Update: November 2018: Base has joined with Zendesk Support. Their new name is Zendesk Sell. Their pricing structure has changed as well. It spans from $19, $49, $99 and $199 per user. I use the words Base CRM in the article below, written in 2012.
I’ve been keeping an eye on Base CRM (formally Pipejump) for over a year now. The thing that attracted me to Base CRM originally was the design and User Interface (UI). It was a very simple UI. It should be, as it was developed by a company called, Future Simple. So far they seem to make simple, easy to use web and mobile apps. So what makes Base CRM special or worth checking out? I won’t go over all the details, just the key features I liked:
- iPhone & Android Native Apps: This is where Base CRM Shines more than most other Customer Relationship Management programs on the web. They have not promoted their product much until the Native Apps were released (at the same time too). I think this was a very smart business idea. Many people, including myself, have worked with one CRM after the other, hoping and praying for a good mobile solution to be released. Small business people are on the move, not always in front of a desk. Most software companies will release a web app version before a native app, when their customers want a native app. (If you don’t know the difference, comment in this post or email me. I’ll explain.) The Base iPhone App works very well in my testing. Once again, it doesn’t have a lot of features, but it has just enough: Contact Information, Task and the ability to create and monitor deals on the go. The contact area works similar to the iPhone contacts too. What more do you need? I’d love to see the calendar feature, but that is not a must at this point. The design and UI of Base CRMs mobile apps are very slick. In fact, I like it better than Salesforce (the leader in Cloud CRMs). The reason why most other CRM developers do not have native Apps is because the expense and updates. First it is very expensive to create an App: as high as $50,000 sometimes. Then getting updates pushed can take awhile: Google or Apple has to approve them. That is the main reason most developers steer away from them. The consumers (you and me) have gotten addicted to the easy of native apps, so we like them better than going to a browser.
- Integrates well with Google Apps for Business. If you don’t really know what that means, read my post about Google Apps vs Gmail. You can forward the emails you want quickly and easily into Base. You can also create Notes, Task, View Existing Notes, Customer Details all within Gmail. See Screenshot.
- Export Task/Events to Google Calendar with One Click: Base keeps everything very simple, including naming things. For example, Task can mean either an event or to do. Instead of having two many buttons and options, Base makes it simple to create a task. When completed, you have an option to send to iCal or Google’s Calendar. See Screenshot.
- Custom Fields & Customer Information: Again, no information overload with the Contact Management area. It starts out with the very basic information, and you can then add custom fields, which in my test, worked great! You can easily look up customers and contacts using their easy to find search section and dig deeper using Tags. I actually like how simple the UI is for the Contact Management area. Many small business owners are overwhelmed with too much information. It is also one of the reasons I still evaluate CRMs…looking for simple solutions for that one audience and more advanced programs for those who want more! This CRM is easy to learn and do what most small businesses need (at least starting out).
- Deals and Reporting: This is where Base seems to spend a lot of time in developing a good user interface with the design and reporting. Once you start filling in your deals, Base begins creating a custom database for good reporting. (note for the old Act! users reading this: Deals are Opportunities). You can quickly look at where all your best leads are coming from, how many you’ve closed, lost and what still needs to be done to close out a deal.
- Support: Very quick response and help when I needed it. They listen to me too!
- Importing from Other CRMs: They make it easy. I tried it and had no issues. They’ve also offered to help import existing deals (and have them postdated)
- Price: The price is free for anyone to start using Base. So how do they make their money? Well, they give you a certain amount of free DEALS. Once you reach that amount, I think it is $150, then you go to a paid account, which starts at $29.99 a month. This could still be a very affordable option for many small businesses. Lets say you are a remodeler who does 50 bids a year. It would take you 3 years before you’d reach the paid version. If you are a paint company that does 20 bids a week, it would take you a couple months before you hit the paid version of $29.99 a month. Where it can get a little pricey for the small companies is when you hit 1000 deals. Base charges $99.99 for from 1,001 to 10,000 deals. If you have a larger sales staff 5 estimators, $99.99 a month is nothing.
The Bottom line about Base, so far in my early testings of it’s abilities: I like it. I’ve suggested a number of features to the company, and I hope they will implement them. For example, their Task Times only give you 1 hour options. I’d rather make task with 15 min increments. Seems like an easy update, and they’ve already said it is in the works. Integration with Google Documents, a File storage (Dropbox, Egnyte, Box.net) would also be nice. They are working on a Quote system (to send estimates and invoices similar to Freshbooks. It is already released, but improvements are underway). Base CRM is your simple and easy to use CRM. I think by not having too many features, it will make some of you very happy and have less frustrations. I’d like to see Google Apps have more plugins and keep the CRM simple.
Let me know if you’ve tried Base and what you think about it.