Announcing Zoho Survey: Easily Create Professional Surveys, Collect Data and Make Smarter Decisions

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Zoho Survey for iPad

We are excited to announce Zoho Survey, the newest addition to the Zoho family. It will now become easier for you to create professional surveys, distribute them to the right people wherever they are and analyze their responses.

 

Create Surveys with Ease, even while on the goZoho Survey for iPad
Our smart survey tool is filled with features that help you quickly and easily create great-looking surveys. Multiple question types are available and hence you can ask your audience exactly what you want. Add logic to your surveys by skipping or adding questions. Depending on the survey taker’s previous responses, you can always make the surveys shorter and more relevant.

 

Zoho Survey also comes with ready-made templates that you can use, with just a couple of clicks, for a variety of purposes. With elegant themes, your surveys look more professional.

We know that most times you are working in a larger team and you can now work in collaboration with your colleagues to receive feedback even before you deploy a survey. Plus, with Zoho Survey’s app for the iPad, you can create surveys while on the go.

Collect Feedback from Your Audience
Zoho Survey is integrated with MailChimp and also with our own Zoho Campaigns. Now, you can connect your surveys with your e-mail marketing lists and distribute personalized invites to your contacts.

Share survey links across social media channels, including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google Plus and watch the responses roll in. Zoho Survey automatically generates links and HTML/embed codes, so you can display your surveys on your website or blog.

All surveys are automatically optimized for mobile devices (phones and tablets) and hence your participants have a better survey experience and can complete surveys faster on their mobiles.

Analyze Results and Make Smarter Decisions
Analyze your survey results through reports that include a detailed summary of responses and visual representations with numerous charts. You can also create custom reports, crosstabs and filters, so you drill down and uncover patterns in your data.

Results can be shared with colleagues, viewed in Zoho Sheet and exported in various format like XLS, CSV and PDF.  Google Apps users can also export reports to Google Drive.

Plans and Pricing
Zoho Survey offers a free plan and two pocket-friendly plans – A standard plan for $19 per month and a Professional plan that costs $180 per year. You can create unlimited surveys with any plan!

Register for a Webinar
We are hosting a webinar on Wednesday, July 10, 2013, at 9:00 a.m. PDT. Register here for the Zoho Survey webinar.

And, there’s more…
As part of our inaugural offer, get a three-month free subscription when you refer three friends. If you’ve got more friends, make hay while the sun shines, and get up to twelve months free. Create surveys; make smarter decisions.

Free unlimited users! Freedom from software licenses!

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Ever since we started building Zoho Support, we’ve firmly believed that small businesses must also be able to deliver world class customer service without having to spend a lot of resources. That belief has guided us over the last few years and it shall continue to guide us well into the future too.

We’ve continued to ship a lot of features and automation capabilities that make life easier for customer support teams. But, there’s one thing we always wanted to simplify: the way small businesses adopt a web based customer support software. Today, we’re extremely happy to be doing that.

ZSupport-announcement

It’s tricky for small businesses to decide what support channels they can sustain, how many people to hire, how many licenses to buy and so on. It’s really meaningless and unnecessary to go through these decisions when you’re just about to start and grow. You should simply focus on defining your customer support culture. Starting today, you can have as many support reps as you want, for free. Forever.

What?!

Yes, that was not a typo! We’re letting you add as many people from your team as you want for free.

Why free?

Because we think you shouldn’t worry about what channels to use, what plan to choose, how many licenses will be too little and how many too much! These are things you’ll figure out along the way. Until then, we don’t want you to have these in the way of your work!

What’s in the box?

Free Unlimited Reps

Channels: Email, web form, customer portal and forums.

Helpdesk Basics: SLA, escalation, priority

Customization: Rebranding, custom fields and tabs, domain mapping

Reports: Pre-defined reports to help you track how your team is handling requests

What’s the catch? Where’s the fine print?

