Dashboard Spotlight: US Student Debt

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dashboard-spotlightIn recent times, there has been a lot of debate about the real value of college degrees. This seemingly-academic discussion assumes deeper significance given that college students have been – for a long time now – racking up tremendous volumes of educational debt. Sizable percentages of new graduates are beginning their professional careers deeply mired in debt that takes them a long time to pay off, if they ever succeed in doing so.

In the current context, given the precipitous state of the U.S. economy and the disquieting fact that about 37 million Americans are bogged down by student loan debt, an increasing number of people are beginning to seriously question whether the costs of college education have begun to dwarf the benefits. Read more

Which Kind Of Team Member Are You?

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Online collaboration tools are making it easier for teams to be better organized and more coordinated, to help them reach their team goals more efficiently. But collaboration and using the tool effectively also depends on team members and their ability to work as a team.

Each team member has a different mindset or thought process and getting everyone on the same wavelength can be quite challenging. Team leaders need to encourage team members, so that they adopt the collaboration tool more readily and work better as a team.

Here are a few kinds of team members you might have come across:

BozzillaBoss-ooka

This team member takes charge of the team a.k.a BOSS. Bozzilla lays down the rules and more often than not tries to doggedly convince or if that’s not possible confuse the team about certain decisions and how they are right. This team member however is prepared to take the blame, for any team mishaps or issues.

“Think Team” Solution:  Patience and a more passive than aggressive tone might help while trying to convince Bozzilla on what’s best for the team.

Side-KickGrumpy Grumpleston

The motto of this team member would be “ It’s the BOSS’s way or the highway!” Side-Kick will nod in agreement to everything BOSS says. Anytime BOSS looks vulnerable and is being cornered, Side-Kick will instantly jump to BOSS’s defense. This member is assured a place in the team by standing guard for BOSS at all times.

“Think Team” Solution: Get BOSS’s nod of approval, which will be a direct command to Side-Kick to step in line and work with the team.

The SaintThe Saint

This team member will be the most wise and practical member of the team.  Will be very knowledgeable and would be the one to counter BOSS’s decisions with rational arguments. If there is one person who can convince the BOSS, it is him.  This member is the one that holds the team together and is the rock that the team leans on during tough times.

“Think Team” Solution:  The Saint is already a team player and always thinks in the interest of the team.

Grumpy GrumplestonThe Zombie

“I should have been BOSS”, is what this team member broods over almost everyday! You will not find a more disinterested and critical person in the team.  Although very knowledgeable, getting Grumpy to share some knowledge is next to impossible, unless you literally beg for it. But if you get into Grumpy’s good books, consider it a boon because this member will be the most helpful person around.

“Think Team” Solution: Keep reminding Grumpy about how knowledgeable he is and how valuable his contribution is for the team.

Mr. Goody Two ShoesSide-kick

This team member will be the most social and diplomatic person in the team. Goody Two Shoes will try pitching ideas but will not push for them and agree to do whatever task is given, like it or not. This member knows how exactly to handle each member of the team and makes sure of being in everyone’s good books.

“Think Team” Solution: Tell Goody Two Shoes its NOT OK to be OK with everything and needs to strongly voice thoughts and ideas if they would benefit the team.

ZombieGoody Two Shoes

This team member like Grumpy Grumpleston will hardly get involved in team discussions. Zombie just goes with the tide and is prepared for ideas to be shot down. This member pretends to be oblivious to everything else and will always seem to be involved with work. Zombie may seem aloof but is very reliable when it comes to completing tasks.

“Think Team” Solution: LISTEN and be more open to ideas  or suggestions of Zombie but you also need to be a bit stern in asking him to get more involved with the team.

Were you able to relate with any of the above team members? You could even share with us some that you have in mind.

Disclaimer: These are just random observations and in no way is my writing targeted at any specific individual, who might think I have a bone to pick with them. Peace!

 

Why Responsive Email Design is Important for your Business

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responsive-email-template

PC Sales are down. Mobile adoption is high. Mobile traffic is increasing.
2013 can certainly be called the year of Responsive Design.

