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.

 

Dropbox Integration : Be In Sync With Your Dropbox Files From Zoho Docs

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Dropbox has become synonymous with online storage and file sharing and is used extensively to store documents, photos, videos, etc. This is the reason we have been getting constant requests from users for Zoho Docs and Dropbox integration.  The wait is finally over! We are very happy to bring you the Zoho Docs and Dropbox integration that lets you sync your Dropbox files with Zoho Docs.

For regular Dropbox users, this integration opens up options beyond storage and sharing, such as document editing and collaboration. Zoho Docs offers users in-built editor apps to edit their documents or collaborate on documents and work as a team, from one common workspace. Also, Zoho Docs users will now be able to synchronize and access their files across multiple computers and mobile devices, through Dropbox.

dropbox_shutterstock

Here is what you get with the Zoho Docs and Dropbox integration:

Selective And Effortless Dropbox Folder Sync

Zoho Docs allows you to select folders from Dropbox and sync it with Zoho Docs. This ensures that you can access only the files you want to access in Zoho Docs rather than having all your Dropbox folders synced, which will make managing your files less confusing. Once you have chosen your Dropbox folders the syncing of the folders is an effortless process. All you have to do is just click on a sync button for hassle-free syncing.

Edit Dropbox Documents With Zoho Editors

This integration is not just about syncing your Dropbox files but also being able to edit documents, with our in-built editors. You can edit word documents, spreadsheets and presentations directly in Zoho Docs, without having to download third-party editor apps.

Sync Zoho Docs Files Between Computers Through Dropbox

Keeping in mind Dropbox’s wider usability, this integration also makes it possible for you to access your Zoho Docs files right from within Dropbox. When you sync your Dropbox files with Zoho Docs there is a two-way sync taking place, which will give you the added advantage of  being able to access your Zoho Docs files across  multiple computers or mobile devices, through Dropbox.

Seamless Two-Way Content Synchronization

If you are a user of Dropbox, you will be familiar with the two-way content synchronization between the web app and the desktop app.  The Zoho Docs and the Dropbox sync functionality works in a similar manner. If you edit content of a Dropbox file in Zoho Docs, the content change will take effect in Dropbox too and vice versa. You can be sure that your content is always up to date, whether you view the file in Zoho Docs or Dropbox. It will also make for smooth content transition from and to Dropbox.

Figuring out how to sync your Dropbox files with Zoho Docs is a pretty easy and straightforward process. All it will take is a couple of minutes to sync your files.

(or)

Register for our webinar for a demonstration of all the functionalities of this integration. We will be hosting the webinar on Wednesday, Jul 31, 2013 at 9:00 am PDT.

We are pleased that we have been able to integrate with Dropbox and would like to thank the Dropbox team for their help and assistance while developing this integration.

Hope you find this integration useful for your document management.  We would love to hear your feedback. Do post your comments and suggestions.

 

3 Social Email Marketing Tips to Engage your Customers

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Email and Social Campaigns Last week, a colleague of mine shared an article that compares the various channels of customer acquisition. I looked up the report that was mentioned, and sure enough there were umpteen results that came up. The bottom-line? Email is doing great for e-commerce and retailers. Fantastic news! But this also got me thinking:

This report looks at Email and Social as 2 different channels. Instead, what happens if we look at them as channels that complement each other?

This is how it can work:

With Email, you reach where your audience is most of the time – their inboxes.

Now, let’s take Darrell who just received an email from her favorite clothing store (let’s call it ‘Divas’ for now) promoting their mid-year discount sale. She’s enticed and makes up her mind to take advantage of the discount. She also remembers a conversation that she had with Emily who was also waiting for such an offer. So Darrell quickly clicks the Twitter icon in the email, shares it in her Twitter timeline and mentions her friend too. Emily replies saying she’s in!

Darrell used her network on Twitter and got herself a shopping partner, while Divas got one more customer. Read more

Small Business Stories You Might Have Missed

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iStock_000019387075XSmallThe amount of information that comes across our computer, smartphone or tablet screen on a daily basis is overwhelming. Photos, and videos, and status updates, and tweets, and links. It’s too much.

We click on 100 million Twitter links and share 2.5 billion items on Facebook everyday. Yes, you read that right. Everyday! You can’t possibly see every story or read every useful article pertaining to the growth and success of your small business.

Keep in mind that we can’t either, but we can do our best to get you a few of the most relevant and interesting articles concerning the small business market in this new blog series. So, in case you missed them, here are four articles you should check out right now.

Job Creation

Despite the United States unemployment rate remaining unchanged at 7.6 percent from May to June, small businesses are continuing to add jobs. Last month, companies with fewer than 50 employees created 84,000 jobs — 45 percent of the total new jobs added in June.

For a full breakdown of the stats and what it means, check out this article from Small Business Trends.

Managing Your Time

If you are a small business owner, you’ve come to one important realization:  there just aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done.

Time management is crucial to efficiency and maximizing your efforts. Vice President of Marketing at Nextiva Yaniv Masjedi takes you through five ways you can manage your time more efficiently so you can not only improve your business, but also have a more peaceful workday.

Optimize Content Marketing

Content marketing is no longer just a trend. In fact, it is believed to be the future of marketing because it encourages people to share links on social networking sites; therefore, driving more traffic to your website.

Sam Slaughter at Mashable discusses the danger of content marketing drifting away from its original intention and purpose and simply becoming link bait. He also gives useful tips to improve your content marketing strategy immediately.

What Kind of Entrepreneur Are You?

