Clevertim is a bit of an oddball in the CRM community. But I’m not being disparaging. I have a deep admiration for the misfit geniuses in society. Whereas most startups would bend over backwards for venture capital, Clevertim decided from the beginning to forego any funding and earn every one of its dollars through customer loyalty. While noble, this is (traditionally speaking) somewhat naive. Unless it works, of course.
Clevertim’s CRM solution is designed for small businesses. Clevertim states:
“We’re not here to compete with salesforce.com or Microsoft. It would be crazy for us to try. We are here to focus all our love on small businesses.”
I give the company extra respect for bootstrapping it, and even more for “loving” the little guy.
Contributing to Clevertim’s oddity is its mascot, Tim the Panda, visible in the logo. Whether he’s clever or not seems to be answered in the viability of the software. On second thought, perhaps I’m being unfair. The technology world has seen its share of animalian mascots: penguins, lizards, porcupinefish, and my personal favorite, the Dogcow. Yet, panda or not, Clevertim speaks for itself with clean design, incredibly responsive navigation, and an agreeable price point.
This Java-based approach coupled with its small business scope make Clevertim an answer to prayer for some, and a bit restrictive for others. To find out of this is the CRM for you, read the full review.
Clevertim offers a free 30-day trial, for any level of the service, without having to enter a credit card. You can also demo the software in a fairly quick process by supplying your name and email address. Upgrade, downgrade, or cancel any time. The free trial prohibits emailing and file uploading.
- Free: 2 users, no file storage, 250 contacts, 10 cases, 10 opportunities
- Solo: $10/month, 1 user, 5GB storage, 5,000 contacts, 5,000 cases, 5000 opportunities
- Basic: $24/month, 6 users, 5 GB storage, 5,000 contacts, 5,000 cases, 5,000 opportunities
- Professional: $49/month, 15 users, 15 GB storage, 20,000 contacts, 20,000 cases, 20,000 opportunities
- Premium: $99/month, 40 users, 30 GB storage, 30,000 contacts, 30,000 cases, 30,000 opportunities
Each subscription level has a user limit, which increases with each upgrade in subscription. Customized pricing is also available for upgrades beyond the premium plan. You can view all the details on the pricing page.
Hardware and Software Requirements:
Clevertim is a Java-based, web-only application. Currently there are no mobile clients to download, although the application can be accessed from any Java-enabled web browser, which includes those found on most mobile devices.
Specific Size of Business (or Company Size):
Clevertim specifically and almost exclusively markets itself to sole proprietors, startups, and small businesses.
Ease of Use:
I was not predisposed to be impressed with Clevertim before I tried it. My preliminary research made me somewhat less than enthusiastic. As I signed up for an account, I was feeling like Indiana Jones, expecting to hack through a jungle of mysterious glitches and bugs, hoping to find something of worth. I am quite happy to have been wrong.
I couldn’t. I uploaded several hundred contacts: no sluggish churning through the new data. I created two functions and linked them together, then deleted one: no loose ends generating unexpected behavior. I left the application up and running for several days: no apparent memory leakage, etc… Ok, Clevertim. You win. Full points.
The first thing I see when signing in is a welcome screen, with several options for getting started with importing contacts, which went much more smoothly than in some other CRMs. In fact, I waited for the system to give me an error message, or for there to be further steps to take to get it all sorted out. There weren’t any. I later found that this welcome page can be disabled via the account settings, so the next time I log in, it’s straight to work. At the top of the screen are dedicated buttons for creating a new anything. If I’m on the phone with a new customer, I won’t have to navigate menus before I take down an address or company name. Below that are the ubiquitous dashboard tabs, all of which can be renamed and selectively enabled/disabled to suit your business nomenclature. They can’t be re-ordered, but they were already organized as I would have done (whoa). It’s always a good sign in the Ease of Use category when the organization is already optimized.
For the last bit of good news, I found the learning curve to be exceptionally short. I suspect that anyone who is comfortable with computers and has a grasp of basic logic will be able to fully train themselves while they work in one afternoon.
I’ll keep the Bad News more succinct:
- Since this is a Java application, it is very difficult to undo changes. The best way to restore something you’ve lost is to go about it the long way, retracing your steps from step one.
- And, also chalked up to the nature of Java applications, there is little room for customization. You can upload a company logo and rename a few tabs, but the framework is not very adaptive.
