Still Using Spreadsheets? Here’s Why It’s Time to Graduate to a CRM

Spreadsheets are great at what they do, but when you're using them in place of a real business management software, you can actually end up crippling your business—or worse.

CRM vs Spreadsheet

One of the most mind-blowing conversations I’ve ever had was with a potential client whose support team used spreadsheets to track everything.

They had one guy list down every support ticket and conversation he had during the day, and then another person would add those daily lists to one big spreadsheet.

That left me speechless for a moment. I was immediately imagining all of the things that could go wrong.

What if one person wasn’t able to come in? There was nobody to take over; the job — and even the system itself — was too compartmentalized separately. Nobody else knew exactly what was going on at any time, either—just those two people.

Without them, the whole business would grind to a complete halt.

And it was all because the company was using a tool not suited for the task at hand.

Data Sharing Nightmares

A setup like that is fine if you only ever have maybe half a dozen customers, but once your business starts growing and growing and growing, you’ll end up with a gigantic, unwieldy, and borderline unusable spreadsheet.

The problem also grows exponentially the more people you have using that spreadsheet. If there are two people or more using it, you first have to make sure everyone always has the latest version.

And then if you change anything, you’d have to send those changes out to everybody else so they can update their copies of the spreadsheet. Same goes for other users.

Instead of getting any real work done, you end up stuck in a loop. Edit, email changes, update. Rinse, repeat.

Merging all of these disparate spreadsheets into a usable one brings with it another host of problems. Formulas and updates can get lost along the way. Last month’s sales totals could end up completely inaccurate, with no one knowing exactly where the error is or when it was made.

And how are you sharing all these versions and updates? Email, most likely. Teams have to CC each other on long email chains just to make sure everyone is always on the same page.

Everybody’s inboxes become a bloated messes full of different versions of the same spreadsheet attachment.

Try wading through all that junk.

Drowning in Email

Convoluted Processes Waste Time

Good processes are simple. They have just the right number of steps needed to get from point A to point B.

If you’re working in sales, for example, you want to be able to get a contact, turn that contact into a lead, and then that lead into a sale as quickly as possible.

A lot of extra steps in the process means it takes longer for you to make money.

Sometimes these extra steps are necessary, of course, like when you’re providing some value add to your services s you can turn your clients into hardcore advocates.

More often than not, however, these extra steps are just the result of using sub-optimal tools.

Take the real-life scenario I mentioned at the start of this post, for example. The one where all support tickets are kept in a spreadsheet.

In that scenario, when a client emails the company about a problem, the support agent would make a note of it in his spreadsheet.

Since he can’t attach emails to the entry in the spreadsheet, he has to copy the email text, paste it in the spreadsheet along with the sender’s email address, the subject line, and the time and date.

He then has to tag that entry according to priority—and in this case, “tags” just means changing the color of the entry’s cell to correspond to one of the color tags that they already have setup. Red for high priority, a light orange for medium priority, and so on.

Once all that is done, the agent can then start resolving the issue. Once the issue is closed, the spreadsheet entry gets updated again.

Oh, and all the emails that get sent back and forth between that first email and the ticket being closed? All of those get added to the spreadsheet too.

All of these extra steps means that support agent is helping a lot less customers than he actually can if he had used a CRM that connects everything from contacts and projects to support tickets and billing.

Just the simple act of finding a previous support ticket sent a couple of days by a client who calls back today is a chore.

Worse still, you’ve got all this data collected, but it’s not making your job any easier. In fact, it’s making things way harder than they have to be.

The Black Hole of Productivity

Any smart manager knows that all of the things I mentioned above add up to a supermassive black hole of productivity.

Instead of your tools helping you grow your business, they end up crippling it. Instead of processes that make your teams more efficient, you get convoluted workflows that bog everyone down.

When these telltale signs start popping up in your company, that’s the time you should think about graduating from spreadsheets to a full-fledged CRM.

And not just any CRM, either, but a full business management system that lets you run your business from end to end; from contacts and sales to projects, support, and billing.

With WORKetc, you don’t need to download, set up new complex formulas update, upload, and send out multiple spreadsheets over and over and over again just to keep track of business data.

Everyone stays on the same page without anyone having to jump through hoops. You work faster, more efficiently, and with less chances for human error.

WORKetc Activity Stream

Take support cases. Every single email sent to your support address automatically enters WORKetc, where it instantly gets turned into a support ticket and added to the activity history of the contact who sent it.

This means that no matter which support agent handles that ticket, they can easily check what other support agents have already done for that client.

All of this happens behind the scenes. Your support agents can concentrate on actually helping your clients instead of wasting hours on manual data entry.

Business Data in One Hub

WORKetc also acts as a central hub for all business-critical data. Even better, you can make all that data accessible to every single department in your company.

If support has a question about a client’s last invoice, for example, they can just head over to WORKetc’s billing module and pull that invoice up without having to waste time hunting down whoever handles billing.

If marketing needs to touch base with a client that seems to have become inactive lately, they can check that client’s activity history.

Your marketing team can get a complete rundown of all the support tickets that the client has submitted, giving them more insight into the reasons behind the client’s inactivity and how best to bring them back.

And perhaps best of all, everything connects to everything in WORKetc. All of these critical pieces of information are tracked without needing a complex web of spreadsheets and email chains.

It makes updating and sharing data much less painful, plus it cuts out extraneous steps in your business processes and workflows.

You save time—time that you can use to grow your business even further.

How many steps has WORKetc shaved off of your old processes? Let us know in the comments.

  • The support email situation is a good use case for worketc. Combined with having all your contacts in worketc, it means that everyone knows what they’ve said before and who it is they’re responding to! And because your timesheets are in worketc too, you can even collate your time spent responding to those emails when your client asks where all their money went.

  • Melissa Bailey

    Before we switched to WORK[etc] we were utilizing an in-house system attached to an email address for support. However, the system didn’t track which client was sending the message. So we had a long list of support tickets and at the end of the year we would manually attach them to our individual clients to show ROI for our business reviews. It took many hours to sift through the thousands of tickets! WORK[etc] streamlined the entire process, not just tracking the number of support tickets but also tracking average response time, which has been a huge selling point for us when seeking new clients. We work in healthcare so the need for immediate support ticket resolution is huge. Thanks to the easy email alert system and integration, our client usage of support tickets has risen as has our efficiency.

  • Jaymes Baker

    The “black hole” part was funny but true, especially when the data starts getting bloated and you have more than one person working in it. I hate trying to find the right formulas. You end up with this complex algorithm that can easily get thrown off and then you are trying to find the problem cell. Also, cut and pasting to and from spreadsheets can be very frustrating when formatting gets carried over.

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