The Apple App store is full of productivity tools, but somewhat lacking in general business tools, such as mobile CRM. While there are a few CRM apps available, they’re generally tied to a subscription service like Zoho or Salesforce.com that you need to have an account with. However, there is a mobile CRM solution that frees you from the obligation of paying for a subscription service, and that’s Contacts Journal CRM.
Contacts Journal is exactly what the name implies—an app that helps you better manage all of your contacts, as well as associate different tasks and notes along with those contacts. Importing your iPhone contacts is pretty fast and easy, especially if you don’t bother picking and choosing which ones you’re going to import. Just select all, and you’re ready to get started.
If you’re someone who likes to be walked through a new app, though, you’re not going to get it from Contacts Journal. Once your contacts are in, you don’t get any further direction from the app, except for how to upload and download files from it, so get ready to do a lot of exploration on your own. For the app savvy, it’s not too difficult to figure out how to do things; but until you really get into the full swing of using the app daily, I imagine that there are a lot of features that might go unnoticed without a tutorial.
Communicating with your contacts through the app couldn’t be easier. From a contact’s screen, you can email, call, or text them, and the interaction is automatically logged to that contact. Adding tasks and files to a particular contact is also incredibly fast and easy, though for file upload and download, you need to be on WiFi. The iCal integration seems pretty solid to me, and Dropbox integration also makes it easier to backup and sync Contacts Journal to the cloud.
I also really like that you can see in your contacts list how many tasks, log entries, and documents are associated with a particular contact, giving you an at-a-glance view of how much contact you’ve had with someone. Once you have your groups set up, filtering is pretty easy. Just select the group of contacts you want to look at, then when you tap on Logs, To Do, or Map, you only see the logs, to do lists, and map locations of the contacts in that group. This seems like it would be pretty handy for organizing various contacts based on your interaction with them.
Though the app is pretty slick and user friendly, there are several drawbacks that might be deal breakers for you depending on who you are:
The syncing issue is probably the worst thing about this app. If you want to have Contacts Journal on multiple devices, then syncing your contacts across your devices requires backing up your contacts over WiFi or email to a vCard file, saving that file on your computer’s hard drive, then going to the other device to get a URL where you can upload the vCard file to that device from your computer. If you have no intention of using this app on any other device, then it’s not an issue.
You should definitely try the free version before you buy, since at $7.99, it’s quite an investment for an app. Still, if you have a lot of contacts and tasks to manage on a day-to-day basis, it’s a pretty useful app overall. Personally, I feel like $7.99 is a little too much, especially since you have to buy the app again if you want to have it on your iPad. That seems silly to say, but the fact of the matter is that most people are not willing to pay more than $5 for an app. On the other hand, trying to sync between two devices is nowhere near frictionless, so you probably wouldn’t want to install it on two devices anyway.
Update: The developer let us know that they’re working on integration with iCloud, which would definitely make syncing easier. Also, since we tested the Lite version of Contacts Journal, we didn’t have the option of using their “Fetch from Dropbox” feature, which would also make syncing easier across devices. “Fetch from Dropbox” is only available through the paid version of Contacts Journal.
You can also compare other leading mobile CRM solutions like Contacts Journal in the easy-to-read layout of our redesigned software report on the top mobile CRM tools.