ACT! 2005 Users Report Troubled Transition

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Some ACT! 2005 users tell CRM magazine that the product that has defined the desktop contact manager since the 1980s has lost its luster with this latest incarnation. Launched over the summer with great fanfare, a number of customers have expressed dissatisfaction with the new product. "I followed their [installation] instructions to the letter, went through it over and over again, and the thing would never load," says Bill Fish, president of the Washington International Education Council and an ACT! user for more than a decade. He says he was told he would receive no installation support without paying, so has moved back to using ACT! 6, and will evaluate Microsoft CRM. Victor Pataca, CEO of systems integrator Aclarus, said he was forced to abandon a 5-seat upgrade from ACT! 6 to ACT! 2005 because of installation problems and functionality issues: Outlook integration did not work smoothly and a phone number field would not import correctly. "The access to technical support is problematic...wait times were in the region of 40 minutes to an hour," Pataca says. Ultimately, Pataca and his client filed a refund request. "I think what we resent the most was the amount of time it took us to get to this point." "We have all experienced that the program is slow. It is extremely slow to open and slow to change windows, slow to even do lookups," says Rebecca Rosario, president of Full House Marketing. Best has acknowledged the slow startup affecting some users--typical reports range from 45 seconds to nearly two minutes. The company says it plans to reduce start times in upcoming patches. "We do have a limited number of customer issues with ACT! 2005. We are aware of these, and are working diligently to address all of them," says Doug Meyer, president of Best Software's small business division. Three patches are planned by February, which Best says will resolve startup sluggishness and restore two-way PDA synchronization and dialer support. In the meantime technical support hours have been extended to Saturdays, and the company is offering unlimited support incidents within 30 days of purchase. Best has dismissed some of the reported problems as being encountered on machines that are not up to the stated specifications for the product, but all the dissatisfied users CRM interviewed said their computers were well within the guidelines. Best Software directs customers with ACT! 2005 concerns to email customer.inquiry@act.com. The ACT! 2005 issues are not being universally reported, and Best can provide reference customers who have successfully used the product from its beta cycle to the present. The company has not, however, conclusively identified how a user can avoid the reported issues. "I have been running it pretty consistently since the official release date, and the only problem I've encountered is slowness that comes on after you've been running for several hours," says CRM software evaluator Rich Bohn, of SellMoreNow.com. "Best didn't argue with me about that one, and suggested that it would be taken care of in the first [update.]"
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