My first point is that I have a strong basis for comparison, and I have carefully watched to see what would happen to ACT! under Swiftpage ownership.
I initially thought that it was a good thing for ACT!
1. Sage was clear that ACT! was not a “core product” (which I translated to mean “step-child”.)
2. Swiftpage is a smaller company than Sage, and in a company the size of Sage and with so many assets, ACT! was a “small fish in a big pond”. My background is small companies and “the size of the fish is relative to the size of the pond”: I would rather be “a big fish in a small pond” and I believe in being so, ACT! will be more important to Swiftpage.
3. Swiftpage has been the e-mail marketing “partner” with ACT! for a few years, so there was familiarity and integration, and “love”.
Overall, I continue to think that Swiftpage’s acquisition of ACT! was just “good juju”.
So fast forward 1 year (WOW! Time flies!) What have I observed and what do I think now?
The transition was painful. People were shuffling and juggling all over the place and some days I simply didn’t have the answers I needed. Support hold times were awful and sometimes tech knowledge was lacking. Even I need support sometimes, even if it's just to tell me that I am not crazy, and that a feature is not working correctly! When I had to call for support (and I am supposed to have the "top secret bat phone number"), it took so long to get someone who wasn't very helpful that I usually didn't bother or I gave up.
But then something amazing happened: I was informed of a Call Back process where I could schedule a special support tech at a time convenient. I saw that I could do an online chat with support. When I did have to call, the phone started being answered faster, and by a more knowledgeable techs. When I went to the website to download software or updates for clients, the website started to be better organized and easier to maneuver.
I have attempted to participate in every possible webinar and update to keep up with changes, and communications indicate that Swiftpage is trying to focus on what works, and fix or dump what doesn’t work… And with the discontinuance of ACT! Connect/Mobile, they have held up the statement! (Personally, I have long thought that there were/are at least 2 better options – call me if you want to discuss that.)
Since Swiftpage acquired ACT! in June of 2013, v16 was well into production, so v16 was really the last Sage version of ACT! While it initially appeared to be a solid release, more in depth use uncovered some issues. With the release of SP1, it is working so much better. Swiftpage has announced that v17 is in planning stages and they have presented some direction as to feature focus: We can look forward to a “timeline” style view where we don’t have to switch between Notes and History Tabs, etc. to see what’s been happening with the Contact (although I assume there will be filters!) They also “tease” that future releases will be more intuitive in the personalization of the ACT! experience, prompting actions and possible complementary products and services… And that your Business Care will have more value added…
I’m not trying to write a Michener novel here, so let me get to the point: Should YOU have an ACT! Business Care service plan?
My answer to that question has not always been "yes" because I want VALUE in support plans and I know you do too, and I want you to call ME because, well, I get really bored if nobody calls me ;-) So now, I am comfortable saying,
“YES!!!! Get Business Care now!”
In doing so, your future upgrades are paid (as long as your Business Care subscription is active), and you get discounts on online training and e-marketing (like I am using now). There are levels of plans to meet varied budgets. (The most robust plan allows you online training at no additional charge and unlimited access to expert Act! Technical Support Advisers, and to have the ability to schedule appointments or leave a voice message for a dedicated contact.)
And I believe that Swiftpage will continue to find ways to add value to Business Care… At this point, I think that NOW it’s worth it! Contact me for a quote or to purchase.
But WHY would you need Business Care and Me? Is it not a conflict of interest for me to suggest that you get support with Business Care?
1) Business Care, all levels, pays for your upgrade licenses. My fee is separate for service, including installation of upgrades.
2) With Business Care there are different levels of technical support, so you can choose if you want or how much, technical support is available via phone. I am not always immediately available, so any level provides "a backup plan".
3) Business Care will include discounts on related and integrated products like Swiftpage E-Marketing, reducing the net cost.
4) With Business Care there are different levels of training available. The training provided by Business Care is on-line by video. Some people learn very well in that manner, and ACT! offers a decent range of prepared videos covering general topics. My training approach is much different, and much more personalized to your business and your needs: I sit down with you and your database, and talk it through with you, while applying years of experience and knowledge of how many other businesses have solved challenges you may be facing.
So even if you purchase Business Care with Support and Training (please purchase through me, a reseller!), don't use it so much that you lose my number... Just call me sometimes... Or e-mail me... Please...