- Product Features
- Expert Review
CapsuleCRM has earned a substantial following in the web based aka /hosted/cloud/SaaS/online CRM market. It first went live in 2008, and has seen a fairly quick rise in popularity. It brands itself as a simple to use relationship management tool, and it is exactly that; Capsule focuses on tracking relationships and sales pipelines, plain and simple. It offers less functionality in other aspects of CRM such as campaigns and reporting, yet as a CRM for smaller businesses, not seeking all the bells and whistles (and the accompanying complexity), Capsule is pretty much an ideal solution. Data is kept nice and secure via redundant servers hosted in Amazon data centers, and it’s backed up every hour.
The user experience in Capsule is easily one of its strongest points. The interface is incredibly intuitive and simple, all the while Capsule still offers flexibility and powerful features (unlike many other CRMs out there that tout powerful simplicity). This is really important, as the rather cliched phrase “ease-of-use”, is actually the biggest reason affecting user acceptance and adoption, or lack thereof.
Capsule CRM on an Apple Mac. The Capsule experience is not very different on the Mac than a PC. Since Capsule runs in a browser everything is the same. If you are using the Mac Address book you can export your contacts to vCard files instead of csv files which means that you don’t have to go through each contact and map the fields, as they are already defined in the vCard file. Otherwise, the Safari browser is up to date with the latest browser standards and shouldn’t be any different than other browsers on other operating systems.
Capsule CRM on Mobile. Capsule launched their mobile application in April, 2011. This powerful app, suitable for users and salespeople always on the go, runs on iPhone, Android phones and BlackBerry. A local database is created when logging on to your account via mobile for the first time and everything including contacts, task list, activities etc. is synchronized. In this way users are able to access their contacts, tasks opportunities when out of the office. The mobile version has some very useful features, one of them being that when the name of a contact in Notes/Description is typed in, the application automatically suggests a link to the contact. Water, a powerful 3rd party iPhone app, to access Capsule contacts, opportunities, cases, and tasks can also be used. A recent feature added to Capsule mobile gives users the ability to manage your calendar and tasks from the app itself, rather than just view them.
User Interface: The user interface is split up into five main modules: the dashboard, people & organizations, calendars and tasks, the sales pipeline, and cases. You have the ability to create new tasks, contacts, cases, and opportunities from anywhere in the system, which always comes in handy. What I also particularly like is the recent items listed right on the top pane: this will list more than 8 recent items you’ve worked on which you can jump to from anywhere. The ability to customize colors is always fun too. I went with electric blue:
Dashboard: The dashboard will give you a quick summary of opportunities on the go, as well as all the latest updates. It’s a great place to start your day; see all new updates on items, new files, tasks, changes to current tasks, and sales forecasting. You can filter your updates by person or the type of item. Then jump in and create new tasks or opportunities right from the dashboard.
People & Organizations: This is where the magic happens. It’s a simple list of your contacts, but it’s also the core of Capsule. You can tag contacts for easier organization, and add them to lists. Lists work similarly to tagging but you can save them and do things with them, like export them. From the list you can jump to a contact’s profile and get to the lifeblood of Capsule: the client history wall. This wall immediately reminded me of another system: WORKetc. What these share in common is the one central place to store everything related to your contacts. Every email conversation you’ve had with a contact can automatically be logged on this wall, as well as every task you’ve ever worked on related to that contact. Add notes, files, opportunities, cases, tasks, and other items related to the contact.The social feeds are also quite useful; you get a summary of recent Twitter updates and LinkedIn links, among other things. Think of the potential! In one place, you have every detail about your contact you could ever need to know. There’s a ton of ways this comes in handy. For example, a potential client could call you inquiring about a sale, and all it takes is one quick glance at the client’s profile to be immediately up-to-speed with the client:
Calendars & Tasks: This module offers the bare essentials for managing tasks and keeping track of a calendar. Users can only use one calendar, and the calendar is based entirely on tasks you create. You can create categories for specific types of tasks, such as a follow-up or milestone. There is nothing special about this section; it’s nothing more than setting tasks and tracking when they’re due. There are a lot of complaints I could make about this section and its lack of functionality, as many CRM systems offer more in their task sections. For example, the calendar is an isolated aspect of the system, and other items in the system aren’t going to automatically show up in the calendar.
Sales pipeline: Basic, but effective opportunity management. Share leads and assign them to others, and integrate web forms for automatic lead generation. You can create custom milestones for your sales process, and these will generate sales forecasts automatically. There’s a list of other reports you can generate, though the reporting functionality is not *that* in depth. I particularly liked the ability to tag opportunities and get a pipeline by tags you create. The other cool part of customizing your sales pipeline s Capsule’s ‘tracks’. These allow for you to customize your workflow by linking tasks together. So you could, for example, set up a call back task to be created and due five days after an initial task is finished.
Capsule has introduced a new kanban-style visualisation for this feature, so users can see and manage their opportunities from a board rather than from a list. This feature allows users to drag and drop opportunities, moving them along milestones, and easily put them into their won or lost areas. The Sales Pipeline icon takes users directly to the new Pipeline view. The dashboard can still be reached using the dashboard button which is the last icon in the group. In this way Capsule gives users a better overview of how their sales are progressing.
