Base CRM Review

  • 3 comments
  • Updated on:
Date Established
2009
Location
Mountainview, CA

Overview:

Base CRM is absolutely a tool for salespeople, by salespeople. For some people (almost exclusively sales managers,) it has become an answer to prayer. For others, it ended up being too much of some features and not enough of others.

Reviewing this software was quite a roller coaster. It offers some perks that were so wonderful that I was tempted to end the review early, give them 5 stars, and buy the stock. However, this is in stark contrast to the… well, ‘shortcomings’ that I encountered.

My hope is that my negative experience was an isolated instance, a fluke. Base did so many things so well that I really want the company to succeed. This is all the more poignant to me because, I confess, I began the review very dubiously. I almost wanted Base to fail. But Base overcame my deep preconceptions and won me over.

Base CRM set itself apart to me with two main features. The first was its incorporation of powerful sales analytics, created in real-time using presentation-quality graphs, right from the dashboard. After there is enough data to evaluate, just a few clicks gets you a beautiful visual representation of your sales team’s success, as well as forecasts for what is planned in the future.

The second unique feature was Base’s ability to track phone calls. And not just the call log; Base can record every conversation, and save it to the client’s contact card for future reference. This at once caused me to wonder how powerful this software could be, but also began my doubts on its efficacy. My immediate thought was that this app would be a real CPU hog, draining battery life quickly, thereby shooting itself in the foot. What good is a Lamborghini if it runs out of gas before it leaves the neighborhood?

Let me state clearly that Base is not for everyone, but some people will find it indispensable. To find out if it is right for you, read the full review.

Pricing:

Future Simple offers a free trial of the Base CRM software, but I add a caveat. The software download is free, no credit card is required, and you can use the software for 14 days for free. However, some users reported sudden charges for exceeding 50 deals during the trial period. Whether this proviso was changed in a recent update is unclear; the website does not reflect this exception.

Aside from that, paid packages are as follows:

  • Starter: $25 per user/month, 2GB/user
  • Professional: $75 per user/month, 5GB/user
  • Enterprise: $125 per user/month, 10GB/user

The three-tier pricing system has a grid of features that become included in larger packages. That information can be found here.

Web-Based or Locally-Installed:

Base is equally at home as the cloud-based dashboard and as the mobile app. The transition between the office and the mobile office is fairly seamless.

Hardware and Software Requirements:

  • Android: Varies with device.
  • Apple/iOS: Requires iOS 7.0 or later. Compatible with iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch.
  • Windows: Windows Phone 8, Windows Phone 7.5

Specific Size of Business (or Company Size):

Base is geared towards medium to large companies. Its primary features in sales analytics make it less useful for a business of fewer than 4 sales people. Without the ability to segment your sales team into groups, I would imagine that upwards to 25 salespeople would cause the analytic graphs and charts to become muddied and difficult to interpret.

During my interaction with Customer Support, I also found that Base cannot handle multiple locations, or even multiple groups of salespeople at one location, without upgrading to the top-tier pricing plan, called Enterprise Pricing.

Ease of Use:

As you’ll find in the rest of this review, Base hits a lot of highs and lows. This is definitely the case when looking at the ease of use.

My initial impression was very high. I found well-timed tool-tips popping up when I moused-over on things that I didn’t recognize, I found well-placed instructional videos walking me through the initial set up of my account, and the few things that didn’t have these unobtrusive aids were quite simple to figure out. Setting up a business and adding employees was no problem.

There are almost no aesthetic frills, which is both good and bad. It’s good because I do not need distractions when I’m at work. It’s potentially bad because I appreciate the elegance of something that is thoughtfully crafted, whether I’m working or not.

On to the downside. I found quite a few problems that glared at me as I got more in depth with the software. Common buttons, like “next” or “save” or “cancel” were not always in the same place, which caused me to assume that my changes were live, when in fact they were lost when I navigated away. This issue also left me wondering what to do next, at times. There was not a great sense of continuity.

Another issue for me was trying to get Base to sync up with my Gmail contacts. It took several tries before anything appeared in my dashboard. This might not be a glitch, rather a simple delay. But it was confusing.

