The Customer Information Sheet (CIS)
As the organization has grown, their current paper-based Customer Information system has become
cumbersome, inefficient and, some would suggest, ineffective.
The system was based on a fairly simple form – the Customer Information Sheet or CIS. When a new
customer is contacted, the salesperson or other customer contact records important data items on the
sheet. This would include information such as the customer’s company name, address, phone number
and other contact information. Other identifying descriptions such as customer name, preferred
products, payment arrangements etc. would also be added. The sheet would then be delivered or sent
to a marketing manager (in the corporate headquarters) who would contact the customer and add
additional, sensitive data to the form such as credit card or purchase order numbers etc.
The original copy of the CIS would be physically stored in a file cabinet within the corporate
Uses of the CIS
Over time, many different departments and individuals require information from the CIS. These include:
Sales staff: The sales staff uses the CIS for support throughout the sales cycle. They use the data for
everything from cultivating prospects to up-selling existing customers. They need the data and
information for day to day actions like scheduling appointments, writing letters, and generating quotes.
Marketing Department: The marketing department uses the CIS for building marketing campaigns and
analyzing their effectiveness. They use the data and information for scheduling marketing activities and
monitoring leads through the sales cycle. They need to track sales related to marketing campaigns and
determine where the marketing dollars are best spent.
Customer Service Department. The customer service department uses the CIS data to help efficiently
track incidents (Service requests) and to assign and escalate cases. They also use the data to help
provide history related information to better serve the customer.
When a department requires customer information, a department employee requests, of the Marketing
Manager, a copy of the CIS. When data is updated, changed or deleted, the updated form is sent back
to the Marketing department so a staff member can make the necessary changes (to the original form).
Depending on the extent of the changes, a new form is often created and the previous forms are stapled
to the new form as a way of keeping historic updates. A CIS Update Log sheet is also included with the
CIS so the corporate staff can record when the CIS is changed, the extent of the change, who made the
change, and who requested the change.
As one might imagine, often mistakes occur. Sometimes a requesting department is sent information
that should have been concealed or employees without proper access view the data. Often, a
requesting department will forget to make the necessary changes to the copy or may not send the
changes back to corporate Marketing. Occasionally, two departments will request the same copy of a
CIS and make changes without knowledge of the other department. These actions create inaccurate,
missing, and duplicated data.
The Corporate Marketing manager estimates that over 60 hours a week are required by staff technicians
to identify and correct erroneous data. Even with this additional time, the manager concedes that not
all corrupt data is being identified.
The organization can no longer trust the integrity of the CIS system. A new electronic system needs to
be procured to help the company continue to grow and serve its external and internal (employee)
The corporate Marketing, Sales and Information Technology departments must work together to find a
new system that will support the growing company’s needs. The new system must allow department
managers, from any location, to update the CIS as required. However, due to the sensitive nature of the
data, security and privacy concerns must be included. The new system should be accessible from any
company location at any time of the day or night.
There should be a way in which any employee or manager can notify Corporate Marketing department
in the event of inaccurate data.
The company President realizes that a new electronic system does not come without cost. Although he
hasn’t specified a limit to the price of the system, he has provided a goal that a return on investment be
made within two calendar years. The Quality Control manager would like to see the inspection,
detection and correction time reduced to fewer than 10 hours per week.
The Information Technology manager is concerned if much additional hardware costs are incurred. The
physical space required for current networking and server equipment is straining the corporate
headquarters facilities, and the cost to run new cabling, increase HVAC capabilities, and overall
hardware maintenance needs is concerning. A solution with limited hardware needs would be
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