Canadian user drops Maximizer CRM over failed BlackBerry sync

An executive of a Whitby, Ont.-based business who tried a new customer relationship management (CRM) tool from Maximizer Software Inc., says the products’ inability to connect with his workers’ BlackBerry devices has left his business high and dry.

Dissatisfied customer Jay Brennan commented on an April ITBusiness.ca blog post. The post discussed businesses benefits of the new bundled mobile licensing arrangement offered by Maximizer Software Inc. on its new customer relationship management tool, the Maximizer 11. The company had began offering an all-access licence pricing that consolidates desktop, mobile and Web access under a single fee starting at $699.

Brennan, a regional vice-president of Sunbelt Business Brokers Morcap, commented that his company has been using Maximizer products since 2007, but this particular product has given them headaches. Maximizer has sent Sunbelt a refund for the product.

“Our business is highly mobile and our people need their BlackBerrys synced regularly. This has the potential of slowing us down,” Brennan told ITBusiness.ca in a phone interview. “We cannot synchronize Maximizer with BlackBerrys, which is a major inconvenience and a step backward.”

Maxmobile 11’s smartphone connector is the cause of the problem, he said. It required a wireless connection to a server to do BlackBerry syncing, whereas Brannan wanted to use a wired connection.
“After reading the requirements, paying for, and downloading the software and documentation, we attempted to install the software. But we couldn’t get it working,” Brennan said.

Brennan said he contacted a Maximizer tech support person and then the assigned salesperson. He was told that “they might eventually release a tethered version, but would speak to his sales manager about giving me a refund.”

Documentation contentions

According to Brennan, at the time of installation the documentation that came with the product didn’t specify additional requirements for smartphone connectivity.

“The documentation didn’t make it clear that there was no longer a tethered BlackBerry sync available.  It requires web service and a static DNS, services we don’t have and don’t need in the course of our business,” he said.  “I have noticed that since my purchase, they have added the line, ‘MS Internet Service… required’ to their web page on Maxmobile.”

This is not the case, according to Jennifer MacLeid, principal of Young & Associates which represents Maximizer. “I’ve checked and I saw the Web page screen capture of the product’s launch and it showed that wireless server hardware and Microsoft (IIS) are required,” she said in a phone call.

“As far as the synchronization issue, Maximizer now requires wireless server hardware and Microsoft (IIS) – as stated in the initial marketing/promotional materials – to deliver more end-to-end mobile CRM features which enable deeper interaction with real-time customer data and new CRM tools that are tailored for today’s mobile workforces. In the end, the new requirement provides much stronger data accuracy for the user,” also wrote in an email.

Sunbelt gets a refund

MacLeid also says that Maximizer, on Sept. 1, has sent a refund to Brennan. “His Maximizer account manager spoke with him this afternoon and he said he is pleased with the outcome,” MacLeid replied in an e-mail.

Brennan, however, said the refund does little for him.

“I didn’t want a refund. I wanted a Mobile solution that was functional and the set up at the competency level of the average office worker,” he says.

He also stands by his earlier report that the product documentation was incomplete. “I don’t believe that the documentation was immediately available when Maxmobile11 was released for Maximizer11. The stated requirements remain vague.”

“My experience with Maximizer remains unsatisfactory. I no longer have access to a key feature of contact management, BlackBerry use, with the Maximizer upgrade,” Brennan said.

Disillusioned customer

Sunbelt was a satisfied long time ACT! user for 10 years before switching to Maximizer in 2007.

Related story: U of T’s Rotman emphasizes the human factor in CRM

“Maximizer was OK. It was quicker and more reliable than ACT!. The tethered Blackberry sync wasn’t great, not nearly as good as Companionlink which we had used with ACT!,” Brennan said.
He said they upgraded to the latest version of Maximizer hoping to alleviate this problem.

“I suspect that the people who work at companies like Maximizer and ACT! don’t really understand that for small business people, hardware and software are just tools that need to be reliable and easy to install, use, and maintain,” he says.

Product improvements should be done with user capabilities in mind, he said. “We don’t have IT administrators and outside technicians are expensive.”    

For instance, Sunbelt was merely looking for an easy-to-use Web-based solution that would render data available on desktops portable to smartphones.

“One thing that is interesting about this situation is that we could potentially have influenced many other businesses to use whatever CRM system really satisfies us,” said Brennan.

Nestor Arellano is a Senior Writer at ITBusiness.ca. Follow him on Twitter, read his blog, and join the IT Business Facebook Page.

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