Poll: For ‘free’ accounts, is customer support a right or a privilege?

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Zoho Support has a lot of happy customers. We keep hearing from them and we talk to them about a lot of things. But, for quite some time now, we’ve been meaning to regularize this engagement with our customers. So, we’re starting off with a weekly poll series. We pick a topic, ask you a question and wait for your opinions. You choose your view, let’s discuss it and we’ll all take back a wider perspective. We’ll do this every week. Simple, ain’t it?

The Zoho Support Poll

What’s a better way to kick off our weekly poll than to ask a really important question! So, we picked one of the most omnipresent questions around. Here’s more:

Products that offer a ‘freemium’ pricing model face this debate, pretty often. Operations managers and Business managers constantly discuss this question. But, let’s face it. The question’s very tricky, per se.

‘Free’ customers need customer support. In fact, they sign up for your product only because they trust you to do what’s best for them. They believe that nothing will go drastically wrong. And, if something actually goes wrong, they believe that you’ve got their back. Customer support is really a part of the overall product experience. It’s not something external that you can plug in whenever you deem fit. It’s the customer’s right.

On the other hand, the business side of things suggests a different logic. Customers that sign up for a ‘freemium’ product know that it has a very dumbed-down experience. At that level, the product itself is pretty simple! Assigning and justifiably using customer support resources for ‘free’ accounts is not easy. An extremely-detailed-yet-really-simple knowledge base should do the trick. It’s a single-instance investment of time and effort. Yet, it stays around for eternity and can be looked up easily. Occasionally, though, personalized customer support can be offered for ‘free’ customers, depending on support load from paying customers. It’s not meant to be a part of the basic experience. It’s just a privilege.

Each side has firm reasoning to justify. What do you think? Tell us in the comments section below.

If you’re a Zoho Support customer, you should see the poll as soon as you login today. This week’s poll ends on Friday. Hurry! We’re waiting to hear from you!

Hello Kindle Fire users – Zoho Invoice is now in Amazon Appstore

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Zoho Invoice Kindle Fire AppWe’ve got some great news for kindle fire users. Zoho Invoice android app is now available in the Amazon App store for you to download for free.

Yes absolutely free!

Head straight to the booming app store and download the invoicing app to create gazillion invoices and estimates for up to 5 customers for no charge at all. Our android invoicing app is absolutely loved for its ease of use and efficiency by freelancers and small business owners alike.

There’s plenty of stuff you can do with your android app for invoicing like view or edit invoices, send estimates, track time for projects, email invoice PDF to customers and feel exuberant when you get paid on the spot!

As your business grows you can always subscribe to a plan with more customers. So the next time you get down to do your invoicing, send invoices right from your kindle fire.

As always we’d love to hear your experience with the app. Send them across in the comments right below.

Converting Wufoo Webform Contacts into Leads in Zoho CRM

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This is a brief tutorial on using Wufoo Webhooks to add leads to Zoho CRM, based on the original post by Andrew Taylor – WordPress Developer.

If you’re using the online form builder Wufoo along with Zoho CRM, you’ve probably already come across the challenge of integrating the two. Maybe you’ve created a contact webform with Wufoo and want to automatically turn those contacts into leads in your CRM. And because Wufoo doesn’t integrate with Zoho out of the box, there are a few extra steps you need to take. But we’re here to point you in the right direction.

Wufoo is an online form builder that hosts the database, backend and script for storing and analyzing your data. And with an open API, you can integrate Wufoo forms with third party applications that do not already have built-in integrations – for example Zoho CRM. Here are some basics:

  • After you’ve created your form in Wufoo and want to integrate with Zoho CRM, you’ll need to set up a Webhook and write the script in PHP, Python, etc. For direct access to the sample Wufoo WebHook script to add leads to Zoho CRM, click here.
  • You’ll need the correct Zoho API key, which you can find in our API guide.
  • From there, you can reference the form fields by API and define the lead source to pass to Zoho CRM. Note that you must convert the data into the correct XML format, which you can read about here.

