Announcing Zoho LiveDesk: Start delivering instant happiness to your customers

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I can still remember the happiness of hearing a buddy pop up online and knowing I was only one-click away from an awesome conversation. It was 1999, and to me AOL Instant Messenger was pure magic.

While things have changed drastically in the last 14 years, there is one constant, chat remains an integral part of my daily life—even if it is no longer AIM. In fact, chat is something many of you have been asking about for a while, wondering when we would add live chat to our customer support software solutions. Well, cue up the ol’ AIM chime (do-duh-dum)—because I have an exciting message for you.

Meet your newest buddy, Zoho LiveDesk—the small business live chat solution for customer support.  Simply put, LiveDesk is the easiest way to add live chat to your websites and wow your customers with instantaneous support.

Zoho LiveDesk improves customer support for everyone involved—customers and companies.  Your customers are empowered by instant access to personalized answers from real, live people. And your team will love the power to resolve customer issues before they ever become a request in their inbox, slashing your response times and their workload.

Live support chat through LiveDesk is the quickest way to connect and delight your customers.

Both customers and agents love quick-and-easy live support chat.

LiveDesk also teams up with Zoho Support to add fully integrated live chat functionality into your existing help desk dashboard. Beginning today all Enterprise plan customers in Zoho Support can offer their customers a new channel to connect—chat powered by LiveDesk. Easily embed live chat into your existing customer portal and watch your agents close more requests in less time by interacting live with customers.

Easily create, configure and customize your LiveDesk within minutes, and with one copy-and-paste of code, you have added live chat to your website. Embed customizable click-to-chat widgets into any-and-all parts of your web presence and meet customers on their terms.

Give your customers easy access to live support chat

With three fully-customizable options to embed live chat into your pages, it is easy to give your customers access to live support chat throughout your web presence.

Once a customer initiates a chat, you can engage directly from LiveDesk’s powerful dashboard or from wherever—live chat on your terms. With complete support for the Jabber/XMPP protocol, you have the freedom to chat with customers from anywhere via clients on your mobile devices, or even from desktop chat clients.

LiveDesk was built to transform your small businesses into lean, mean customer supporting machines. It comes chocked full of features your growing team will love: 

  • Save more valuable time: Program and deploy canned messages to rapidly address recurring questions.
  • Customer Support’s Crystal Ball: Read your customer’s mind, and speed up your response times. You see what your customer types as they type it, so before they submit their question you already have the answer they need.
  • Transfer Chats: Move ongoing chats to better-equipped agents.
  • Advanced Organization: Structure your LiveDesk to fit your needs. Create departments, associate agents to those departments, even route chats to defined departments.
  • Monitoring: Supervisors can monitor on-going chats to ensure consistent results, with the ability to step-in and help when needed.
  • Collaborate: Integrated inter-agent chat and a portal-wide message board give your agents the ability to collaborate, communicate and thrive.
  • Reporting and Daily Statistics: Learn more about your customers, your agents and your business with advanced pre-built reports.
LiveDesk's powerful dashboard helps you connect and support more customers in less time.

LiveDesk has the powerful tools you need to deliver happiness to more customers in less time.

I encourage you to take LiveDesk for a test drive today and start connecting with your customers in real time.  Within seconds you can be on your way to unleashing your on-demand customer supporting potential. And because you want it, there is a risk-free, no credit card required 30-day-free trial of our most powerful plan waiting with your name on it.

Start chatting, my friends.

Poll: What channels do your customers use to reach you?

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While talking to prospects who’re evaluating Zoho Support, I try to squeeze in a particular question during the first few minutes of the conversation. It’s a very simple question, but it defines how the company will use the software. It’s also our poll question this week!

The Zoho Support Poll

Deciding which channels to handle, for customer support, is important, yet tricky. It’s a trade-off of trade-offs.

Conversation versus Transaction

A channel like email, or even a customer self-service portal, is essentially ‘transactional’ in nature. Customers ask for some specific help. Agents extend help. Customers can ask for help with another related aspect. Agents extend help again. This is suitable for situations where grievance redressal takes time (example: changing a part in your mobile phone).

