Clevertim is a relatively new cloud-based customer relationship management (CRM) solution. There are a considerable number of online CRM services, but Clevertim is looking to differentiate itself from competitors in two ways: with an easy-to-use, streamlined interface and by keeping the subscription model simple and affordable. It is probably one of the cheapest CRM services you will find, but for that low cost, you sacrifice some features you get from the competition. Services such as Insightly, a competing cloud-based CRM offering, give you more bang for a little more buck. In addition, Clevertim needs to work out a few issues with its service.
Clevertim, Not Time
First things first: The product is “Clever Tim” as in Tim, short for Timmy, and not “Clever Time” as I kept mistakenly calling it in my head when I first reviewed it. Tim is the name of the company’s mascot, the panda bear in its logo.
Price and Storage
As with most Web-based CRM products, you go to Clevertim’s site to create an account and login. Pricing and subscription fees are straightforward. A free account allows two users to share a Clevertim database; which supports 250 contacts, 250 cases, and 10 opportunities—jargon for sales leads or potential clients.
The next subscription level is $24 per month to accommodate up to six users. This level offers 5GB of storage, 5,000 contacts, 5,000 cases, and 50 opportunities. For $49 per month, the service scales to accommodate up to 15 users, provides 15GB of storage, 20,000 each of contacts and cases, and unlimited opportunities. The highest tier of service is $99 per month which allows up to 40 users, 30GB of storage, 30,000 each of contacts and cases, along with unlimited opportunities.
So yes, the cost is low when compared with CRM built for larger businesses. For instance, leading CRM provider, Salesforce.com charges a starting price of $65 per user per month for over five users. Still, Clevertim may not be the best deal in town for small businesses who need only a free account but would also like some online storage, which Clevertim’s free subscription does not provide. Insightly’s free subscription allows up to three users, 2,500 contacts, as well as unlimited projects, organizations, and opportunities, and 250MB of online storage. Salesforce.com gives all level users a minimum of 1GB of data and 11GB of file storage shared by all users. Insightly’s paid-for levels provide more storage as well, albeit at slightly higher prices than Clevertim.
Of course, if a small business already has an online storage account—and just about everyone does nowadays—the lack of storage is not a big deal. I would be more concerned with the rather paltry allowance of 250 contacts with the free account, especially when I can get 2,500 with Insightly’s free subscription.
I do like the fact that you can try out Clevertim for 30 days, and that’s for any level of the service, without having to enter a credit card. After 30 days, if you don’t wish to purchase a paid-for level of service you are trying out, your access is simply blocked.
I first tried signing up with my test Gmail account, and experienced an odd issue. Clevertim allowed me to create the account and even sent a verification email to my Gmail inbox, but when I tried to use that email address as a username to login after verification, I got the message, “Ensure this value has at most 30 characters (it has 31).” So I was able to create the login with a 31-character username, but could not login.
I also had a problem signing up for a free level account using Internet Explorer 9. The button for “Create Account” would not activate. I switched to Firefox, used a shorter username and, finally, Clevertim played nicer—I was able to sign in.
When first logging into Clevertim, a welcome screen opens. This screen is where you can manually add a contact or company. Even better, you can bulk import contacts from vCards, Outlook, LinkedIn, Gmail, Yahoo!, and Sage Act!.
I tested an import from LinkedIn. The import doesn’t happen within Clevertim; it’s external to the service although Clevertim provides instructions within its interface. Conveniently, Clevertim also supplies the exact link you can click to get to LinkedIn contact’s export screen.
I had to sign into my LinkedIn account and then from the “Export to” dropdown menu in the LinkedIn interface, export to a format Clevertim supports. These formats include vCard’s .VCF, .CSV (only for Outlook, not Outlook Express), and Mac OS X Address Book’s .VCF.
I opted for the vCard format. After the export from LinkedIn, I had to go back into the Clevertim interface and manually upload the exported file into Clevertim. During this process I could also set up who I wanted to view my imported contacts. These permissions could be set where only I could view them, anyone with access to my database, or I could give access to specific individuals.
