In the Trenches: The Good and Bad Sides of CRM Integration
I’ve written about my struggle to find the right customer relationship management software for Cranky Concierge before. Every time I’ve looked at our options, I’ve found features I like and don’t like. I think I’ve finally found a winning solution, but I’m still a little hesitant to commit because of its high level of integration with other systems, in particular Google Apps.
I realize that integration with other systems should be a plus, but that’s only true if we never change the providers of those systems. I've previously looked at CRM
as a standalone product. Sure, it complements email tools to some extent — if we do a lot of customization and installation work. But I don’t have the resources for that, and I'm not sure I want to deal with the hassle of hiring a consultant.
But recently I switched the company over to Google Apps, and things have changed. Since we’re now using a big, common system, third-party developers are building tools to integrate CRM with several of the Google Apps modules including email and document creation. I ended up finding a CRM system that would work well. We could easily customize its fields to store all of the information we need, and we could import emails relating to each client. And, at $49 a month total for the seven people who need access, this was much more reasonably priced than other systems. Sounds great, right?
So, I started entering information into the CRM system, and then I got a little nervous. All of these great Google Apps integrations are helpful now, but what if I decide I don’t want to use Google anymore? Will I have to look for another new CRM system? I could always keep using the current one without the Google tie-ins, I suppose, but then I would lose the integration that made this system so attractive in the first place.
Ultimately, I think I'm comfortable with the new CRM system, because it allows you to export all of the data and then reimport it into another system if you choose. But all of these integration ties have still caused me to pause before moving forward.
Am I crazy for hesitating?
Brett Snyder is President and Chief Airline Dork of Cranky Concierge air travel assistance. Snyder previously worked for several airlines, including America West and United, before leaving to create a travel search site for PriceGrabber.com. Snyder did his undergrad at George Washington and earned his MBA from Stanford.