Keeping track of the interactions you have with customers isn't easy unless you're blessed with an excellent memory or use software to make up for any lack of recall. And once there are other people working with or for you, memory is no longer an option.
Customer relationship management (CRM) software is basically about capturing information about customers and your business's interactions with them.
Office 365 now includes Outlook Customer Manager, a basic CRM system, at no extra charge for Business Premium subscribers.
As Microsoft puts it: "Outlook Customer Manager gives you a complete view of your interactions with each customer, helps you track tasks and deals in progress, and surfaces timely reminders. You can stay on top of customer relationships right from Outlook, with no need to install or learn separate tools."
Data is automatically collected from emails, calendar items and call logs, and displayed in a timeline next to your inbox. So while you're reading an email, the timeline shows your interactions with that person, including relevant outstanding tasks.
Importantly, the information can be made available to the rest of your team so they can see the context if a customer calls when his or her primary contact at your business is not available.
Managed services provider CustomTec's managing director Damian Higgins said Outlook Customer Manager "looks pretty damn good."
It even includes a mobile app (initially for iOS but with others to follow) for checking and capturing information on the go.
Look in Outlook's Home tab for the Customer Manager icon. If it's not there already, it will be rolled out to your account sometime in the coming months - if you're really keen, consider joining the First Release program to get early access to new features.