Posts Tagged ‘tool’
Questions often arise regarding the tools and infrastructure necessary for managing a customer reference program. The following points highlight the pros and cons of a spreadsheet versus a formal customer reference application.
Appropriateness for managing information
A customer reference application includes forms and fields for capturing all the relevant types of information, formatted for easy updates and organized for easy display. Anyone who has used spreadsheets knows that they are excellent for numbers and very good for labels and small amounts of text, but don’t make it particularly easy to edit or display multiple lines of text.
Ability to allow collaboration and self service
Even when made accessible on an Intranet site, a spreadsheet is not a tool for collaboration. Multiple users accessing a single spreadsheet quickly creates a mess. Most organizations dedicate a single user to make updates and many even limit reading and searching to a single user, creating a bottleneck in the process. By contrast, a customer reference application is designed for collaboration, empowering multiple users to become engaged in the process and increasing efficiency.
Coordinating related details in one place
Managing a customer reference program involves knowing who is doing what and keeping track of related details. This may include the preferences of multiple people within a single reference account willing to give a testimonial, or a history of past interactions. Tracking these details in spreadsheets means creating multiple tabs and updating different worksheets. The idea of a simple spreadsheet for managing a reference program quickly becomes a complicated endeavor. A well designed customer reference application is built on a relational database that organizes and tracks all the information related to a customer reference program easily.
Facilitating workflow and automated tracking
A customer reference program involves many participants and a customer reference application typically includes workflow rules that send notifications and coordinate the tasks that need to be completed by specific individuals at each point in the process. Not having these capabilities means extensive email threads and the time consuming and error prone manual tracking of everyone’s tasks.
Building a program based on best practices
A spreadsheet is a simple and affordable way to organize limited information, however it does not provide a complete set of tools for customer reference management. Starting an important initiative with an insufficient tool set adds risk to the overall initiative.
“When I started our program, we considered spreadsheets and modifying our CRM system. I was fortunate to have enough management backing to get a reference management application. This allowed me to manage a more professional program and also allowed me to have a vendor relationship that has provided helpful insights as I’ve evolved our customer reference program.”– Kara Manfredi, Deltek Customer Reference Program Manager and
Founder, Boston Customer Reference User Group.