Worse than that, the mobile app would not sync at all. It was set to auto-sync every 5 minutes, which it did not do. Manual syncing kept the app suspended for 2 minutes, at which point the sync failed every time I tried it. This issue seemed to begin affecting other unrelated apps on my mobile device as well. Those apps would send me notifications of new updates, but then the updates would fail to sync with the app. Whatever else the software may do well, I call it a critical failure when it not only fails to operate, but disrupts the device it’s installed onto as well.

Features:

The features that really separate Base from other CRMs are impressive. However, those same features may apply to a smaller business niche than a more general CRM. You decide if these features are right for you.

  • Powerful sales analytics – The biggest difference that I found is that Base really focuses on the sales team, rather than the client. Its ability to track every detail in a salesman’s day is staggering.
  • Intuitive sales pipeline – Customizable pipeline stages that make sense for your business, and drag-and-drop movement along your pipeline stages.
  • Customer management – All pertinent information for each customer is stored: call logs,  call recordings, emails, important documents… everything.
  • Centralized communication – Make calls directly from Base, hear previously recorded phone conversations, send emails, add notes, and see a complete history of each client.

Base’s own tour of features can be found here.

Data Migration

Supported from:

  • CSV
  • Outlook
  • LessAnnoying
  • Sugar CRM
  • VCF
  • Capsule
  • LinkedIn
  • Yahoo Mail
  • Highrise
  • Excel Spreadsheet
  • Mac Address Book
  • Zoho
  • Basecamp
  • Google Doc
  • Nimble
  • Salesforce
  • iCloud
  • Nutshell
  • Google Contacts
  • Insightly
  • Act 2000

Integrations and Add-Ons:

While base may be less cooperative than many other CRMs out there, it’s not without potential. The limited selection of supported integrations may be attributed to the fact that Base offers many of these add-on functions by themselves, relieving the need to outsource very much. The list of confirmed add-ons does ease my mind a little, particularly the support from Zapier (which utilizes API- the industry standard for connecting software to other software, i.e., add-ons.) Base offers support for:

  • Google: Apps, contacts, and calendar features.
  • Facebook: Social connectivity
  • Dropbox: Cloud-based sharable storage
  • Xero: Accounting software
  • MailChimp: Drag-and-drop html coding for email
  • Harvest: Time tracking and invoicing
  • Yesware: Track and analyze email communication
  • Zapier: Automates web applications
  • MS Outlook: Microsoft’s email and calendar tools
  • Quoteroller: Proposal creator

Customer Service and Technical Support:

I was extremely impressed with Base’s Customer Support. This category alone is worth an extra star in our rating system.

I emailed tech support after normal business hours, and received an email response the next morning. That response did not address my question at all, but instead, the agent offered to call me at my convenience to discuss my questions “in person.” That phone conversation, which occurred less than two hours after my email response, was exceptionally helpful. The agent was knowledgeable and able to discuss a wide range of topics. He even made it clear that he would offer special incentives to ensure that I was satisfied with the software (such as extending my free trial period, and offering discounts on the Enterprise pricing plan.) Not only that, but the call was made after the specified operating hours. While I can’t guarantee that every user will receive an after-hours call, it does show that Base tries to go way beyond the “extra mile.”

Phone: Sales: 1 (855) 976-9550 or 1 (855) 336-6497. Technical Support: 1 (888) 877-0775. (Hours: 7 am–5 pm PT, Monday–Friday)

Web: In addition to the Knowledge Base and video guides, you can sign up for live webinars, or check out the blog for updates on features and services.

Emailsupport@getbase.com

Twitter: @getbase

Getbase.com Contact Form

Negative Reviews and Complaints:

The nature of the negative reviews for Base were mainly concerning three things: Hidden fees, mobile app inefficiency, and a lack of common features. A cross-section of the negative reviews, taken from the download pages of multiple platforms, is below.

“Beware of hidden costs! Just can’t/shouldn’t trust a company that doesn’t have the decency to state upfront that there will be additional charges beyond a certain threshold. Never expected/wanted a tool (app) like this for free in the first place, as I’m willing to pay for a good product. Since they already bury this fact deep in their small print, I just don’t have enough trust in them to store my confidential data in their app/on their servers.. /Uninstalled.”

“Battery drainer. Right after I installed. My battery started to drain real fast.”

“Not free. Only get 50 transactions then you must buy.”

