What's a good way to keep track of customer data?
January 26, 2014 8:18 AM   Subscribe

After a crazy Kickstarter adventure, I suddenly find myself with ~65 products to create, 2000 customers to send them to, and loads of information (names, email addresses, shipping details, order selections, order fulfillment status, funds donated) from 4 different sources (Kickstarter surveys, Surveymonkey.com, paypal.com, private emails). I need some way to keep track of all of it, so that I can easily find and export information (Who ordered product X? Who ordered product Y and hasn't yet had that order fulfilled), easily change entries (Customer B: Can I switch from product X to Y?) and easily add entries (New customer C). What's my best bet?
posted by sdis to Computers & Internet (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
You need a CRM. "Customer Relationship Manager."

You can use Microsoft Dynamics, or Salesforce.com.

There are a few free one's out there. Google and check it out.

But Dynamics and Salesforce are the best. I LOVE Salesforce.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 8:36 AM on January 26, 2014

Congrats on a wonderful problem to have.

Presuming you're working with someone else to help fulfill orders, I'd say Google Docs for the win. All the importing tools are there (and I'll assume Kickstarter's giving you data in a format you can work with). A CRM can work, but might actually be overkill if you're unfamiliar with one. Just set up the columns, share access to the essential people in your team, and get the product shipped.
posted by chrisinseoul at 8:39 AM on January 26, 2014

Don't spend time on a CRM for this. It's overkill, and what you need right now is to be focused on fulfilling your Kickstarter obligations. Use Excel. Make it as simple as possible. Worry about what to do with it after you've done your work.
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 9:13 AM on January 26, 2014 [5 favorites]

If you have international orders and can find one in your price range, a company that specializes in sending stuff lots of places will be a huge help - an acquaintance had a surprisingly successful Kickstarter and more or less said the time he spent dealing with international shipping and customs by doing it himself made it not worth it (and caused delays in getting orders out).
posted by Candleman at 9:22 AM on January 26, 2014

I love Salesforce, but agreed it's overkill for this task. I'd steal a few tips from Mefi's own Julen, our most wonderful Secret Quonczar, on some ways to use a color-coded spreadsheet to track activity.

I've noticed you ask a lot of Kickstarter questions, and it's awesome that you're in this position. Have the Kickstarter folks been any help in providing documentation or tips for what other successful Kickstarters have done?
posted by mochapickle at 9:26 AM on January 26, 2014 [1 favorite]

I have noticed that a lot of the projects I support are using backerkit these days.
posted by phil at 10:31 AM on January 26, 2014

I work with a lot of customer data on a daily basis. Definitely, eventually as you grow, you will want something more complicated, but for now, just go with Excel. There are some fancy things you can do with Excel, filtering, look up tables and pivoting should be all you need to start.
posted by Tooty McTootsalot at 10:31 AM on January 26, 2014

Can I use excel to handle tasks like emailing all the backers with their order summaries? This is a complex project with 60 different products, all in all, and I want to make sure everyone sees exactly what they ordered before I start delivering.
posted by sdis at 8:31 PM on January 26, 2014

@Chris: What are the advantages/disadvantages of using Google Docs compared with Excel? I assume the sharing capabilities are key, but is there anything else I should be aware of?

@Tooty: I won't be able to spend much time learning to use the fancier bits of excel and figuring out how to implement them. In the end, I'm looking for a way to outsource this task, no matter how I end up managing the data. Do you think this is the kind of thing I can outsource such that someone who knows what they're doing sets up the spreadsheet and imports the data, and then my assistant (who is at a basic 'I can input data into a spreadsheet' place, as far as I can tell) can manage it from there? Or if I go the full excel route, do I need to hire someone and keep someone on staff who really knows their stuff in order to manage that spreadsheet?
posted by sdis at 8:38 PM on January 26, 2014

i would say do excel over google docs. that way you can do mail merges with outlook to tell people you've mailed their thing(s).

honestly, just off the top quick thinking, for ease of use get 'er done-ness, this is what i would do:

set up an excel sheet
have columns for all the normal customer stuff (first name, last name, address, email, etc.)
have a column for each of your 60 products. i know, but we're looking at just getting it done fast
in each customer's row, put an "x" in the column of products they ordered
have another column for "all products are in a box and ready to ship"
and another column for "shipped"
and then another column for the tracking number of the shipment

you can then sort things by product, or zip code, or whatever.

then when the column for shipped is checked off you can send them an email saying "yay your widget shipped and here is your tracking number!"

this is not how you want to manage things if things really take off for you. but to just crank things out for your initial orders, this is how i would do it. after things have settled, you can figure out salesforce or whatever.
posted by misanthropicsarah at 9:21 AM on January 27, 2014

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