I have been ruminating for a while about how to remove the data silos of customer information that are at work. In theory it should be reasonably straightforward, but as with most things it is not. I wouldn’t have thought our company system was that unique – surely other people have solved this issue….
We use SalesForce. com for the sales people to track prospects and customer information. SF is only used by Sales though, because the rest of us don’t trust what is in it. Sales people have a tendency of not getting the customer order details correct or the shipping address. So when an order is approved, the details are passed to another team in the Production side who verify that the order details are correct – not ordering a Windows application and mainframe add ons!
Production then enters the order and customer details into our Heat system. Heat is really a helpdesk application and I kind of fudged pieces of it to enable to recording of the customer order details.
Benefits of Heat:
- All information used by both Production and Support is visible – Support can see if a customer is calling for a product they are not licensed for;
- Customer information is maintained in single system;
- Heat has a familiar UI and can be customized to our specific needs;
- Can publish sets of data to web for client or employee review.
Drawback of using Heat:
- System designed as helpdesk and works well for that. Production use is more clunky;
- Not a true relational database making keys alphabetic rather than system generated numeric – user errors;
- Difficult integration with other systems because it is not a true relational DB with proper keys;
- Reporting is done through Access DB queries reading in MSSQL Heat tables – maintainability!
- Sales and Technology groups have different views of customers – each thinks theirs is best.
I have been looking at other helpdesk solutions, but again I am seeing limitations with capturing/editing/viewing customer purchases. We don’t need an accounting package because the sales order part is taking care of in the accounting group – completely different system!
How do other companies manage the support and order history of their customers? Is this what people mean by using a CRM system? What if you don’t trust your Sales people to keep information accurate?
I don’t know. Guess I will just keep looking at systems out there and see if anything looks good. Maybe Heat has more to offer in the newer releases….