Vrienden op de Fiets
Changing to another CRM is something you won’t do too often. Especially if it contains the entire administration for roughly 125.000 members. But if you have to do it, time it well. Like Vrienden op de Fiets (literally: Friends on the Bicycle) did. Because only a true diehard will plan a cycling trip in the midst of winter, when it is cold and dark outside.
Who is Vrienden op de Fiets?
Vrienden op de Fiets provides a platform for cycling enthusiasts, especially those who enjoy making long trips. And yes, we have plenty of those in The Netherlands! You can compare it to Airbnb in the early days: just people providing a place to stay for fellow cycling enthusiasts - against a modest fee. Perfect for those who love to go on cycling trips but don’t want to sleep in a tent.
Just logging in
What a lot of people don’t realize: there’s a huge amount of code hidden behind that basic login screen. And let’s be honest, they don’t need to know. For most users, only one thing matters: it should work.
For our customers, a little bit more insight into the technology behind your basic login might be useful though. Some of you already work with a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system. It is a great tool to manage subscriptions to the courses you offer, like Trias does. Or keep track of annual membership payments, like EAPS. Or, in this case, Vrienden op de Fiets.
API: tying two systems together
A CRM is not the same as the CMS behind your website. It is a completely different system, operating on its own. But if you want your members to be able to interact with it, in other words, log in via your website, those two systems should be connected. Depending on what your members should be able to do or see, we tie those knots between the website and the CRM. We just don’t call it a knot, we call it API, short for application programming interface.
We will also make sure that your members get the impression they are still on the website instead of interacting with an entirely different system. Just to avoid confusion. OK, also because most CRM systems don’t have a very pretty or user-friendly interface. But that’s a different story.
Back to the API. What it does, is basically enable you to use a certain functionality of another program, without having to know the ins and outs of that particular program. If that is too abstract, picture this: you are editing your pictures in a certain program. You decide to print a selection. Your photo editor really doesn’t need to know how your printer works. It just uses the printer API, a specialized bit of software, which takes over the moment you hit that “print” button and tells the printer what to do.
An API is in fact just a communication tool. APIs are everywhere and can be used for almost any system. In this case, let the website talk to a CRM and vice versa.
What we can do for you
Before you get the impression we can provide you with a CRM: sorry, no. We don’t build one, don’t do the maintenance and we do not customize it for you. In fact, we are more like an API: we don’t need to know how the CRM of your choice works in detail. As long as we know what language it speaks and where we can find the information your customer needs to be able to work with, we can do our job: linking any CRM to your website.
What we can do is give you advice if you are considering a (new) CRM. We even prefer to be involved in the process from the very start. Because we have been working with quite a lot of different systems, we know how they operate and specifically how they communicate with the CMS we use.
The jigsaw puzzle behind the scenes
Back to where we started: implementing a new CRM isn’t just one of your holiday games. The login page looks simple, but creating those links is a precision job that requires a lot of teamwork. Not just with you, the client, but also with the team that customizes your CRM. Because they need to do their job first before we can even start doing ours. We are talking about months of work, or even half a year if your system is particularly complex.
How to do this customer-friendly?
Preferably your customers shouldn’t notice any difference. Because in case they do, you should probably hire some extra helpdesk employees first. Especially when your visitors are less comfortable with the digital world.
In the case of Vrienden op de Fiets (literally: Friends on the bicycle), we also had to deal with a very strict deadline: spring. Because the moment the sun starts shining and the temperature goes up, Dutch people want to get on their bicycles again. So, by that time, the contributions should have been paid and you definitely want to have that year’s administration in one and the same system.
It was hard work. Took an endless number of meetings. We weren’t sure if we were all going to make it until the very end, but we did.
The best of all: nobody really noticed. Perhaps some of the members did, but it wasn’t remarkable no interfering. They could just log in and do their business as usual.
So now, Vrienden op de Fiets has a new CRM and a stable foundation for future development. We may add new functionalities, anything they or their customers may require. Smoothly incorporated in the website. Probably without anyone noticing the difference.
And that, Friends, is exactly the way it is supposed to be done.
Our work for Vrienden op de Fiets:
- API with CRM
- Building website and implementation design
- Improving the website structure
Questions? Get in touch:
070 345 76 28
Curious about the website? Take a look at Vrienden op de Fiets!
Looking for a (new) website with CRM?
And could you use some honest advice? Make an appointment and we will help you out.Let's meet