But, in situations where customer grievances can be addressed immediately (like canceling an order in e-commerce), conversational channels like social media will create better experiences.

Personal versus Impersonal

This is largely a debate involving channels like email, web forms, chat and phone. Customers using email or web forms to reach your business don’t really know whom they are talking to. They can’t put a face in the equation. They’re really impersonal channels. Comparatively, channels like chat and phone are personal. Your support agents become the faces of your company. Customers know they’re talking to a human and feel more comfortable. This is really important when customers have to give some sensitive information to your support agents.

Convenience versus Chaos

Is it convenient enough for my customers to reach me? Although channels like social media are far more convenient for customers, one must also note that they can’t be ‘organized’ in the same sense as email. So, they can become chaotic when handled inappropriately.

These are just some of the most common trade-offs. Depending on the complexity of your business, there could be several others.

Do tell us about how you handled these (and other such) trade-offs to choose your channel mix.

The 7 Project Manager Personalities: Which One Are You?

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With the myriad of project management resources available today to ensure organized and successful project completion, one could argue that the need for a personal touch is obsolete. However, as cloud computing and mobile apps have expanded our horizons for task completion, team work is now more important than ever to connect all the dots. Most importantly, the role of Project Manager – including his/her inherent abilities and personality traits – significantly affects the overall momentum of a project.

Maybe you fulfill the role of Project Manager (PM), or maybe you work with one on a regular basis. Do you notice a connection between the PM’s personality traits and the outcome of a project? Maybe your PM is a “Strategist” type that envisions every detail of a project and therefore actively ensures each team member is doing his/her part. Having a clear grasp of a PM’s personality type, specifically how he/she communicates and interacts with others, can be very helpful in getting tasks done in a timely and satisfactory way.

So we’ve put together an infographic of the 7 Project Manager Personality Types, detailing the essential characteristics of each. Whether you or your PM is the type of “Micro-Manager” or “Mentor”, keeping an eye out for these particular traits will ease interpersonal relationships like no online or mobile app can.

We’d love to hear your thoughts: Can you relate to any of these Personality Types? Have we missed any? Let us know in the comments!

Results: We organize our support team by…

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Whenever I speak to customers, I realize how each of them is different from any other. Each of them has a different way of defining quality and a different philosophy that leads to quality. Their businesses are influenced to a great deal by their beliefs and philosophies.

The most fundamental aspect of a business’ customer service philosophy is how to organize its helpdesk team. It influences hiring and staffing decisions. It even influences the profit margin! And, that’s exactly why we asked this question on our poll last week.

We had chosen to ask the question to just managers and administrators. The results have come in and their opinions are very clear!

Results: We organize our support team by...

By product

About 34% of respondents said their support team was organized by product. If the support team is small enough, it’s very useful to assign a DRI within the team to each product. Managers can kick chaos out and get a clear picture even in intra-day operations.

By channel

While 17% of respondents said their support team was organized by channel. Highly active channels like Live Chat, Phone and Social Media require an agile-yet-well-thought-out response, whereas a passive channel like email doesn’t require as much agility. If you staff each channel by a person who’s apt for its requirements, delivering happiness to customers everyday becomes a habit!

By time zone

Only 8% of respondents said their support team was organized by time zone. Organizing by time zone is efficient only for companies with a few simple products and just one or two channels. Even in that case, unless customers are distributed across various time zones, this approach doesn’t prove to be convenient enough.

A hybrid approach

Finally, the big fish. About 41% of respondents said they used a mix of these approaches to organize their support team. This is, by far, the most practical approach. It’s dynamic and, if applied well, can solve almost any problem of efficiency. We use a hybrid approach even at Zoho. Some of our support agents focus on just one channel or two, some just focus on a few products. And, we even have different people for different time zones.

If you’ve seen something that defies the pattern of these results, feel free to let us know in the comments section below.

We’ll be back next week with another interesting question! Until then, have a great weekend!

