I often hear this question – I keep reading so much about CRM. What, exactly, are the real differences between a CRM system and ACT!? It’s getting confusing.
ACT! is a great PIM (Personal Information Manager). It is called a contact manager or PIM because it keeps contacts for an individual in one place and allows them to manage their own one-to-one relationships through email, calls and letters. That is what a PIM was designed to do and there are few products that do it better then ACT!
However, problems arise when you want to share information within the organization - like between sales & marketing or with customer service. It becomes a lot harder with a PIM because you are not all sharing the same data set and you need to synchronize the individual data sets to a master on a daily basis. Good luck in managing this synchronization process if you get more than about 10 users involved. Better luck with all the variables that start to come into play with such a process, like when and how to connect.
A more troubling issue, with a PIM, is regarding the issue of who owns the customer and prospect information, the company or the sales rep, who is 500 miles away from you? Is the information a company asset or the personal property of the sales rep? Is this asset less valuable to your business then a delivery truck or piece of production equipment? So what controls do you have on this asset? There are not a lot of good options with a PIM.
A CRM system adds three major enhancements over a PIM.
1. There is one database, owned by the organization, in which users only have rights to what they need.
2. Everyone is on the same page with a customer, because updates from the sales rep, marketing and customer service are all in the same record on a synchronization process that is unnoticeable to the users.
3. You have an ability to grow a core information system about customers and prospects. By adding fields, views of data and integration with other information sources, such as ordering, RMA or service ticketing system, you start breaking down the data silos that have grown up over the years and get the information in one place.
Please share your experience.