Ask Effició: Do you have any suggestions regarding a customer relationship management or database management system?

December 1, 20130 Comments

Question:  Do you have any suggestions regarding a customer relationship management  or database management system?

I do realize you need some form of management to keep up with clients and your correspondence with them.  I understand that MS Outlook with Business Manager is good and I’ve heard about Gold Mine and Constant Contact.  And then there’s the icloud and tons of others when I search on the Internet.  Any suggestions regarding a customer database management system?

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Sherese Answer:  I’m familiar with MS Outlook and Gold Mine (now teamed up with Constant Contact) and they both are good programs.  I personally use ACT! database to manage all my contacts.  This program has many features that I need other than emailing, general contact information, and a calendar.  It allows me to track sales potential and closed sales, it allows me to group my contacts based on customized characteristics, it allows me to track and organize specific data, i.e. # of years in business, type of business, industry, or which workshop they attended.  Gold Mine is similar but I’ve used ACT! for about twelve years so I’ve mastered the features.  By the way, ACT! also supports Outlook so any emails I send from a contact in ACT! goes through my Outlook program.

Another option if you’re needing an extensive resource that can integrate into multiple programs including the popular icloud technology and other web applications is Access. It’s a detailed program but worth the time to invest and learn.  As Efficio grows into our next five years, we’re integrating this program and will eventually move all contact management to Access.

For small business owners I recommend a true database program like ACT! or Goldmine vs. an Email program, although Outlook works very well for those who choose to use it.  You have to think about those things you want to track and how you will use the database.  If you plan to do email campaigns to your database, you will want something to query only those you want to promote to and also track within their contact information what you sent and when.  You also want the ability for your program to integrate with your shopping cart, email management application and other tools that manage contact communication.

ACT! and Goldmine have a free trial, check them out.  Access also has a free trial and Microsoft offers free tutorials.  Next, check with your current email management solution (if it ‘s not Outlook) and see what resources they have available.  Do some evaluations and based on your business needs you should be able to pick the best choice for you.

Be careful…always own your database.  If it’s hosted somewhere else, ensure you’re able to download all contact information and back up weekly!

Your Transmogrifyer,

Sherese Duncan

© Effició, Inc.

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