I’m working for an ID firm that is fairly young (< 10 years old), and like previous creative and print firms I’ve worked for, their customer relationship management tools (prior to my arrival) began and ended with Excel spreadsheets. The importance of effectively keeping track of customers cannot be overstated! And porting content from Excel spreadsheets into CRM tools (see: ACT! or Goldmine) can be a real hassle, and sometimes impossible. I’d be interested in hearing any lessons other ID’ers have learned about customer management tools or experiences they’ve had in practicing the business of Industrial Design. I’m trying to migrate my current firm’s data to Goldmine, but have used both Goldmine and ACT! in the past. I don’t know how else you keep track of when to call someone back if you’re not setting up a tickler for it (though I realize Outlook has that functionality). Being able to capture the content of each and every interaction with your clients (not to mention tracking and forecasting sales) is too important to leave to yellow pads or spreadsheets, IMO…
I have used Act for about 3.5 years now, and have imported exel dbs into act and vis versa. The key is properly assining each of the catagories, and to do it as a merge not as an overwrite.
No experiance with goldmine. However if you are looking for new software I would sugest Microsoft ERM(or something like that). I have a rep give a presentation with it. It directly imports all databases and is server based. It tacks all emails to each contact, as well as automatically updates certain information. It has been two years since I saw the demo but was thoughly impressed. However the cost is slightly higher than act and also mandates a server storage charge.
For act setup a database with each of the catagories that the exel sheet contains. Then in the import option simply assign coresponding catagories
It is important to maintain information and capture experiences and interactions as much as possible. the resulting datbases and information becomes part of the equity of a firm and a big part of it’s value.
Another program that does a good job with organizing these kinds of information is called “Salesforce”. Although set up/optimized for larger corporations, it can be quite effective for samller firms also.
Yeah, one thing I was not able to import easily were reams of notes that were initially imported into a spreadsheet by a previous lead generating firm. Everything else was ported fairly easily, but for the notes that included dates of previous calls, prospect responses, etc.
One of the concerns with server-based CRM app’s is that you don’t, in fact, “own” the database or the data. Can that be mined by the host, for example?
Actually in this case, yes you own the database content, all names are from your lists. And they claim that no one can access the database unless they actually use a computer that is liscensed to access it. Utilizes the cpu id as a security key, as well as you purchase the server blade which will contain only your information. I do not know if this was Microsofts policy or the policy of the reseller though.
I was able to get the notes to import, but can not remember exactly how. I do remember that they imported as a page of text and could not be edited or searched, but the information was their to be reviewed if the need arose. I also think that the Act notes had to be made sepporate from the imported ones. Look through the manual, that is were I found all my answers. Wish I could help you more, but now that I moved to a larger firm I no longer have a need for the sales contact information or the higher level features of ACT.