It might be difficult for you to believe this. But, there’s no catch. No fine print. Nothing. The plan is free for you to use. It has all of the features mentioned above.

However, it’s available only for a limited period and applies only to fresh signups. But once you sign up, your agents are free forever. And you can add more for no cost as well. We don’t limit that at all.

Simply, sign up, set up and start building your customer service culture today!

3 Ways to be a Kick-Ass Sales Rep at your Workplace

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Sales SuperheroAt some point in our lives we all dreamed of possessing superpowers to do extraordinary things, just like our favorite superhero.  We’d love to fly over the traffic to our workplace, multitask in a jiffy and close deals in a snap – in short, we’d love to be that kick-ass sales rep at our workplace! But wait…you don’t have to be born in Krypton or be bitten by a radioactive spider, or possess hi-tech gadgets to do all that. Like Mjollnir is for Thor, your reliable tool is a good CRM system that’s flexible and does most of the sales automation, leaving you to just focus on customer interaction and closing deals.

And with Zoho CRM, here’s how you can become the kick-ass sales rep at your workplace:

Be notified about important customer emails

You’re at work on a fine Monday morning, running through your emails and replying to the ones that are most important. By noon, you find out that you had missed reading an important email from a hot prospect. The reason: your Inbox is cluttered with business emails, personal emails and pesky emails!

The rule of thumb to be a smart sales rep is to attend to your prospects ASAP and to get there, you need a filtered view of your prospects’ emails alone. With MailMagnet, you’d not only receive emails within Zoho CRM but also get a filtered view of your prospects’ emails. The best part of this integration is that you don’t have to keep a check on your emails all the time, because each time you receive an email from a prospect, you’d be notified by a batch right on the Zoho CRM home page.

Mundane tasks keeping you busy? Just Automate.

You love your job. But you also dread the ‘manual data entry’ that comes along with it. All day long you’d type thank you emails, welcome emails, reminder emails and introduction emails, leaving you very little time to do what you are hired for…selling!

Email Template in Zoho CRM helps you get rid of this mundane task. Just personalize emails for each activity, and send emails to individual prospects or mass emails to a list of leads. Say, you’ve imported leads from a trade show and you want to send them a thank you email. All you need to do is select the leads list and blast a mass email.

Go Mobile. Carry Zoho CRM in your pocket

To all those field sales reps, this one is for you. We know you work almost round the clock, attending customer meetings, conferences and events. But at the same time, you can’t carry bulky laptops with you, to update and keep your team in sync with the latest happenings. You need a CRM system you can carry in your pocket. And Zoho CRM for Mobile provides just that. From adding leads to creating tasks, and from receiving email notifications to finding nearby customers, Zoho CRM Mobile App provides it all.

These are 3 quick ways you could become a kick-ass sales rep at your workplace. What are your tips and tricks? Do share them in the comments below.

- Radhika

Finding Time for Vacation as a Small Business Owner

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iStock_000011860951Small

My father is a small business owner. He’s been a small business owner for eight years now. His small business is a lawn care and landscape company in my hometown just outside the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex.

What started as a three-lawn, single-mower operation back in 2005, has transformed into a full-time job with over 60 yards a week. Mostly from referrals, my dad was getting new yards and expanding on a weekly basis. For a while, I couldn’t talk to him on the phone without the conversation going something like this:

“Picked up another yard today.”

“That’s great!” I’d say. “More business.”

“Yeah. Better than the alternative. Gonna have to start working Saturdays.”

Like most small business owners, my dad’s company is a 24-hour-a-day job. It’s constant planning and working to make sure he gets to every customer, every week. It’s his life.

This is the story of the small business owner. Weekends barely exist, let alone vacation time. In fact, a recent study reported that 41 percent of small business owners take vacation time less than twice a year, and 18 percent never take vacation at all.

Another survey, from Sam’s Club in 2008, reported that 50 percent of small business owners only take major holidays off. To put that in perspective, that’s less than half the number of vacation days the average professional takes every year. (The average number of vacation days outside of holidays in the United States is 13).

