People download the Expensify app for all kinds of reasons: accountants looking for a better (read: less shoebox-shaped) way to collect receipts from clients, employees sick of submitting taped receipts to their boss, and even individuals who just want an easy way to track how often they’re eating Taco Bell (me; too often). One of the major challenges we’ve faced is how to ensure that Expensify works for everyone without requiring tedious configuration. Enter Inbox.
Birth of the Inbox
Because users don’t fall into a single bucket, the Inbox feature started as a way for users to define their own use case. Inbox prompted users to complete “tasks” they found relevant, dismiss ones they didn’t, or “reshow” tasks when goals changed; it was a way for users to mold Expensify into the product that made expenses work for them. The fact that Inbox was asking users to answer questions about themselves (rather than asking them to configure settings) made setting up Expensify easier and more fun.
Needles sans Haystack
In the meantime, we’d built a ton of automation around the expense reporting process so that doing expenses took very little manual effort. Our patented SmartScan technology, for example, reads expense data off of receipts so employees can just snap a photo as they make a purchase, and have the money in their bank account the next day. So while the automation features made expenses easier for of 95% of use cases, the reality was that rules differed from company to company and some expenses just need more detail.
Rather than forcing employees to go looking for out of policy expenses, we realized that we could proactively surface those problem expenses by creating specific tasks in Inbox. The employee could fix the problems with a few taps and Expensify would submit the employee’s report for them on-schedule, ensuring that they don’t ever have to think about more than what’s necessary.
Given the incredible feedback we received from employees, we quickly decided to replicate the experience for managers. Approving reports feels like work when it involves hunting down errors that might not even exist. But with Guided Review, we apply rules based on the company’s T&E policy, highlight unusual expenses, flag potential duplicates, casually throw in some artificial intelligence to encourage thrifty spending, and more, all to ensure that approving expenses never feels like a judgement call.
So, how does Inbox make your life easier? The purpose of all of this is to help our users (including you!) spend less time on expenses and more time doing the things they enjoy. By presenting you with a finite list of tasks that we know you need to do, we make it easier for you to complete those tasks and be on your way. Having this functionality on our mobile app means that, no matter where you are, Inbox0 is achievable. It means that task by task, we’re one step closer to making expense reports disappear.
As always, give us a shout and let us know what you think!