The Underutilized and Under-Appreciated Part of CRM: Microsoft Outlook?
Why am I talking about a software that is so obviously “yesterday?” With all the improvements that it has had in its desktop version, it is clearly not a software that will draw more than a yawn in a crowd.
I have not used MS-Outlook since early 2008 and the version I used then was Outlook 2003.
We run our office mail on Google Apps and we do it exclusively on the web. Google did have the fleeting experiment a while back with Gears (?) for making it possible to download and check mail offline; I never used it and I doubt many did.
Fast forward to today.
I again started using Outlook only about a month or so back; coinciding with the launch of Saleswah Lite in private beta. And, I am quite pleased so far. I use Outlook as a mail-box aggregator; I have multiple email addresses connected to the same profile. This helps cut down on adding my contacts to multiple email clients.
My main email id anindya at anwesha dot in is common between Outlook and Google Apps (of course) and this is the same email I use for our CRM, I have ensured a very nice integration between my CRM- Saleswah (cloud-based), Outlook and Google Apps. For details, see here.
The Outlook Social Connector
I use Outlook 2007 and I did not even know of the existence of the Social Connector (it does not come built in, you need to download it and install it, unlike in Outlook 2010, where it comes built-in). Truth is, I was looking for the Rapportive kind of experience in my email which I am now used to in my Google Apps mail. So, went and Googled and found the Outlook social connector add-in. I downloaded, installed- quite painlessly, I may add, and off I went. It asked for my LinkedIn and Facebook credentials.
What I like about the social connector is that it is unobtrusive. It gleans all the contact details and recent activities from the profiles of all the contacts. And it displays them just where it should. Not distracting like many of the social CRM packages tend to be.
And, it has neat little feature that really helped in a recent case-I was emailing my LinkedIn contacts asking for their help on a small project. It was not to be a mass-mailer; each person would get a somewhat different pitch. The social connector creates a folder called LinkedIn which basically has all your LinkedIn contacts; I went one by one down that list, selected the ones that I wanted to send my message to and emailed.
Now, to me this is great. From the perspective of CRM, nothing could be better.
If you are running Outlook 2007/2010 or beyond, do work with the social connector.
One Other Thing…
Since we are on this great re-discovery trip of Outlook, there is this one lovely feature of Outlook which is mail aggregation- I like that when I click on a email from a contact, all the previous mails from the contact who sent the email get shown in the panel underneath. This is still not the conversation view of Gmail, but I find that useful.
In summary, I have started spending more and more time in my Outlook for email because, now that I have integrated my CRM and my Gmail with it, it gives me just the “full picture” view of my contacts that I wanted.