You can use your favorite social network to register or link an existing account:
Or use your email address to register without a social network:
Sign in with these social networks:
Or enter your username and password
Forgot your password?
Yes, please link my existing account with for quick, secure access.
No, I would like to create a new account with my profile information.
This is guest post from Allie Rutherford a summer college intern on the Access team.
Do you own your own business or are you in a position where you have to keep track of your customer relationships and sales leads? Have you ever wished your CRM or sales software was a little bit different or easier to use?
Today, I am posting to ask the users what they expect and desire from Customer Relationship Management software. We are currently doing research into how businesses and small companies track their leads and customers. Your input is invaluable to us and will greatly aid our research into this topic!
To help facilitate conversation on this topic, we have created a rough prototype database in Access of a streamlined CRM system. Here’s a link for you to try it out:
Some questions for you all:
- What system do you currently use?
- Are you satisfied with your current system?
- What makes it better than other systems you have tried?
- Does our prototype meet your expectations of a simple CRM system?
- How could our prototype be improved? Are there any features you wish were included or are especially important to you and your business?
You can respond in the comments or directly to us via the contact page.
We at Web Solutions look forward to a CRM where we can have all our leads database into the system, keep details of their follow ups and the system which will help us with our reminders for customer services. We provide information about credit card offers, personal finance, work at home opportunities, gadgets and last minute deals. We will thus be in need of a system where we can use it to showcase all our portfolios, offers, deals, etc.
Most of my access applications tend to have some type of CRM management system built in. There are many reasons for this, but the simple one off the top of my head is that many these customers want to justify the cost of purchasing a system that’s developed by me. The sales pitch to the manager or boss is often that you’ll have no more lost sales due to staff not returning or following up customer inquiries. So, I often add a few follow-up and reminder system to my applications to make sale of the application easy. At the end of the day, there not a lot design work and efforts to add a few reminder features to any application that one builds in access. In fact, just adding a few simple screens allows me to instantly say that my software has CRM built in. The second important concept here is not just having a standalone CRM or some “follow up” system. The trick here is to add these features to an EXISTING application. For example, I have a good number of tour systems written in ms-access. So if a payment is due, or perhaps they want a new sales quote for room pricing at a different time of year, then often staff will have speak to the hotel. That means some phone calls will occur between two parties. The tour company now has to talk to the hotel(s), and then get back to the customer. So, now there is TWO parties. This is very common for any type of build to order business (be it tours or custom fireplaces). Often a suppler need be called up to determine the cost of some feature, and then a return call to the customer with new numbers as to cost occurs. However, these systems often break down. If the tour staff phones the hotel for information and gets voice mail, now we have to wait for the Hotel to phone back. If the hotel does NOT phone back, then we might loose the customer since we don’t have a follow up reminder. Furthermore, if the hotel phones back two days later with a new room price quote, who the heck does this information belong to on our end? We have 5 staff in the office, and hotel out of the blue phones back with a room quote!, who is it for??? So, MORE then just a reminder is to have that reminder attached to the particular task/action in the software system. In my case I would attached that reminder to the tour booking AND the staff member that made the call. The tour booking has both the hotel information AND the customer information. So, follow up reminders become far more useful when attached the software process its self. The idea here is to reduce the effort of have to fill out manually a whole lot of additional details as to what the particular reminder and follow-up task is to be applied for. It thus stands to reason that CRM systems become really powerful when you integrate the into existing software applications. Even an accounting package can benefit from this for things like overdue bills or quotations that need to be followed up. I am hard pressed to think of any application that I written that would not benefit from some type of follow up system. As for your download example? I like it. I have SO MUCH to learn in building those types of interface you built. I like it much..and it style that us long time access developers have NOT yet adopted. I sure 2010 will change that in a hurry. Here is some suggestions however: First, the Activty/Edit New form is read only right now. You can’t add when it called from the actives form (this is a bug). .A simple fix is to change the reocrdsource from dynaset to Dynaset (Inconsistent Updates). You could also change the record source, since it likely does not need to be a inner join of leads and activities. 2nd. I would remove the combo box that selects the lead. Or at the very least have it pre-selected. When am looking at a lead and selecting “record new activity” we throw up a form and force the user to again select the lead from the combo box. By the way, I understand your design decision here as then you get double duty out of this activity form – you can add a new activity with NOT having to brought up the lead name first. So you can keep the combo box, but it REALLY needs to be pre-set to the lead name when you select recoding a new activity when viewing an existing lead. You might change that form form dialgog to model. In that Activey Edit/new form, you should also allow me to select the date for the activity. It is good it defaults to today, but if I want a follow up call in 3 days from now, if we had the date picker in that screen, then I could set a reminder for next week. It also means with almost NO extra coding we can have a future reminders in this system without almost no additional coding. I just had a client call…so, I going to run out the door…perhaps I comment more when I get back. I also note that this template has some artifacts from having been editing with access 2010. Nothing that spills the beans, but is VERY interesting never the less!! Albert D. Kallal
Edmonton, Alberta Canada
My comments are broadly-based and come from my developing an Access-based CRM for senior executives in the investment banking and re-insurance sectors. The focus must be the 'Customer' in CMS. Many CMS fail where a lot of executives lose focus - maintaining existing customer relationships as well as leads. A comprehensive CMS must be: 1. INTEGRATED - The core static customer information must reside in a centra data warehouse and linked into the CMS: Name, Address, web-site. Contacts, Relationship Manager etc... 2. MAINTAINED - Managers and their PAs must be committed to maintaining and using the CMS 3. FAST AND EASY TO USE - A classic dashboard design works best. Your prototype fails here - plenty of fancy Access 2007 gui stuff but not intuitive and not customer-focused. 4. EVERYTHING AUTOMATED - Data entry must be straight-forward and all in the one-screen - use tab controls. Output should be self-contained. Visit Reports and Meeting Notes must be one-click and fully-usable as is. 5. BROADLY BASED - The CMS must: * Manager Clients, Contacts, Client Visits, and Internal Meetings * Quickly create detailed Visit and Meeting Reports, which track all attendees * Built-in Visit scheduling * Automated email distribution * Comprehensive reporting * Track Contacts Personal Interests * Include Event and Marketing Campaign management * Visits Alerts and overdue visit monitoring A trial version of my Access-based CMS application, The Executive Assistant, can be downloaded from: www.aadconsulting.com/exasst.html . The previous version is available free from the same page.
