SharePoint for Customer Management

SharePoint (SP) is ideal for gathering and managing customer information.  When I use the term customer, I’m also including prospective customers.  My Lead Tracking – Sales Networking post shows how SharePoint can be used for tracking perspective customers/leads. In this post I discuss an approach to setting up a customer list so that customer information can be shared throughout your SharePoint site.

First I want to discuss SP Site Content Types.  Think of them as an “object” (e.g. customer) and then the content that makes up or defines that object.  Content Types can be used through out the SharePoint site it is defined in and all of its sub sites. We are going to want to know about the object customer pretty much throughout our company site, so it probably should be defined at the highest level site or our root site.

In looking at Sample Larry’s Landscaping and Garden Supply in QuickBooks, I identified the content that makes up their customers and needed universally in Larry’s.  I defined a Site Content Type called Customer Information that is used for the Customer Information List.  The items or fields that make up the customer are shown in the list below:

Customer List

Noticed that I decided to keep universal information about Customers in this list.  This is because the information on the list will be used throughout the site.  Meaning Sales & Marketing, Accounting, etc. will be using this list and adding their own information on their respective SharePoint pages.  We want to keep control of certain information universally, for example of Customer name, so that we can gather all the information about a customer throughout the site.

Under “new item or edit list” in the screen shot, I have setup 3 views of the list.  Active Customers present just the active customers, Active Prospects the active prospects and All Items include all organizations even those that are Not-active.

I imported the customer data from QuickBooks into SharePoint since the customers already existed in QuickBooks.  Once you get your customers setup in SharePoint, you are probably going to want SharePoint to be your source application.  This is because you will be doing more with customers in SharePoint.  For example, setting up a lead tracking capability and then marking the lead as a customer once you get them.  Also QuickBooks has an Add/Edit Multiple List entries capability that makes the import into QuickBooks easy.

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