A Thistle Scientific Case Study: Where The Customer Comes First

15 May 2023

In the world of CRM, relationships are key. This is just as important for us here at OpenCRM. The relationship with our clients such as Thistle Scientific is special. Rather than simply being a service provider, we aim to try and fully understand what makes our customers tick. By taking more of a “partnership” approach, we end up with a solution that is mutually beneficial. 

Our business journey with Thistle Scientific stems back almost ten years. In that time, both businesses have expanded and evolved, and it is a great journey to look back on. In this blog post, we’ll be reviewing some of the features of OpenCRM and seeing how they have helped Thistle Scientific – see our case study with them for more details. 

About Thistle Scientific

Thistle Scientific Limited came to life in December 1997 in Uddingston, Scotland. Since that time, they have specialised in introducing ground-breaking, exclusive products to the UK, from global manufacturers in the Life Science sector. 

Where the Customer Comes First

Their ethos is simply “Where customer care comes naturally”. If the customer is happy, then the feeling is mutual. Providing for their customers’ requirements means active engagement at all levels to offer help, advice, and collaboration opportunities. The result delivers the customer what they really need.


Thistle Scientific Ltd is instrumental in sourcing new and innovative products for the UK market. As well as augmenting their own portfolio of products/ services, it means the customer always has the latest solutions available. 


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Getting Started with OpenCRM

The first task on the journey was to migrate their historic data from their legacy CRM solution across to OpenCRM. You could liken this to moving house. You need to transport your household contents from the old place to the new one. Ideally, those contents are neatly boxed up and labelled, so the removal team know which room to park the boxes in. A nice tidy data migration depends on well-formatted data on export, so there is a minimum of data manipulation required on re-import. Our professional services team is well-versed in all things data migration, so with these foundations in place, the Thistle Scientific team were ready for their first training sessions. 

Training – or learning – is usually an ongoing process. The initial “kickstart” sessions are designed to get you up and running. The learning curve is quite straightforward. Guidance in those early steps mean you can start using the system. It is designed so that the skills you’ve learnt are transferrable – if you know how to create a Company, by default you also understand the principle for creating a Lead or a Contact too.

Thistle Scientific got up and running with a couple of processes in a fairly short period:

  • They were interested in the marketing capabilities, pretty much from the start of their journey, sending bulk emails out to groups of customers and prospects. 
  • Then the sales process. This is tracked using Opportunities.
  • Finally, parallel to sales activities you have the Support aspect. Thistle Scientific got up and running with Helpdesk to help identify, manage and resolve any issues

On the Campaign Trail

Thistle Scientific are all about precision, and their marketing approach is no different to that. Using the Campaigns module in OpenCRM, they can put together lists of people who may be interested in specific products. Within the emails they send, they include links and behind the links, they have a clickthrough tracker embedded. This tells them exactly who clicked on which link, and when. 

The team can report on clicks and interactions once the campaign is sent. Once the marketing team has done their email campaigning, they can then analyse the clickthrough data. This information is then forwarded to the relevant sales reps who can see who is interacting with marketing activities in their area. This is a great example of how the actions of one department (marketing) can directly assist the behaviour of another (sales). 

The Sales Side Of Things

Armed with the data provided from marketing, the sales team is able to manage their activities in a focused manner and raise Opportunities for their potential clients.

Not all customers are the same and so their decision-making processes can also differ greatly. This is where the Opportunity expected close date information becomes paramount as people such as Thistle Scientific can make an educated decision for this, and then use custom views to help keep on top of their open Opportunities. For other businesses with a shorter Opportunity cycle, they might want to set a default period for the expected closure of the Opportunity, maybe 4 weeks after it has been created for example. It doesn’t matter how long or short your sales process is, details such as Sales Stages and Expected Close Dates keep things in check for you.

Support Duties

Once the sales team has distributed their samples, the best outcome is for sales to come rolling in. As with any product or service environment, there are always little hiccups here and there. That’s where the Helpdesk module and ticketing system comes into play.

You can easily classify tickets, for example into categories of damaged products or delivery problems. As with other parts of the system, you can run reports on the Helpdesk. This helps you spot trends in your customer service. It might be the case that a particular product causes more problems than others. Perhaps certain customers are raising more questions than others. With a little analysis, you can isolate these problem areas and come up with long-term solutions instead of short-term fixes.

Growing Together

Over the years, both OpenCRM and Thistle Scientific have evolved as businesses. OpenCRM is constantly adding new features and enhancements, and Thistle Scientific can take advantage of these, I’m going to pick up on a couple of these and see how they’ve helped Thistle Scientific on their journey with us.

Email Integration

Pop2OpenCRM is our email integration tool. It manages an automated flow of emails between your email provider and OpenCRM (and comes as part of your subscription). That means that you can see that rich history of communication within your CRM, even if you’re not sending emails from the system. Pop2OpenCRM can also do a number of other things, for example, emails sent to a dedicated email address can automatically create tickets in your system.

Creating Contacts from Emails

Thistle Scientific liked one enhancement in particular – the ability to automate the creation of Contacts. Whilst they are dealing with prospects, they might not want to create contacts for them, and perhaps don’t need to capture all correspondence with them from the outset. However, if they deem a prospect important enough, they have the ability to automatically create a Contact record in the system. The enhancement works as follows: create Contacts when emails are sent from a specified email address. This can be useful if you are concerned about spam. You might not want to create contacts from inbound emails but create a contact for those people you reply to via your email client. 

Displaying Images on Sales PDFs

Customers design their sales PDFs in all sorts of different ways. Some are a simple list of products with a price and a total. Others have more logos, terms and conditions and additional text embedded into their documents. 

One feature that Thistle Scientific use is the ability to output Product images on their PDFs. All they need to do is upload and store images against the relevant Product in their Products database. When that item gets added to the Product Grid on a sales entity, that image gets associated by default. It then means that they can output that image onto the customer-facing PDF that they can generate and send. 

Webform Integration

Lead generation is vital for most businesses and Thistle Scientific are no exception. Of all the ways of procuring Leads, being able to self-generate them is one of the most cost-effective ways of generating hot Leads with minimal effort. A typical way of getting these is by having a Contact Us form on your website. You learn from that form submission where that person’s interests lie.

Using OpenCRM’s API, Thistle Scientific are able to get those form submissions to auto-create Leads in their system. This brings them right into the heart of operations. From that moment, the marketing people can reach out to them, the sales can follow up, and the support department is on hand to help out if need be. 

Thistle Scientific use OpenCRM to track this entire process.