Why We Built Agile CRM

agile-crm

As an entrepreneur, nothing is more thrilling than receiving positive feedback and increasing your new product’s success. Months of hard work are just starting to pay off, and you are slowly starting to venture out of your garage and see the sunlight. The first few customers are immensely exciting – you’re on a first name basis, knowing them well enough to talk to them multiple times a day, and they’ve helped you shape your product to where it stands. But then, the more successful you get, the more troubling it gets to manage communication with all of your customers. Every small or medium business can relate to this hurdle. We faced this exact issue with ClickDesk, our first baby.

The Problem

Two years ago, our first product was growing fast. ClickDesk is a multi-channel engagement application that can be installed on your website to chat (text, video, phone) with customers and provide effective customer service. One of our core objectives was to ensure that the application was being used optimally by the customer base.  Installation (funnel) is in four buckets – signing up, creating an agent, creating a department, and making it live. This process ensured that our customers were deriving full value from the product by using it correctly. With almost 5,000 customers in just a few weeks, we were finding it hard to keep up communication with all of them. We sent them emails with information that would enable them to graduate from one bucket to another, but we also wanted to make sure they took advantage of the full range of ClickDesk’s powerful capabilities. When users had not completed all the steps, we planned to keep them engaged through newsletters and occasional information about the service. We realized we needed a system that would send out automatic response emails, help emails and automatic periodic newsletters/updates to customers. In short, we wanted a simple marketing automation (MA) system. We started with Marketo. Though investing in an MA product was expensive for a growing startup like ours, we saw the irreplaceable value of keeping our customers engaged and were eager to implement this new solution. Marketo is basically a marketing system used by CMOs and VPs to nurture leads up to a stage where they are worthy of being followed up on by the sales department. However, like many startups these days, ClickDesk is low-touch (self serve) and hence has never really had a department dedicated to sales per se. This keeps the cost of acquisition low for the required scale, but it also means that the MA systems currently on the market didn’t address our needs directly. We did pull together a customer success department whose only job is to ensure that the application is used fully by users. We also wanted an efficient system that stored our customer data (not just in our database) and showed important details and digital footprints of the customer. We needed to know who was signing up, where from, and when. Since we integrated with almost every CRM available, we knew each CRM quite well and began the search for one that would work with our own needs and quick growth.

The Need

Our primary requirements were broken down into seven points:

  1. An easy-to-use marketing automation – because not every small business owner should grapple with trying to understand the technical details of automation.

  2. A manageable CRM – it had to be easy to use and affordable.

  3. Telephony – there was probably nothing more annoying than looking up someone’s phone number on the CRM and then dialing their number on our phone. We spent a lot of time sorting out our cell phone plans too!

  4. Social suite – let’s face it, social media is taking over the personal and business spheres. We knew we would be left behind if we didn’t incorporate social media at the very beginning.

  5. Web Analytics – to approach our hottest leads, we had to know who among our contacts was visiting our website, how often they did, and the pages they were most interested in browsing

  6. Full, two-way email integration – surprisingly, this was a feature that absolutely no CRM in the market had (and still doesn’t today). We wanted to integrate personal emails so fully into the CRM that we could send, receive, and view emails between ourselves and our customers inside the CRM itself, without having to dig through our emails.

  7. Billing integration – as with every other company, our billing services and our customer database were disconnected. Our ideal product had us seeing a customer’s billing history while looking at all of their other details.

We started our search by trying out a leading CRM. We first manually imported the signups and then used their API (which changed twice in six months…but that’s a story for another post). Highly dissatisfied, we tried out other systems as well. However, we found that none of the available CRMs satisfied our primary requirements. The products at hand were either to be used in conjunction with a high-touch sales process, or were way too basic: they lacked key metrics, third party integration capabilities, 2-way email integration, web analytics, and social data; and on top of all these missing capabilities, they were tremendously slow and looked outdated. Here’s a rough table outlining the things we tried to get out of CRM and MA systems and the biggest names we tried, highlighting how no system had everything that is necessary for a fast growing small business:

System/Features

Salesforce

Zoho

Marketo

InfusionSoft

SugarCRM

Intelligent Email automation

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Single-page contact management

No

No

No

No

No

Track user actions in email

No

No

Yes

Yes

No

Engage with contacts on LinkedIn and Twitter

Yes

Yes

No

No

No

Track contact behavior on website

No

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

Integration and 2-way emails

No

Yes

No

No

Yes

REST API

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Monitoring social media

No

No

No

No

No

There still was no rating system, no nurturing, and no integration with billing systems. We began building capabilities using the API, and it wasn’t long until our add-ons were providing more than the core value provided by the CRM.

