Just In: Enhanced Look & Feel for Charts, New Import Option, Expandable Shelves and more

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Zoho Reports brought in some new features in its latest update.

Enhanced Look & Feel of Charts
The default chart background color has been changed from grey to white, to give the chart a lighter look and feel. The fonts and styles of the charts have all been made more consistent. The tooltip now sports a new presentation style, and the tooltip border reflects the same background color as the corresponding bar/line/point.

new-enhanced-chart

New Import Option
Before this update, Zoho Reports supported 3 import options – 1) append new records to the end of a table, 2) delete all records and add all records afresh, and 3) add new records and update existing records. Now, there is a fourth option, which allows you to delete those records in Zoho Reports which aren’t there in the incoming import file. This option is most useful when relationships are defined between tables, and you want to delete specific records.

import

Expandable Shelves
Previously, the column shelves in the chart designer were of fixed height. If more than 2-3 columns were dropped, it was a bit difficult to scroll through and drop new columns. It’s become more intuitive now, as the shelf’s height grows, based on the number of columns dropped.

expandable-shelf-designer

More Chart Types
New Area Chart types have been added.

  • Smooth Area
  • Smooth Area with Points
  • Stacked Smooth Area
  • Stacked Smooth Area with Points

chart-options (1)

Other Enhancements

  • Previously, when changes were made to a chart, the chart type reverted to default. But now, the chosen chart type gets retained.
  • When adding a numeric data column in the Graph tab, Add New Range option is available now (previously, the range was auto-calculated).
  • When you do some changes to a chart’s Settings, you can now preview those changes using the Preview link.

Try the new enhancements in Zoho Reports now.

Customer Spotlight: Zoho CRM Transforms the Way a Business Tracks Customers AND Equipment

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ProSound

In 1999, Chester Hull saw a major opportunity in the consulting industry.  As an ordinary consumer, Hull began to take notice of how frequently he was put on hold when calling companies for support, inquiries, or product information, and how often the experience was relatively unpleasant.

“How long will I be on hold for?  Why is the ‘hold music’ so awful? When will I reach a real person to talk to?!”

Hull seized the opportunity to address this common customer pain and started his company Prosound to alleviate this pain.  His goal was to work with companies around the globe to offer an amazing customer phone experience.

For the first seven years of business, Prosound tracked its customers with spreadsheets and various database programs.  As the customer base grew, so did the data that needed tracking.  Additionally, the aspect of mobile integration offered a valuable opportunity for Prosound which was impossible with the current customer tracking approach.  Hull decided that if Prosound wanted to take business to the next level, he needed flexible CRM solution with mobile integration.

The Business

Chester Hull - Founder and CEO

Chester Hull – Founder and CEO

Pro Sound is a consulting company providing turn-key systems for transforming customer caller experience.  Prosound’s services include writing automated phone messages, recording them, and ensuring the installation works according to a company’s system specifications.   As CEO and founder Chester Hull summarizes Prosound’s approach, “Why are your callers reaching out to you, what are they expecting, and how can we make that experience better.”

The Challenge: Migrating to a CRM Solution with a Large Database of Contacts and Implementing Mobile

Prosound faced an intimidating task:  transferring their existing database of thousands of contacts into a cloud-based CRM solution.  Additionally, they would restructure the way they interact with customers to take advantage of mobile integration so that customer information could be accessed and edited in-field.

As such, Prosound needed a CRM solution where they could quickly import contacts and easy begin to use mobile features without incurring substantial cost.

Competitive Analysis of CRM Solutions

Hull initially tried the CRM solutions from Intuit and Salesforce.

“With the Intuit product, it just wasn’t as customizable and flexible as we needed.  And with Salesforce, it was actually just more than we needed and certainly much more cost than we needed.”

Hull’s selection criteria for a CRM solution were the following:

Low Cost Barrier to Entry – With the myriad of CRM solutions available, Hull did not want to end up spending a lot of money on a CRM solution that didn’t fit his needs.  Rather, he wanted something he could start using immediately, before deciding if this is the right solution for Prosound.

Mobile Integration – Prosound performs a large number of field visits and needs to access customer information on the go.

Flexibility – Customer equipment tracking requirements constantly change for Prosound, so they needed a CRM solution which allows them to easily customize and change the tracking fields.

Connectivity – Ability to sync with email management software to allow easy data sharing.