Mobile adoption has grown so much that we want everything adapted to mobile devices – email templates included! We at Zoho Campaigns understand the importance of this trend and that’s why we have made all of our pre-designed templates and layouts responsive.

So, what’s Responsive Email Design?

This concept makes your email templates look good on any device your recipient is holding – a smartphone, a tablet, laptop or even the desktop. The email automatically adjusts itself to the size of the screen.

Should you care about this? YES! and for good reasons: Read more

Build Communities. Share Knowledge. Create Happiness.

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A couple of months ago, we asked customers which tool/platform they used to build their business’ community. And, several of them mentioned Facebook.

To understand this better and put things in the right perspective, we spoke to a some customers at length. We realized that they preferred Facebook just because it was easy and free. It didn’t involve any additional learning curve. For most of the businesses we spoke to, it wasn’t the best solution. And, given a more convenient choice that’s free, they’d start using it right away.

Zoho Support Announcement

After that, we spoke to customers who hadn’t started building a community yet. A significant reason was convenience, again. They couldn’t do it all from a single place. Naturally, because of that, it would involve even more effort to build a community.

This was some fascinating insight for us. As always, we took this back into product development. Since then, we’ve been working on a community solution right within Zoho Support. Today, we’re really happy to announce precisely that!

The new Community module within Zoho Support lets you do some cool things like

- Moderate community posts and keep spam away
- Organize your community using categories and forums
- Automatically (or manually) add community posts as support requests
- Minimize redundant posts by suggesting similar existing posts
- Analyze how the community is growing and make improvements

Oh, and, it’s free and available on all our plans, including the free plan we announced recently.

Try it today and let us know what you think about it. Start building your community right away!

Just In : Project groups and enhancements in templates

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Imagine this: You’re working in a ERP based company that has projects running across departments like finance, invoices, and accounts. Now there needs to be a way to categorize these projects as separate groups i,e  put all accounts related projects under Accounts group to efficiently manage projects. With this latest update we’re providing this missing bit of functionality : the Project Groups

Starting today you can create projects and categorize them under a single group in Zoho Projects. But it doesn’t stop there, you also edit, delete and reorder project groups. By default projects that are not grouped are listed as Active Projects.

Here’s a snapshot of Project Groups in Zoho Projects

project-groups

Start dates in project templates
Feedback comes in waves from customers. Project start date option for templates is one of them. With this latest update, you can instantly set project start dates while creating a new project from an existing template. Furthermore, you can specify start dates in days/weeks/months for the tasks.

Learn more about this enhancement at Project Templates

project-templateWe’ve put together a user guide which helps you to get started with Project Groups

A quick note : The project groups feature is available across all paid plans for Portal Owners and Administrators of Zoho Projects.

Give it a try at http://www.zoho.com/projects/ and let us know your views as comments.

Want Loyal Customers? You Have to Earn Them

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friendly mechanic handshaking with familyI was stuck in traffic the other morning going to work. The right lane was closed for construction so the approaching vehicles were all corralling into the left lane. Unfortunately, at nine in the morning on one of the busiest streets in Austin, Texas, this process doesn’t happen quickly.

The vehicle in front me was a delivery truck for an Austin-based liquor store called Twin Liquors. I’ve seen these trucks countless times before, but I never looked too closely at the logo on the back. Funny what five minutes of stop and go traffic makes you notice.

The logo is nothing special. A circle with an illustration of the two founders — heads and shoulders only similar to a bust — but it was the line below them that caught my attention.

“Trust Twins.”

It’s as simple of a line as you can think of. Trust Twins. Trust our product. Trust our service. Trust us.

This phrase really stuck with me because of its transparency but also because of its ambition. Getting your customers to trust your products and brand is one of the most essential components for success. Essential, and yet oftentimes, the most difficult.

For small business owners, gaining the trust of customers and clients can make or break your bottom line. Just think about the places of business you frequent yourself. Why are you loyal to that brand or keep returning? Why do you recommend the company to a friend? Because you trust they will not only have the product or service you are looking for, but also trust you will be treated with respect. You trust that your presence and dollar is valued.

