Chocolates and Zoho Recruit: The Ah Cacao Story

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Today, we are pleased to share the story of how Ah Cacao Real Chocolate simplified their recruitment process with Zoho Recruit. Rohan Barnett, General Manager at Ah Cacao, describes how they were able to overcome recruitment-related challenges with our Applicant Tracking System.
About Ah Cacao
Ah Cacao Real Chocolate, founded in 2003, offers a complete chocolate experience for both the mind and body. Their chocolates are handmade by skilled artisans with the finest Mexican cacao and natural ingredients that create a heavenly taste and a true ancient Mayan experience. 
Ah Cacao’s Challenge
Within the 35-person company, Ah Cacao employs only one person to manage the administrative work across three retail stores and a wholesale business. And for a growing company with no human resource employees, this can be a challenge and requires appropriate technology to keep things running smoothly. In the past, Ah Cacao used Google Docs to receive employment applications, but this presented three specific problems:
1. Candidate information was hard to read in a spreadsheet.
2. Replying to candidates and keeping track of their statuses was laborious and error prone.
3. Candidate photos had to be requested individually by e-mail, another laborious process.
Zoho Solution
As the general manager,” Barnett explains, “I just didn’t have the time to continue contacting candidates by e-mail. That’s when I went online in search of an automated solution and came across Zoho Recruit. Today, about five people access the information in Zoho Recruit. We use the job openings feature to post current openings on our website. We also use this URL in our job announcements, and it is the only medium by which we accept applications.

After switching to Zoho Recruit, retrieving and organizing employment applications has become easier. After reviewing the applications, Barnett then divides the candidates into three groups to determine the action to take in response:

1. Unqualified/rejected – an e-mail is sent automatically to the candidate.  

2. Hireable – we may hire the person in the future, but not right now. An e-mail template is sent. 

3. Interview – we use interviewer scheduler to send an invitation, again with an e-mail template that includes a Google Map link to the interview location.

Zoho Recruit Impact
Zoho Recruit has made the recruiting process much more streamlined and automated. Now, we receive an application and with a few clicks, we can reply to the candidate and update his or her status. This saves us a lot of time and allows us to be more responsive to the candidates, which improves our image as a company,” says Barnett.
Read more about Ah Cacao and Zoho Recruit here.

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This is a guest post by Robert C. Johnson, CEO of, a cloud based customer support management solution, is excited to announce the completion of a powerful new integration with Zoho CRM.

Once the simple setup is completed, the integration provides for the seamless transfer of select customer and contact information from Zoho CRM directly into TeamSupport.  When new support tickets are created in TeamSupport they are automatically added as notes into Zoho so that the sales team can be kept in the loop on support issues.

The transfer and update of contact names, addresses and phone numbers happens seamlessly in the background with no intervention required by either TeamSupport or Zoho users.  When a Zoho user marks an account as a “Customer” then that data is automatically sent to TeamSupport.

TeamSupport is a powerfully simple customer support software, and our integration with Zoho CRM brings two best of breed solutions together for our mutual customers.  We’re very excited about our integration with Zoho and look forward to a great partnership!

Read more about the TeamSupport – Zoho CRM integration here.

Small Businesses and The Dark Ages

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Gene Marks over at Forbes just published an article today on the Quicker Better Tech column. The piece, Google Buys Motorola Mobility… And So Begins The Dark Ages is an interesting take. While most people have focused on what that merger means for the current patent wars, the future of Android, mobile devices and so on, Gene focused on a totally different angle: what this might mean for Small Businesses.

In a nutshell, Gene is arguing that this purchase is not going to be good for small businesses:

But will this news help my small business?  Unfortunately, no.  The empire is breaking up.  Chaos is approaching.  Life, particularly for my business, is about to become more complicated. 

The overall point that Gene makes is that “Pax Microsoft” (the peaceful period during which Microsoft used to dominate) was good for small businesses because it brought stability for software vendors, who would focus just on creating software on top of the platform, so things “just worked” and were “inexpensive”. Gene also has some other concerns. For example: what platform should his business standardize on? How can he make sure that he is able to export data from one system to another, and finally, integration between apps.

While Gene acknowledges “the cloud”, I don’t think he really realizes the impact this will have on businesses like his (according to his profile he owns a 10-person consulting firm).  
But lets leave the benefits of the cloud itself aside for a second, and focus on some of the other points.

Mobile is just a front-end for business apps. Sure, you access your CRM data through a native App, but the difference between most consumer apps/games and business applications on a mobile device, is that while consumer apps/games have a significant amount of “intelligence” built into the mobile app, business apps are different. For almost all business apps, the logic, the core of the app, resides in some server in the cloud. The mobile device is just a convenient front-end to it that takes advantage of some hardware features (i.e. GPS/camera) or enables off-line. 

Besides, mobile business apps are primarily intended for secondary, on-the-go use (this is true especially for mobile phones). The main use will remain in the desktop/laptop factor and in the iPad factor (there’s no such thing as a tablet – only iPads!). And in that case, I think most of it will happen through the iPad’s browser. Which leads me to the next point…

You can always use the browser
. Mobile Apps are certainly nice and useful. We have released a handful of them ourselves lately (for both iPhone and Android). But I think Gene stresses too much about choosing a platform. Most vendors will support both iOS and Android for the foreseeable future. The particular app you want right now is not available in your platform ? Well you can always use the mobile browsers and use the mobile version.

