Customer relations management (CRM) software is an important part of business growth, whether you have a startup or a small to midsized company. But with money always needed in other sectors of a young business, a CRM system is only seen as attractive and turns from “nice to have” to “must have now” when you experience an epic fail from flawed or nonexistent data. Some issues that make a CRM a necessity are when your sales team reaches the point of critical overload with notes and a variety of programs for smartphones, desktops and mobile devices that do not talk to each other or the organization.
The Benefits of Outlook as a CRM Tool
When the need for CRM tool can no longer go unanswered, many businesses try to use Microsoft Outlook as their CRM. Outlook can do a lot as a stand-alone CRM, so let’s see what advantages there are to Outlook as a CRM tool.
- Cost – Outlook is usually included with all purchases of MS Office or MS Office 360 (the subscription service).
- It’s easy to add contacts to Outlook.
- Calendars and emails can be handled from any device that can reach the internet.
- Integrates with Skype for Business.
- Easy sharing of data with others or with the Enterprise Management Resource used by your firm.
These and other benefits contribute to making your sales team stellar performers as Outlook keeps it efficient and more productive.
Why Using Outlook as a CRM Tool May Not Be a Good Idea
Microsoft has often described Outlook as calendar and email software, with no mention of CRM in those descriptions. Indeed, Outlook is primarily an email program, but it also integrates with:
- Task Manager
- Journal Manager
- Contact Manager
MS Outlook also includes note-taking ability and can be used as a standalone system or integrated with other software running on a system using Microsoft Exchange Server and Microsoft SharePoint Server. Once Outlook is installed, users can create public folders, meeting schedules and more for sharing among users. As noted earlier, MS Outlook may be usable as a first CRM tool. However, it is not the best choice all the time. Let’s see why.
- Outlook is not great at syncing between devices.
- You have to manually move contacts from an individual contact list to a public folder.
- If you use Outlook as your CRM, you will not be able to link folders, files, PDFs or photos under client names automatically. Instead, this requires a cumbersome manual process.
- Outlook does not provide a history of communications that your staff has had with a single client, making it nearly impossible to go back and see what activity took place between your company and its clients.
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