Not every entrepreneur or small business owner has the same personality or work style. From investing your time and money into a start up to possibly buying a business, it is important to understand the different types of entrepreneurs so you can make the right decision.

This article takes you through five entrepreneurial styles like total risk takers to “Do It Yourself” enthusiasts, so you can learn how you can maximize your efforts.

You’re Never Too Big to Hit the Road

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Zoho Group pic rsMost of us have attended a few expos, trade shows, or conventions in our life. I’ve certainly been to my fair share. Usually, these types of events showcase fledgling companies who are really just trying to build awareness and let people know that they exist.

Up until a few months ago, I had always thought the idea of “hitting the road” and setting up booths at conventions and expos was the type of bootstrapping that was only practical for small “mom and pops” or other up-and-coming businesses. Afterall, what tangible value could a large company like Google, Apple, Facebook, or (dare I say) Zoho possibly be able to extract?

On a good day, you might interact with a hundred people. But, if a company were to instead direct the money spent at an expo towards something like online advertising, they could reach thousands of people. Seems pretty simple, right? Why connect with a hundred when you can connect with THOUSANDS?

Well the key word here is “connect.” While mass marketing certainly has its place when it comes to building large scale awareness, it severely lacks in building strong connections.

On a day-to-day basis, how many internet advertisements, radio pieces, or television commercials do you actually connect with? How many do you interact with?

I can’t remember any of the commercials I saw yesterday, but I can remember the extra friendly barista at Starbucks the other day. We connected.

That’s not to say that there is no place for mass advertising, because obviously shouting the company message from the rooftops can lead to booming business and high growth potential. However, connections are the way to build deep rooted customer loyalty.

If we think about it geometrically, mass advertising is the way we build area, but “hitting the road” and connecting with customers is how we create depth and plant roots.

I first noticed the effect of “hitting the road” when I was in college. I worked at a place called Tennis Warehouse that was/is the largest online distributor of tennis equipment in the world. Yet, every year they would spend tens of thousands of dollars to set up a massive tent at a tennis tournament in Palm Springs, California to sell merchandise. Additionally, they would send nearly half the staff along to run the operation.

Obviously, this was a major cost.

Although they made a lot of sales, the real added value was the enthusiasm people felt when they saw a familiar brand and the customer connection that inevitably resulted in brand loyalty.

Several people would come into the tent solely to meet the staff and some of our online personalities. At the time, I was too preoccupied with enjoying my status as a q-list celebrity to realize the “connection effect” that our presence was having on our customers.

To this day, if any customer ever posts a complaint about the company on their online forums, hoards of Tennis Warehouse “fans” step in to the companies’ defense before a Tennis Warehouse admin can even address the complaint.

Now THAT is customer loyalty.

Apple and Microsoft too have become a much more local presence. I have no idea how profitable their retail stores are, but I would imagine a major reason for opening was to develop a deeper connection with customers and potential customers. I know I have personally walked into the Apple store several times just to play with the technology, and I’m more apt to buy their products knowing that I can personally connect with an Apple employee if I have any questions.

With Zoho, I’ve been fortunate to see this kind of connection in action at the annual Zoholics event as well as at a recent business expo I attended. Zoho users would see our booth and absolutely illuminate with delight.

As much as I wish their enthusiastic approach was because of my handsome face, it was more likely because of the colorful Zoho logo on my shirt.

But the connections grow beyond just the presence of Zoho.zoho interview

For example, one of my jobs is to interview enthusiastic customers we meet at such events. Not only does that help us create interesting media, but the customer now feels like a brand ambassador of the company. In psychology, they refer to this behavior as “commitment and consistency” – once someone identifies themselves as a Zoho fan, they will strive to behave consistent with that belief. Essentially, these customers become walking, talking billboards for Zoho.

And then there’s the company giveaways.

Most companies at expos go with the old standard candy bowl to lure in traffic. To their credit, anyone who has a Twix candy bar for the taking has a 100% chance of me stopping by to chat. But candy bar satisfaction to an attendee is fleeting, and the company is quickly forgotten.

At the Zoho booth however, we had something special. Ultra small flash drives that were Zoho branded. Customers were dumbfounded at the small size of the flash drive combined with its 4GB capacity and were eager to put them on their key chain. Now, for the foreseeable future, they will see the Zoho logo EVERY TIME they use the flash drive.

Subliminal marketing.

Zthumb DriveAs you can see, the flash drive is small and pretty cool (maybe I have a future career in “hand-modeling?”).

Let’s try another analogy, shall we?

Think of an expo as a crowded bar on a Saturday night and I, the attendee as an attractive single woman (this may be a stretch, I know).

The booths are like the single guys trying to lure me in with a free drink (or Twix bar). I may stop by to say hello and enjoy my free treat, but after five minutes of fluff talk, I’m finished with my drink and ready to move on to the next guy.

Then I spot Zoho with it’s colorful logo and well-dressed yet magically charming team. I stop by and chat, and they give me the coolest flash drive I’ve ever seen. Instead of walking away with an empty glass, I’m walking away with an engagement ring hooked to my key-chain that will remind me of Zoho every time I use it.

I think you get the picture (however feel free to erase the mental image of me as a woman).

The bottom line is, you’re never too big to hit the road. Sure, let’s share our brand with as many people as we can so they know we exist and offer something valuable, but the depth of customer connection is magnitudes greater when you take the time to give them a face and personality as well.

They will become connected and “engaged” to you, and THESE customers are the roots that make sure you never fall on the way to the top.