When you get down to it, agents don’t use a lot of the features in many CRM apps. That’s why Outlook often serves as their default app for both email and CRM. But I’ve found that most agents don’t realize Outlook has some features that can make it work better in the CRM department. Features like attaching appointments to contacts, for example. So here are the most useful tips for agents.
NOTE that these are for Windows 7 (and should work in Windows XP) but have not been tested in Windows 8 or on Macs.
Attach Contacts to Appointments
Early versions of Outlook enabled the ability to link appointments to one or more contacts by default. For later versions, you’ll need to manually enable this feature:
Tools-> Options…-> button Contact Options…-> select: Show Contact Linking on all Forms
File-> Options-> section Contacts-> select: Show contacts linked to the current item
You’ll have to modify the Registry. Instructions here: http://www.msoutlook.info/question/33
Once enabled, click on the Contacts… link (see circled in screenshot above) then browse to find the one(s) you need.
Connect Tasks to Contacts
- In Outlook 2003 you can connect tasks to contacts from the Action item menu in Contacts.
- In Outlook 2007, you’ll need to enable Contact Linking (as above) to see the “Contacts…” option.
- In Outlook 2010, it gets trickier. Make sure you have contact linking enabled (as above). Then follow the steps below. Once you do this for one task, you should see the Contacts… option for all tasks going forward.
1. Open up a presently saved task
2. Click File Tab
3. Click Properties
4. In Properties fill in a Contact and hit close
5. Save the Task
I’ve been unable to confirm if this also works in 2013, but if you’ve modified the registry for Contact/appointment linking for 2013, try this to also link tasks to contacts (and let me know if it works!)
Connect to Social Networks
Outlook 2010 and 2013 include a People Pane (AKA Social Connector) that lets you view a sender’s activities including those on social networks (Facebook, LinkedIn, MS Messenger, Viadeo and Xing). Though you can’t post updates from Outlook it’s an easy way to see what’s going on without logging in.
You will need to install additional software for the networks you want to connect to and provide your social network login info.
You can download the People Pane/Social Connector (32 bit) for Outlook 2003 and 2007 here: http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=7985
For more information on how the Outlook Social Connector works and links to the individual network connectors, see below:
- More info: http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/outlook-help/introduction-to-the-outlook-social-connector-HA010361857.aspx
- Network partners: https://office.microsoft.com/en-us/outlook/outlook-social-connector-partner-listing-FX102317540.aspx
Once you have the social connector installed, you can easily view all emails, calendar items, attachments, RSS feeds and social network updates (if configured) from a contact in the People Pane on the email tab. Select an email, then expand the People Pane, then click on the icon tabs to view all items or selected ones (see circled items on People Pane screenshot above).
View Contact Activities
Besides the People Pane can also view activity from within a contact record by clicking on Activities on the Contact tab in Contacts. Instead of icons for types of activities, you can view all or selected activities using the drop down selector next to “Show.”
One difference between these viewing locations is that associated tasks will appear in the contact record – but not on the People Pane. And social network activity will not appear on the contact record but will in the People Pane.
One of the reasons agents don’t enthusiastically embrace cloud CRM apps is because they’re too dependent on internet access. And Outlook or other desktop CRMs, while maybe not mobile friendly, give the agent control of their data – it’s on their computer hard drive whenever they want it. But too many agents don’t bother to back up their Outlook database. And Microsoft doesn’t make it easy. The little known backup utility is a bit cumbersome to set up, but once you get it configured, your Outlook files will be backed up with little additional intervention.
Outlook Versions 2000-2007
- Download the Outlook backup utility and install.
- Start Outlook.
- On the File menu, choose Backup.
A window appears (like below). To change the backup options, such as which .PST files to back up, click Options.
- Select the reminder frequency.
- From the list of personal files provided, select a location you want to store the files AND change the file extension to avoid problems backing up to certain cloud backup accounts. In the screenshot, I used .sug as the file extension and I’ve stored my files in a folder that is backed up by a cloud backup service.
- You’ll need to select the location for EVERY personal file including archive and contact/address files.
Download and install as above but in order to see the Backup add-on, you’ll need to make a registry change. You’ll need this “fix” first (automatic/click on button or manually edit the registry per the instructions provided). Then follow the Options set up instructions above.
Once your options are set, you’ll be prompted to save a backup now (good idea to do it) then, if you selected daily reminders, you’ll be prompted again 24 hours later the next time you close Outlook.
If your files are large or you don’t have a solid state hard drive, it may take a while, so you can delay it if you don’t have time. You’ll be prompted again next time you close Outlook. Or, you can always go to the Add-ons tab and click on the Backup button to backup when you have more time.
No back-up utility for this version, so you’ll have to do it manually following the instructions here. If you set the backup location to a cloud backup folder instead of another location on your computer, you’ll have a reliable off-site location in case your drive crashes.
Some cloud backup services will back up your Outlook personal files. But you’ll need to check the documentation since most cloud service can’t backup open Outlook files and some won’t back them up at all (the reason for changing the file extension…).
And most services will just backup your main Outlook file – not any archive, nicknames, rules or other files you may need. So you’ll have to tell them where these files are. Here’s a list of the default location of important Outlook files (ignore the title – this covers several versions of Outlook on XP and Windows 7).
Another option is to use a third party backup utility. I haven’t used any, but the one below has decent reviews at download.com and it’s free. A purchased version contains more features and options.