Using Outlook as a CRM = Recipe for Business Disaster

OutlookAsCRMOutlook is familiar, it’s widely used, it allows tasks and appointments to be attached to each Outlook contact, and it even has all kinds of nifty detail fields that can be entered for each contact, but (and this is a big but)…

…can Outlook profile, categorize, differentiate and cross-reference all of the companies, clients or prospects these contacts represent across your organization?

Since email is a more commonly-used means of communication than letters ever were, messages that are of significant importance (of course) must be saved. Sure, messages can be neatly filed away within an Outlook folder, but can Outlook tell you the history of your entire team’s relationship with that particular client or prospect?

What about other contacts within the same client’s organization? Can others in your company see that important history with the message buried in your inbox? The obvious answer to these questions is no, and they are just a few reasons why Outlook should NOT be used as a CRM system.

CRM software fills the multi-faceted, cross organization relationship void that Outlook just can’t. A CRM program that works in conjunction with and extends Outlook is the most ideal solution for companies struggling with this problem.

A corporate CRM solution that connects to Outlook will ensure that:

  • Appointments are efficiently created (in Outlook) yet saved as part of the record history for the corresponding account, client or prospect company,
  • Task use in the CRM will drive efficiency, reduce redundancy and connect team members to leverage the efforts of each other,
  • Email communication and documents can be attached to the account/prospect/contact’s CRM profile and shared, viewed and even responded to by others when necessary.

Back in the day when email didn’t exist: every day a pile of letters would land on someone’s desk. These letters had to be responded to appropriately, a business couldn’t allow them to just pile up endlessly. The communications had to be managed, responded to and filed appropriately so the business could operate efficiently and effectively.

The reality is that Outlook is not a CRM system; it is primarily a “personal” communication exchange.

Companies that enable their employees to manage business relationships independently from one another within a personal email system like Outlook are taking an unnecessary risk. CRM systems that connect Outlook appropriately allow the best of both worlds.