Effective contact management is one of the most critical tasks of running a business. Sales and marketing need to be able to quickly find the current status of an active opportunity in their database, while support teams need to be able to quickly find a contact’s complete customer history.
This buyer’s guide will provide a brief overview of contact management software, which is designed for these purposes (among others). Here’s what we’ll cover:
What is contact management software?
Common Contact Management Software Features
Contact Management vs CRM: What’s the Difference?
What is contact management software?
At their core, contact management programs store customer contact information. This can include customers’ names, addresses, phone numbers, email addresses, and even social media profile information. These databases are often easily searchable and store important documents in each contact profile.
Screenshot of Basic User Dashboard
These systems are designed to increase efficiency by consolidating critical customer data into a single tool. Rather than trapping contact information in your team’s individual inboxes or address books, everyone maintains a single view of the customer.
In addition to the basic features described in the previous section, contact tracing systems may also include the following features.
|Calendar and notifications||These features allow users to schedule events and tasks and associate them with a contact in your database. This might include follow-up reminders of an active opportunity in your pipeline or a task for an account manager to send a renewal contract to one of your clients.|
|To take notes||In addition to storing contact information, your team may also want to take notes about a particular customer or opportunity. These can be notes from a recent call or meeting, or comments about the best time or day of the week to reach a certain person.|
|File sharing||Your team probably creates a variety of documents during their relationship with each client. These features allow them to easily store these contracts, proposals and other files in account profiles. Often users can simply drag and drop files from their desktop; or, they can quickly click to upload them to the contact’s profile.|
|Key words||Tagging features allow users to quickly extract subsets of customers at a time. These tags are often highly customizable, so companies can create groups by geographic region or by project, for example. Think of it as a kind of index for your accounts, allowing you to quickly find customers of a certain type.|
|Task lists||Allows you to create tasks for your team in each contact profile. Often staff will be notified when a task is assigned to them. Then, when that person completes the task, management receives an alert. Often these tasks can be selected from a drop-down menu, allowing you to standardize the workflow.|
Contact tracing software is essentially a more basic version of a customer relationship management (CRM) system, although vendors sometimes use these terms interchangeably, especially when discussing CRM systems designed for small businesses.
Typically, CRM systems include the most common contact management features described in the previous section; however, they can also incorporate more robust workflow automation, reporting, and interaction tracking, among other features. Depending on the CRM application, the system can also offer functionality for marketing automation, sales force automation, customer service, field service, and help desk and help desk management. calls. For more information on CRM software, see our buyer’s guide.
Although many vendors differentiate their systems in this way, you may still encounter systems that have more functionality than another product described as a CRM system, and vice versa. Whatever the name of the system, the choice between a basic contact management system or a more robust CRM system can depend on a variety of factors.
Most of the buyers we talk to are small businesses or small departments within larger companies, which don’t require any capabilities other than tracking contact information. These buyers can most often operate exclusively with the basic capabilities described in the “common characteristics” section.
Meanwhile, CRM software buyers need more features that go far beyond simple contact management. They may need features specific to their industry (eg, field service) or for a particular operational role, such as customer service. Very large companies may also need contact management functionality to work in concert with other types of automation, so they would purchase an integrated CRM suite.
The business software world has been offering contact management solutions for many years, probably longer than most other types of business software. But just because contact management apps have been around for years doesn’t mean the products and their features haven’t evolved. Contact management software vendors continue to refine their products in light of the changes brought about by increasingly digital business environments. Modern contact management systems are often designed to be:
- Always omnichannel. Omnichannel software enables businesses to seamlessly engage with customers and customers across all common communication channels, from personal and work email addresses to phone calls, live chats and more. Omnichannel contact management systems ensure that information regarding preferred communication channels and contact details is stored with each contact’s entry.
- increasingly integrated. Contact management software is often combined (integrated) with other CRM functionality into larger software suites. Integrated suites add efficiency to internal workflow processes by minimizing the number of interfaces used by employees to perform individual tasks. Whereas in the past contact management systems were often sold as stand-alone products, today they are more often found combined with other applications, such as those used specifically for sales, service or marketing.
- Available interdepartmentally. As more and more companies find value in increasing cooperation between their internal departments, more and more software vendors are designing platforms to facilitate the sharing of information between departments. Contact management solutions that allow all internal departments to share and work from the same database are increasingly common.