We are using a combination of salesforce.com and excel files. We would like to move to Access, but the development costs are a bit to high for a small business. I think the best way is to increase the number of available templates on the office marketplace. only 21 templates for a program which is more than 10 years old? even wordpress has thousands of themes and plugins. It would also be great to have more detailed instructions on how to create application like this here. Access is a great tool, but it became very hard to create a nice looking professional application.
I built myself an MS Access 2007 application (called "GigDB") to help me with any and all aspects of being in a band and playing live music at various venues. It tracks many many things about a working band including the gig itself (including dates, venue, contracts, setlists of songs, lyrics/chord sheets) to venues, venue contacts, band members, payments, etc. Believe it or not, the SINGLE most important aspect to this particular database (and the reason why I haven't released it for free for other bands to use) is because I haven't yet streamlined the CRM aspects of it. I'm lazy and haven't fully nailed down how I would want to move around within the database and get to Venue contacts, other types of contacts, their addresses, phone numbers, email addy's, etc. As a result, it's kind of a pain when I need to add a new Venue and add contacts so that I can quickly send them a contract (generated in .pdf by an Access report by the way!!). It's certainly not too difficult to create a new Venue record and assign a contact (or multiple contacts) to it, but I have to go through several screens that I've cobbled together and I'm just not convinced that it can't be streamlined WAAAAY better. Therefore, in my humble opinion, I agree with one of the other posters who said that any CRM types of "things" need to be integrated with existing apps and I will also add that the CRM aspects of the app absolutely and positively MUST be so simple to use that they are almost transparent (and I'd like eggs and bacon with that too!!). In other words, however a developer chooses to integrate CRM functionality into their particular app, it should be very few mouse clicks and/or screens to quickly add a contact and their information, quickly get a phone number, quickly send an email to a contact (or better yet, quickly send a report of something, whether it's a contract, an invoice, a setlist of songs, or just a simple message). To me, this would speed up a person's daily work and make the CRM aspects useful. If you kind folks could somehow make your CRM functionality an "add-on" or wizard driven or something (or at least build it open enough that it can be easily integrated into existing apps), I think you would hear a huge collective sigh of relief and happiness from all of us developers out here that could use something like this. I downloaded the example (after being blocked by our firewall by the way!) and I have NOT looked at it yet...so some of my ramblings above could already have been dealt with by your example. Hope that helps! Sincerely, Kevin B. Selby
>only 21 templates for a program Hum, when go on-line and type in database, I get 3 pages of templates. So, there is at least 50 templates at last count. Sure I also think there could be more, but the number of templates is increasing all the time. I am looking into submitting a few myself, but been busy of late. Albert D. Kallal Edmonton, Alberta Canada email@example.com
I glanced at your example and will not comment as I see you got some pretty good comments and suggestions already. To answer your question... I wrote myself an Access database that tracks Clients and Leads. However, it goes one step further, based on my needs, to track Quotes and Invoices. I also track my Clients hardware and software as this is needed to know which version of Access/Windows/SQL Server they are running, how many machines, how many Users, etc... I also no not delete any Lead, I simply archive them as they tend to come back. For my Clients I use basically the same set-up minus the Invoicing and hardware/software tracking. They also want to track activities and in some cases, time spent on said activities and who is to do the follow-up and when. (This means the activity should show on two Associates to-do list.) Your prototype could use some additions but ,as I said, you've got lots of ideas there.
HOW did you guys created the formatting for every activity type. . . call, meeting, document, etc, etc. . . every one of them is using a different color, and a different name, and they are more than 3 . . SO, is this conditional formatting?
how did you created more than 3. . . hey guys, you know what, you should create a tutorial, how to create this kind of very nice user interfaces, i really like your look and feel. . the colors, the icons. . . Good work so far.
One requirement that always comes up is integration with Outlook. Being able to synchronize events and contacts between Outlook and the app is vital. Enabling emails to be sent from the app/outlook and for them to be stored against the contact activity is a nice extra. Integration with SharePoint will be next on the list.