Idiot-proof CRM
June 15, 2016 4:26 PM   Subscribe

My reservations staff are going to kill each other... I need a simple CRM to keep track of email reservations. We use a single email inbox to manage incoming reservations, and multiple people have access to this inbox. We need a CRM that can integrate with this inbox... and restore sanity.

Ideally, it'll work with a single inbox, but allow for multiple users. Example:

Sarah begins a email thread with customer Bob, but doesn't hear back from Bob by the end-of-business and thus doesn't complete the booking. The following day, Sarah is off and Elise is working reservations. Bob calls about the emails with Sarah, but Elise doesn't know the specifics. Elise can pull up Sarah & Bob's correspondence via the CRM and finish the booking. All of the email correspondence is handled through the same inbox ( but we have individual user accounts for the CRM so we can audit who initiated the correspondence, audit who completed the booking, etc. In a dream world, the CRM would prompt our reservations staff to follow a booking 'checklist' to be certain we've gathered all necessary info.

I've heard good things about Zoho and Salesforce, but both seem quite complex for our simple needs. We have a fully-awesome system for reservations and just need a simple CRM piggyback to make our email situation less crazy.

Thanks, guys!
posted by roygbv to Computers & Internet (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Another wish-list feature: we have customers contact us via Facebook Page messages, and it'd be nice to have our Page's inbox incorporated with the CRM. Possible?
posted by roygbv at 4:30 PM on June 15, 2016

Sounds like Zendesk could be good. You seem to be describing something more like a help desk or ticketing system than a sales- or business development-oriented CRM. Highrise is another cheap, simple CRM that isn't as overwhelming out of the box as Salesforce.
posted by Aizkolari at 4:39 PM on June 15, 2016 [2 favorites]

We recently started using Front to handle our sales and support email boxes, with very similar requirements. It works well for us. It does require that you use Google Apps for Work as your business email, so that may be a deal-breaker.
posted by shanewtravel at 5:24 PM on June 15, 2016

Independent of any CRM or ticketing system, it should be fairly straightforward to configure the email server and clients so that they send messages from a unique (send-only, maybe email address for each person, but replies to any messages always end up in the inbox that everyone has access to.

(Just want to be clear that for that particular feature of being able to audit/figure out from an email chain who sent the message at each step it's not something you have to pay Salesforce an enormous monthly fee to get, it's probably just a few settings changes in whatever you're managing email through now.)
posted by XMLicious at 6:00 PM on June 15, 2016 [1 favorite]

Look at bigcontacts, they should be able handle this. They also have some social media support.
posted by bq at 8:30 PM on June 15, 2016

This is kind of more of a web ticketing system than a CRM, but OTRS is what we use at my office for website updates and other requests. I believe it's open source, so it should be pretty inexpensive to implement.

All the requests to a certain email account can be sent to a common queue (and from there sent to sub-queues if need be, depending on the nature of the request) and tickets can be claimed or assigned as needed. When someone is working on a ticket, it is "locked" but after a few days of inactivity (like if someone is out of the office), it will unlock and rejoin the main queue. I believe you can customize this system pretty well.

It sounds like this might be similar to what you're looking for? It's not the prettiest system in the world, but it does the job.
posted by helloimjennsco at 6:14 AM on June 16, 2016

It sounds like what you want is a distribution list honestly. Everyone emails "", which goes out to ALL these people. Everyone *sends as* from

Now all the messages, and all replies to them are in everyones inbox. Everyone is identified by signatures.

Alternate version: Everyone receives as, but sends as and cc's on all replies. This is what my work does, with the issue being that if the customer doesn't reply-all, they go to only one person and you're back to square one.

The issue with solution A is accountability, which is why everyone has a signature that says "Jane Bla - BlaBla inc" on their emails.

Both have drawbacks, but a CRM seems like overkill here. All incoming emails and replies should just go to the team. CRM systems suckkkkk, and it's like using a $20,000 ride on lawnmower to mow a tiny apartment building courtyard in this situation.
posted by emptythought at 2:24 PM on June 16, 2016 [1 favorite]

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