A Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool is essential for any business. A CRM helps us communicate with clients, automates processes, and provides analytical tools to help us understand our operations and customers. That said, there are different kinds of CRMs. Some are as simple as the contacts app on our phones, while others can be full-fledged online applications like Salesforce or HubSpot.
While many off-the-shelf CRM software solutions are currently on the market, every business is unique. Therefore, invariably the need arises to customize or create a CRM system tailored to a specific workflow or value proposition.
When customization is a requirement, FileMaker can accommodate it. With its low-code approach to application development, FileMaker makes it easy to create a comprehensive, fully customized CRM system. But where do we start?
Before doing any coding, we have to determine the solution's requirements – what is it going to do? In our previous post about how to create multiple new records in FileMaker, we talked about a company called Big Candle – the largest scented candle supplier on the east coast. Continuing that example, let's say that Big Candle has decided to hire a sales director to manage the inventory of new scented candles they have to sell. As a result, she is committed to updating Big Candle’s CRM processes to maximize their candle sales.
The first and most essential part of a CRM is contact management, which captures company customers and how best to communicate with them. That means we’ll need a table for people and their demographic information, such as phone number, email, address, etc. We’ll also need a table for companies since most of Big Candle’s customers are small business owners up and down the east coast. Finally, we might also want a table for interactions – a place to record all contact with the customer. So, in summary, we have three buckets of information or modules: people, companies, and interactions.
The first data point that comes to mind is people. Customers are people, and as such, they are the heart of any business. But naming the table “People” doesn’t feel appropriate, so we’ll call it “Contacts.” The sales director wants to allow for the entry of each customer's favorite candle scent. Creating a bespoke system with FileMaker will enable us to add a unique field like Favorite Candle Scent so that the CRM is specific to the company's business needs.
- Phone Number
- Job Title
- Favorite Candle Scent
Note that we can include additional fields later.
The second bucket of information or table is companies. Small businesses are the primary customers of Big Candle. Therefore, we'll want to track data about the business, separate from the people within those companies.
- Company Name
- Phone Number
The third bucket or table would be interactions. Again, we want to record details of the communication with each customer, including the date and time, medium, and, most importantly, the content of the message.
- Method (email, phone, meeting)
CRMs can contain many more modules: lead tracking, sales, documents, quotes, pipeline, invoices, etc. But by way of providing a simple example of building a CRM in FileMaker, we’ll stop here. Now that we have a rough outline of what we want to develop, we'll start sketching out the schema of exactly how to build it in FileMaker. Stay tuned.
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This article is also published on FileMakerProGurus.com.