Highrise CRM Review
If your only experience with software producer “37signals” came from Highrise, you would think it was a weekender project located in someone’s basement. The truth is that 37signals is a very talented and driven team of 43 people who started the project, developed it, stuck a fork in it, and moved on. It’s all done. The result is a very solid, if minimalistic, Customer Relationship Manager. Nothing more, nothing less.
Before I dive any deeper, allow me to say that I can envision myself using this software, and being glad about it. This is coming from a very dubious and cynical technology user. I typically wait until the bandwagon has slowed to a crawl before I jump on it. But yes, Highrise is something that I may very well use. It is for this reason that I wanted to give it 4/5 stars.
Having said that, I know the software’s past, present, and have recently discovered its most likely future, and I’m less than optimistic. I have found that 37signals is about to undergo a major rebranding, with a 100% focus on their newer product called Basecamp. As for Highrise, they have a strategy to ensure continued service for existing customers, but if any improvements are going to be made to Highrise, it will be the result of another company taking on ownership of the project. This could be a rocky transition, if it happens. Or it could mean being absorbed into another CRM altogether.
For some people, continued improvements are a moot point; Highrise is a viable solution for many existing and potential customers. And although it is elementarily simple, its potential is much greater with the fleet of compatible add-ons listed on their website. It could be exactly what you need. If you’re operating a very small business, then by all means, read on.
Table of Contents
Like most software, Highrise offers a 30 day free trial. After that time, there are three main pricing plans:
- Basic: $24/month, up to 6 users, 5 GB storage, 10 deals, 5,000 contacts
- Plus: $49/month, up to 15 users, 15 GB storage, Unlimited deals, 20,000 contacts
- Premium: $99/month, up to 40 users, 30 GB storage, Unlimited deals, 30,000 contacts
There are two additional, though downplayed, pricing options:
- Free plan: 2 users, no storage, 250 contacts.
- Solo Plan: $29/mo, 1 user, 5 GB file storage, unlimited deals, 20k contacts.
Hardware and Software Requirements:
iPhone app requires iOS 5.0 or later. The Dashboard is accessible from any internet-connected web browser.
Specific Size of Business (or Company Size):
Highrise is absolutely best suited for an entrepreneur or very small (3-5 people) startup. While the software will easily scale up to accommodate a growing contact base, a larger company will start looking around for features that simply aren’t there. The corollary, of course, is that this simplistic CRM is probably the best choice for a business owner just starting out. No bells, no whistles, just a solid CRM that won’t take up any extra brain-space.
Ease of Use:
For Highrise, this heading practically writes itself. Its simplicity is very nearly the only thing to be said about the software.
Setting up my fictitious business entity was simple. Importing my fictitious data was simple. Training myself to do everything that Highrise can do was simple.
While most of the negative reviews on other sites complained about the mobile app, I found no such problems with it. Sure, it may lack a few features, even a few basic functions, but most people will know this going into it. In fact, none of my own complaints were about the software malfunctioning, but instead, they were a wish-list of absent features. Many of these features can be implemented by third party add-ons.
As I input new contact information in the mobile app, the desktop computer’s dashboard synced quickly. As I input Tasks and Cases into the dashboard, the mobile app was equally responsive.
There was only one glitch that I found while using the software. From the dashboard, I attempted to create a new Deal. The deal needed to be placed into a category, for organization. When I went to edit my categories, I found that it lost all the data I had input regarding the Deal. This is annoying, but it’s a quirk that I can easily navigate around in the future.
Customer Service and Technical Support:
Technical support for this software was minimal, even before they decided to move away from the project. Over the last 15 years, 37signals has spread itself thin on many good projects, but the result has been diminished attention to their older products. I have read that tech support is not even offered for those on the Free Plan, which is one of the only plans that I would even recommend. Nevertheless, I have included all of their contact information below:
- Web ticket: https://help.highrisehq.com/contact/
- Web ticket 2: https://basecamp.com/support
- Help Page: https://help.highrisehq.com/
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/37signals
The Help Page provides a link to “live ratings,” but that website gets flagged by your web browser as a security risk. As it turns out, the website is legitimate.
Negative Reviews and Complaints:
The vast majority of reviews that I found were negative, and most of those were specifically about the mobile app. The feedback consisted mainly of the lack of functionality, as well as a few complaints about lost data. An average cross-section of those reviews are listed below.
“Email dropboxes are helpful, but lead tracking does not scale or adapt to my behavior. I find myself going back to spreadsheets and other simple tools for leads tracking because Highrise is just too clunky and does not stay top of mind for me. Also don’t like the fact I can’t get my data out in any open way if I want to transition to a new tool ”
“It was my first CRM. It is great if you need something easy and immediate, but there is no really user permissions control. So it is impossible to create a hierarchy! Actually use it but looking for something better… IPhone App is completely useless and very bad done.”
“No way to copy info? Granted this is a basic version with limited functionality but really??! There is no way to copy a phone number or name or anything as the copy functionality does not work on an iPhone. For example if I am on my iPhone and want to send an email to a highrise contact. No way to copy the address!”
Positive Reviews and Testimonials:
Most of the positive reviews that I found sounded like a canned endorsement. However, the more genuine-sounding ones were right in line with my own findings. I have coped a few of those reviews below.
“Simplistic and affordable. Highrise does exactly what you expect from a solid CRM: It improves your customer service and your follow-up on leads while centralizing the company’s database of clients. My favourite core feature is the “dropbox”, which is indeed an intelligent mailbox.”
“Good basic contact manager. Very easy to use, configure, and get adopted within an organization. The email integration is great and works as expected.”
“Solid, Simple CRM. I think this is a very solid, elegant CRM for very small teams and small businesses that intend to stay that way. It’s great for managing many of the things you would expect, Contacts, Accounts, Deals, etc, but there are similarly priced tools that scale much more effectively.”
- History Tracker. Keep a contact’s full communication history in one place.
- Customized Tasks. Create tasks and assign them to the right team member. They’ll get automated reminders telling them when the task is due.
- Activity Pipeline. Track deals, proposals and leads.
Integrations and Add-Ons:
To date, they claim compatibility with 121 software companies, by API integration. A comprehensive list of those add-ons can be found here.
Security with Highrise may or not be an issue for you, depending on how you use it. Their SSL login is an industry standard, which adds peace of mind for the solo user. In this usage, the security risk is extremely low.
However, due to the way that permissions are handled within the app, it may be difficult or impossible for a larger team to properly manage the contact library. Contacts can be added, altered, and deleted by any user who has permissions to access it.
With the Highrise project being sidelined, I would not expect the most stringent and up-to-date security standards to be standing guard over your data.
I have enough high-end programs in my daily life that demand my mental bandwidth, with features I’ve never even dreamt of. Perhaps this is why I like Highrise; for its simplicity. Even in the shadow of this review, I still want to give it 4 stars for what it is. Yet this review covers not only what Highrise is, but also what it is not.
I think that the future of Highrise is bleak. I foresee it being useful for a while, but interest and usage will eventually taper off with newer, slicker products coming to light. I look at Highrise like a starter car for a 16-year-old: It is dearly loved because it represents a step into a larger world, and its gets you from A to B, though not in style. But it is soon outgrown, and the older driver doesn’t keep it around.
Highrise will work well for three types of people: freelancers, beginning entrepreneurs, or people who just want something to streamline their personal life. It has been called “a personal assistant, that won’t pick up your dry cleaning.” For everyone else, it is my advice that you look elsewhere for your CRM solution.