Your contacts are the assets of your business – protect them

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Jody Johnson is the CEO of Action Coach in Miami, Florida. She needed a CRM solution not only for managing prospects but also for her work with her clients, business owners.

Business: Action Coach, Team Sage is a franchise member of a worldwide business coaching franchise with about 1,000 offices around the world. They help business owners fix their processes of time, team, and money.

The challenge: Keeping track and managing correspondence with all clients.

“The client and prospect base is the asset of most businesses. If you don’t have that documented somewhere that’s a huge asset that’s not accounted for in the business,” said Johnson.

How discovered Zoho: Learned about Zoho from the CEO of Action Coach of the Americas. Johnson now recommends Zoho to all of her clients.

Competitive analysis of Zoho: They had gone through two other content management programs that failed them because they either didn’t work with Outlook or weren’t customizable.

Unique use case of Zoho CRM: Manage everyone and everything all in one place: from prospects to current clients with all different kinds of correspondence (e.g., newsletter, emails). Johnson’s team facilitates communications by utilizing more than two dozen email templates.

Can track progress, see bottlenecks, and identify how certain business will affect their revenues.

Advice for others: Johnson started with Zoho three years ago. If she could do it all over again, she would have hired a Zoho consultant to simply tell her and her team all the things Zoho can do. For example, just last year they began utilizing the “Potentials” feature which allows you to indicate what a sale would be worth therefore allowing you to see which potentials would have the greatest revenue impact on the business.

“Most business owners don’t have a way of tracking a customer list or prospect list. They don’t have an integrated way or holistic way of reaching out to them,” said Johnson who sees this on a daily basis working with businesses. “A contact management system of any kind is really important.”

Your customer list and prospect list is the asset of the business. If that isn’t documented somewhere, then that’s not a sellable business. You need to protect that contact and communications information like you would a bank account, Johnson said.

Listen to her interview here.

Online CRM lets everyone have up-to-the-minute visibility into company wisdom

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For ten years Luis Gardolinski had been keeping tabs on his contacts. But it wasn’t easy. Managing them across his team and synchronizing them has always been a manual, delayed, and not always accessible process.

Business:

Luis Gardolinski is the CEO of Startrade, a company that builds software and equipment for logistics, specifically planning loads and new packages.

The Challenge:

Since 2001, Luis Gardolinksi always knew he needed some type of CRM solution. He spent so much time relying on paper and memory to manage clients and prospects.

Gardolinski’s first foray into contact management and CRM was the software package Act. While Act was useful, all the data was tied to a specific physical machine. In order to capture information in the company’s contact database, salespeople had to return to the office and recopy their day’s notes onto a computer that had Act installed. Once entered all that information had to be synchronized.

The wisdom of the company was always back at the office, sitting on an Act machine. And the information was always delayed by at least one day, as everyone had to wait for colleagues to enter their data and synchronized. While employees were out and about they never had a full view of what was going on in the office, said Gardolinski.

Even though Act had a myopic view at the time, Startrade used it for about seven years. It was pretty good for what they needed at the time. Although ultimately Gardolinski knew he needed an online solution.

We must be able to see what’s going on with each client at each stage of the sales cycle, said Gardolinski. He always wanted to know, “How far are we along to closing?” While he could do this with Act, he needed something that everyone could access anywhere and always be up to date.

How discovered Zoho:

Gardolinksi’s business and employees were becoming more mobile. A few years ago he moved them all over to using Google Apps and email, and tested a couple of other CRM solutions of which he can’t even remember. He landed on Zoho and chose to move over, but it wasn’t that easy.

It’s always a challenge when you change a piece of software you’ve been using for seven years to something else, Gardolinksi said.

Competitive analysis of CRM:

All the CRM solutions Startrade was looking at were either too fancy, more than they needed, or far too expensive. What really sold Gardolinski on Zoho was the speed of customer service he got especially upon testing the free service. After sending a request he got a response in 30 minutes and the problem was solved over the next 30 minutes.

Unique use case of Zoho CRM:

Now that all his information was online, Gardolinski and his team could travel wherever they wanted and have complete access to all the company data. This freed everyone from being locked to the office or wasting time with double entry.

Bringing the data over from Act wasn’t as easy as Gardolinski thought it would be. Looking back at it now he would have paid for a direct import from Act. But in actuality he saw the difficulty or importing his data as an opportunity to refresh it. He realized a lot of his information was really stale and this forced him to pick up the phone and call new and old clients, renewing relationships and contact information.

Advice for others: 

Even if you can import your data easily, don’t just import everything, advises Gardolinski. Use the move to a new system as an opportunity to renew your database like he did. Call your clients and update all their information.

It takes more time, but it’s worth it to do it right, Gardolinksi said.

