No more spreadsheets

Every support organization I’ve worked with seems to maintain a secret spreadsheet – or several. It can be the list of top bugs (to run the weekly review with Engineering), the list of escalated customers (to create the report to the executive team), or the list of individual MBOs/OKRs. The spreadsheet exists because the data is not captured in the CRM system, or can’t be easily pulled out in a neat report — sometimes both.

There’s nothing wrong with spreadsheets. If you need to quickly analyze a set of data, a spreadsheet is the best tool: it’s quick, it’s flexible, it can be done without outside help. But spreadsheets are also:

  • Manual. They need to be created by hand, every time.
  • Static. They are not automatically refreshed with the most recent data.
  • Hard to share. Typically only the creator can see them, or at best only selected individuals, invited by the creator
  • Error prone. Because the spreadsheets are manual, errors can creep into the data itself as well as the computations. And because of the limited sharing capabilities, too few eyes can see the spreadsheets, so too few individuals can spot errors.
  • Stale. Since it’s not easy to pour data from the CRM to the spreadsheet, we look at last week’s or last month’s data and not current data.
  • Limited. Since getting the data and keeping it fresh is a chore, spreadsheet users are tempted to keep them narrowly focused, missing analytical insights.

If you need a spreadsheet to analyze a particular trend, by all means, create one. But if you are  routinely tracking information in a spreadsheet, or repeatedly using the same format to analyze data, you should look at automation. Most CRM systems can easily automate tracking and analyzing data. To go back to the examples I used at the start of the post:

  • You can create a list of top bugs by using bug count and case severities to weigh the bugs (and you can do that either strictly in the case-tracking system, or by combining data from the bug-tracking system and the case-tracking system).
  • You can maintain the list of escalated customers by creating escalation cases and reporting on them. (Sadly, CRM systems lack the concept of an escalation, as a distinct entity different than an escalated case.)
  • You can track individual MBOs/OKRs in many SaaS HR systems. And you can also create automatic metrics that track progress against case-, knowledge-, and community oriented actions right from the CRM tool.

If you use Salesforce Service Cloud, we can show you how to track and report all your data within it.

What spreadsheets are you still clinging to?

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