The new Claris platform offers some interesting potential for implementing data solutions in your organisation. You may be brand new to Claris, or a seasoned FileMaker user with existing solutions. Either way, the best way to look at the Claris platform is with a new problem that you need to solve.
In this article, we will start to look at the planning and implementation required to get a Claris platform solution up and running. We will start from scratch — nothing built yet, so nothing to consider in terms of “fitting in” to existing solutions.
Start with a Use Case
For any solution, it is important to start from the use case, and specifically from the desired outcomes. The platform on which the solution is built is largely (and importantly) irrelevant at this stage.
Abraham Maslow wrote in 1966, “If the only tool you have is a hammer, it is tempting to treat everything as if it were a nail.” If you start with the platform (tool), you may build the solution around the features (and limitations) of that platform. Better to fully investigate what is your problem and possible solutions to that problem. Then choose the best tool for the job.
This is a Claris platform article so we are going to build this on the Claris platform. But it is important to note that this is not the only platform that we might consider for every solution.
So, what problem are we looking to solve? We need to consider:
- what are we doing now?
- what problems or issues is it causing?
- what are the suggested improvements?
- what would be the best outcomes that we could expect?
Arbor Tree Care Services
Our (invented) business is Arbor Tree Care Services. We offer a range of tree services including:
- tree removal
- stump grinding
- tree pruning and shaping
- emergency works
Our small business has a web site that we use to promote our services. Visitors can see the sort of work we do, our qualifications and examples of projects we have completed.
We have the standard “Contact Us” web form where prospects can enter their contact information and some details about what work they would like us to do.
What are the problems?
We get a lot of people filling out the contact form and it does generate enquiries and work for us. However, there are some specific issues this form presents:
- lack of detail about work requirements — free text is not getting the details we need
- too much information required — e.g. we don’t need a full address on enquiry (just a location)
- submitted forms go to a general email address and have to be forwarded to managers
- some enquiries are not being followed up, some are being followed up twice
- we have no way analyse the submissions — types of jobs, locations, how they heard, jobs generated
Ultimately, an enquiry would proceed to a job schedule and then invoicing. We have processes in place but the original enquiries are a manual feed. This also includes phone and direct email enquiries.
We estimate that the current structure and processes cost us:
- 3–4 jobs lost per week (i.e. up to 200 jobs a year)
- 2–3 hours per manager per week in inefficient processes (i.e. up to 3 weeks per manager per year)
- lack of data on submissions that could better inform our marketing
What would be a great solution?
This whole area of how we get new work is obviously key to our business success. We feel that our web site clearly outlines what we do and the benefits of each service. We present as a very professional operation with a wealth of experience. But we are falling down in our responses to customer enquiries.
The Web Form
The web form works for us and needs to be there on the web site. But we are not in any way committed to the way it currently works — that was just the thing the web platform gave us. It would also be interesting to look at other ways that people can get to the form.
We feel that the form needs to be better structured and targeted for the prospect. We need to hit the “Goldilocks zone” for submissions — enough information for the right person to contact the prospect knowing what they want, but not too much that the prospect sees it taking too long to fill out the form. We need to provide quick ways for them to provide information e.g check boxes or pop-up selections.
Specific things we need to know:
- contact name
- preferred contact method — phone or email
- location of the work
- type of work required — with other details for specific work (e.g. tree height/girth for tree felling)
- suggested time frame for work (e.g. emergency, this week, next month…)
- any relevant comments (with examples e.g. site access, known issues)
- how they found us
It would be great if we had an immediate and automated way to:
- know someone had submitted a form
- notify the right people
- let everyone know when a response is made
- if the submission results in a job, it moves through to that system
- link with other direct enquiries by email and phone
If this works, we would see:
- enquiries being dealt with within one business day (max)
- all enquiries being dealt with
- simple process for prospect submissions
- simple process for staff to process, respond and move to scheduling
If the costs outlined above are realised, a great solution would likely:
- increase company revenue by $400,000
- decrease manager workloads allowing for more time in the field
- improve customer responses and staff job satisfaction
Our next steps are to investigate what tools are available to produce the desired outcomes. In doing this research, we may also find other things that are easy to implement that will further improve the processes. But we must remember to retain the focus on our problem and get that solved as a priority.
In our next article, we will look at the Claris platform to see what it can offer Arbor Tree Care Services.
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Claris Platform: Use Case Planning was originally published in Discover the Claris platform on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.
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