Saturday, March 15, 2014

Email Convenience and Freedom for the Desktop CRM Act!

With the success and dominance of Microsoft Outlook as the corporate standard for E-mail in the 90’s and beyond, many desktop CRM applications including Act! CRM are designed with Outlook as the favoured integration for e-mail recording. Use of older Internet Mail clients included with CRM systems declined as service providers demanded use of secure channels where log-on and password were not sent in plain text, prone to ease of interception. Outlook provided that with support for SSL.

The introduction of webmail and the convenience of browser access brought freedom from needing to be at your desktop to create and view email. This presented a problem for conventional desktop CRM; how to capture all email transactions in a contact history irrespective of where the email was sent from, or the type of device and what email client was used.

With the increased popularity of Gmail, Sage the owners of Act! CRM at the time provided a partial integration with Gmail. However to avoid duplicate data you could not have both Outlook and Gmail integration active together and unfortunately the nature of Act!’s Internet Mail client would not allow it to be used as a client for Gmail so it lacked a Gmail Inbox view within Act!.  Also lacking was the convenience of simply clicking on an email address in Act! to trigger the opening of a Create Message window for Gmail in your browser. Thus it was integration with Gmail of sorts but limited and lacked the workflow that Outloo users were used to. Email sent through Gmail where there was a common email address with Act! would record the history into Act! through synchronisation.

Beyond the challenges of Gmail with the upsurge in mobile computing, highly mobile users carrying multiple devices such as laptops, tablets and smartphones, it becomes increasingly harder to capture all emails and record them reliably and consistently to CRM and without duplication.

The web based CRM packages like Sugar CRM and Highrise were early adopters of a drop-box service. A dropbox provides a common email address which is monitored and attaches email sent to it, directly to the correct contact record in CRM. This ensures device and email client independence by a simple CC: or Bcc: to the drop-box address on sending an email to the recipient. Email is attached to the CRM automatically by through the regular synchronisation through the drop-box service. Now Xact Software introduces drop-box services to Act!

Smart Inbox for Act! is a low cost subscription software that allows you to attach email in Act! independent of the mobile device or email client you choose. You can even have Outlook integrated to Act! as well if you want.  More information can be found at