The Solution

Increasingly frustrated but motivated to do something better, we decided to put all our data in a simple app and build it ourselves. As we built out the app for Click Desk’s internal use, we realized that it would be a holy grail to growth-oriented small businesses. We called it Agile CRM. So, what is Agile CRM at a glance?

agile crm overview

Agile CRM Overview

It’s a CRM at the core that comes packaged with marketing automation, web analytics and social suite – making it a complete sales and marketing software for small and growing businesses. We added JavaScript API for online businesses to sync new users automatically. For segmentation and analysis, we added the capability of tagging customers. Our drag-and-drop visual designer initially helped in sending out emails at the right time looking at these tags (ie. user behavior), but was then extended to social channels and web. Agile’s visual campaign designer alone now has over 40 operations. Online businesses can automatically welcome new users, track user website activity, and prompt them to fill out incomplete information; e-Commerce companies can send out cart abandonment emails and promotional offers; SaaS companies can get in touch with inactive users, track user actions on their SaaS applications, and convert free users to paid users through integrated responses to user behavior. With Agile CRM, we are proud to offer SMBs the sales and marketing power of a Fortune 500 company. Sign up today (completely free for the first two users), and let us help you work faster – and smarter – than you ever thought possible. We went through the hardships and created Agile so you can get back to business!

Manohar Chapalamadugu

With over ten years of entrepreneurial experience in SaaS/Mobile/Telephony, Manohar Chapalamadugu has founded many successful product companies like InVox, MantraGroup (acquired) and ClickDesk (more than 125,000 businesses). He has held VP, Product Development at Corsoft and Director, Product Development at Veratron. He has a Masters in Computer Science from SUNY, Stony Brook and Bachelors from Birla Institute of Technology and Science, Pilani.

9 Comments

stephanie tiegs

about 4 years ago

I could not refrain from commenting. Very well written!

Reply

Andy Morris

about 3 years ago

will there likely be facebook integration? i would love to see a trigger when someone likes a page of mine and based on other social media? also if i recieve an email in can i have a trigger based on that?

Reply

Kenji Sano

about 3 years ago

Agile is awesome! It is what we need as a small business. Personally as a marketer without coding skills I can not afford salesforce or any other enterprise CRM not because of the price but because we do not have an IT department. On Agile everything has been one click smooth installations. I have been able to develop an entire ecommerce subscription based ecosystem for physical goods without writing a single line of code. And their support team is amazing!

Reply

WDH

about 3 years ago

Your frustration in finding a well-integrated CRM platform for SMB is probably shared by everyone who has actually gone hunting for one. After looking/trying/weeping over the behemoths that look like they could track Ford or GM's campaigns and take university study to master, I was relieved to come across Agile. I am introducing it to a successful business owner who seems to have the magic touch with her product line...and keeps track of customers in a rapidly growing three ring binder! Thanks for offering a wonderful tool for a niche market that is a lot more deserving of attention than it has gotten to date. I am excited to be discovering what Agile CRM has to offer...

Reply

yves benini

about 3 years ago

Thanks for creating such a great product! It does help me increase my conversion rates, and provide much higher customer service then before. I can track my customers, and be there when they need me, or when it is the right time to interact with them. I did try a lot of CRM, but you nailed it! This is a 21h century CRM, that makes small business owners like me provide same level of customer service than Fortune 500 companies with hundreds of staff !

Reply

eduardo zavala

about 2 years ago

what´s the costo for 20 sales people in a Organization? which plan should be purchase for them?

Reply

Data Ant

about 2 years ago

We are in the process of embarking properly on a CRM implementation with Agile. I've found your review a very interesting read. I specialise in CRM for the NFP sector and have really struggled to find something that I could use for my business. I'm glad to read how Agile is growing and I think given time it will be an outstanding competitor in the SMB market. Well done to all involved.

Reply

Manohar Chapalamadugu

about 2 years ago

Thank you for your kind words. I'll pass on the message to everyone.

Reply

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