“Over simplified. I loved it for about 5 minutes. The shortcomings are many. Graphic charts are fine for presentations but not very practical for conveying info to others. A report function is needed. Upvise has many more features.”

“Great product, weird pricing. I love the app, and the related web app, all works very well from what I could see in my trial. But I just can’t understand the thinking in the pricing. As I see it I continue to pay for deals for life, so if I lost a sale 5 years ago… guess what I’m still paying for it. Someone spams me via my web2lead form, yup, I pay for that too. Price on here says free, could be a bit more transparent on this.”

“Still missing some basic CRM functionality which I would need even for a small operation.”

Positive Reviews and Testimonials:

Out of the many positive reviews, there was a wide variety of praise for Base CRM. The Base app has 4 out of 5 stars with over 1600 ratings in the Google Play store, 4.5 out of 5 stars with over 900 ratings in iTunes, and 4 out of 5 stars with 20 ratings in the Windows Marketplace. Topics ranged from the robust sales analytics, to customer service, to ease of use, and even praise for the integration possibilities. Some of the most pertinent reviews are copied below.

“Boom! Just what I needed. Great start to an awesome product. The team at Base really has their stuff down. They are even open to customers helping with new ideas to help team evolve the product. Thanks team Base!”

“Happy sales manager here! My company is still stuck in the Iron Age. Paper leads, paper sales, file folders everywhere. I was looking for CRM software that was cloud-based. I knew I wanted something I could access on all my devices whether it be my iPhone, iPad, or laptop. Base has served me as a sales rep so well that now I have a team of 6 reps below me I PERSONALLY pay the fees out of my own pocket so that my reps will use this! … The more reps use this software, the more they can’t live without it. We were looking for something anyone could pick up and use without training. After I spent a couple hours customizing the sales stages, it was a no-brainer as to how to use this.”

“Exactly what I needed in a Real Estate CRM! I use the website, tablet app, and smartphone app daily – they are extremely functional an well designed! Had tried out quite a few CRM`s before I found this one! Works great I can add deals and post update when I’m out in the field, the pipeline setup works great for a real estate agent too! The basic version for $15 monthly is cheap for how much it offers, especially when you think how it syncs with Google for that price. Great lightweight sales based CRM!”

A perfect storm of integration partners… Base has all the 3rd party integration we need – gmail contact, task and deal creation, xero, dropbox and google drive integration. It even has something’s I didn’t know that I needed e.g. Contact forms or Facebook pages. Very impressed! From a website & business admin perspective we’re feeling pretty well covered with their API & their apps are well designed effective tools while on the go. Hopefully they will partner with some more marketing services & integrate more social profile info in the future.”

“Very simple and easy. I’ve tried several CRMs on the market. A lot of them are very good, but also very complex. They are way more than I need. I liked Base initially because of how easy it was to use on my smart phone. Once I really started to get into it, it was very helpful. There are a few pieces of the puzzle I would love for them to implement, like email templates for example. But despite a few features not being there, this is still a substantial service.”

Security:

Base CRM employs full 256-bit SSL encryption for logging in to the dashboard, and is fully PCI-compliant. Base also performs hourly backups on redundant Amazon servers, boasting a 99% uptime. Most impressively, however, Base encourages users to alert them to potential vulnerabilities. If any developers using the software were to discover a potential issue with security, Base has a page on the website where these issues can be reported. This page thanks dozens of users who responsibly reported software vulnerabilities.

Final Verdict:

Base CRM has great potential. What Base gets right, Base gets really right. The best way I can think to put it is that I believe in the company, but I’m not sold on the product. Yet.

It occurs to me that Base is not really a true CRM. It can be used that way, but a CRM, by definition, is a Customer Relationship Manager. I would categorize Base as a Sales Team Manager (if there is such a thing) with a client contact book built in.

I evaluated Base as a fictitious Sales Brokerage which I created. As such, I was able to make use of its unique features, and I could foresee that this app would save me a lot of headaches and apprehension about the future. The peace of mind that comes from feeling like you have everything under control is immense. But as an average user (not using every feature like a pro, and not jumping into a program that’s out of my league) I found too many problems to sustain continued use.

