Locked-in in lockdown?

Tempted to go digital? From sales tools to CRMs, a plethora of new digital platforms have popped-up in lockdown but who owns the data they hold and how do you make sure it works for you? Elton Boocock from Business Pilot offers some timely advice.

Digital tools, sales and business management platforms, have been a lifeline for installers in lockdown. They’ve allowed retailers to continue selling and to run their operations selling remotely and running their offices, without ever needing to go near the office.

These are clearly good things but what happens when you want to move to a new system, because another gives you something your old CRM can’t, or when it ramps up its prices? What then happens to that data? Do installers then effectively become hostage to their management system?

It’s actually very clear. The data you put into a sales tool, business management system or CRM, is owned by you. It never stops being yours. The business management tool is just the container for that data, although as a business management tool provider we’d obviously emphasise that it does much more than hold that data – it allows you to extract value from it.

However, is that data management system provider is going to make it easy or hard for you to access information that you actually own?

So, what do you need to consider when choosing digital platforms?

First, understand the difference between your status as the data owner (the person/enterprise collating and inputting it into the ‘holder’), and the data management system (the software package that you’re using). It’s yours and you can move it and use it as you see fit, with a couple of caveats.

These relate to GDPR. You have a responsibility as the data owner to protect it. The CRM system or sales tools that you’re using (where they hold data), need to feature safeguards to protect that data so it can’t be stolen or misused.

For example, holding data about customers, eg, names and addresses on an Excel spreadsheet, would be a risk under GDPR.

Data management systems like Business Pilot put safeguards and controls in place to avoid this by putting ‘walls’ in place between different data streams, effectively scrambling the data so even if someone was to access part of it, they couldn’t access the rest of it to make it of any value.

Consider connectivity. Data is most valuable if you connect it to get a true overview of your operation, for example from the first touchpoint with the customer to installation and aftercare. The value of your data will depend on how effective your data management system is in capturing it, and to do this, how connected it is to the other software tools you use to run your business.

As a powerful CRM and business management tool, Business Pilot mobilises the power of cloud-based technologies, giving installers complete visibility of each and every element of their operation, from leads and conversions to job scheduling, cost of installation, service calls, and financial reporting.

Accessible across all devices, from desktop to phone, it supports installers in running their businesses more profitably, integrating with lead generation tools, supplier ordering systems, and accountancy software to bring data into one place, and put it at the fingertips of installers.

In common with other admin-based systems, we are another ‘container’ for data. What we do differently is we give installers absolute flexibility to chop that data and extract and digest it in a simple-to-understand format.

This not only allows them to stay on top and in control of the day-to-day of running a busy installation business, from orders to surveying and job scheduling, but also the critical insights that allow them to make strategic decisions about the future direction of their business, based on fact.

We facilitate it, that data is theirs not ours, and if they want to download and move it (we don’t think they will want to because of what it gives them), they can.

Switching CRM system should be as painless as changing electricity supplier. There a lot of people out there who are on CRM systems that they aren’t happy with, which don’t give them the integration and the insights that they want but they stick with them anyway because they think it’s going to be too difficult to change.

We, and I hope our competitors, fully recognise ownership of data and if people wanted to move, we would support them in doing that. Conversely, we can support installers move data to Business Pilot from other admin-based CRMs as painlessly as possible.