Apple is often thought of as a consumer-focused brand, controlling both market and mindshare in the consumer electronics industry. However, many businesses are adopting Apple devices as well. While this is particularly the case among the self-employed and small to mid-sized businesses (SMBs), adoption isn’t limited to this area. In 2013, for instance, Apple devices accounted for nearly 90 percent of new mobile device activations in the enterprise.
As a result of this adoption, enterprise software vendors are developing applications specifically for Apple’s operating systems—OS X and iOS. Customer relationship management (CRM) software is one area where development is already underway. There are currently several CRM solutions on the market available to Apple users. These solutions come in two varieties: Mac-based CRMs and Web-based CRMs.
In this guide, we’ll profile the options available to help you better understand the differences between these two models.
Mac-Based CRM Solutions
Several vendors in the market have developed Mac-based CRM solutions, which are built to run natively on the Mac operating system. These systems borrow from the existing infrastructure of a Mac operating system, resulting in a user interface that is similar to the one Apple users are already familiar with.
While Mac CRM solutions are excellent options for managing your customer relationships, there are relatively few Mac-based CRM options on the market today. Because of this, software buyers looking for a variety of options should consider looking into Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) systems that are “Mac-enabled,” or adapted for use via the Safari Web browser as well as other modern browsers.
Web-Based CRM Solutions
SaaS CRM systems are hosted in the Cloud. In this model, the vendor hosts and maintains the software on servers in a secure, off-site location. Users can access the software from any Web-enabled device, such as a computer, iPhone or iPad. These systems are typically built to be browser-agnostic, meaning they can accessed from Safari, Chrome or another Web browser you run on your Mac.
With the growth of mobile and tablet devices, more CRM vendors are developing subscription-based Cloud software. One benefit of opting for a Web-based CRM system is that it offers more flexibility down the road should you choose to switch away from Apple devices. If your company decides to go the PC route, for instance, you can continue to run your CRM on a hosted system.
Additionally, with the multitude of Web-based CRM systems available, the market is much larger, giving organizations more options when searching for a CRM to meet their unique functional needs.
A Web-based CRM system also requires a smaller upfront investment. Since the software isn’t installed or maintained on your organization’s premises, you won’t need to dedicate resources to an internal IT staff. Moreover, most Web-based systems are sold on a subscription basis and can be licensed for a more affordable monthly payment.
Common Features of Mac CRM Software
|Marketing integration||Lead management (including tools for lead generation, scoring and nurturing), email and event marketing, landing pages, Web and marketing analytics tools and campaign management.|
|Sales force automation||Contact and opportunity management, workflow automation, territory management, sales forecasting, pipeline analysis and reporting.|
|Customer service & support||Trouble ticketing, knowledge management and knowledge base systems, self-service solutions, case management, live chat and surveys.|
|Field service management||Dispatching, scheduling, invoicing, inventory management and order management.|
|Call center automation||Call routing, recording and monitoring; load balancing, call list management, autodialing, scripting, computer telephony integration (CTI) and interactive voice response (IVR).|
|Help desk automation||Trouble ticketing, knowledge management, self-service, IT asset management, network management, service level agreement (SLA) management and remote control.|
|Channel management||Lead and contact management, partner portals, partner relationship management and market development funds management.|
As you evaluate which option is right for managing your customer relationships, there are a few additional things to keep in mind. If the following considerations are important to you, make sure to discuss them with vendors prior to selecting a CRM system.
- Social CRM. CRM vendors increasingly offer social functionality (e.g., social media monitoring) within their CRM application. These systems allow you to access and use data from social media networks such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. For instance, your sales rep could use the software to monitor a potential customer’s Twitter activity to look for purchasing signals and determine the right time to reach out and potentially close a deal.
- Mobile CRM. Even if a CRM solution is Mac-based, there’s no a guarantee that the system will include support for your iPhone or iPad. If the system isn’t compatible with your device’s version of iOS, you may experience issues with appearance and performance. Meanwhile, a Web-based solution may not be built to run natively on iOS, resulting in a poor user experience on your mobile device. To make sure a system will work with your device, ask vendors if their software supports the version of your iPad or iPhone. (To learn more about CRM systems for mobile devices, check out our guides on mobile, iPad and Android CRM options.)
- Size of your business. Some CRM systems are only designed to serve the needs of small businesses, which may become an issue down the road as your company grows. If you’re a small business, the functionality offered by vendors that target mid-sized to enterprise-level companies may be more than you can reasonably use. Be sure to select a vendor that meets your level of business needs.