Recently, I was tasked with figuring out how to integrate yet another CRM with the WordPress users. I had to do this with Salesforce once — it was in no way fun — and now I’m looking into it for NeonCRM. I figured I might as well document my findings here so when other people and organizations, associations, and developers are faced with the same situation, they can start up where I left off.
My goal was to figure out a way for user info in NeonCRM to automatically update when users update their corresponding information in the WordPress user profile. In a perfect world, it would also register a NeonCRM when a user signs up for an event, but that’s not a requirement.
My client shares their membership directory on the website in a very simple way for public visitors and a more robust way for members. They want to be able to share accurate contact information for their members to view at all times, and they also want to be able to use the CRM to prospect their members.
My client assures me that the NeonCRM salesperson told him their system integrates with WordPress, but after a few initial searches, I’m not feeling like it’s going to be super straightforward. Let me be clear by saying I was not invited to these conversations, nor have I been given any contact information to speak to someone about how these two systems might integrate. I have, however, been tasked with figuring out how to integrate them. Story of my life.
Ideally, I would find some type of plugin for this — something magical that’s regularly updated and has great reviews. Or maybe I have to use Zapier, which is definitely my second choice, but it’s certainly an alternative. Last, but not least, I bet they have an API I could use, but I’m pretty sure my client doesn’t have the budget for me to custom code something like that, so I began my journey at wordpress.org.
Don’t get too excited by this finding, folks. The last time this plug-in was updated was 5 months ago, and I’m greeted by this not-so-exciting announcement message:
While this plugin may have been everything I ever wanted (I really don’t know because the description is super vague), I don’t really think it’s worth my time to travel down this road if they have no intention of updating it ever again. Onto the next plugin.
For a second, I got really excited — because, remember, one of my auxiliary goals is to figure out how to document event sign-up in Neon — the letdown on this one is real. The plugin hasn’t been updated in 2 years, and hasn’t been tested with the last three major releases of WordPress.
On the second page of Google, I found this little link, which seems like it may have been promising. There’s no description for what the plugin actually is, and when I search the website for “NeonCRM,” I get all of these listings for themes, all of which all link back to the NeonCRM website where they’re trying to sell me their web development services.
I don’t really like integrating websites and applications using Zapier because applications change and websites also change, so stuff can get a little funky sometimes when you least expect it and aren’t prepared.
Zapier does offer integrations for both WordPress and NeonCRM. But — and it’s a BIG BUT, I cannot lie — there’s no trigger from WordPress when a user is updated. All of the WordPress triggers available start with the word “New” but I’m not creating anything new, I’m updating.
This integration can’t start by updating a WordPress user, at least not if I’m using Zapier to do it.
There is an action, though, from NeonCRM to update an individual account, but halfway there without a trigger is really not there at all.
There’s more than one way to peel an orange… maybe NeonCRM could update the WordPress users… We can always flip it… The only triggers from NeonCRM are New Donations, New Accounts, and New Activities, none of which are the triggers that would initiate a user update.
Now, if I want to get really crazy, I know I can update users in MailChimp when a user in WordPress is modified. MailChimp has a pure trigger when a subscriber is updated I could use that trigger to push information in the neon CRM. I’ve used this work around with Salesforce before but it is not infallible in any way. Using the third-party connector can be a real pain in the butt but at least I have an open door.
P. S. Zapier, this in no way meets ADA compliance standards… Ouch.
The NeonCRM website, while it is ridiculously cute, doesn’t even have a search feature, so things are not looking good. I opened a ticket through their chat feature — which is actually pretty cool — so we’ll see what they can tell me.
I found my way through into the Developer Center, and it looks like there are a few key things that may allow me to tap in using an API, which, unfortunately, is going to be way more expensive to build and maintain than what I’m after. But for those of you who are more experienced at doing that kind of thing than I am, there are some instructions and documentation on how to update:
Some more haphazard clicking lands me in the NeonCRM Support Center. This section actually has a search feature! Praise sweet baby Jesus!
And here come the red flags, which are going off all over the place: they keep referring me to an Inspire website —what is that? There are also multiple extremely recent articles (within the last 20 to 90 days) talking about how I can use these absolutely outdated plugins, ones I already ruled out in my earlier research.
There’s even an article written by the author of those very plugins less than a month ago about how to integrate with NeonCRM.
Here’s what the article says in a nutshell:
How long will any of these features work? I don’t really know. Will NeonCRM deliver all of the things my clients wanted out of their membership section and events section using the native features of their user interface? I don’t know. I guess it’s not really my decision anyway. I just need to let my client know what I found and let them make the decision. If it doesn’t, and my client chooses to use NeonCRM and still wants to integrate, it looks like they may be making some sacrifices.
Now, my friends, I think I’m getting to the root of the problem, NeonCRM offers web development through WordPress but doesn’t want anyone else to be able to do it. Let me say it again: they build WordPress sites for their clients. So they’re not going to make this easy.
If you are a non-tech person or a non-web designer, and you’re talking to a salesperson claiming their product integrates with the system your website is built on, don’t believe them until they give you a link to their plugin or to the documentation outlining how to integrate it. I know I sound like I’m picking on NeonCRM right now, but this is the second time this has happened to me in the span of two weeks: an application says it integrates with WordPress and it doesn’t. At least not in a straighforward way as the client naturally perceives it will.
My clients were not armed with the questions they needed to ask before they went into the conversations with these extremely convincing sales people. I didn’t even know they were having the conversations, and I wasn’t invited to the meeting.
Takeaway lesson for you: involve your web developer in conversations that impact your website.
Monica is the creative force and founder of MayeCreate. She has a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture with an emphasis in Economics, Education and Plant Science from the University of Missouri. Monica possesses a rare combination of design savvy and technological know-how. Her clients know this quite well. Her passion for making friends and helping businesses grow gives her the skills she needs to make sure that each client, or friend, gets the attention and service he or she deserves.
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