Problems and Improvement Key Points of Customer Management in Excel
If you are using Excel to manage your customers, aren't you starting to feel uncomfortable with it? As remote working becomes the new standard, more and more companies shift to cloud-based CRM for customer management. In this article, I will introduce the problems and solutions of using Excel for customer management.
Table of contents:
- What is customer management?
- Advantages of creating a customer management database in Excel
- 5 Problems of using Excel to manage customers
- What is CRM to solve Excel management problems?
- Benefits of using CRM to manage customers
What is customer management?
Customer management is the process of recording and managing corporate and individual customer information in databases such as customer ledgers and customer masters. The data to be recorded varies slightly depending on the type of business and products handled but generally includes customer contact information, company information, sales history, and purchase/use history. In some cases, a dedicated system is built for customer management, but many companies use the familiar Microsoft Office Excel.
By recording detailed information about customers and analyzing their attributes, preferences, and consumption behaviors from multiple perspectives, it is possible to conduct strategic sales activities tailored to their needs. In other words, the purpose of customer management is to accurately understand the needs of customers and maintain good relationships with them. The goal is to improve customer loyalty and lifetime value, which will ultimately lead to sustainable profits.
Advantages of creating a customer management database in Excel
The first advantage of using Excel for customer management is that it does not require any installation cost. Some PCs come with Word and Excel as bundled software, so there is no need to build a new customer management software or system.
And the fact that there are no training costs is also attractive: Microsoft Office software is standard business software, and in many cases, students are using Word and Excel. With Excel, which many employees are familiar with, there is no need to bother explaining most basic functions and operations. Many companies use Excel to create invoices and direct mail, and it is not difficult to integrate customer management into Excel and use it as a database. Even if the number of entries in customer management increases, you can easily add and modify, and you can use functions to automate the process and quickly organize various information. If you are using Excel in many departments, it is natural to choose Excel for customer management.
Five problems of using Excel to manage customers
Excel is highly versatile spreadsheet software that is used in a variety of ways by many companies. However, there are some disadvantages to using Excel for customer management. Let's take a look at some of these disadvantages:
Easy to modify and delete data
If you use Excel for customer management, you need to be very careful in handling it. The challenge is how to operate the Excel file for customer management. Without restrictions such as protecting books and sheets, locking cells, and setting access permissions, there is a risk that anyone can easily alter the data. In other words, when using Excel for customer management, there is always a risk that anyone can modify numbers or delete files and data. Depending on the data modification, errors may occur with other files or sheets or even automatic execution. Also, depending on how you manage it, it could lead to the leakage of important customer information.
Time has taken away other than sales activities
In addition to the time spent on actual sales activities, the reality is that sales representatives spend a great deal of time preparing reports and quotations after returning to the office.
Some data shows that people spend a quarter of their actual working hours on tasks other than their core business. Updating customer management data yourself means that you have to spend more time on desk work than ever before.
As a result, they will be forced to either cut back on their sales activities to work at their desks or work overtime to secure time to work at their desks. If this situation continues, the increased burden on salespeople can reduce motivation, and in turn, lower productivity can lead to lower revenue for the company.
Version control of Excel files is troublesome
A centralized customer management database must have the most up-to-date information in one place. To work in a local environment, you need to update the file with the latest version. However, if the information is not shared in real-time to check the current version of the file, each person will update the file separately, and the file versions may be scattered. The process of reviewing and integrating these additional data is very time-consuming, and there is a risk of manual errors.
Access from outside the company is troublesome
In some cases, Excel files of customer information may be stored on a shared server within the company to maintain confidentiality. In such companies, if you want to access the database from outside the company to view customer information, you must first log in to the company network. After entering the company network with ID and password for authentication, it is necessary to access Excel every time. Not being able to quickly access the information you want to know from the sales office is stressful and may harm business efficiency.
Multiple people can't update at the same time
Some companies may share Excel files among employees for both viewing and updating. In that case, multiple employees cannot work on the file and cannot update the file until their turn comes, leading to reduced work efficiency and input omissions. Also, a shared file cannot be customized to suit your own needs, and the inability to update customer data in real-time in Excel tends to delay the freshness of the information.
What is CRM to solve Excel management problems?
Many companies may feel the limitations of using Excel for customer management. CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management and refers to any tool specialized in customer management that can centrally manage all customer data.
CRM can be used for future sales activities and management planning by accumulating and analyzing customer personal information, company information, business negotiation history, purchasing orientation, purchase history, cumulative sales, and other information as data.
For example, delivering newsletters and direct mails tailored to each customer's needs, excerpting customers according to their orientation, and attracting customers for seminars and events are equipped with functions to utilize data that leads to sales, not just information management. Also, since information can be shared in real-time, it is possible to provide support at the right time by referring to subordinates' contact history and prospect level and advising on how to approach them.
Benefits of using CRM to manage customers
Excel itself is great software with high usage value, but it is not suitable for handling customer data where information is updated every day. Also, excel may not be able to utilize accumulated customer data. With cloud CRM accessible from anywhere, you'll be able to expand your reach and solve problems when managing customers in Excel. The following are some of the advantages of using a cloud CRM:
Prevents the risk of customer information being altered or deleted
While Excel is easy to work with, there is a possibility of inadvertently deleting a file or overwriting the wrong data due to typing errors. However, CRM does not manage the database in a single file, so you can avoid the risk of deleting files. Also, CRM often has a high-visibility design and can be operated intuitively, so it will be difficult to modify or overwrite data due to mishandling.
Centralized management of information
Multiple employees can't manage a large amount of data that is updated daily using Excel. Depending on the management method, it may take a lot of time and effort to integrate the data from the upgraded files into one. Even if you manually transcribe the data, it is easy for omissions and errors to occur. With cloud CRM, however, collaborative editing is easy. If you enter an item associated with the master data, it will automatically reflect all related functions. It is no longer necessary to double-enter the same content for different departments, which will reduce errors by manual input and improve operational efficiency.
Ability to log in via the Internet from outside the office
Cloud CRM allows you to access, view, and input customer data anywhere there is an Internet connection. You can easily log in and work on the go in the same way you do when you are in the office. Compared to accessing the company network from outside the company and operating Excel, logging in is easy, and you can access the data you want quickly.
Simultaneous access by multiple users
Cloud CRM allows multiple users to log in to the same database simultaneously to view and update the screen, allowing you to keep up with the latest information in real-time. Also, with an in-house server, depending on the machine power, the number of concurrent users may be limited, or the transfer speed may be slow, which can be stressful. However, with cloud CRM, you can comfortably use it even if many people from inside or outside the company access it simultaneously. Also, since security measures are thoroughly implemented, there is no need to worry about confidential information leakage.
In an age of diverse work styles, managing customers in Excel in a local environment can be time-consuming. Cloud CRM offers many advantages to improve business efficiencies, such as easy login from outside the company and simultaneous access. Why not consider adopting a cloud CRM so that your employees can concentrate on their core tasks?