Of course, you can change specifics and expand upon the above steps to customize the process to fit your form/data needs. If you’re already familiar with Wufoo, Zoho and PHP, please refer to this in-depth tutorial by Andrew Taylor of Advice Interactive Group. With complete knowledge of both Wufoo and Zoho APIs, Andrew walks you through the integration process, step by step:

Using Wufoo WebHooks to add leads to Zoho CRM

Additionally, if you’re looking for other tools to help you integrate Wufoo with your CRM, check out the following:

When generating new leads, we understand the importance of smooth and easy operation, so we hope the above links are useful. Happy integrating!

Announcing Zoholics 2013, Zoho’s Annual User Conference

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Zoholics is back. The Zoho user conference we started last year received great response, so we are making it an annual event.

This year, Zoholics will be held at Hyatt Regency, San Francisco Airport. Based on popular demand and feedback from last year, we are expanding the event from one day to two and a half days. This will give us plenty of time to cover a plethora of topics and have enough time to interact with you through various sessions.

So, what can you expect from this year’s event?

You will have an opportunity to learn a lot about our apps through our
training sessions, interact with the Zoho team through various
workshops, learn about the trends in the industry and interact with
fellow Zoholics. We have listed some of the topics we will be covering
at www.zoholics.com. The event will feature three parallel tracks – one general session track and two training tracks.

If you are planning to attend the event, you may want to take advantage of
the limited number of Early-Bird tickets available at a discounted
rate.

For more details about the event, please visit www.zoholics.com.
The website will be updated as we finalize topics and add speakers to
the event. If you are traveling, you may want to book your hotel rooms
early with the discounted rate, before we are sold out.

As we continue to finalize sessions at the event, please do let us know what you would like to see at this year’s event.

 

Context Is Everything: Introducing Zoho Mail Contextual Gadgets

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zmail-contextual-gadgets

Keeping focus on users’ information and its context in connection with other applications and services has always been the Zoho way of developing apps. We have after all been altruistic to have integrated our top apps like Zoho CRM, Zoho Projects and Zoho Invoice with external applications such as, for example, Gmail for the benefit of Google Apps users with whom we compete in some market segments.

Considering the fact that Zoho’s own portfolio of apps is one of the broadest around, developing tighter integrations between Zoho Apps tops our list of priorities. The goal is to move towards a ‘one Zoho’ experience so that whichever app a user happens to be, it pulls relevant information from other apps, and displays it in the right context.

Today, we are happy to announce contextual gadgets in Zoho Mail. You will now notice an uncanny strip with action icons at the bottom right corner of the Zoho Mail UI (can be disabled/enabled under Zoho Mail settings), when you open an email message.

These action icons provide connections to Zoho CRM, Zoho People, Zoho Contacts, Zoho Tasks and Zoho Notes, right when you go through your daily dose of emails; your mind fresh and ready to take action in context to the messages received. Here is a quick summary of how each gadget action can help:

CRM:
We are confident that Zoho CRM users will love this Zoho Mail gadget. From within a message view in Zoho Mail, users can view existing tasks, events, notes and potentials related to the sender from the associated CRM contact records and also add new items.

Let’s say you are an ardent sales person, ever ready to garner information about your prospects. When you click the CRM gadget action, all existing notes, events, tasks and potentials relevant to the contact will be automatically pulled from your business’ Zoho CRM account and displayed without you having to navigate away from the email view. Loaded with additional relevant information in seconds, email interactions with your leads and prospects can be fine tuned for better impact to close more deals in less time.

In combination with the MailMagnet feature in Zoho CRM, this means a 2-way handshake between the two services. And stay tuned for more news on the CRM+Mail friendship.