Customer Service and Technical Support:
Clevertim is small and does not have a dedicated Technical Support team. This apparently “keeps costs low for customers.” There is a UK address and phone number available, but neither provide technical support. Email responses are relatively quick (Clevertim promises an email response within 24 hours) and feedback is welcome. Clevertim also has a blog, but the last activity was nearly a year ago. The most recent activity can be found via the company’s twitter handle. Here’s how to connect:
Negative Reviews and Complaints:
I did some real web-digging to find negative reviews of Clevertim. Literally the only ones I found were severely outdated. Most of the negative reviews that I did manage to find showed concern for issues that do not seem to be relevant in any newer software updates.
The two exceptions are these: first, the free version of Clevertim does not include any online storage space, which means no company branding, no contact profile photos, and no ability to append documents associated to sales opportunities. Second, some users reported that there is a very restrictive limit on the size of files that can be uploaded.
In my opinion, the first issue is not even an issue worth complaining about. After all, the only affected version of the software is completely free of charge. If you want the full feature list, then pay for it. Clevertim’s pricing is very reasonable. The second issue could be much more aggravating. If a sales proposal includes a powerpoint presentation, or a business plan which includes graphics, this file size limitation could be a major problem. The only solution is using 3rd party cloud storage.
Based on my own experience with the service, this is what I think Clevertim can improve upon:
- Fix the uploading file size limitation. Immediately.
- Get some popular APIs ready for immediate integration. Access to MailChimp or even Google Apps would instantly boost Clevertim’s potential and perceived value.
- Get a mobile solution in development. Clevertim was decent on an iPad, but practically impossible to use on the iPhone.
- I’d like to see a few features that Clevertim’s nearest competitors offer as standard.
Positive Reviews and Testimonials:
Clevertim has a very small internet footprint so far, but almost all of it consists of positive mentions. Here are a few examples of what satisfied customers had to say:
“Simple and easy to use, just what I needed. I tried so many CRMs and all of them were so complicated and full of features I didn’t need. Clevertim CRM was something so easy to use that I didn’t have any problems selling it to my sales team. Highly recommended!”
“Great CRM for small business. I wanted a simple to use CRM for my small business as some of our sales are not that tech savvy and couldn’t handle a too complex CRM. Clevertim CRM was best for this job.”
Here are some of the best features not explicitly listed as such on the website:
- Clean, simple design. Just the necessities, nothing extra to manage and pay for.
- Responsive interface. Click, and you’ve got it.
- Pain-free learning curve. Easy adoption by your sales team, won’t require time off of work for a training course.
However, in the interest of closer analysis, here is what Clevertim offers:
- Contact & company/account management
- Sales opportunity management
- Case management
- Tasks/Reminders management
- Online file storage and organizer (in paid subscriptions)
- Email integration
- Support for Zapier enables integration with 3rd party apps
- API key generator for building your own custom solutions
Integrations and Add-Ons:
Clevertim accepts database imports from: vCard’s, .CSV (only for Outlook, not Outlook Express), and .VCF.
Additional functionality can be accessed through Zapier, a 3rd party API integrator. Clevertim can also generate API keys if you’d like to engineer your own solutions.
Clevertim stores user information on its own servers, which are updated with the latest security patches. Clevertim also performs data backups twice daily.
Clevertim is new, and little has changed since the last review. The product is very simplistic with a solid foundation. I always advise consumers to shop wisely, especially by comparing products side by side. In this case, the lengthy list of bells and whistles offered by Clevertim’s competitors may be merely that: useless noisemakers. The backpacker in me actually prefers a more efficient, minimalist product. I’d rather have only the few things that I need, with a price to match, than gorge myself on things that will only slow me down. Clevertim does what it says it does, and no more. I appreciate this truth in advertising.
On the other hand, I think Clevertim has potential to grow, but hasn’t shown many signs of movement. Simplicity is good, but so is progression. If you’re a small business or startup with hopes to grow, Clevertim may be your first, but probably not your last CRM.
In the future, I’d like to see Clevertim work on adding a mobile app, promoting a few solid 3rd party add-ons, and eventually, offering more adequate customer support (even a simple Knowledge Base/User Forum would be helpful).
All in all, Clevertim gets my respect. I would be likely to use this product in my own small business or startup. I think Clevertim is off to a great start, but only time will tell if the company evolves beyond a starting point for small businesses.