Commitment is not as serious this time around
. In the “PAX Microsoft” era customers had to make a very serious commitment to a platform: Windows or Linux; Oracle or SQLServer, .NET or Java… etc. Once those decisions were made, well, you as a business were literally stuck with it for years (or decades) to come. And the cost of switching was very high. In the Android vs. iOS question… well that’s another story. If you decide to go with the other platform, it just takes a couple hundred bucks and you’ve switched. It’s really not that bad as it used to be.

Open Data. Most people will agree that, for the most part, cloud providers have a pretty good track record of making it clear that the data belongs to the user and it is up to her to take it whenever she wants. That is certainly the case with us at Zoho, but most of our competitors and other people in our space also operate under this principle. As with everything, there are exceptions, and no business in their right mind should use one of those services!

. My favorite point. I argue, Gene, that you and your business are better off nowadays than years before, especially with regards to integration. At Zoho we’ve made it one of our priorities to provide contextually integrated applications that help you. We have not only integrated our Zoho CRM with Zoho Mail, but also Zoho CRM with Zoho Projects, and Zoho Projects with Zoho Invoice, and the list goes on. But that’s not all… there are also multiple integrations with third parties. For example, we integrate heavily with Google Apps, and just recently we integrated Zoho BugTracker with GitHub and there are even some third-party hook-ups with other third-party services, like the recent one that Cazoomi did for tying up Zoho CRM and ExactTarget

Sure, fragmentation sucks for us, but it is just the cost of doing business in the technology world. And if we look at it from another perspective, fragmentation has been already here for a while. It started with Firefox eating IE’s lunch, and now Chrome.

The bottom line is that Google purchasing Motorola Mobile really doesn’t mean much for the small business sector. Sure, the mobile OS wars will only continue to escalate, there’s uncertainty about the future of Windows, Macs (as in desktop, not iOS) ar
e on the rise again… but as long as businesses stick to the cloud, they will be fine.


What SMBs should be integrating into their CRM, for today and tomorrow

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At the CRM Evolution Conference in New York City I sat down
with Brent Leary, co-founder and partner of CRM
, to talk about what SMBs are successfully integrating into their
CRM package today and what should they be doing in the future.

We talked about backend operational efficiencies, project
management, collaboration, more efficient sales teams (from a mobile
perspective), and more effective internal communications.

CRM customers expose how they’re integrating CRM into their business

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CRM’s real power is when it’s integrated with your business’
applications and processes. Pulling that off is not easy though. And nobody I
spoke to at the CRM Evolution Conference in New York City had everything
integrated, but they were doing some integration. I asked attendees how they
were integrating CRM into their business processes today, and how they’d like
to integrate CRM into their business processes for the future.

Social CRM: Getting a holistic view of your customers

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Do you know what your customers, non-customers, advocates,
and detractors are saying about you when they’re not talking to you? John
Bastone, Global Product Marketing Manager, Customer Intelligence Industry and
Solution Marketing for SAS may be able to tell

SAS, a legendary statistical giant (I actually studied SAS
programming in college) is trying to make sense of the world of valuable yet
unstructured data that you don’t normally see in a CRM system. They’re trying
to link social media activity to customer activity to help businesses get a
holistic view of their customers.

Almost all of SAS’ clients are huge enterprise companies
that already have tons of people discussing them in the social sphere. They’re
just trying to make sense of all the chatter in terms of who are the
influencers, the advocates, and the detractors. But what if you’re not that big
and nobody’s talking about you? Is there nothing to measure?

Bastone says all is not lost. You still have a domain and an
industry and a certain topic area that’s relevant to you. Start searching for
pockets of consumers who care about those issues.

Break out of the software upgrade cycle by moving your CRM to the cloud

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Mark Stacey was a 17-year veteran of desktop-based contact management and CRM software. While useful, he kept getting mired in the frustrating cycle of software upgrades. That all ended when he moved his CRM operations to the cloud.


Mark Stacey is the CEO of the Milagro Advisory Group, a business development and integrated marketing consultancy. He is also the co-founder of Alcance Media, a five-year-old advertising network for the Spanish marketplace.

The Challenge

Stacey has a long history of using contact management and CRM applications. Back in 1989, he computerized his Rolodex with a DOS-based version of ACT. Immediately, his business experienced rapid growth. He quickly became a convert to the importance of CRM systems.

While Stacey stayed with ACT for many years, he still faced a major challenge keeping up with the program’s evolution. Each version required new installations and proper training in order to take advantage of the upgrades. He was getting frustrated, yet he still upgraded.

How discovered Zoho CRM

When Stacey started his new company, Alcance Media, one of the board members suggested Zoho.

Competitive analysis of CRM

Up until that Zoho recommendation, Stacey wasn’t looking at any other CRM solution. He was just trying to get ACT and also Microsoft’s Business Contact Manager to work.

While Zoho CRM had all the functionality they needed, the fact that it operated in the cloud was its major selling point, said Stacey.

Stacey also liked the friendly interface which made it a lot easier to train his staff. Also admitting to not being technically proficient, Stacey claimed Zoho CRM is the easiest program he’s ever used.

Unique use case

It didn’t take long to jump on board with Zoho at Alcance and Milagro. After just a few weeks of importing, configuring, and training, his staff were all in the field utilizing Zoho CRM.

Stacey used Zoho CRM to manage sales teams, databases, and people in business development and operations.

Advice for others

Before Stacey discovered Zoho he resigned himself to being frustrated with the tools he had. He advises others not to go through the same aggravation.

“No matter the size of your organization, you need to put your toe in the water with a program like Zoho,” said Stacey. “The savings and return on productivity cannot be dismissed.”

“Why wait?”, asks Stacey. He recommends anyone not already using CRM to open your own personal free account, play with it over the weekend and see if it can work for you.

Listen to Mark Stacey’s interview here.