Home > Uncategorized > CRM apps to track contacts

CRM apps to track contacts

[This is a published draft – I’m adding more apps and photos as I get them]

Working in Australia as I now am, I find myself in a smaller business environment where, in my industry, everyone knows everyone else. Hence, I’m finding it a lot more important to track names and contacts.

If you step into a meeting, there may be several people: some will lead, whereas others will remain quiet. They may be influencers, they may not. One such person may crop up six months later in another place, or an email, or as a mention. Did that someone say previously they were for us? Against us? What do they know? What did someone drunkenly say about them in the pub one night?

Hence my need for something to track people. This basically equates to a CRM application, although most CRMs are fully-fledged with not just contacts and history, but deal tracking, and ToDo (or To-Call) lists.

So – I’ve been looking for something to to this, keeping in mind this requirements list:

  • Needs an iOS app, preferably that can work offline
    Can import contacts from iOS Contacts, but does not necessitate that the contact be kept in Contacts (I don’t want a person I hear about once a year clogging up my phone list)
    Must retain the history for a contact, even if I delete them (and yes, some apps fail this test)
    Allow the main purpose of adding historical notes to contacts
    Allow attaching of a historical note to multiple contacts (eg. All 5 people in a meeting)
    Track relationships between people – ideally even show this as a mesh diagram
    Ideally, integrate with email/linked in/etc to include history I haven’t manually entered
    Keep all this info private to me. Not on a corporate system (my company uses Salesforce.com
  • And I don’t want to spend a fortune. I’m just a tech 🙂

    So, what is there out there?

    Highrise is by 37Signals, who produce the popular Basecamp project management tool. As such, it’s associated with a strong brand, strong online web app, and collaborative team working.

    Is it suitable for me? Well, it has a clean, simple interface, but with all the online presence that allows team collaboration (which I don’t need). The app does allow historical notes to be added to a user – but doesn’t allow a note to be tagged to multiple users. Nor does it allow users to be deleted at all. The app doesn’t support contacts import, although you can probably do this online. The flipside is that you can have contacts in the app which aren’t in your phone book.

    Overall – great for a team, but less great for me.

    Contacts Journal
    Contacts Journal is a well-polished, supported and developed app, that looks like my current best-bet, although it’s still missing some key functionalities.

    Its purpose is pretty much what I want: a contacts app that allows logging of conversations and actions, without all the sales-focussed CRM stats that many CRM apps have.

    Good points include:

  • Supports private (ie. not in iPhone contacts) contacts
    Can sync between devices using Dropbox
    Can backup and export, including to open formats (eg. CSV)
    Supports grouping of contacts (although see below)
  • However, it’s not quite there yet: there are a few things missing:

  • Linking relationships between contacts
    It can’t group contacts synced from Exchange (and ALL mine are in Exchange!)… Although it seems you can create a “Private group” that includes Exchange contacts, and hence serves the same purpose
    Can’t add a note to multiple contacts at once (ie. several people in a meeting)
    If you delete a contact, it loses all notes, logs, etc linked to that contact
  • MyCRM

    MyCRM is developed by an Italian, as is evident from the English in some of the UI and documentation.

    The other thing, is that she’s obviously never read the Apple style guide… Or perhaps any! It’s a shame, because the app itself is quite powerful, but it’s reminiscent of someone who grew up on SAP or mainframe systems, and then skipped any UI design stage when writing their powerful, flexible, and horrible mobile app.

    Plus points

  • The licence scales from free, to expensive (for large contact counts)
    Contacts outside the standard iPhone/Exchange contacts can be stored – iPhone contacts are actually batch-imported
    You can write a note and add multiple contacts to it (eg. For meetings)
    If you delete a contact, it will still retain the notes created for that contact (IIRC)
  • Cons

  • You can’t define links/relationships between contacts
    Clunky, horrible interface!
  • The interface problems range from the obvious garish orange UI with block menus, to workflow streamlining issues, to the language barrier. For examples of the last: “Activity” means reminder/appt, while a meeting note is confusingly called a “relationship”.

    If selecting multiple meeting attendees, you can’t just tick/check them as with any other app, but must instead select “menu”, “start selection”, and THEN select them. And then “end selection”. The workflow woes extend to the time stamp for the note… Normally a note would be made “now”, but it doesn’t insert the current time without any effort – you have to select both time and date.

    Also, although you can add multiple attendees to a note, you can’t add any more once the notes is saved.

    A shame. With someone re-working the UI, it could be good.

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