Customer relationship management concept background. CRM vector illustration. Company Strategy Planning. Business Data Analysis
Image: Magicnolia/Adobe Stock

I am constantly inundated with contacts from just about every walk of my life. I have information about professional, personal social and casual relationships that’s clogged up my brain to the point where it becomes next to impossible to remember it all. Case in point: I depend on Facebook to remind me when someone has a birthday. That’s neither a sustainable nor efficient model for keeping tabs on everyone in my orbit.

What are the benefits of using CRM tools?

What if I told you there’s a better way than using a simplified contact manager, such as the one found on your mobile device or email client? I’m talking about the tried and true customer relationship management. Business users have been leveraging CRM tools for years to make it exponentially easier to keep tabs on customers, clients, leads and much more.

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If it’s good enough for businesses, why isn’t it good enough for your personal or professional life? If you’re overwhelmed by the amount of information you collect about your contacts, and a normal contact application isn’t enough to keep your head above water, a CRM might be just what you need.

You might be asking yourself: “Isn’t a CRM overkill for someone who doesn’t need to keep track of leads, opportunities and cases?” Although many CRM tools offer features that you might never use, that shouldn’t keep you from considering this powerful, flexible route to relationship management.

Think about it this way: Do you use every feature of your office suite? I would venture a guess that the majority of users use a minority of the features in Office 365 or Google Workspace. Don’t believe me? Have you ever touched the Google Workspaces Forms tool? Or what about Jamboard? The truth is, most users only scratch the surface of the features that are offered in the applications they use. So why should this same thing hold you back from working with a CRM solution? It shouldn’t.

Even though a CRM tool might include features you’ll never use, it will also provide everything you need to keep all of the information about your relationships in a single, convenient location. Even better, you can create custom fields of all types, so the types and amount of information you can keep for a contact is limitless. Imagine having what amounts to a complete Wiki on every one of your contacts, so you would never not know something about them.

I started using the CRM component of ONLYOFFICE for that very purpose. With this tool, I can keep track of nearly every aspect of my relationships, so I don’t have to try and force my aging brain to house all of that information for me. And given ONLYOFFICE can be deployed for free on your LAN, you don’t have to worry that deploying the platform will cost you a single penny.

How do I make this tool usable as a personal CRM solution? It’s actually quite simple. Although I’m not using ONLYOFFICE tools such as Opportunities and Invoices, I can use the Personal and Business contact features to great effect. Let me show you how.

How to personalize the CRM component in ONLYOFFICE

If you log into ONLYOFFICE and go to the CRM tool, click Create | Person. Instead of filling out the information for this contact, click Customize User Fields (Figure A).

Figure A

Image: Jack Wallen/TechRepublic. Accessing the customized user field creation section in ONLYOFFICE.

In the resulting window, click New Field (Figure B).

Figure B

Image: Jack Wallen/TechRepublic. I’ve already created customized fields for my ONLYOFFICE CRM.

In the popup (Figure C), give the field a name, and select the type of field to be added from text, text area, select box, checkbox, title and date.

Figure C

Image: Jack Wallen/TechRepublic. The Custom Field creation popup window.

Once you’ve created your custom field, click Save and the new field is ready to go. Create as many custom fields as you need that will make it easier for you to keep track of the information you need.

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Once you’ve created the custom fields, create a new Person (contact) and you’ll be able to add information for those fields (Figure D).

Figure D

Image: Jack Wallen/TechRepublic. Adding more information for a contact, so I don’t forget anything about them.

Once you’ve nailed the customized fields, you’ll find that keeping tabs on your various types of relationships is incredibly easy with a CRM. Yes, the CRM tool you choose might be overkill, but it’s better to have too much, than too little.

More top CRM tools

If you’re not keen on deploying your own instance of ONLYOFFICE, you could try one of these options, which are either free or offer a free plan:

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