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It’s not uncommon for businesses without a customer relationship management (CRM) tool to work with an Excel database of their customers. But as expectations have grown as to what constitutes a satisfactory, good or great customer experience, managing these relationships has required more assistance from technology. While Microsoft Excel is extremely powerful, versatile and able to break down huge databases, sales people, marketers and account managers often run into a wall with its capabilities. Excel spreadsheets are often fraught with complications, workarounds and, ultimately, delays.

In a study of 500 CRM users, Capterra found the most common reasons for investing in a dedicated CRM tool were to attain a centralised customer database and to track sales revenue—something that’s very complicated to do with an Excel spreadsheet.

Excel database

Despite this, Excel is still used for managing customer interactions in many businesses. Whether it’s because workers have become used to working with the tool or because they don’t believe investing in CRM software is worth the money.

In this post, we’ll address both of these issues.


Inherent problems with an Excel database

There are a few key problems that you’ll likely encounter if you’re using Excel for CRM:

  • It’s manual

Excel is a totally manual solution, meaning every time you input or manage information, your users have to do it by hand. This takes more time to manage the system and leaves more room for human error. Manually inputting data every time changes are made results in lost productivity.

  • Content overload

Excel files can only be accessed by one user at a time, making it hard to ensure data is always up to date. Missing relational tables and limited interface capabilities makes Excel files difficult to manage, and the difficulty multiplies the larger your database is.

  • Puts your content at risk

Using Excel as your CRM not only causes issues with users and productivity, but also compromises the integrity of your data. With multiple copies of files in your organisation, maintaining consistency is almost impossible, which increases the risk of losing data. And the lack of security could mean information is more easily transportable to your competition.

So, managing customer relationships through Excel can hinder user productivity and the security of your information. Given these clear barriers why do companies continue to use it?

One of the biggest positives for Excel is the cost: the majority of companies will already have Excel available, either as part of the on-premises Office Suite or through Office 365. When compared to a dedicated CRM platform, the cost-savings are obvious.

But when you factor in the cost in lost productivity, unearthed data, or the potential corruption or theft of valuable customer information, the cost-savings become less obvious. Decision-makers are reluctant to spend money on a robust and secure system, even though that system not only improves how they work, it also transforms employee morale and engagement.


The many capabilities of dedicated CRM

A CRM when used properly, is more than just a customer database. CRMs give you the visibility of your clients, your leads and your prospects that you need when running a business, and can play a huge role in benefitting the people in your company.

Whether you decide to use Excel for your CRM or a dedicated tool, ultimately, choosing a CRM is not just about software. It’s about people and relationships, and how they can be connected and enhanced through technology. By tying all your information together, you’re better equipped to provide the best service to customers and grow your business. If your sales and marketing teams are using tools that don’t connect with the rest of your technology, you’re met with misunderstandings and miscommunications instead.

CRM is not solely about software. It’s about working together to strengthen the overall performance and productivity of everyone working within a business or organization. With no straightforward way of collaborating, this sense of camaraderie between colleagues (and subsequently customers) is lost in a tool like Excel. Other features highly valued for CRM best practice—like information accessibility, grouping proprietary databases and analysing data—require a dedicated CRM tool to boost and sustain your revenue.


A CRM that fits around your company

Oxygen CRM, is built on Office 365 and provides a cloud-based, secure platform to manage your customer and supplier information. Offering anytime access from any device, you can quickly find notes, documents, emails and relationships. Because it is built on Office 365, Oxygen can be rapidly deployed and tailored to your processes – it adapts to you, not the other way around. Oxygen helps you become a more connected business, so your employees can work together to provide customers with better service and boost your own revenue.

To see what a CRM system should look like in today’s digital workplace, check out our blog CRM trends of 2017: what you should expect.

For more information on Oxygen CRM, talk to us today.

Excel database

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