It is a dull late autumn afternoon in November. People working from home have already switched on their desk lamps. Today’s Tech-telmechtel interview guest is Christoph, digital consultant at dotSource. Together with his colleagues, he supports clients in the selection, implementation, use and further development of CRM solutions.
Tech Talk with Christoph
Hey Christoph, what are you currently doing?
I’m working on a client project. I’m cleaning up the client’s data so that the data quality is good enough to be able to migrate to Salesforce.
Tech Talk: Salesforce Is More Than Just a Software
I somehow have the feeling that everyone currently wants to use Salesforce when implementing a new CRM system. What makes this software so special?
First of all, this could be the case because Salesforce doesn’t see itself as a traditional software. In the beginning, they even had a mascot that looked like Michelin man with an oversized belly. The word »software« was written on it, but crossed out in red.
Oh OK. Let’s try again then: what sets this solution apart from the rest?
Salesforce is one of the most comprehensive solutions on the CRM market. If the available data is sufficient, the software provides a uniquely comprehensive view of the customer.
It is also cloud- and web-based. What this means is that I can take my smartphone, drive wherever I want, sit down in a café or enjoy the countryside and still be able to use Salesforce.
As a SaaS (software-as-a-service) solution, there are three updates per year and the maintenance effort is reasonable.
Tech Talk: Data Quality
You have mentioned a »uniquely comprehensive view of the customer«. Such a 360-degree view is not magic, it requires data. What makes good data quality?
Data must be complete and accurate. Even the smallest characters such as dots and commas are decisive. For example, it makes a huge difference how you enter dates of birth. Do you enter them like this (01.05.1978), this (01/05/78) or this (1978/05/01)? No matter which format you choose, consistency is most important, otherwise there will be bugs.
Salesforce has long been intuitive to use. To become an expert, you do not necessarily have to have studied computer science. What is your academic background? What did you study, how did you get to dotSource?
I’m a media scholar. I studied at TU Ilmenau. After finishing my studies, I wanted to stay in the region. That’s how I discovered dotSource.
As far as working with Salesforce is concerned, it’s part of the solution’s success that it’s developed declaratively, works based on logic and follows the modular principle. This means that programming instructions are deliberately kept intuitive. You can accomplish a lot without knowing any programming languages. Nevertheless, the certifications and the expertise are by no means easy to obtain – quite the contrary. Eventually, there comes a point where you can only make progress if you have programming knowledge.
Tech Deep Dive
When do you reach that point?
When something has to be highly customised. If you want to map very specific requirements, you’ll eventually reach the point where standards are no longer sufficient. Evaluating this is part of our expertise as digital consultants.
Can you give me an example?
One of our existing clients wanted to have the following functionality: when an external e-mail arrives, the body is to be transferred to the CRM system as a case comment. This was possible without any development efforts, but the problem was that the body usually exceeds the maximum number of characters that can be entered in the case comment. The system then detected a bug and the entire e-mail was neither added to the case nor saved as a comment.
To be honest, the case comments are not designed for this purpose either. However, since this functionality was so important to the client despite the limitation, we developed a solution that, if necessary, cuts off the e-mail once the maximum number of characters is reached and creates a comment.
Tech Talk: Migration
Let’s come back to the topic of migration and data quality. When migrating to Salesforce, is it only the quality of data that matters, or also the order in which it is fed in?
The order is crucial as well! In this regard, the Californian software company specifies a clear order that must be adhered to, otherwise the migration loader won’t work. It consists of eleven points. Do we want to name them here, or is that too nerdy?
Of course! This is a tech talk, we can really go into detail.
2. Contacts (related to Accounts)
3. Opportunities (related to Accounts and Contacts)
5. Product Line Items (related to Opportunities and Products)
6. Cases (related to Contacts)
9. Campaign Members (related to Campaigns, Contacts and Leads)
10. Contracts (related to Accounts and Contacts)
11. Assets/Media Data (related to Accounts, Contacts, Cases and Products)
So the more consistent this data and the better the cross-links, the more informative the insights the CRM system can deliver?
Exactly, data quality determines whether the high-quality view of the customer that Salesforce is so valued for can be obtained at all. When managing projects, we put a lot of work into data cleansing and processing. This is why we cooperate closely with the client and jointly create the conditions required to set up the new system and make its features usable.
What happens if you cannot meet all eleven points?
Then the migration loader cannot work properly. Some fields are mandatory by default if you want to create such a data set. It’s also not possible to create a contact without an existing account – hence the migration order of the objects.
Ideally, you have a template that you give to the client and which he can use for orientation.
Are there any pitfalls?
GDPR compliance is a key aspect. This is particularly important when it comes to migrations because it is crucial to ensure that sensitive data is handled correctly at all times.
What are you going to do once you have finished optimising our clients’ data quality for today?
I’ll try to wake up my dog. He’s been sleeping here all the time while I’ve been working. Then we’ll go for a walk.
Tech Insights: CRM Systems in Comparison
In our »Selecting Customer Relationship Management Software – CRM Providers and Systems Compared« white paper, you can find a number of concrete use cases for B2C and B2B, a digression on the GDPR, current facts and figures about CRM as a single point of truth, the benchmark on-premise vs cloud as well as the newly added AI chapter.