But does it have to be like this? We know that for some small business owners, taking vacation time is simply not an option. However, it’s important for not only your own health and success, but also the health and success of your business, to take some time away from the daily grind of dealing with customers or creating a marketing strategy. You have to get away and recharge.

Fortunately, advancements in technology have made it easier than ever to get away from the office while also staying close and “connected,” from your mobile device. Years ago, vacation time meant you were away from the office, and therefore, away from every aspect of the business. You had no idea what was going on until you returned.

Not anymore. With cloud technology, you can access anything you need as long as you have an Internet connection and a device — laptop, smartphone or tablet.

“Small and medium-sized businesses have clearly confirmed the growing importance of mobile services accessed via phone, smartphone and tablet devices when it comes to operating their business,” senior director of product management at Cbeyond Bill Thomson told Business News Daily.

Cbeyond, a cloud and communication services provider, conducted research highlighting the importance of mobile services in running a small business. They found that 42 percent of small business owners would have trouble operating their business without mobile technology. That’s almost half of all small businesses in the country that would lose business and profit without the luxury of working on-the-go.

Additionally, the survey reported that a third of all small business owners claimed their business would not just suffer, but would not survive without mobile services.

Look outside. The sun is shining (at least in Austin, Texas), the weather is warm, and a body of water is calling your name. Trade in another two days at the office for a long weekend at home, in the mountains or on a beach with friends or family. You deserve it.

And remember, with mobile and cloud technology, you’re never more than a few clicks or swipes away from your business. Just in case of an emergency.

How do you handle passwords when an employee leaves the organization?

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This question may sound trivial. Before discussing further, let me narrate an incident:

About three years ago, on March 17, 2010, at Austin, Texas hundreds of cars purchased from a particular car dealer went honking uncontrollably. Still worse, the owners were not able to start the cars as the ignition system had been disabled. Car owners had no clue as to what was happening. They had no other option but to disconnect the battery.

cars-honking3Following hundreds of such complaints and anxious moments, the car dealer carried out an investigation with the help of police and found that a sacked employee had gained unauthorized access to an internal IT application and turned on the web-based vehicle-immobilization system normally used to draw the attention of the customers delinquent in their auto payments. The techie had apparently taken revenge on the dealer for laying him off.

Soon after sacking him, the car dealer had promptly terminated all access, including the one to the vehicle-immobilization IT application. But, he had known the credentials of a colleague, using which he gained unauthorized access to the application.

Now, coming back to the question: How do you handle passwords when an employee leaves the organization? Does your organization have an effective ‘de-provisioning’ process in place to ensure that the former colleague will not continue to access your applications or data?

The saying ‘out of sight, out of mind’ might not hold good in all cases. Most of the employees leaving the organization will forget their former employer and start concentrating on the happenings in the new organization. Rarely, a disgruntled ex-colleague or a sacked employee or a terminated contractor or a greedy techie might turn bad and you will have to encounter problems.

The Austin cars honking incident is a classic example for the kind of insider threats organizations are prone to. A single disgruntled employee leaving the organization can wreak havoc to the very business or cause huge financial loss, if user de-provisioning is not handled properly. De-provisioning includes not just terminating access to key IT systems and applications, but also resetting the passwords.

Conversely, certain online accounts might be ‘owned’ by the person leaving the organization. If he fails to ‘hand over’ or ‘reveal’ the account details to someone else, the account will practically become an orphan posing a different kind of problem.

Tracing Access – The Key Challenge

When an employee leaves the organization,

  • it is essential to carry out a careful review of the access permissions granted to him/her
  • access has to be terminated and passwords must be reset
  • passwords owned by the person should be transferred to someone else
  • the password sharing scenario has to be reviewed. Users often tend to reveal passwords to their colleagues for some reason or other. The most common reason for such an ‘unofficial share’ is to cater to an emergency on one’s absence – Manager revealing the password of an application to a senior member when he has gone on vacation.