The import process was smooth although not exactly automated, since you have to flip between Clevertim’s and LinkedIn’s screens. Also, Clevertim did not import any of my LinkedIn contacts’ profile pictures.
The home screen features several tabs that allow you to navigate to different views. Note, these are views, not different pages. Clevertim’s best feature is that it’s a one-page app. Because it’s so lightweight, you are not subject to a lot of latency with page refreshes. As a result, working in the interface is quite speedy. Of course, because it’s designed to be quick and nimble, there is not a lot to customize as you work through the interface. Dialog boxes ask for the most basic information.
For example, when editing contacts, you get basic information to edit, such as address, phone numbers, the ability to add a contact’s social media links, and so on. If you want more information to associate with a contact, you can add custom fields. With paid accounts, users can upload and download files into Clevertim—handy if you want to associate a specific file with a contact, although file size upload has limitations, as I found during testing. With the Files tab, users can also copy, rename, and move the files.
While this is a lightweight cloud app, there are some customization options. For my personal contact information, I could upload an image and edit how my name and email appears in the Clevertim database. Businesses can tweak Clevertim to reflect their branding by uploading a company logo in place of the Clevertim logo.
Clevertim users get a default email address: referred to as a dropbox (not to be confused with the cloud storage and syncing service of the same name!). This dropbox is designed to allow you to forward, CC, and BCC emails from your primary email account to the dropbox. When you do so, Clevertim is supposed to associate the email with a contact, if the contact’s email is in your Clevertim database.
I test-forwarding with an email I sent from my primary account to someone already added in Clevertim. There was no association made for that contact in Clevertim—as there should have been, according to Clevertim’s instructions.
I tried resetting the dropbox, which involved clicking a button to generate another Clevertim email account. Doing so did not resolve the issue. I did receive several error messages whenever I tried to forward an email to my dropbox, “Could not recognize email” and then “Could not recognize customer or company.” Whatever the final resolution turns out to be (and I am still troubleshooting with Clevertim on this) it’s apparent the dropbox feature has issues that need to be ironed out to just get it to work as advertised.
Clevertim does have two main capabilities that typically separate CRM solutions from personal information management (PIM) software: cases and opportunities.
In CRM, cases are essentially projects that tie in contacts, notes, and files that are all associated with that particular project. Clevertim allows you to quickly create new cases with a button click and add contacts, notes, custom fields, and tasks to a case.
Opportunities are potential sales or customers. As with cases, you can add contacts and notes to opportunities as well as cases.
Clevertim allows you to upload files and attach to cases. I was able to add a 1KB .TXT file, a 64KB .JPG, and a 26KB .PDF but received, “There was an error and the upload operation failed. Please try again!” when trying to upload a 1,535KB file. Apparently, there is a size limit and it’s rather severe because a 1.5MB file is not large.
You have other basic CRM functionality such as creating tasks and adding companies. For any object you create, you can quickly tag it as a Favorite or as “Needs love” which means you have to give this object additional attention. Cute, but not really necessary as you can create your own custom tags.
Clevertim: Light, but Lacking
I get Clevertim’s goal. The company is targeting the smallest of the small end of the SMB: microbusinesses and sole proprietors. Those types of businesses can often find traditional, more enterprise-oriented CRM solutions such as Sage Act! or Salesforce.com expensive and overwhelming. Clevertim’s strongest features are how light and quick it performs as a CRM cloud app and its affordable cost.
Clevertim lacks capabilities you can get for not much more money in competing products, though, such as better email and CRM integration, photos attached to contacts, and upload of larger files. The initial issues I had trying to sign up, such as allowing me to create a username with a certain amount of characters and then not letting me log in because of the character amount, as well as issues with IE9 also need to be addressed. The support and team at Clevertim seem enthusiastic, helpful, and open to listening to customers about improving the product. There’s a very good chance that Clevertim will improve, and the company informed me that enhancements are soon-to-come, but currently, it’s a two-star earner for CRM.
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|Type||Business, Personal, Professional|
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc