There are ways to hack this functionality with Evernote as well as by using high-end CRM apps like Salesforce.com (if you work for a company large enough to afford it), but for simple contact management functionality, Contacts Journal – Professional and Personal CRM for iPhone and iPad is a solid solution.
Read on to learn about some of the reasons why this app can help you better coordinate interactions with your business and personal contacts.
Contacts Journal, available for $19.99 at iTunes (or a free "lite version" that's a good way to test drive it) bills itself as “the leading CRM app for iPhone and iPad that lets you keep person-by-person records of past conversations, create follow-ups for upcoming meetings, attach important documents and record essential data with customizable fields.”
But I would not call Contacts Journal a true customer relationship management (CRM) application given that it focuses solely on relationship management. Contacts Journal lacks sales force automation, customer data analytics and business opportunity tracking. For these other core CRM capabilities a more full featured tool like Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics or Base CRM would be necessary. However, if you just want to get better at tracking interactions with your customers and contacts, Contacts Journal fits the bill.
Putting Contacts Journal to work
Once installed, Contacts Journal asks to integrate with your iOS contacts where you have the option to import some or all of them including selecting contact groups. Once imported, Contacts Journal looks strikingly like iOS Contact.
With your database built, Contacts Journal allows users to add to do’s, attachments and custom fields for each contact. In addition to these options, each contact has a Log tab and an Information tab. The Log tab is a record of every interaction you have with a contact including calls, emails and texts. The Information tab is a copy of data imported from the iOS Contacts App. Given its similarity to Apple’s own Contacts App, CJ is very easy to use and learn.
At any given time, Contacts Journal allows you to do one of four things with your contacts; call, email, text or add a future to-do. Each of these items inserts an entry in the log tab for your contact and even a note for failed calls. One cool feature I noticed is that calling works from an iPad if you have Skype installed. This works great for me given that I use Skype on my iPad as my work phone while working from home.
The only issue I noticed with the integration is that calls fail if your contact is not setup with the prefix as required by Skype. Fortunately this is easily solved by updating the contact’s phone number with the preceding 1.
If you prefer to email or message your contacts, just click the email or message button and Contacts Journal will launch an email or message window. This allows you to draft the email or text in Contacts Journal for logging purposes and then once drafted, Contacts Journal will launch the iOS mail all. Again, this is a great way to log and store all interactions with your contacts.
Two of the best features of Contact Journal is the repeating to-do feature along with the direct calendar integration. If you want a reminder to check-in with a friend or key account on a regular basis Contacts Journal allows you to create a task that is automatically added to your calendar.
Just select the contact, hit the To-Do tab and then click + on the top right-side of the screen. The app gives you an option to add a single to-do or to create repeating to-do’s according to your selected frequency. If you have selected to add the to-do to the calendar, Contacts Journal will pop up a reminder when it is time to make the call.
Being the Evernote user that I am, I would love to see future versions directly integrated to Evernote. Contacts Journal provides a great way to log integrations and information about contacts and accounts, but it is not meant to be a complete notebook solution for all information that you might store in Evernote. Contacts Journal does have the ability to export notes and to-dos, but the app limits the export to the Notes section within Contacts, as an email or finally as an CSV export file.
Unfortunately none of these options allows for more robust data mining in other apps and services like Evernote.
Conclusion – Thumbs up
Overall I am impressed with the simplicity and utility of Contacts Journal. It is possible to mimic much of Contacts Journal’s functionality in apps like Evernote and even OneNote, but not without a lot of complexity. Contacts Journal makes it easy to create an excellent relationship tracking process that will surely keep you from forgetting to contact that key client.
1. Easy to use
2. Direct integration with iOS Contacts
3. Robust contact logging capabilities including phones, emails and texts
4. Data backup to Dropbox
5. iCloud sync across devices
1. Boring interface
2. No reporting, i.e. calls/contacts completed, etc.
3. No integration to Evernote
Chris Lee is a healthcare administrator and writes the blog Tablet Productive.