We recently moved our e-mail accounts to Google Apps for Business; one of the big benefits of this has been the ability to use Google Apps that integrate with our e-mail accounts. It was exploring Google Apps that we came across Nimble Social CRM, which is a hosted CRM solutions that pulls contacts from a variety of sources into a single place where you can manage all of your interactions with your customers. So, what did we make of this Social CRM application and what benefits does it bring.
Nimble Social CRM is easy to get set up. You simply register, fill out the on-screen form, tell it what accounts you want to link to and then Nimble does the rest. Currently you can link to Google accounts, IMAP e-mail accounts, Google+, Twitter, Facebook, Facebook Pages and LinkedIn. We particularly liked the fact that you can connect to a Facebook page without having to connect to a Facebook profile because this will suit small businesses that have used personal Facebook profiles to manage their business Facebook page.
You can also link to a Google Calendar so that your events show up in Nimble and tasks you set in Nimble will appear on your Google Calendar. Again, we liked that fact that you can select an individual Google Calendar category to sync.
When Nimble pulls in the contacts from your various networks, there were no duplicates; although we weren’t pulling in a huge number of contacts, we still found this impressive. You can also view your contacts by the company that they work for. Think of the company name as being another way of grouping contacts. We had a couple of duplicates to clean up, but this was where LinkedIn contacts had used a slightly different company name so it’s by no means a limitation of Nimble. Although grouping by company may seem like a simply concept, in CRM terms it can be very helpful when you can’t quite remember where you know that person from.
When you view a company or person in Nimble, it suggests Social Profile Matches. This is a great feature because it helps you to find more ways to connect with your customers. Rather than having to search on Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+, Nimble does the searching for you.
There is an area we feel Nimble could be even better. When we went through our contacts in Nimble adding additional social network connections to these contacts, we assumed that we would be making an actual connection on the social network itself. For example, if I looked at Joe Blogs’ in my contacts and then added his suggested Twitter profile, I would assume I would then be following him on Twitter. Unfortunately this is not the case and you would have to go to Twitter and add them manually. This might not be a big deal if you live in Nimble, but most people we know access their social networks in a variety of ways so we think two way syncing is important.
Nimble handles messages beautifully. You have a single inbox that contains your e-mails and messages from the various social networks. An icon next to each message shows you which network the message is from. The senders name appears as a hyperlink if that person is in your contacts, so you can go to their profile quickly if you want more information before responding. Likewise, if you are viewing a contact then you can see a history of your messages with that contact from all of your networks.
You can also see the social stream for each contact, with their latest status updates. These features make it very easy to keep track of important messages and to build a rapport with your customers.
The ‘Activities’ section may look like a simple task list and calendar, but the simplicity is the strength here. We really like the fact that from a message you have an option to assign a task, which then appears on the list of activities along with events in the calendar. From contacts you can also add events with a few clicks that will sync with your Google calendar.
We were a little disappointed that the tasks don’t sync back to Google. It again comes back to the fact that you are unlikely to always access the information from Nimble; for example, out on the road you may look at your Google calendar / tasks on a mobile device. Hopefully this is an area that they will develop.
When viewing contacts you can also log other activity (i.e. make notes that may be relevant in the future), which is a standard feature of CRM applications.
After using Nimble Social CRM for a week we feel that the synchronisation issues are the main areas that we hope Nimble will improve. For example, contacts don’t automatically sync if you add a new contact in Google; instead you have to manually import new / updated contacts; unfortunately we were not able to get this feature to work due to an error on our account. When we updated contacts in Nimble, then we couldn’t find a way of pushing these changes through to Google or to any social networks.
Essentially, at the moment the flow of data is one way. Let us not forget that Nimble does a great job of pulling all this information together into one place to help you manage those customer relationships. In the future though, we hope Nimble will develop the app to push data back the other way so that Nimble Social CRM truly synchronises with your business’ social network.
While there are some areas for development, we think this is a very promising CRM application. The company is very proactive and contacted us after our initial tweets to see if they could assist with the trial. At the moment we feel it is best suited to smaller businesses that have fewer contacts to manage. Once the areas of development have been addressed then it will stand in good stead to meet the needs of larger businesses too. From what we have read in Nimble’s support forum, an Android and Ipad app is on the way, as is 2 way contact synchronisation with Google; these features along with two way syncing with social networks will make this a killer CRM application.
The company seems to be very proactive and is regularly adding features so we will definitely be watching this space. If Nimble develops the way we believe it will, it will be a winner.
Tools like Nimble, Desk and Assistly that access your e-mails may mark them as read in your inbox. Fine if you only interact with that account through the app, otherwise, you may miss e-mails. Consider setting up a dedicate e-mail for these apps (e.g. support@)