Implementing Zoho CRM

Prosound’s choice to try Zoho CRM was quickly validated with the ease with which they implemented it.

“Migrating over was pretty basic for us.  What was really nice is that we slowly dialed in our customization of CRM and could add additional fields as we went, whenever we wanted.”

Soon after trying the free trial, Hull decided that Zoho CRM was the solution for him.

“It was just so easy and intuitive, and it satisfied every one of my requirements.”

Life After Implementing Zoho CRM

Zoho CRM’s first major impact for Prosound was that it enabled much better tracking.

“Before implementing Zoho CRM, we didn’t have an exact track of the equipment we had at a client’s site, what the status was, and what kind of phone system they had.  This information just slipped through the cracks and this was one of the first customizations we used with Zoho CRM.  Now we can quickly pull up that information as we’re talking to a customer and know exactly what equipment they’re using.”

Additionally, Zoho CRM’s cloud storage allowed easy data access and automatic data backup.

“In the last four years, we’ve transitioned entirely to the cloud so every business function that we do is in the cloud and Zoho CRM was a natural fit for that versus something running locally. We’re now a completely virtualized office so we have people connecting from different parts of the world.  Additionally, Zoho CRM gives us instant backup and data recovery which is great.  Zoho CRM has been a perfect fit.”

Prosound has also been able to take advantage of Zoho’s cross product connectivity.

“We’ve been able to tie CRM and Zoho Creator together and store things like email conversations in the Creator database and link them to specific customers in CRM which is critical.  Connecting these two applications has been incredibly powerful for us.”

Since implementing Zoho CRM and Creator, Prosound has enjoyed steady growth which Hull largely attributes to the time savings and ease with which he and his employees can navigate through customer data.

“Zoho CRM saves us a ton of time and really allows us to have smooth and quick interactions with customers allowing us to fit in more work per day.”

What You Like to Say to Other Customers about CRM Solutions?

“I recommend Zoho CRM as often as I can because the barrier to entry is so low and anyone can jump in, starting using Zoho CRM, and get the advantages right away. It’s free, extremely customizable and flexible, and it’s mobile!”

To learn more about Prosound, click here.

Introducing Business Card Scanner App for Zoho CRM

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Card Scanner App IconEntering data manually into any CRM app is not fun. Any solution that helps automate data entry is a win for CRM users. That is the idea behind our new mobile app for Zoho CRM – Card Scanner.

Card Scanner is an iPhone app that extracts contact information from business cards and saves it into Zoho CRM as Contacts or Leads. Take a photo of a business card and the app extracts information from it and automatically populates the information into the appropriate fields. You can save the extracted information as a CRM Contact or Lead if you are logged into your Zoho CRM account within the app. Read more

Utilizing Employee Referrals in Your Recruiting

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I had a roommate in college who, like many students, put a lot of importance on his social life. He went to parties on the weekends — even the occasional weeknight — joined a number of organizations and went out of his way to meet as many people as possible during his four years of undergrad.

One day he was leaving for another meeting when I made a comment about how busy his schedule was. Just before walking out the door he turned around and said, “it’s not the grades you make, it’s the hands you shake.”People waiting for job interview

Despite sounding like an excuse to not take school work very seriously, the comment made a lot of sense; however, it wasn’t till after graduating that I fully realized the truthfulness of his statement. The most recent example was three and a half months ago when I was working on a freelance project from home and a chat window opened in the bottom right corner of my laptop screen with five words in it.

“Interested in a new gig?”

The message was from another friend of mine from college and the “new gig,” was a writing job in the marketing department at the company he worked for — Zoho.

A few emails back and forth, some research, two tryout articles and one interview later, I landed the job. And while I still believe you have to have the necessary skills and adequately prepare for the interview, it was the hand I shook back in 2007 that got my foot in the door.

It’s Not What You Know, It’s Who You Know

To some degree, this old mantra is very true. Think about all the jobs you have had in your life. From waiting tables to working as a lifeguard during summers at the public pool and even starting your career, there’s a good chance that you got one of those jobs from knowing somebody who already worked there.

Turns out, employee referrals is a common way of recruiting not only talent, but also trustworthy employees who fit your company’s culture. In fact, according to Jobvite, the online employee recruiting firm, employee referrals make up 40 percent of hires across the nation.

