A lot of small businesses, perhaps yours included, use spreadsheets to keep track of customer databases. This can work, and work well, at least for awhile. But as your business grows, you will likely find it harder and harder to keep your contacts organized. Its almost a rite of passage, that day when you finally decide to stop using spreadsheets to manage your contacts and start looking for a better solution.
To help you figure out if you are ready to graduate from spreadsheets, we’ve put together these five signs. If you relate to any one, it’s time to start thinking about making a move.
1. Multiple people are trying to access and update your customer database
As your business grows, you don’t just add customers, you add employees. When you have multiple people working with contacts, you need a central place where your customer database can be accessed. Thanks to cloud computing, you can set up central access to a spreadsheet. But as more people are adding to and changing the spreadsheet, it gets pretty difficult to stay on top of. Each person ends up keeping their own information, so you have bits and pieces of customer details strewn all over with no easy way to get at everything.
2. Customer related tasks are starting to fall through the cracks
With each customer comes a set of tasks. You need to make that sales call, fulfill that order, send that marketing flyer. When you only have a handful of customers, those tasks aren’t that hard to manage. You may even do a lot of it by memory. However, as your customer database begins to swell with more and more customers, staying on top of every task becomes a bigger challenge. While spreadsheets are a decent place to store information, they are not that great for action oriented or date based tasks.
3. You are having trouble merging info from different sources
You have records of conversations in your email inbox, invoices in your accounting software, and customer testimonials on Twitter. You can export a lot of data into spreadsheets, and even combine all of that information into one spreadsheet. But it doesn’t take too many times of matching up information incorrectly or wasting a half a day updating your spreadsheet before that gets old. Instead of your customer database being a useful library of contact information, it becomes a self-sustaining spreadsheet monster that is better left alone.
4. You can’t see customers or leads at a glance
You may be able to keep all of your contact details in one place using a spreadsheet, but it is hard to figure out which contacts are which. You may have a mix of good leads, not so good leads, customers, past customers, etc. Sure, you can do some sorting or use separate sheets, but the more info you keep, the harder it is to sort. Having to scroll through a ton of contacts to find the right one is a pain.
5. You are using multiple sheets and a ton of columns
Maybe you are a really well organized person who has spreadsheets figured out. You have well categorized sheets for each type of contact and whole bunch of columns to store every bit of contact data you come across. In theory this is great, but in practice people forget which sheet to add info to, or just forget to add info all together. Or you have to scroll way too far to the right to see that essential piece of data when on a call. What you’ve created is a very nice museum of contact data, not a useful library of information available at your beck and call.
It doesn’t matter how well-organized your spreadsheet is, or how good your intentions are for using it. There just comes a time when you outgrow it. When this happens, it is time to upgrade your customer database. If you are at this stage, I suggest taking Batchbook out for a test-drive. We’d be happy to help you make the switch!