I'd never really thought of using CRM software before, as I'm not the typical target audience for that kind of product , yet ended up installing Streak for the extra tools in Gmail.
After installing and playing around with it a little, I suddenly found I WAS using the CRM features, albeit in a probably unintended way, to manage pretty much all my work. The fact you can completely customise pipelines, very easily, makes it easy to make it fit what you're doing.
I ended up using it not just for snoozing emails but as a task tracker, creating stages for who tasks were waiting for responses from (completely ignoring the built in "Assigned To" section since I was the only person using it at that point), which were blocked and which were complete.
You aren't limited to using only one pipeline for a single purpose, so you can use it in several different ways.
I thought manually adding conversations to boxes would be slow and unworkable, but it really isn't. Add the notes and magic columns and it's REALLY an improvement on Gmail for any emails you're actually at all interested in.
The separate naming of boxes from email subjects also makes it easy to find repetitive problems - if the autocomplete when entering a box name comes up with the same thing you're typing, you probably have had that problem before and if you used the Notes feature to record how you solved it, it saves you trying to recreate what you did months back.
None of these are really serious, just "things to improve":
- You can't have emails in multiple boxes - irritating as you sometimes have conversations covering more than one topic, or changing from one to the other (and thread splitting isn't really applicable if you end up discussing multiple things in a single email)
- No way to merge boxes except deletion and recreation - along with occasional bug preventing already created boxes from being selected (fixed by refresh)
- No easy way to give say a client a way to view a pipeline, except getting them to install it and adding them to the team, which brings up:
- Billing / team structure not really suited to freelancers - all team members must be on same plan so it's an active DIS-incentive to move off the paid version, as if I wanted to share a pipeline with a client they'd have to subscribe at the same level as me, which isn't really feasible for smallish or one-time jobs.
- If you have more than one pipeline the UI is a little fiddly to select which you want - should be big buttons, not single lines of text. This slows down adding to boxes.