The key challenge here is finding out the list of all applications and resources accessed by the person leaving the organization. With the proliferation of online applications, it is indeed a daunting task to trace all the applications to which the person possessed access. Tracing the ‘shared passwords’ is another tricky scenario.

If you can’t trace access, the safest option is to change the passwords of all applications, sites and resources. Needless to say, this is cumbersome, arduous and time-consuming.

Centralized Password Repository – The Ideal Solution

The ideal solution to tackle this problem is establishing and maintaining a centralized password repository using a Password Manager. You can keep all your logins in the centralized vault and grant access to employees selectively based on job roles/responsibilities. By looking at the dashboard, you will know ‘who’ is having access to ‘what’ applications and accounts. When an employee leaves the organization, within minutes you can take a report on the applications accessed by him/her and change the passwords of those sites or applications alone. You can also overcome the sharing-related issues by using a Password Manager. In addition, you may even restrict the passwords from being shown in plain-text to the users while sharing passwords with them. The users will just be allowed to launch a direct connection to the site/application without viewing the password.

If you are wondering which password manager to use, take a look at Zoho Vault, an online password manager that serves as the centralized repository for all your passwords. It helps you securely store, share and manage your passwords and other sensitive data and access them from anywhere. Try Zoho Vault, now!

Build Financial Security with a Business Retirement Plan

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This is a guest post by Shabana Shiliwala, who owns The Financial Sort, a financial planning company based in Austin, Texas.

Congratulations! If you’re reading this, it must mean your business is generating enough profit to afford employees, require tax planning and give you the prospect of a healthy financial future. When you have more profit than you need to run your business operations, it’s time to start a business retirement plan.Businessman Investing

Just like parents tend to put their children first and take care of themselves last, business owners have a tendency to place the needs of their businesses before their own needs. Starting a business retirement plan is usually a low priority not only because of the effort and expense involved, but the benefits to the business aren’t obvious. Some business owners think that retirement plans only benefit employees. The reality is that they mainly benefit the business and the business owner. Most employees don’t contribute or contribute very little to retirement plans, whereas business owners who take full advantage attract higher-quality employees looking for comprehensive benefits, get large tax deductions, and build financial security for themselves and their families. The money you deposit in your own business retirement account is deductible, but unlike other business expenses, you’re not actually spending the money. You get to keep it–so not only are you saving on taxes, you’re also building a nest egg.

An accountant and broker/financial advisor can help you determine and set up the right plan for your business:

Self-employed: The SEP (Simplified Employee Pension) IRA allows you to deposit up to 25% of net earnings (net profit minus half of self-employment taxes and your deposit amount). Consult your accountant to help you determine your allowable contribution each year. Expenses are minimal and there are no required contributions, so you can skip contributions in slow years. If you need a higher tax deduction, consider the SIMPLE (see below) or the solo 401k, which has higher expenses but allows an additional contribution of $17,000 in 2012 (or $22,500 if you’re over age 50).

Small businesses with under 100 employees: The SIMPLE (Savings Incentive Match Plan for Employees) IRA allows you to contribute up to $11,500 in 2012 (or $14,000 if you’re over age 50) as long as you make an employee contribution as well. You can choose from a matching contribution of 3% where you only have to contribute for employees who contribute themselves or a 2% contribution to all employees regardless of whether they make contributions on their own. Expenses are minimal. If you’re willing to pay higher expenses for a higher tax deduction, see the choices for large businesses below.

Large businesses: A multitude of plans are available including pension, 401k and profit sharing. Expenses are higher but so are the contribution limits and the flexibility to design exactly the type of plan you want.

Now that your business is growing up, it’s time to start taking care of yourself too. A retirement plan can benefit yourself and your business. It’s important to stay on top of your financial game throughout the entire life of your business, so plan smart and plan ahead.