Behind the Scenes: Customer Management

Handing inquiries from customers can be hard to manage for one person. Luckily there are great tools out there to help you with this task. In this post I show I handle customers for Apps By Night.


At first I didn’t think I needed customer management since I was just starting out and only had a few inquiries. But then I had to come up with a way to remember to contact some customers at certain times. Customers will send e-mails that say something like “Let me get back to you next week.” and they sometimes forget because they have busy lives (as do we all!).


Thanks to 37 Signals’s Highrise I can keep track of all my e-mail conversations from customers as well as tasks per customer for meetings, follow-ups, etc.

Oh, they have a free iPhone/iPod Touch app as well!

New Inquiry Example

Let’s say I receive an e-mail one day from a potential client asking for more information:

First Inquiry via e-mail

The first thing I do is forward this e-mail to a special Highrise e-mail address. Highrise is smart enough to take this e-mail and make a new customer entry for it, if one doesn’t already exist.

Forwarding Inquiry to Highrise

This is where I switch to Highrise and edit any information I know about this potential client. Usually it’s right in the signature. Some Google searching can also reveal some additional information such as Twitter accounts, home pages, etc. The more I know about my customers, the better!

Adding Customer Details

Now when I reply to the original e-mail, I BCC the special Highrise e-mail address. This will keep the conversation documented within Highrise, if I ever need to reference it again.

Replying to customer and also sending to Highrise

Customer Task Example

Let’s say the last customer replied to me with something like:

“Thanks for the information, let me collect some data and I’ll get back to you next week.”

I like to keep my e-mail inbox clean so instead of keeping this e-mail around, I’ll create a new follow-up task for this customer to contact them after that week if they don’t write back. Then of course forwarding this e-mail message to Highrise, as I did in the previous section.

Adding a task for a customer

I can link to Highrise’s subscribed calendar and see it right from my iPhone, iPad, or Desktop.

Events show up automatically in your calendar.


Highrise is great because of it’s different pricing levels. Many of the great features are free. Actually, everything I explained in this article is free!

Depending on how many clients you deal with will determine if you even need a customer management tool. I know many people that simply stick to e-mail only to manage it all, or combine it with a todo list of some kind.

As always, the right tool is what works best for you. Don’t get wrapped up in trying every tool out there otherwise you won’t be productive, you’ll be DOING productive.

Your Turn

How do you manage your customers? How many inquiries do you get per week? Please leave your answers in the comment section below. Thanks for reading!

2 Comments → “Behind the Scenes: Customer Management”

  1. DowntownRob

    2 years ago

    Try out, it’s free for 2 users, and does much of the same, including email contact creation. Let me know your thoughts.

    I also use (web and iPhone/Mac app) for task tracking, free for 2 users, unlimited workspaces.

    And for client billing. I should do a blog post on these tools… lol


    • Josh Jones

      2 years ago

      I will definitely add these to my list of things to check out.



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