When a customer working with several employees at a company gets two different answers to the question, "What's going on?"-- who's right? At Sealund Associates, a software training firm, employees working on a project together are required to circulate telephone notes taken when discussing the project with a customer, to keep confusion and mistakes to a minimum. "We've done it for 13 years, and for the past several we've done it online," says Barbara Sealund, founder of the Clearwater, Fla., company. "This way even far-flung independent contractors, working off-site on a project, can tap into the log of yesterday's happenings to keep up to date."

Employees are required to download their notes into the computer system within 24 hours. Typically, they list the main points of a conversation. Speed--not polish--is what's needed at this stage of the game, and typos and incorrect grammar are overlooked. Sealund can check the projects remotely when she's traveling so that before she calls customers, she knows the status of their projects.

Sealund adds that the database serves as a useful historical tool for salespeople on the road. Since the notes document various projects, they can tap into these notes while visiting customers and brainstorm with them. Sealund Associates revenues reached $2 million in 1997, and 90% of customers give the firm repeat business.

Copyright 1997 G+J USA Publishing