CRMdesk is a product of ForeSoft, Chicago-based company committed to building web-based software products. They've been in business since 2001 and they are also behind another applications, namely TeamDesk, BUGtrack and dbFLEX.With 10 years on the market, CRMdesk got quite a few customers among which we can find even a big names like UPS, but when we look closely, most of the applied solutions use only a fraction of available functions. So there is CRMdesk, which acts as FAQ and nothing else, or as Ask a question - which is nothing else than contact form with required registration, so say good bye to open access policy. You can run CRMdesk on its own domain, or embed it to your corporate site and we highly recommend the second option, because as far as customisation goes, you can only change header image and two-color palette, or use custom setting, where you type everything in HTML, its like creating own support site on already purchased support site.And so we get to the main problem. When we, in the role of customer, visit support page for the first time, with default theme it looks like those scam pages on parked domains, its so primitive ugly and unprofessional, that it lacks credibility and we spend a lot of time checking correctness of the site, even with 128-bit SSL. This is the main reason to embed this product to your corporate page, because outside it looks like confidential trick, which asks for registration … and its not a very good way how to start customer relationship.
Control, Look and Feel
CRMdesk is like Roman god Janus - Application with two faces. The first one is called Customer Desk and is the second is called Support Desk.
In Support Desk you can manage which sections of forum and FAQ are visible to public and which are not, but submitting an idea or asking a question is only possible for registered and logged users and we have great doubt about this way being efficient over classic contact form, where only email is required.
- Customer Desk is a web customer interface, that allows customers to submit, track and update their questions and requests, they can also browse FAQ and Forum (aka Knowledge Base) and submit their own Ideas, which is just special type of forum.
- Support Desk is web interface for support staff. Agents and Admins (which are not set by default and you must firstly create roles for them) can handle customer questions and requests and also can manage Knowledge base and track customer Ideas.
This is the core of this helpdesk, there are tools for managing Knowledge Base (divided into FAQ, Forum and Ideas) and there is also useful database of customers (this is The CRM in CRMdesk’s name), but the main problem with this database is, that it is generated mainly by customers thanks to their registration. In SupportDesk are also Reports, that can be created and customized from application setup menu, as well as Response templates, Notifications, Users and Different product and Areas.
- Integration with BUGtrack, its not quite surprising, that you can integrate CRMdesk directly only to another product of Foresoft’s BUTrack - web-based tracking and project management
- Integration with support mail. This is standard feature of all helpdesks, but there its a really important one, because this is only other way how to automaticly create requests (aka tickets).
- Web query, allows to export questions and requests in HTML or XML format
- Response templates are classic Canned Responses, that allow you to pretype some messages and thus save some time.
- Security options, allows to enable 128-bit SSL for Suport Desk site, Customer Desk site or both.
CRMdesk’s pricing plans are spread in two dimensions - Editions and Number of users. There are two editions Standard and Professional, which differ in functions that they contain and on the other hand there are four different price groups divided by the number of members of your support staff. When we do the math, there are totally eight different pricing plans.
- Standard Edition, includes Integration with corporate website, FAQ section of Knowledge base, three modes of registration (Forced to register for the first time, Simplified aka contact form style with name and email, Restricted where login info is provided only by support staff). There are also automatic email notifications, Security rules for passwords and usernames, Roles and finally Reports.
Standart edition costs
- Professional Edition brings in additionals to everything from Standart Edition including: Forum and idea exchange to knowledge base, 128-bit SSL security option, FAQ access restrictions, mixed mode for registration, mail integration, BUGtrack integration, Escalation rules and Web query
and Professional edition prices are:
- 5 users - $49/month
- for 10 users - $75/month
- for 25 users - $149/month
- unlimited users - $249/month
- 5 users - $75/month
- for 10 users - $99/month
- for 25 users - $199/month
- unlimited users - $299/month
It’s a bit difficult to objectively evaluate this application, due to the poor first impression. You can argue that the appearance doesn't matter, but in this case we are afraid that it may discourage customers, or in the better case only confuse, and these are the states that you definitely dont want your customers to be in.Hoewer, if you want FAQ, Forum or Idea submitter in a form that CRMdesk provides , or plan only to fill blank area of your web site by a fraction of functionality (for example only FAQ), then you can also think what more can you get for the same price from their competition.
What we liked:
- You can suggest new features for CRMdesk on their own support page
- Possibility to export questions trough Web-query in HTML or XML
- Tag cloud in Knowledge base
What we didn't like:
- Design of Customer Desk and customization possibilites
- Lack of predefined roles, everyone is just Power user
- Registration requirements are on by default