Business Choice Awards 2019: CRM

It's always nice when readers back up the editors. Our picks for the best customer relationship management (CRM) tools have the same two vendors on top this year as those selected by PCMag readers in our most recent Business Choice survey.

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Zoho CRM and Salesforce Sales Cloud Lighting Professional are both 4.5-star Editors' Choice products, each with just about every possible feature we could want and desire in keeping up with customers. But when readers weighed in, it was clear only one would earn a Business Choice award.

That award for 2019 goes direct to Zoho. This is the first time the brand has had enough response to make it in our CRM survey results. (It happens; last year's winner, Sugar CRM—which has taken this award home four times—didn't get enough response to make the cut this year at all). Zoho's lead is clear in every single category we asked people to rate. Its overall satisfaction score is 7.4, ahead of Salesforce at 7.1, which isn't a huge lead. Our other major category of how likely a respondent is to recommend a brand says it all: CRM got a 8.0, while Salesforce only got a 6.9.

That same question is used to come up with the Net Promoter Score (NPS), which is a measure of how good the word of mouth is about a brand, and it lead to Zoho getting the only positive number NPS of the lot. Every other vendor had a negative, meaning more people talk smack about them than say something nice.

There's only one area where Zoho CRM appears deficient—31 percent of Zoho users needed tech support. That's not great, considering only 16 percent of Oracle and NetSuite users needed tech help. (One vendor did worse: Act! at 39 percent.)

Other standout scores for Zoho include an 8.3 for reliability, an 8.4 for integration with email providers, and an 8.3 in integration with social media. The best: an 8.5 for Zoho's iOS and Android mobile apps, which offer offline access and lots of in-the-field options for users. Read our review of Zoho CRM for details.

It's interesting to note that Salesforce, which came in second, had a nice bump up from its overall score of 6.8 last year. Oracle and Microsoft Dynamic both dropped, helping Salesforce edge up. Despite its problems, Act! also had a nice uptick from 6.3 overall to 6.8 overall this time around. But SAP dropped, going to a 6.4 from 6.8.

Ultimately, none of these products score particularly high overall, even the winner, which probably says more about how people feel about software that is thrust upon them by their bosses than anything else.

See all of our survey results for CRM.

WINNERS: CUSTOMER RELATIONSHIP MANAGEMENT (CRM)

Zoho CRM The Editors' Choice pick for CRM now gets to share the Business Choice pick from readers. Its mobile efforts have certainly paid off, as have Zoho's integration with email and social networks. Readers rated it the best for reliability, lead capturing, custom reports, and workflow—a sweep of all the categories that matter when you're working in the field.

Looking for expert opinion? Read The Best CRM Software.

The PCMag Business Choice survey for CRM was in the field from May 13, 2019 through June 3, 2019. For more information on how the survey is conducted, read the survey methodology.

This article originally appeared on PCMag.com.