Referrals also speed up the hiring process. Jobvite also found from their research that it took an average of 29 days to hire an applicant from a referral — 10 days quicker than a job board and 26 days quicker than a recruiting site.

The Top of the Resume Pile

iStock_000017600891XSmallThe concept of “who you know,” is nothing new for the hiring process, but it has become increasingly more advantageous, especially during the recent recession.

In a January article from The New York Times, writer Nelson D. Schwartz says there is a, “fundamental shift in the job market…big companies are increasingly using their own workers to find new hires, saving time and money.”

For the global service firm Ernst & Young, employee recommendations make up 45 percent of nonentry-level jobs, a 28 percent increase since 2010. And like any job, getting to the top of the resume pile is one of the biggest challenges.

“A referral puts them in the express lane,” said Larry Nash, Ernst & Young director of experienced and executive recruiting, to The New York Times.

Additionally, a new study by three economists at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York also found that an employee referral was twice as likely to get an interview. And of the interviewees, the referral has a 40 percent better chance of getting the job.

Finding the Right Balance

Of course, not every hire comes from, or should come from, an employee recommendation. It’s about finding the right balance between recommendations and also potential employees through applicant tracking and recruiting software.

At Ernst & Young, their goal is for 50 percent of hires to come from employee recommendations. Other companies like Enterprise Rent-A-Car want to make sure they don’t get past that halfway mark to make sure others still have a chance.

“I think if you begin to creep up to 50 percent or higher, you start to worry about people not getting the opportunity to talk to us,” said Marie Artim, vice president for talent acquisition at Enterprise Holdings.

Using employee recommendations can be very beneficial for your business, but it really is a balance that is unique to your company. Find what works best for you and get the employees who will take your company to the next level.

View Customer Info from 3rd Party Apps with Custom Related Lists & Gallery Scripts

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Recently, we introduced Custom Related Lists that gives you a holistic view of your customer’s information from Custom Apps and third-party applications right within your CRM system. Today, we’ll explain it more in detail.

Imagine this situation – Charles Stone heads the sales team for Zillum Corporation. Apart from assigning sales targets and forecasting he reviews sales expenses, travel plans and meetings with prospects. Since his sales reps travel extensively and the expenses can’t be reported on a daily basis, they enter the travel details and expenses using Zoho Creator’s Mobile App.

crm-desk-mobile

This data is in turn linked to each prospect and displayed contextually in the Contact details page in Zoho CRM. So, Charles no longer has to toggle between tabs or sign in to different applications. With all the information in one single place, Charles can analyze the return on investment for the deals won. Needless to say, there is also an overall increase in the entire team’s productivity and time is made use for more sales follow-ups. But, there’s more to this!

Contextual Integration with 3rd party Apps
To kick-start, we’ve integrated with third-party applications, like Contactology and Saasu Invoices. Just select the service from our Gallery of pre-defined functions, and instantly get the customer information from the app within your CRM.  And, of course, we’ve more integrations in line. We’ve also contextually integrated with Zoho Recruit.

Developer Tools For Programmers
If you have a flair for programming, we encourage you to write your own Deluge function. You can use it for your own purpose or we will work through the function and help you share it with the user community.

Sounds interesting? Then try out this feature and leave us your comments below.

- Vaishnav

Customer Spotlight: After Long CRM Search, Stott Marketing Finds Success with Zoho CRM’s Ease of Use

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stott marketing

Six months ago Ed Stott, founder and CEO of Stott Marketing decided it was time to migrate his company from PCs over to Macintosh use.  For the past four years, Stott Marketing has been steadily growing, and with this growth, Ed Stott found it necessary to make the change.  However, he faced one major hurdle.  Their current CRM software was not compatible with the Mac Operation System.  Stott scrambled to find a replacement but was dissatisfied with the other options until he found Zoho CRM.

The Business

Ed Stott - Founder and CEO

Ed Stott – Founder and CEO

Stott Marketing Group is a marketing consultancy that specializes in working with small to medium size companies to help them gain visibility and clientele.  As a small marketing consulting firm, Stott Marketing typically tries work with four to five clients at a time in order to deliver maximum attention to each client.  As part of their efforts to deliver optimum quality marketing consulting to clients, Stott Marketing decided that the Macintosh platform better suited both their client’s needs as well as their own.