Listen to the interview here.

See ‘Exactly’ How Conversations Unfold With Zoho Mail

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Whenever I have run into a situation where someone goes… 

 

We talked about this last month Hari! Remember you said….. and I said ….and blah blah….


… I used to wonder how it would be nice to have a


conversation view

for all conversations we ever had.


If you think about it, great ideas just fade into oblivion, good prospects are lost and projects get delayed because we are unable to connect the dots and keep in sync with our discussions and conversations. Thanks to the rather exclusive conversation thread view feature in

Zoho Mail
, I am able to catch up on all my email conversations.

Recently, I was checking the feedback received from Zoho Mail users who chose to take the optional survey when they logged out (Thank you all). To my surprise, 47% have said that they never use the conversation view. Then these questions ran through my mind:

  • Is it possible that 47% never had any long conversations over email?

  • Are users just not aware that a conversation view exists?

  • Conversation view is redundant and not used much? (In my opinion, this cannot be)

Well, to make it clear, conversation view does exist in Zoho Mail. Unlike in other email programs that stack incoming responses, it is

indicated

by a small

chat-bubble

 like icon (check Figure below) without affecting the classic inbox message arrangement. Maybe our design was so focused on not being a distraction and missed out on attraction?
Switching to Zoho Mail's Conversation View


All you do is click the chat-bubble icon to unfold the conversation, displayed in a threaded view format which, I think is special. Why do I think so? Let’s see:
Zoho Mail's Conversation Thread View


Specialties in Zoho Mail Conversation View:


  • Skim through the entire conversation


    This is made possible by messages arranged in a thread view fashion with a part of the first line of all responses. This can particularly be helpful for business email users to quickly catch up on their exchanges with customers and prospects. All you do is search for the name and then unfold the conversation by clicking the mentioned chat-bubble icon.


  • Just click-read your way through the thread


    If skimming through does not suffice, you can just click a response in the thread and view the full message in the bottom pane. No need to scroll your way up and down the conversation. Can you imagine how painful it can be to scroll through a thread with 30+ exchanges?


  • know the exact order of how conversations unfold                   

    Ever found yourself lost in between an elaborate back and forth discussion in emails with many in CC? Now take a look at the conversation view snapshot of a discussion we had about improving Zoho’s social media presence. It is so easy to follow, who replied to whom and how the conversation unfolded from start to end. Also notice how some responses branch off into separate threads / sub-topics? This helps to exactly understand the context of responses, saving time in trying to figure things out.


  • Label or flag individual messages


    So, you are clicking through the conversation and run into a response from someone with that important information, idea, proposal or you-name-it, something useful. You can quickly set a flag or assign a label right there to that message.


  • Label the entire thread / conversation


    Well, if you find the whole conversation to bear substance, assign a label to the entire thread. I labelled our entire conversation shown in the snapshot ‘SocialMediaDiss’. This way whenever someone goes, ‘Remember the social media discussion last year’, its just a click-on-a-label away.

In fact, I feel the conversation view is a must have for

business email
 purposes with many CCs and group email addresses involved in messages. For instance, at times I forward a message sent to me to someone who can handle it better. Then a couple of days pass, I shift focus to other incoming messages and suddenly run into a response addressed to me again from a previous thread. Now, what do I do to catch up on what happened in between? Yes,

one click to unfold the conversation

.

If you are already a Zoho Mail user, feel free to comment about your views on the conversation view feature, particularly improvements you would like to see.


If you are someone using another email service featuring the stacked type conversation view, try

Zoho Mail
. You may like the change. You are big fan of the stacked view? Tell us why.



Oops! Just realized my screen shot reveals another feature update we are working on and testing within our team.  Any guesses on what it is?

The Office is evolving – and so are Zoho apps!

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In a recent post titled ‘How the Office is evolving‘, Eric Kintz at Gigaom talks about the transformation of work-spaces from the original ‘cubicle’ concept to the “New Office”.

Excerpts from Eric’s post:

“Today, the physical space is adapting to the way teams work – ad hoc, on a project basis, cross-functional, with team members scattered around the world. We’re witnessing a fragmentation of collaboration spaces.

The “New Office” is an airport lounge on a tablet, a midnight video call on the kitchen counter, a shared table at the office or a collaboration pod for ad hoc meetings.”

Eric also goes on to predict: “The personal space will continue to shrink and become increasingly mobile/virtual. We’ll likely see a day where the office becomes a series of collaboration spaces, designed to connect fragmented virtual teams.”

At Zoho, we’ve been building our suite of Business apps to cater to the needs of the “New Office” that Eric described. Our Apps too, have been constantly evolving in tune to the collaborative, cross-functioning, geographically fragmented nature of work and work-spaces.