On the other hand, it’s incredibly easy to lose your customers’ trust by making mistakes. This can be anything from not delivering on a promise you made to not being honest with your customers or providing bad customer service.

So let’s look at some ways you can immediately start earning loyalty with customers.

Learn From the Big Boys

Okay, not everyone’s business will be as big as Coca Cola, Amazon or Apple, but that doesn’t mean you can’t study how they gain customer loyalty. In many cases, these companies have risen and stayed on top not because of sales or share in the marketplace, but because they have made it a priority to establish relationships and trust with its customers.

Former global marketing officer of Procter & Gamble Jim Stengel told Entrepreneur, “we’re seeing more of an emphasis on brands building emotional relationships with consumers because it’s powerful and it works.”

Need examples? Amazon, arguably the most trusted brand in America, earns its customers’ loyalty and trust by offering low prices, free shipping on many orders and a convenient check-out system so customers can shop and buy hassle-free.

Southwest Airlines breaks all conventional rules of the airline industry by not charging for checking bags to offering open seating and even having fun and engaging flight attendants who impersonate Elvis or sing the safety directions before take-off.

The fast food restaurant Chick-fil-A offers unprecedented customer service to every person who walks through their doors. Yes they have a tasty product and “invented the chicken sandwich,” but they also treat every customer with respect. Customers like to feel important and at Chick-fil-A, you feel like the most important person in the world. You trust that every time you walk in those doors you will be greeted with a smile and hear the words, “my pleasure,” from every employee.

Prove You Trust Your Customers 

Trust is a two-way street so before you can expect customers to trust your brand or product, they need to feel like you trust them. There are a number of companies that have success because they established trust with customers by first proving they believe in their customers.

High end department store Nordstrom has a reputation for offering great customer service by trusting customers returning items. In fact, the store was rumored to have taken back a set of snow tires despite never selling tires in the first place.

And while this story is somewhat a myth, Nordstrom has gained the trust of its customers by promising to accept items the customer claims are defective, no questions asked. And they deliver on that promise.

Realize Trust Takes Time

Building loyal relationships and trust with your customers doesn’t happen over night. Earning trust is not about doing something right one time. It’s about proving yourself over and over again with every customer who walks through your doors.

This includes making sure you are doing your job well day in and day out. From creating great products or offering exceptional services to being innovative in your field and keeping your promises, building trust happens across multiple platforms over consecutive months and years.

Don’t lose patience. Customers notice when companies deliver on promises, but more importantly, they notice more when companies fail to deliver. Study companies that consumers trust, as well as companies that have lost the trust of the public so you can begin developing quality relationships that keep your customers coming back time and time again.

Join Us for Our First Local Zoho Meet Up in Austin, TX

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We help people work online. You can find us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and all over the web. But technology is a poor replacement for in-person interactions. And that’s why we’re taking it offline, starting with our first local Zoho Meet Up event on Wednesday, August 7th in Austin, TX.austinmeetup

Come join us at 11:45 am at Max’s Wine Dive in the heart of downtown. We will serve lunch, of course, so just come ready to mingle. We would like to share with you some of the exciting stuff we’ve been working on lately, and also give you a peek at what’s coming soon down the road. But more than anything, we want to say “hi” in person and hear directly from you on how Zoho helps your business and in what ways we can help you better.

We’ll also have some of our Zoho expert staff on hand for you to ask us any questions on a 1:1 setting, or brainstorm how you can use Zoho to solve a particular scenario. We’re slightly skewed towards Zoho CRM as that is our flagship product, but we’re happy to help with whatever we can – and if we can’t help you right there and then we’ll be happy to follow-up with you after the event.

Customers, users and prospects are all welcome! Have a friend who is not using Zoho yet? Well, just exactly what kind of friend are you? ;) Grab’em and bring them along. Just please make sure they register so we can plan ahead (share the below link).

Go ahead and RSVP at http://zohoaustinmeetup.eventbrite.com/.

We hope to see you there!

Rodrigo

P.S. Are you interested in connecting with us in other cities? Let us know, we’d love to host a Meet Up near you. Contact us at events@zohocorp.com.