What is Microsoft Business Contact Manager for Outlook?

Recently, several of Microsoft Office 365 subscribers have asked us at xRM what Business Contact Management is after a representative at Microsoft recommended it as a possible solution for their customer relationship management (CRM) needs. The Business Contact Manager (BCM) for Outlook® is a free add-on for Microsoft Office® Outlook that can meet the needs of some small business owners who have limited CRM requirements.

Small business owners frequently use Outlook as a central place for storing information, both personal and business. This innovative add-on makes it easier for users, specifically for small business owners, to manage their business relationships more effectively, while still giving them the option of storing their personal data, like calendars, in Outlook itself. Overall, Business Contact Manager for Outlook is helping business owners improve their customer service, sales, and marketing.

Business Contact Management and Microsoft Dynamics CRM Features Compared

Feature Business Contact Manager Microsoft Dynamics®
CRM
Price Free* $44/user
Contact & Activity Management Included Included
Account Management Included Included
Lead Management Included Included
Marketing Module Not automated Automated
Case & Service Management Not included Included
Workflow Integration Not Included Included
Excel Exporting Capabilities Included Included
Dashboards & Reporting Module Limited Included
Customizable Data forms Limited Unlimited
Marketing Activity Tracker Included Included
Remote Access Not included Included
Database Microsoft SQL Server Express Microsoft SQL

*Microsoft Office 2010 or 2013 Home and Office or Professional license required.

Business Contact Manager comes with a free SQL database that holds 10GB in storage and is responsible for managing interactions between potential and current customers by organizing customer accounts via keeping track of emails, documents, and phone calls.

Microsoft released the first version of Business Contact Manager in 2003, but now there is a 2013 version which actually provides more tools to the user. In this 2013 version, you can connect your Contact records with the Account records, which lets you see how your business relationships develop over time. Another great feature is the customizable business forms. The ability to modify your forms lets you dictate how your data is organized. For example, now you can customize how you organize your contacts’ information by assigning tabs and filters to those contacts. Another great attribute this tool provides is synchronization. Business Contact Manager lets you view and edit your business contacts from Outlook, SharePoint, or Windows Live Contacts, while keeping record of any changes made to a contact.

Business Contact Manager can help you stay on top of the sales cycle. For instance, you can set up your own rules as to how a lead should be pursued and the system will prioritize them for you so that you can focus on the most important task first. You can also arrange your customers and products, letting you focus your attention to top customers and top-selling products. The abilities of Business Contact Manager extend beyond prioritizing and sorting, however. There is also an option for sales pipelines and sales funnels so you can visualize your business situation which you can then insert into Microsoft Excel® for numerical reports. The connection to Excel is another benefit for anyone trying to connect data with a contact, basically making the BCM an even better place for data sharing and storage.

In addition to sales, marketing is made easy for small business owners with Business Contact Manager. Within the system, you can create and track marketing activities like customer calls, target mailings, and campaigns. Moreover, BCM provides tools so that you can distinguish between active and inactive customers and focus on marketing to those interested in your offering, thus, making mass marketing campaigns more effective. While supporting your marketing efforts, BCM tracks the results of your marketing campaign, so that you are able to closely monitor your progress.

Downloading Business Contact Manager

So how do you get a hold of this gem? It can be downloaded for free from Microsoft’s Download Center if you have Microsoft Office Home and Business 2010 or Office Home and Business 2013, Office Professional, or Outlook 2010 or Outlook 2013 (stand-alone editions).

In our next post, we will compare Business Contact Manager and Microsoft Dynamics CRM and help you decide which one better meets the needs of your business.

4 thoughts on “What is Microsoft Business Contact Manager for Outlook?

  1. Hi,

    Great article. I followed the link to the download center but there appears to only be a link to upgrade BCM but no download the full program. Can you advise how to access the full program?

    Thank you.

  2. Hi,
    We’re a small firm of 3 and are currently using Microsoft Oultook 2010 with Business Contact Manager.

    We’re now deciding whether or not to move to Office 365, but are a bit worried about what will happen to Business Contact Manager. Will
    anything change (for better or for worse) if we move to Office 365? And – if so – what will change?

    Thanks,
    Janneke

  3. Hi Janneke

    We have both the Office 365 (medium business) with our sales and marketing being introduced to the BCM 2013.

    I would love to say that it’s absolutely fantastic, but to be honest I have come across some issues whilst testing and running a live system. The issues are related to stability. As little or no development work has happened to BCM (why would Microsoft spend too much on this when it’s essentially a free product), you will notice little glitches that appear in Outlook. These include:

    1. When viewing notes, you may see strange empty menus at the top
    2. When viewing contacts, accounts, leads, etc. the displayed email, tel, business tel, etc. does not correspond to the selected number (to be more specific, when you look at phone numbers on a Business contact, you will notice that it now says “Home…” “Pager…” and “Home Fax…” by default. BUT, if you use the drop down list you will notice that the ACTUAL items selected are: “Business” “Mobile” and “Business Fax” – it’s the same with email addresses and correspondence addresses.
    3. when scrolling through lists on the main section screens, it may cause Outlook to crash.
    4. Outlook may decide that BCM is loading too slowly and disable the add-in. If this happens you have to click on File > Manage Add-Ins (bottom button – it’ll be highlighted anyway) and then click on Always enable this add-in. Furthermore, you may eventually find that BCM fails to load at all!! In this scenario you have to go to File > Options > Add Ins > Go (at the bottom it says Manage COM Add-ins) and then select ONLY the option Business Contact Manager Loader for Outlook. If you select the upper option (Business Contact Manager for Outlook) you will find that BCM crashes, pulling Outlook down with it.
    5. There are also some issues with the creation of Publisher files and other marketing materials, but this may just be that I’m not doing things in the prescribed order.

    I know this is a late reply to your message, but if others are asking the same question then perhaps it might help their decision making process.

    Wes Carmichael
    Middlegate Europe Ltd

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