All our apps can be accessed while you’re on the move, or from wherever your “New Office” happens to be at the moment. Integrated chat, document management and inbuilt sharing features characterize all our apps and enable geographically dispersed teams to work closely together.

Also, as the New Office becomes increasingly mobile, we’re expanding our Apps offering to work seamlessly across portable devices.

Check out these Zoho Apps we’ve launched for mobile and portable devices so far:

  1. Zoho Mail optimized for iPad
  2. Zoho Invoice for Android
  3. Zoho CRM for iPhone and Mobile Web
  4. Zoho Docs for iPad
  5. Zoho Invoice for iPhone
  6. Zoho Docs for iPhone

There’s more to be added to the list soon. Meanwhile, we’re excited to be a part of this emerging “New Office” culture!

(Image courtesy: stock.xchng)

Do you adopt CRM or does CRM adopt you?

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As Philippe Bogard started growing his scientific consulting business, he began collecting thousands of leads. While he did a great job making first contact, he failed with the critical follow up. He struggled to find a solution to collect and manage those leads. He initially started with a Microsoft Access database, but he knew he needed a better solution.

Business:

Back in 2004, Philippe Bogard launched a consulting business, Proteomics Consult. Proteomics (check it out on Wikipedia) is the science of discovering proteins. If your genes are your body’s blueprint, then the proteins are the elements that travel across that blueprint.

The Challenge:

In the early days of his business, Bogard had only two major clients. At that time it was fairly easy to manage his business relations without a CRM solution. Problem was even though his client roster was short, the leads he was collecting, from all the conferences he was attending, was growing into the thousands.

Bogard tried to manage all the new leads through a Microsoft Access database, but that was just tying all his contacts to a single computer. If he didn’t have access to that physical machine, he couldn’t update or access anything.

How discovered Zoho:

No dramatic story here. He just searched for a CRM solution on the Internet and found Zoho.

Competitive analysis of CRM:

Bogard’s first real experience managing contacts was with Microsoft CRM. His client at the time was using the relationship management tool so he became familiar with it and tried it for his own business. Unfortunately, and a tad too ironic, was that Microsoft CRM couldn’t seamlessly import Bogard’s contacts from Microsoft Access.

Admittedly not that tech savvy, Bogard reached out to Microsoft for help and they wanted $1,500 to do the import for him.

Microsoft CRM was also costly in terms of physical management, said Bogard. For his client that did use Microsoft CRM, they had only five salesmen, yet they still needed to hire a person full time to manage Microsoft CRM.

For those who argue that Microsoft CRM is easy to work with, Bogard agrees…if you have it properly set up. But that can be very costly in terms of time, energy, and money, said Bogard remembering when his client upgraded Microsoft CRM from version 3 to version 4.

Unique use case of Zoho CRM:

Unlike the headache he had with Microsoft CRM, it took Bogard only two hours to import 7,000 of his Microsoft Access contacts into Zoho CRM. That happy user experience, especially for an admitted non-techy, was what sold Board on Zoho CRM. After he finished the import he realized he probably could have done it even faster if he signed up for the paid version. But since he was initially testing the free solution, he could only import 1,000 contacts at a time.

Improved efficiency:

Bogard is thrilled with how efficient he has become now that he’s adopted CRM into his daily routine. Or more how CRM has adopted him.

Unlike in his Microsoft Access days, Bogard has a better view of what’s going on with his business. “When you contact customers you easily forget to call a customer back in a couple of months,” Bogard said. “I don’t forget anything with CRM, it reminds it for me.”

If Bogard didn’t have a CRM solution he believes he’d be wasting an additional two hours every day just trying to make sense of his contacts and their current status. And that time and the reminders are precious to Bogard. Being almost sixty he admits that his memory is getting worse.

“Having a system that’s thinking for me is beautiful,” Bogard said.

Do you adopt CRM or does CRM adopt you? by zoho

Cops Save Paper With Zoho Docs

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A small police department of the Delaware County in Pennsylvania, USA, are not only saving lives but paper too. They have decided to go paperless by storing all their documents online and Zoho Docs has been chosen for their online document management.?

According to officers at the police department, this move would enhance communications between the public and the police. With this system in place the public would be able to get forms online, saving both the public and police personnel a lot of time and effort. 

Officers also noted that with the tremendous volumes of documents stored, some documents are stuck into a file and never seen again. They felt it’s a waste of paper and more importantly time, as it sometimes takes an hour for a secretary to retrieve a document. But with Zoho Docs, the police department is able to store their files online securely, organize them neatly into multi-level folders and with the full-text search feature, it’s easier to find and access them. Also, with its affordable pricing, it was within the budget of the department. 

Read the full article by Linda Reilly in The Delaware County Daily Times – ‘East Lansdowne cops going paperless