Accelo has a CRM at its core, sending an email to an address without a client or contact behind that email address was never possible. This might have been good in the sense that it forced some users to do the right thing and set-up company and contact records in the system, but for many, this was too restrictive and downright tedious. We admit it.

Fortunately, we've overcome it by introducing a nifty little "Add Contact" prompt so you can create that missing contact in-line as you're composing an email/activity.

add contact inline

As you can see, it is super light-weight - just the bare minimum to save the contact and get you back to the Create Activity window with the new contact inserted as a recipient. If you happen to remove them, don't stress, they've automatically been saved to be searched as normal!

If you happen to search by name (rather than email) you will still see the option and we'll speed things up for you by intelligently moving the text into the firstname and lastname fields.

We'll also use the email domain to suggest existing clients which this new contact might belong to - or even fill in the Company field for you if we find only one company with contacts that have the same email domain.

Blind Carbon Copy (BCC) recipient line

Being able to BCC staff and contacts when composing an email or note in Accelo is also now possible as part of this beta release. Simply toggle to show the Cc line and the Bcc line will also appear for you.

bcc lineAs you'd expect, any other users viewing the details of an activity in Accelo won't know who was Bcc'd, but we do store this detail and display it only to the sender.

Internal Reply

Lastly - and we couldn't help ourselves here - this cheeky little option allows you to quickly emulate a Reply-All but without any client contacts, hence you're doing a reply to just the staff (internal team) who were included on the activity/email. Since we're not sure if this will be used as heavily as the new Forward button, we've opted to keep this guy in the 3-dot menu available on the right:

internal reply

What's next? Capturing Rich Emails

This release almost wraps-up our recent efforts to make emailing from Accelo more flexible and robust. While we've updated Accelo to allow the creation and sending of rich-text emails, we're still working on the ability to capture the full rich-text (HTML) emails from your customers and team - meaning the inline-images, bullet points, text colors (and more) you see in your email client (like Gmail or Outlook) will look almost identical once captured into Accelo!

We're very open to feedback, suggestions or questions about these changes - so don't hesitate to email [email protected] and let us know what you think!

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