You have a small or home-base business, right? How do you manage customer relationships on your Mac?
The choices are slim, cheap, expensive, complicated, or do-it-yourself.
If there’s anything we’ve noticed about Mac applications since OS X Tiger was introduced, it’s quality, variety, value.
Mac applications and utilities continue to improve in all areas. One are that has been weak is customer relationship management—CRM applications.
Frankly, there are not many CRM solutions on the Mac, and the range from free to expensive is, well, extensive.
The problem may have more to do with what we consider to be a proper tool for managing customer relationships in a small or home-based business.
For the most part, the needs are the same—big business or small. Manage contact information in detail. The solutions are different because costs and expectations and requirements are different.
Basic contact or customer management is built in to iCal and AddressBook, and both are free with Mac OS X Tiger. Add Mail and you’re good to go at a very base level.
A mid-level view for many would be Microsoft’s Entourage, which carries multiple duties as a Project Manager, Task List Manager, Contact Manager, Scheduler, and email application.
Entourage is very capable but not easy to master and not the least expensive CRM solution.
At the low end are other Mac utilities and applications with more specific feature sets aimed squarely at managing customer information. Bells and whistles vary greatly.
For example, Contact vX manages contact information, lets you write letters and faxes, prepare email, even doing mass emails. It’s more of a PIM, a personal information manager than a business tool, but the lines at the low end are blurry.
One of our favorite Mac developers is Jumsoft, publishers of an excellent project manager called Project. Jumsoft released a public beta of Relationship, an inexpensive CRM tool that has many features, a low learning curve, and a simple, straightforward interface.
Another of our favorites at managing customer relationships, contacts, and all the associated details is MarketCircle’s Daylite Productivity Suite. If you’re after simple, keep looking. If you’re after bells and whistles, stop here.
In the middle of the pack is Crm4Mac which uses AddressBook, iCal and Mail from OS X, but adds events, documents, and better management tools.
The lines continue to blue between customer relationship management, contact management, project and task management, so it will help your search and final solution if you know exactly what you need to get done.
At the very high end is the capable and complex PerfectPA which extends into the corporate arena and acts more like a personal digital assistant, albeit an expensive one.
Another problem is understanding the definition of small business. If you’re a home-based business of one or two or three people, your customer relationship management requirements may be much less.
Larger organizations with 20 to 100 people are still considered “small business” but their customer information management needs are more complex, requiring a more complex and expensive solution.
How do you manage your customer information on a Mac? Is it a simple and inexpensive solution, such as iCal and AddressBook? Or, have you ventured into a specific application suite such as Entourage or Daylite? Share your experience in the Comments section below.