When my contacts didn’t sync to the dashboard, after several tries of following the very simple instructions, I was annoyed. When my contacts didn’t sync to my mobile device at all, I was skeptical. But when it made my mobile device nearly unusable, I was finished. I had to uninstall Base, as well as several other programs, and finally re-install the programs that were affected, just to restore normal functionality to my phone. This isn’t just a glitch, something to shrug your shoulders and deal with until the next patch comes out. This is a critical failure. The opposite of productivity. I can’t in good conscience recommend this CRM to busy business owners until gaping holes like this are fixed.

Having said that, I urge you to keep an eye on Base. The company going in a good direction, and it has the traction and capital to get there. And what happened to me might be a rare case. If you’re a sales manager floundering in paperwork, who spends more time wondering than knowing, this software is for you. If you’re operating a business that doesn’t have a team of salespeople, you should probably look elsewhere for your CRM solution.

 

Erik Robie

Erik Robie

Erik is a writer, small business developer, and photographer, making his home in Northern Colorado. He has been publishing his writing for 15 years, and occasionally sells his photos when he can pull himself away from the keyboard. When he's not writing the CRM, HelpDesk, and Shopping Cart categories for Merchant Maverick, he can usually be found on his mountain bike, playing volleyball, hiking with his camera, or keeping the local coffee shops in business.
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3 Comments

    Ken

    This was a great review Erik. Thank you. I’ve got about 12 hours in now with BASE CRM reviewing its functionality, even doing a pretty deep dive sample data import of 50 records with 20 standard and 10 custom data fields and then “playing around.” You are right, it’s got some really cool souped up stuff (voice recording, awesome reporting, etc.) but I am very disappointed that some BIG TIME basics have been left out. First, you cannot SAVE a filter you created! Duh! Do I really want to spend time resetting those up? I want to log in and just review my data quickly. Second, some of the filtering is weird, like you can only pick one state in the drop down box when filtering. The right column filtering is also annoying. But the biggest issue I have found is there are no standard data fields for home phone, etc. requiring all custom data fields for PERSONAL contact info. And the BIG disconnect is as beautiful as their IMPORT wizard is, it actually SPLITS your record in two: one for personal contact info, and then creates a NEW business record. This means that a person’s company is NOT stored with the contact record. If you accidentally DELETE the company, you’ve lost the fact that person X is associated with Company Y, even though they were together on import! Also “phone” equals WORK PHONE when importing (but it goes in the Contact import section, not the Company import section), so if you don’t know this you might be tempted to import home phone into the “phone” data field only to find it LABELED as work on the contact record view, even though you’d intuitively think “work phone” should be in the COMPANY RECORD. So in BASE, phone=work phone (stored in contact record) and Company Phone= Main Line of company (I guess) to be stored in the Company record. I had to do five imports and analyze each import to see just what the hell BASE was actually doing. Why this is not clearly spelled out in the Help Menus or tutorials is beyond me. Since it splits the company record separately, I’m not sure if I export my data how that is reattached to the contact. I really want BASE to sync with my Outlook and NOT screw up the sync I have going on between my Outlook Contacts and my Iphone Address book of contacts via ITunes sync. But after reading your review, that possibility scares the hell out of me, not to mention the mobile app messing up my Iphone. Whatever happened to common sense in designing CRMs?

    This comment refers to an earlier version of this review and may be outdated.

    Beth

    We have been using Base for about 1 year. While it syncs well with an android phone and tracks calls, it does not record calls from an iphone. The mobile app will install on an iphone but will not record the actual call like an android phone. Not all calls actually are recorded – seems random but sometimes, there will be no record of the call, sometimes there will be. The reports in the standard edition are very very basic. Think we need to upgrade to get the reporting we are looking for. Good start but pretty incomplete and or buggy.

    3

    This comment refers to an earlier version of this review and may be outdated.

    Greg

    Thanks for this thoughtful review after your thorough testing. I am considering Base CRM for my Windows phone. Besides Microsoft Dynamics CRM — which is not a match for a small company — Base is the only CRM I’ve found that has a great Windows app. The recent agreement reached between Salesforce and Microsoft may be good news, but I think it won’t be ready till early 2015.Meantime Base looks like the best CRM for business that uses Windows phones.

    5

    This comment refers to an earlier version of this review and may be outdated.

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