Cases: Another great aspect of CapsuleCRM, cases give you a central repository for everything your business is managing: files, tasks, notes, contacts, etc. The case page is similar to that of a contact page in Capsule, offering a history for all item updates and changes related to that case. This tool can be used very creatively, and I can even see it being used effectively for managing simple projects. How you use it however is up to you, that’s the beauty with Capsule – it’s very flexible.
Tagging: This feature shows up throughout all of Capsule, and it is one of the main reasons this system is so flexible. Tag everything from contacts, to opportunities, to cases. I’m sure you can imagine how useful this can be.
Teams: In November 2018 Capsule released Teams, a powerful new upgrade that helps you and your business grow with Capsule. With Teams, you can allocate your leads, customers and sales opportunities to teams that match your organizational structure, and then secure access through team membership. Teams can be used to secure sensitive contacts. Teams also covers salespeople who only need and want access to their own records. Just choose the new “Restricted” user role on a person’s user settings and they’ll only see the records that they own. Any records which aren’t assigned to a team or owner will be available to all users who aren’t restricted users.
Capsule’s aim is to make users feel that there is no obstacle in the way of them and their contacts. With this in mind, they have made a bunch of improvement on their contacts list pages. To access the new page right away, click ‘Turn On’ on the People & Organizations page. Here are the highlights:
- Quick and easy filtering – All actions now take fewer clicks. To filter contacts, users no longer need to ‘Create a new list’. Simply start filtering as soon as you visit the People & Organizations page.
- Manage saved lists – If a list needs to be saves this can be done in the ‘Saved Lists’ drop down menu on the top left side of the page. Alternatively, if this filtering is being done on the fly, the unfiltered state can be restored by clicking ‘Clear Filters’ on the far right.
- Direct selection and bulk actions – For some time Capsule has wanted to bring users the ability to directly select contacts in a list. This will give them more control when performing bulk tasks such as adding tags or exporting contacts. If it is necessary to perform a bulk action on all contacts, click the ‘Add Tag’ button without selecting any contacts and the action will apply to all the contacts in the current list.
- New ‘OR’ conditions – When creating a set of conditions, users often try to match more than one value. Previously it was not possible to say ‘show me contacts whose country is US or UK’. Now it will be possible to select several countries in the country filter. This will act as an OR condition. OR conditions can also be added to text fields. For example, to find contacts whose job title contains manager or lead, open the job title filter and press the plus button to add an OR condition.
- Add or remove columns – When it is necessary to focus on particular details about a contact, such as when they were last contacted, hide and show columns as needed using the table settings button and checking or unchecking the columns to be displayed. The custom field data in the table can be saved and saving a list will also save the column structure created.
- Column ordering – After deciding which columns are needed, move them to the order wanted with a simple drag and drop
- Sort by – Use the same table settings button used to edit columns to sort by a select number of fields. Just click on the “sort by” button and select one of the six options to sort by.
Security: This is the biggest downfall of Capsule and could be the reason some businesses decide against adoption of this software. User permissions in Capsule are weak: you can choose to set a user as an administrator, which will give him the ability to invite other users, do some minor configuration, or choose whether they can export data – but that’s it. Everyone has the same permissions when it comes to viewing opportunities, cases, contacts, correspondence, and other business information. Capsule’s reasons for avoiding implementing this feature are unclear, but I can’t personally see how adding permissions would conflict with how Capsule currently works. In fact, I can see it working well hand-in-hand with Capsule’s extensive tagging and list capabilities. This will probably be strengthened in future versions.
Files: While you can attach files to nearly everything in Capsule, there’s no dedicated file section, which can be problematic when managing important files and more general, non-associated files. Part of the reason for this is the claimed Google Apps integration, but the integration isn’t ‘true’ integration. It’s not a two-way auto-sync with Google Docs.
Capsule does an amazing job of putting so much functionality into such a simple and easy-to-use relationship management tool. While it offers less functionality in areas other than contact management and sales, Capsule offers integration with numerous other services such as:
- Kashflow – great small business accounting solution, especially, but not only, if your business uses Paypal. (Are you using PayPal? If not, why not – PayPal is awesome!)
- Google Apps
- Zferral. A great tool if you are managing a team of affiliates (resellers).
The Xero integration specifically is seamless and particularly fantastic. The Google apps integration; not quite so fantastic. However, the Gmail contextual gadget is particularly useful when it comes to getting up to date on contacts and making changes to items directly from your Gmail. Capsule also recently launched into the mobile domain, offering applications for iPhone, Android, and Blackberry.
Capsule is extremely affordable and has a competitive pricing model: Pay $18/month/user and get 2 gigs of storage per user, 50,000 contacts, unlimited opportunities, unlimited cases, and integration with numerous other services. Or choose the free CRM edition, which may be limited to 2 users, but still offers much of the functionality of the professional version. One of the more annoying aspects of Capsule is the limitations on the free trial: unless you want to put down your credit card, you can only use the free version as a trial. This makes it hard for companies that want to test the full functionality of a system without putting down any financial information.
Capsule CRM offers good value and is suitable for small and medium sized business.
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