The Challenge: Implementing CRM after PC to Mac Migration

Stott’s primary concern when searching for a new CRM tool was finding something that was easy to navigate, simple to learn, and customizable.   He began research into a number of online CRM platforms but found that most did not suit his needs.

“I looked at so many other online providers, Salesforce for instance, and it just seemed that they were all difficult to navigate through when in fact CRM should be a tool and a resource rather than a daily challenge.”

Stott’s patience began wearing thin.  As his search continued, Stott stumbled upon a CRM tool that he had previously heard of but had slipped his mind.  He decided to explore Zoho CRM to see if the capabilities met his needs.

Competitive Analysis of CRM Solutions

Stott has fourteen years of experience with CRM so when it came time to choose a tool, he was very particular in finding one that fits his particular needs.  As previously mentioned, the features most paramount to Stott were:

Simple to learn – Stott Marketing cannot afford a steep learning curve causing an extended period of down time because of the high volume of demand from each client.

Easy to Navigate – Stott prefers a simple interface that allows quick input, output, and lookup.

Customization – Stott’s client profiles and daily needs are highly varied and as such he needed a tool that allows for simple CRM customization.

Stott initially turned to Daylite CRM, however he found it “cumbersome.”  Even more frustrating, he experienced major problems in obtaining quality customer service.

“When I was on the trial period with them, I submitted a ticket for a particular problem and they would never get back to me.  Customer service is key for me, and being in marketing consulting, we emphasize creating a great customer experience.”

Implementing Zoho CRM

After the failed attempt with Daylite, Stott turned to Zoho CRM and found it very easy to implement into his company.

“I found Zoho CRM very easy to work with. I could bring in some customized fields to fit my business and change things around.”

After the short period spent learning Zoho CRM, Stott became further convinced that this could be the CRM solution for him.

“I loved the idea of having everything in front of me.  In fact, something as simple as the CRM ‘home’ button just brings everything to life for my workday.  I can see exactly what I have for my daily meetings and tasks, recent contacts that I’ve been communicating with more often, and a whole bunch of other cool features.”

Support at Zoho

One of the major complaints Stott had with his previous CRM trials including that with Daylite was the lack of adequate customer support.  The final benefit that convinced Stott that he had found a winning CRM solution was his support experience with Zoho.

“I found with Zoho that the customer experience both on the product side as well as the technical support side was just great!”

Life After Implementing Zoho CRM

Stott has now been actively using Zoho CRM and it seems that he has found a “keeper.”  He is quickly able to view and navigate through his daily tasks and contacts and freely calls Zoho support anytime he has a question.

Stott is especially happy with the way Zoho CRM keeps him organized.  “Zoho CRM gives me a daily roadmap so I know where I’m going each minute on each day.   I know exactly what I need to think about today, tomorrow, and the rest of the week.  The ‘roadmap’ aspect of Zoho CRM is just great!”

Additionally, Stott was happy to find the easy integration with “Mac Mail” which allows him to use CRM on his Ipad and Iphone as well while still keeping everything centrally organized.

What You Like to Say to Other Customers about CRM Solutions?

“I’m incredibly happy with Zoho CRM and absolutely delighted with their customer service.  When I place a call, I’m quickly talking to a live person which is really important to me.  Zoho CRM is a great product and they are constantly working to improve it further by actively considering customer suggestions.”

To learn more about Stott Marketing, click here.

Zoholics: Add to your Business Toolbox this May

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Want to know how to better manage your business? Whether you’re getting started with using Zoho or want more out of your Zoho apps, the second annual Zoho User Conference held on May 29th-31st in San Francisco has you covered with over 55 sessions.

In addition to providing general workshops, there will be tracks specifically designed for those who are already well-acquainted with Zoho products or want to explore other tools that can help make managing a business more efficient.

The conference will feature well–known speakers in the tech industry like Ray Wang, Brent Leary, Doug Sleeter, and also Robert Scoble, who will be hosting a fireside chat with Sridhar Vembu, CEO of Zoho.

To find out what you can learn from the conference, answer some of the questions in the graphic below or view the conference’s full agenda here. Don’t forget to download our updated Zoholics iPhone app that will give you details about the event on the go.

We hope to see you in San Francisco! For more information, to register, or book your hotel at the venue, visit www.zoholics.com.

What sessions are you excited about? What speakers are you looking forward to? Let us know in the comments below or on our Facebook page.

Zoholics Infographic