Info:
Have you realized that a simple phone call or a quick face-to-face meeting with someone within reach could save you a lot of time from having to go through frivolous exchange of emails? Ever sent classic one liners like “Hey, coffee at 4pm?”, to someone 3-4 cubicles away? In Zoho Mail, you can now rather use the info gadget to load the direct contact details of your peers, prospects and colleagues and communicate naturally during situations where exchanging emails is in fact redundant.

Notes:
If you are not in the habit of taking quick notes while perusing emails, you have no idea how many key points, cool ideas and crucial information you are allowing to evaporate into nothingness. We do understand that it can be nagging to scribble away on paper or switch to a notepad app now and then. Well, using the Notes gadget, users can fire up a simple notes editor in seconds from within the email view, making it downright easy for users to cultivate the habit of taking notes. All notes can be accessed later from the Zoho Notes app.

Tasks:
The most productive way to deal with email overload is to convert incoming requests, suggestions, discussions that require action into tasks. With the Task gadget action, users can add tasks without having to move away from the email view. So not only does this make it easy to compile a list of tasks but also helps in defining tasks with utmost clarity with the context of the original email retained during task creation.

This is just the tip of the ice berg towards providing a tightly integrated experience while using multiple Zoho apps. Contextual gadgets for more Zoho and external services on the way; because context is everything.

As always we humbly request you to spare some time to share your opinions and suggestions to fulfill our appetite for feedback.

Customer Spotlight: Jeb finds freelancing absolutely ‘brilliant’!

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Jeb Brilliant - Freelancer using Zoho InvoiceIf you could choose again, would you rather be an employee or a freelancer?

I would choose freelancing again!

Jeb Brilliant answered that question with no pause for thought. He does occasionally think about the regular office and the merits of being an employee. However, the freedom to do what he wants and the time he gets to spend with his family trumps the thought of being a regular employee any day.

When he’s not busy being a Community Manager for Phone.com, he runs a personal blog, ‘The Mobile Perspective‘ where he expresses his opinions on everything mobile. A voracious reader, he chanced upon an article on our iPhone invoicing app. Being a Zoho Invoice customer since 2009, he quickly downloaded the app and found all the invoices already created (thanks to recurring invoice), queued up and waiting for his approval before being sent. He checked and instantly emailed all the invoices to his clients.

Jeb says,

I could be sitting in a meeting or a conference without my laptop or walking down a street or attending a trade show and remember that I need to send an invoice. Now I don’t have to send a reminder to myself anymore. I can just open the app and do it at that very moment.

Jeb’s advice to freelancers and small business owners,

“Whether you are a graphic artist , a community manager or an accountant, if you are a small business owner, you shouldn’t just be squeezing by just to get through the month. As time goes by, you may get a partner, get married and have a family and things will get more expensive than the days when you were single. Value yourself more. Being a freelancer doesn’t mean you have to struggle all the time.”

Read Jeb’s story in our Customer Spotlight where he talks about blogging and freelancing.

Get Paid Online With Stripe!

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accept-payment-through-stripe-gatewayYour customer has a credit card and as a freelancer or small business owner, you would like to make the payment process as simple as possible. Our solution to you – Stripe.

Zoho Books and Zoho Invoice is now integrated with Stripe online payment gateway. A feature which was much requested by our customers is now available for users in US and Canada.

 

Integrating with Stripe was a bliss in itself, thanks to their extensive documentation and well thought out simple API. Configuring Stripe to receive payments for your invoice is straightforward and absolutely painless.

  • Head over to the Settings section (Zoho Books and Zoho Invoice)
  • Click open the ‘Online Payment gateways’.
  • Choose the currency and mention the ‘live secret key’ from your Stripe account.
  • Click Setup and you are good to go.

Accept online payment with Stripe

We are hoping this addition is going to bring our customers one step closer to getting paid faster. With Stripe on board, our invoicing software and accounting software now allow customers to receive online payment through five different payment gateways.

If you haven’t tried the online payment option yet, this is a good time to send out your first invoice with the online payment link. Then sit back and enjoy the Benjamins rolling in.