A CRM tool is something that WordPress users have long desired. Facing facts, finding a CRM solution isn’t easy, no matter what platform you’re using, but for WordPress users, it has been even more difficult.
For those of you still in the dark, CRM is Customer Relationship Management. This is how you manage the relationship between your business and your customers. Pretty important stuff.
Usability Dynamics has taken a stab at CRM for WordPress, creating a plugin that gives users a few more tools to aid their CRM efforts. Does it work? Some of the features look promising, but like with all CRM options, only time can tell if it really has everything it needs to survive as a good CRM tool.
Let’s take a little tour through this plugin and see what makes it tick.
Step 1: Installation
Installing the basic plugin is easy. All you need to do is click Plugins -> Add New and search for WP-CRM. It is in the general stable of WordPress Plugins that can be installed right through the standard interface.
Step 2: Setup
There are a lot of settings here, so I’m going to do a very brief summary of them for you. This is something you will have to play around with, as every business’s CRM needs are different. What works for me isn’t necessarily going to work for you!
These settings (shown above) are very generic settings that deal with how CRM functions.
There is a UI setting section because CRM really needs it. There are a lot of things that can be displayed, including User Login, Display Name, Company, and even Phone Number. You’ll want to tweak these to match your needs.
Out of all of the settings, I found this one to be the most difficult to work with. You may want to use a widescreen monitor when dealing with it because there is a lot of text and it uses a flexible table width. (It gets messy.)
This is just one of the many fields that you can work with. There is a lot here, and a lot that you can change.
Once again, there are a lot of things you can change. This is one of the nicer features of WP-CRM, since it lets you easily manage entire groups of people in one place.
This is where you can setup notifications to your users. Notifications can be sent to users when certain actions are completed. You will need a little bit of WordPress know-how for this, since you must use filters, then add a call action, and use shortcode functionality.
First time WordPress users will find this baffling.
- Shortcode Forms
CRM software wouldn’t be complete with contact forms. This is where you modify the forms to fit your company’s need. You’ll also find a little more information here about linking Notifications to your Shortcode Forms.
- Premium Features
Now for the bad news: A lot of the good features of WP-CRM are premium features. Like many other CRM tools out there, you’ll need to pay if you want access to the best of the best.
The good news is, the notable feature missing is CRM Group Messaging. It’ll cost you $50.00 to add it, but it does give you the ability to bulk message your users, which is an important CRM function.
Step 3: Using WP-CRM
A lot of the meat of WP-CRM is in the settings and customization you can do to it. After that, the plugin gets deceptively simple. Here is a brief list of the things that you can do with it.
By brief I actually meant a lengthy list of things you can do to put this CRM to work for you. While there are important features missing, there is enough here to make it a workable solution to some important CRM tasks.
- Export Users to CSV
- Visualize User Data (You need a significant number of users for this function)
- Display and Set Roles
- Display and Set User Types
- Filter Users (By Role/User Types)
- Manually Add Users
- Manage Messages
What is Missing?
With the exception of the premium CRM Group Messaging functionality, WP-CRM does one thing particularly well: It lets you get an idea of who your customers are, offers you the ability to gather their information, and gives you the basic management tools most people need in their CRM solution.
Here is a brief list of what it doesn’t do:
- Automated Mailers/Newsletters
- Extensive Analytics
- Social Media Integration
- Marketing Campaign Management
- Appointment Management
Of course, there is more functionality that it doesn’t hit upon, but what it does do is offer a simplistic way to track users – a key element of good CRM software. Best of all, with the basic package offering many tools, it is significantly cheaper than the competition.
At the end of the day, just like most other WordPress CRM plugins, it falls a little short. However, when coupled with other plugins that can handle analytics, social media integration, and even marketing, it is possible to come up with a CRM solution that is a hash of many plugins.