We use software for three main reasons: 1) to help provide excellent customer service, 2) regulatory reporting requirements, and 3) managing and growing our business. Each of these require accurate data placed in their proper fields. But here is the rub, we all make mistakes. Entering the wrong phone number, misspelling a customer’s name, entering or editing an mistaken address. Lets face up to it, we all make data entry mistakes. This is one place where Change Logs come into play. Change Logs provide a permanent record of all changes to a given record. They quietly record each edit, along with the previous value (if any), who typed it in, what computer was used, and the time and date of the edit.
Wow! So if you find you or someone in your office has made an error, you can look into the change log and see when it happened, and what the previous value was. If you notice that the errors are commonly made by ‘Alice’ you might want to take some time for additional training. And, since some data normally changes through time, we might want to look back to see previous values. A few examples illustrate both of these Change Log uses:
– Phone numbers. Let say a customer has a new cell phone and has decided to drop their land line. You go into their record, and change the old number to its new value. Only later do you find that you changed the wrong customer record! Yikes! With a Change Log, you can quickly see the previous value and put it back in place. Without a Change Log, the old phone number would have been lost forever or you would have had to dig into your software backups to resurrect it. Just grabbing it from a Change Log is much easier. Change Logs are like a Good Fairy watching over your shoulder, waiting to help you if you goof!
-Address change. Sometimes a customer will send a billing address change, perhaps for PO Box, and then change their mind. Or, some people will have a summer home and a different winter address. With a Change Log you can easily meet their needs.
-Price Changes per Customer. A standard fee for general pest control is often stored with the location record. A Change Log allows you to see when you last changed their price for the service. Because Change Log data is retained, for example, you’ll be able see if you raised the price last year, and all changes in the last ten years.
-Location change of ownership. Location records always belong to a customer. When someone else purchases the property, you’ll normally merely changes the Customer ID of the Location record. With a Change Log you’ll be able look back in time and see who owned that property in the past.
The value of Change Logs should not be overlooked. Without computers, Change Logs could not exist. And they provide a strong ‘leg-up’ over those companies without good software. Quality software will always include the means to view any changes to core table data. Viewing those changes can be critical to providing great service. Make sure your software includes Change Logs.