Unbounce and Zoho CRM: Convert More Leads into Customers with Optimized Landing Pages

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This is a guest post by Georgiana Laudi, Director of Marketing, Unbounce, a self-serve hosted service to create, publish & test promotion specific landing pages without the need for IT or developers.

As a marketer, maximizing the value of your budget is second nature. As a smart marketer, you know that increasing your conversion rates is the way to do this. Building and optimizing targeted lead gen landing pages will give you better ROI and more leads from less traffic. But this usually means relying on IT which can be a slow (and painstaking) process.

Good news!

Unbounce is the easiest way for you to build, publish and test targeted landing pages without the bottleneck of IT.

This means that you and your team can focus on getting the job done: creating, measuring and optimizing your campaigns for higher ROI. You will still charm your leads into long-term, faithful relationships like, let’s-pick-out-curtains, long term which with Zoho CRM is a snap.

That’s why Unbounce now integrates with Zoho CRM.

Zoho is an industry leading CRM and incredibly popular among the Unbounce faithful. And we’re thrilled that you can now enjoy the two together.

How Zoho CRM & Unbounce Work Together:

How to Integrate Unbounce with Zoho CRM in 90 Seconds:

It’s so easy to integrate that you probably won’t need it, but for the full support article click here.

Goodbye Late Payments: 10 Tips To Help You Get Paid On Time

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Get Paid on Time

Slow and steady never wins the race when it comes to chasing late payments. It is nasty and time consuming especially for freelancers and small business owners. Here are some tips that might help you to avoid late payments and get paid on time.

1. Plug the gaps in customer data

Confirm your customer’s ‘current’ address – both Web and postal addresses. Find out the person who will actually be making the invoice payment and contact him/her. Ensure to use a good invoicing software to keep track of customer data like customer balance, pending invoices, email communication and much more.

2. Set clear expectations

Remember to mention your payment terms and late fees clearly on the estimate or on the invoice. Add a discount factor for the payment that has been made early. Let’s say, if the payment is due in 30 days, offer a discount of 2% for the full amount that is paid within 10 days.

3. Invoice right away!

There’s no perfect day to send the invoice. Once the work is complete, send the invoice immediately. As the project is still fresh on your clients’ mind, chances are high that you will receive the payment on time.

4. Don’t be lax in your terms of payment

Be it a friend or your BFF (best friend forever), do not be lenient when it comes to the terms of payment. When you give the clients a leeway in regard to payment terms, it might appear that you are being nice (to yourself), but honestly, you are hurting your business.

5. Call when necessary

Be ‘proactive’ and give a call to your client to confirm the receipt of invoice. Sometimes clients can ‘miss’ the email. Also, calling can be a good way to establish and maintain a personal connection with your client.

6. Stick to the schedule

When the clients are overdue on payments, remember not to sound pushy or needy. Following up too quickly or without any pattern might appear as if you are running behind your client with a club. If you feel that manually tracking the invoices that are overdue and sending reminders are a pain, then try the automated payment reminders.

7. Be polite yet professional

Ensure all your communications are nothing but professional. One late payment incident shouldn’t be the reason you harangue the customer for eternity. Use ‘Please’ and ‘Thank You’.

8. Be flexible when accepting payments

Accept all modes of payment – cash, cheque or online payments. Some customers are finicky while making payments; give them all the options available. If you haven’t already, then start accepting online payments from your clients. Freelancers and business owners who use the payment gateways supported by Zoho Invoice claim that accepting online payment is quick and painless.

9. Down payments might help reduce heartburn

Not every business model requires this, but wherever possible, ask for a down payment upfront. Startups may cringe as this might turn off new clients, but hey, they wanted you to do the job because they liked what they saw. So ask for some amount upfront, if not for the full.

10. Know a lawyer… just in case

You might find this to be absolutely unnecessary, but it wouldn’t hurt to get a legal opinion on customers who turn defaulters rather than adding your name and amount to the world’s longest invoice.

Following up with your customers in a scheduled, process-driven manner will ensure the smooth flow of cash into your accounts without you actually having to sound like a broken record.

Have you had experience tackling late payments? Share them with us. We’d love to hear them.