How a Film Festival Plans to Run Its Entire Operations on Zoho

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Ever try to run a film festival? Me neither. But if you had to do it, would you try pulling it off without a CRM application? Probably not.

Well that’s what happened last year for the first ever Napa Valley Film Festival. The entire event was produced without CRM. The coordination was a process of looking up spreadsheets, Google Docs, and sharing documents via DropBox. It caused a lot of confusion and overworking that they want to avoid this year with a move of all operation management onto Zoho, said Carrie Markham and Ben Mahoney, the Administrative Director and Director of Operations, respectively, for the festival.

Customizing CRM for a festival

The Napa Valley Film Festival’s coordination effort is massive. Markham and Mahoney are looking to use Zoho Creator to build an application that integrates all the various elements and departments of the festival such as development, marketing, venues, wineries, operations, sponsors, volunteers, filmmakers, and film programming. Everyone needs to be coordinated and in sync.

I met Markham and Mahoney at the Zoho user conference, Zoholics in Burlingame, California. They were there to make sure that Zoho Creator could help them build applications and forms that would integrate into or from the CRM without duplicating any effort. Plus they wanted a solution that would allow them to customize every aspect for their unique needs, and eliminate the need for any data reentry.

The festival happens the second week of November every year. This year it’s November 7-11th.

At Zoho Creator, it is raining integrations

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Many of our business apps become centers of gravity, with other apps revolving around them. And more importantly, complementing one another. It all happens with the integrations. This post sums up all DELUGE tasks that bring Zoho Creator closer to other services.

Zoho CRM:

Zoho CRM is the most popular of our services that we have integrated, and hence has the most tasks for itself. There are 7 tasks for adding, updating and fetching records from Zoho CRM.

GApps:

 

If you have installed Zoho Creator from the GApps Marketplace, there are two tasks solely for communicating between Zoho Creator and your Google account.

* Fetching List of Google Apps Users

* Creating an event, or multiple events on Google Calendar

Zoho Invoice:

Using DELUGE Tasks for Zoho Invoice, you can perform operations like creating new invoices, adding customers, adding expenses and fetching information of existing invoices, all from within Zoho Creator.

Zoho Calendar:

With this task, you can add an event automatically to any existing calendar on your Zoho account.

Zoho Reports:

On any table on Zoho Reports, you can add a record, specify criteria to delete records, and also update existing records.

All these tasks can be executed at any instance; when a form loads, upon successful submission of data into the form, or during validation. Values for the parameters can be hardcoded in the script, or values entered into the form can be used. Try them. And stay tuned for some third-party integrations too, that are on their way.

Using All Applications in the Zoho Suite

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When I asked Tom Lacalamita, Computer Consultant for This Is What I Do, what Zoho applications he uses, he responded, “Ask me what I don’t use. It’s a shorter list.” After 3 ½ years of use, Lacalamita believes he’s turned on every application in the Zoho suite. He first started with CRM but then started applying all the collaboration tools and Zoho Creator to develop some database applications.

It wasn’t always that way, said Lacalamita in my interview with him at the Small Business Expo in New York. He admitted he used to barely managed contacts. All his salespeople kept their lists on PDAs or in PST files. He realized if somebody lost their computer he’d lose months of business. He needed a better solution that would maximize the efforts of his marketing department, and keep track of everything, especially opportunities. He looked at Salesforce but the pricing was prohibitive.

Lacalamita saw Zoho in a magazine, tried it out and said, “This is one of the best things I’ve ever seen. We haven’t looked back since.”

Now he uses all the collaboration tools and everyone can access the same information at the same time, no matter where they are, and on whatever device. Projects that used to take forever get done in just minutes. “The turnaround time for clients is tremendous. They love it,” said Lacalamita.

Lacalamita is a big proponent of collaboration, which he believes is a word that a lot of people don’t understand.

“When you have creative people in different departments, getting together at a drop of a hat or click of a mouse is one of the most important things that any business should be able to look at and understand,” he said.

Zoho Services Having Performance Problem, Please Use Read Only Version (Update: All Services Are Up Now)

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We are experiencing performance problem across all Zoho services right now (as of 6:30 AM Pacific Time). Our team is looking at it.

