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Intuit Does Customer Management for Small Business

As much as any major software company around, financial mainstay Intuit is in the ongoing process of reinventing itself for the Web. So it makes sense that its newest small-business offering is debuting as a Web service; Customer Manager is a little-company version of what big companies call Customer Response Management (CRM): A suite of tools for keeping track of your relationships with the companies who do business with you. It’s a browser-based, customizable, shared database of customer information that syncs with Intuit’s QuickBooks–you can see recent financial transactions, for instance–and can import and export information from Outlook and Exchange.

Customer Manager also has a shared calendar and to-do list; there’s also a BlackBerry version, with editions for other smartphones on the way.

Judging from the demo Intuit gave me, the whole shebang aims for basic features and simplicity rather super-sophisicated stuff. Which may make sense for the target customers: Small businesses who are still juggling data about customers using Excel, if they’re doing it at all. The price is right, too: $9.95 a month for up to five users.

So much of small-business America’s customer info is already stored in QuickBooks that Customer Manager feels more like a logical extension of what Intuit’s already up to than a brave new frontier. I asked Product Manager John Flora if we’d see the company branch out more with additional services for Web-savvy smaller companies. Yup, he said, we would. The world of QuickBooks is still fairly desktop-centric–the online version doesn’t try to replicate the desktop ones–and it’ll be interesting to see if it follows Quicken’s current fast-forward move to the Web.


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