If you care to remember, beginning 2010 I wrote about our search for a better CRM program (going beyond AWeber etc)
We settled for Octane HQ, at that moment in time a great 2nd Generation program which suited the bill perfectly (then and there). Before Octane HQ we (you and me) were more used to 1st generation software programs, the ones you had to install on your own PC (or Mac).
Second Generation Programs (in my opinion) didn't involve any downloading or installation on your pc, they are online, hosted by the software maker and accessible where-ever you have an internet connection. Octane HQ did what we wanted it to do but that was/is all. Lately I had the feeling it was overtaken left, right and centre by 3rd Generation Programs - online AND able to "talk" to other online programs:
Cloud Computing - API
(image courtesy of spiral-fotolia.com)
Application Programming Interface (API) enabled online software is what I call 3rd Generation Software. Each program does what is does best - just like Octane HQ - but the main difference is it "talks" to other programs. Reducing the time and effort for business owners to enter duplicate data from one (online) program into another.
End of last year - on Kashflow's forum - I encountered Alex Monaghan, who asked me if I would be interested in a program that would enter all new Ecwid orders straight into my bookkeeping program Kashflow. Now this already happened (partly) when my client paid using Paypal, but all other payment options resulted in having to enter all the data manually (both in Kashflow and in Octane HQ).
Alex reported last week that his KFSync was ready to test out and the ease of how seamlessly it worked made me wonder about the effectiveness of Octane HQ. Surely in this time and age there would be a better - automagical - system to use?
Looking at Kashflow's Integration Pages it brought me onto Capsule CRM - which when you look at their Addons & Integration Page you'll see various well known programs. That, plus the price of the program itself, sold me and I was off to start the new process of filling Capsule CRM during the 30 days free trial, connecting the programs I needed for our business one by one.
My new "API Cloud"
Imagine Capsule as Main Program (where I register opportunities and manage our - growing band of - contacts) I've tried to visualise above how the API integration works.
Let me "walk you" through various scenarios to explain how everything connects:
- Suppose someone comes to our website (a Joomla site, online software with its own add-ons, components and extensions), reads our informative pages and decides to place an order in our secure webshop (Ecwid widgets installed as plug-in), selecting phone payment as payment option.
- The order is processed in Ecwid, through the KFSync lands within a few seconds in Kashflow and through Kashflow a few seconds later in Capture CRM (*1) - both programs checking if it is a new client or a new order from an existing client.
- I then check in Capsule if the new client is already on one of the mailing lists in MailChimp and if not I click one button in Capsule to add this person to the appropriate list
- Now suppose another person visits our website and requests one of our additional information filling in one of the Wufoo webforms.
- His/her details land automagically in Capsule (with the added tag of Lead)
- And sends the same details to MailChimp who emails the requested information.
- This person then places an order over the phone, and all I have to do is fill in the address details in Capsule and click the link "export to Kashflow" to create the invoice in the bookkeeping program.
- Another person used our Support Desk (Zendesk) to ask us a question, through the added Capsule App in Zendesk I can simply export the details to Capsule (and when this person then places an order click the same link to export to Kashflow) and again add them to the appropriate MailChimp list.
If you are wondering why Alive Docs is added, that is a simple program that can contact Capsule in the event you want to mail merge letters etc (letters to be emailed or posted - where posted means the mail merge is emailed to yourself as PDF)
Besides saving me time and effort, all these connecting programs will save me money too (in the end). So, definitely Clouds with a Silver Lining
*1 = do note that Capsule considers every contact coming in from Kashflow an Organization and not - as so many of our clients are - as a person. If you, like me, want to register them as person you'll have to correct this manually in Capsule - which gives me the opportunity to add the odd person to a "Case" - a great feature in this software program to remind yourself of things to print, call etc per contact.