Please use read-only versions, which are hosted from our separate data center.

These are the URLs:

Zoho CRM:  https://crm-ro.zoho.com

Zoho Creator: https://creator-ro.zoho.com

Zoho Invoice: https://invoice-ro.zoho.com

Zoho Mail: https://mail-ro.zoho.com

We are working on this right now, and we will post updates as soon as we have additional information.

Update: We are experiencing packet loss on our network access paths, and we are working on it right now.

Update 2 9:13 AM PST: We have brought down the degree of packet loss, but still due to intermittent packet loss services are slow. We are working on it.

Update 3: As of 9:30 AM PST packet loss has been reduced to negligible levels. Services should be accessible now, but we are still monitoring closely. We will post a root cause analysis in a day or two, and what actions we are taking.

A Happy Convert from a 20-Year DOS-Based Database to Full Zoho Integration

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For twenty years, Randy Parker, Group Benefits Specialist for LegalShield was stuck on a DOS-based database for all his contact management and CRM duties. Six months ago he stopped using it and moved over to Zoho.

At the Zoho user conference, Zoholics, in Burlingame, California, Parker admitted it took a while for him to come out of the dark ages, but he’s happy now because he was able to translate all his database knowledge to Zoho CRM and is still capable of doing all the same things he did with his DOS based system. But more importantly he’s not locked to any other applications with their poor, costly, and often non-existent integration.

Outlook was his lifeblood, said Parker. He used to live and die by it and also Google Docs. And he used to pay a lot of money to Citrix to use their service GoToMeeting. He’s replaced all of those services with Zoho Mail, Docs, and Meetings.

Jubilant about Zoho, Parker said, “I just love this stinkin’ program.”

Close More Deals Using CRM

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Joe Apfelbaum, CEO of the online marketing company Ajax Union tried many other CRM applications before he discovered Zoho. He admits that with most of the other CRM applications he was overwhelmed with all the features. And even with all those features, he still couldn’t customize the application for his needs.

That was not the case with Zoho. To get the application to work for him, Apfelbaum worked with Zoho support to get all the features he needed, such as web forms, auto-replies, and custom proposals. These features and more were all specific to his business.

I spoke with Apfelbaum at the Small Business Expo in New York about how he got started with CRM. While he’s happy with Zoho today, he wasn’t always a Zoho customer. He used to manage all his contacts on Excel spreadsheets.

“Now we’re organized in a way that will make us much more successful as opposed to having data scattered all over the place,” said Apfelbaum.

Apfelbaum’s advice on why to get started using CRM

“You have to start using CRM. You’re going to be able to close more deals. Be on top of what’s going on. Be able to make it scalable and really take your business to the next level,” said Apfelbaum. “There’s no other way to do it other than having a proper CRM and having everything documented properly. There’s no other way.”

Zoho Support & Zoho CRM Are Now Closer!

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On a daily basis, various people get in touch with your business. Auto-Import of Contacts & AccountsThey could be leads, prospects or customers. It’s only fair that your software understands each of them in the right context. Zoho CRM helps you manage your leads and prospects while Zoho Support allows you to support your customers. They’re both really brothers in arms, in a sense. They both go hand-in-hand.

But then, how can they work together for your business if they don’t manage your contacts well enough. Earlier, Zoho Support let you import contacts from your Zoho CRM account manually. Since then, we’ve only wanted to make it much easier for you. How, you ask? Automatic, that’s how.

We’re happy to announce automatic import of your Zoho CRM contacts to your Zoho Support portal. For all practical purposes, your Zoho CRM contacts database would be your master database. And, when we say ‘contacts’ we necessarily mean ‘accounts’ as well.

All you have to do is setup the interval at which the import has to be performed regularly. And, Zoho Support will then faithfully perform the import for you. It’s really that simple.

In fact, if you’re a Zoho CRM customer who’s just signed up for Zoho Support, you can setup auto-import of your contacts once and strike it off your to-do list forever.

We hope this would reduce a lot of your effort towards managing contacts between the two apps. Try it today and tell us what you think. In the meantime, we’ll try to make your life simpler in some other way!