Social CRM: Getting a holistic view of your customers

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Do you know what your customers, non-customers, advocates,
and detractors are saying about you when they’re not talking to you? John
Bastone, Global Product Marketing Manager, Customer Intelligence Industry and
Solution Marketing for SAS may be able to tell

SAS, a legendary statistical giant (I actually studied SAS
programming in college) is trying to make sense of the world of valuable yet
unstructured data that you don’t normally see in a CRM system. They’re trying
to link social media activity to customer activity to help businesses get a
holistic view of their customers.

Almost all of SAS’ clients are huge enterprise companies
that already have tons of people discussing them in the social sphere. They’re
just trying to make sense of all the chatter in terms of who are the
influencers, the advocates, and the detractors. But what if you’re not that big
and nobody’s talking about you? Is there nothing to measure?

Bastone says all is not lost. You still have a domain and an
industry and a certain topic area that’s relevant to you. Start searching for
pockets of consumers who care about those issues.

Break out of the software upgrade cycle by moving your CRM to the cloud

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Mark Stacey was a 17-year veteran of desktop-based contact management and CRM software. While useful, he kept getting mired in the frustrating cycle of software upgrades. That all ended when he moved his CRM operations to the cloud.


Mark Stacey is the CEO of the Milagro Advisory Group, a business development and integrated marketing consultancy. He is also the co-founder of Alcance Media, a five-year-old advertising network for the Spanish marketplace.

The Challenge

Stacey has a long history of using contact management and CRM applications. Back in 1989, he computerized his Rolodex with a DOS-based version of ACT. Immediately, his business experienced rapid growth. He quickly became a convert to the importance of CRM systems.

While Stacey stayed with ACT for many years, he still faced a major challenge keeping up with the program’s evolution. Each version required new installations and proper training in order to take advantage of the upgrades. He was getting frustrated, yet he still upgraded.

How discovered Zoho CRM

When Stacey started his new company, Alcance Media, one of the board members suggested Zoho.

Competitive analysis of CRM

Up until that Zoho recommendation, Stacey wasn’t looking at any other CRM solution. He was just trying to get ACT and also Microsoft’s Business Contact Manager to work.

While Zoho CRM had all the functionality they needed, the fact that it operated in the cloud was its major selling point, said Stacey.

Stacey also liked the friendly interface which made it a lot easier to train his staff. Also admitting to not being technically proficient, Stacey claimed Zoho CRM is the easiest program he’s ever used.

Unique use case

It didn’t take long to jump on board with Zoho at Alcance and Milagro. After just a few weeks of importing, configuring, and training, his staff were all in the field utilizing Zoho CRM.

Stacey used Zoho CRM to manage sales teams, databases, and people in business development and operations.

Advice for others

Before Stacey discovered Zoho he resigned himself to being frustrated with the tools he had. He advises others not to go through the same aggravation.

“No matter the size of your organization, you need to put your toe in the water with a program like Zoho,” said Stacey. “The savings and return on productivity cannot be dismissed.”

“Why wait?”, asks Stacey. He recommends anyone not already using CRM to open your own personal free account, play with it over the weekend and see if it can work for you.

Listen to Mark Stacey’s interview here.

Keep your Customers happy and they’ll keep you in business!

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For any business, it’s the ‘relationship’ part of Customer Relationship Management that really matters. The old adage “Keep your Customers happy and they’ll keep you in business” holds especially true in this ‘social-media-centric’ era today. Customers now are part of your community, they want instant answers to their problems and they drive your business!

So, what can you do to keep your customers happy? While it’s true that there’s never a “one size fits all” solution, it’s still possible to tell all your customers that you’re there for them and that you’re listening to them. Here are 5 ways…

1. Be aware of every nook and corner of your Product

Consider this situation:

Customer: We have a requirement for 250 users. We would like to know if your new integration can support us.

You: Ugghh.. ok.. wait.. Just hold on a moment, Let me just find out.

During this hold period, the customer must be thinking, ‘If the executive isn’t confident enough, how’s this company going to support me after the sale? Should I go to some other place, where they’re sure what they’ll be offering us?’

Being knowledgeable and confident about every aspect of your product always helps, because only then will you be able to pass on that conviction to the customer.

2. State the Facts

In other words, honesty is definitely the best policy. Playing around with your customers’ expectations just because you want to retain them, well, how terrible can that get? Ask the question: ‘How would you want to be treated had you been in your customer’s shoes?’

3. Be willing to Educate

Telling more is always good – not just about your product/service but about the industry, the latest trends or the value addition that you can bring in over your competitors. There’s no assurance that you’d make a sale, but you’re sure to earn a long term business contact!

4. Be in Touch

A call or an email once in a while, just to say “hello”, posting on a customer’s wall, telling them about the latest in your product/service or a even a tweet will do. Simple, yet effective. Reach out!

5. And finally, use your CRM system well

The power of your CRM system lies in how well you use it. Sticking to the basics will go a long way.

Let’s take a very common example of the Sales Team: You talk to a prospect, and there’s plenty that the prospect will have to say. A task as simple as adding notes to the Contact details can help you build a strong relationship. Your note can be like: ‘

Talked to Jonathan. Interested in buying the Enterprise version. Asked questions which include pricing, customization features, mobile edition and Security. Wants a demo on the 5th. Loves to talk about the market conditions. Interested in Politics. Big MJ fan and dwells on Pizzas!

A few weeks later, when you have a call with Jonathan again, you can’t be better prepared for the call. The notes that you’d added will be your savior.

These are a few points but can be vital. Many of us – be it Sales, Marketing, Customer Support or Engineering – forget to empathize with customers while communicating with them. Amid the flurry of trying to get work done, we forget to realize that it’s people’s emotions that we are dealing with. In the end of it all, it’s those business relationships that count.

What are the other ways in which you keep your customers happy so that they keep you in business? Let us know your ideas too!
(Image courtesy:


Raw Engineering taps Zoho Recruit for their Recruitment Process

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Today we are excited to hear from Banani Prusty – HR Manager, at raw engineering about how her company has transformed their recruitment process with Zoho Recruit.

A Little about raw engineering

raw engineering specializes in web and mobile application development, serving its clients with offices in San Francisco and Mumbai, Maharashtra, India. Our 35-person company is on a mission to solve the toughest web architecture and integration challenges. To that end, we have built core development expertise in .NET, Java, PHP, Ruby on Rails, and related Web 2.0 and rich Internet application technologies. Our qualified engineers provide services at an extremely competitive rate, with the highest levels of quality and technical integrity, and we are one of the only technology firms known to guarantee customer satisfaction.

raw engineering’s Challenge

We had not been using any other tool in the past. As a result, the recruitment process was very slow and inefficient. We were having a particularly difficult time keeping track of applicants.

Zoho Solution

We have been long-time users of Zoho People and Zoho Projects, so we already knew the company and knew that we really liked their applications. It was no surprise that when we tried Zoho Recruit, we found it very quick and easy-to-use. It’s a very effective way of managing the recruitment process. The interface is great as well. And we get excellent support from Zoho. Now, we use Zoho Recruit to post job openings, track applicants and maintain our resume database. In the future, we would like to use other features that it provides. We would like to sign up for a few more recruiters in the future as it has made our job much simpler and more effective.

Zoho Recruit Impact

With Zoho Recruit, we can track applicants very easily and quickly. Overall, Zoho Recruit has made our recruitment process very easy, very effective and very organized.

Read more about raw engineering’s success story using Zoho Recruit.

If you have a success story that you would like to share, please drop us a mail at or connect with us on Facebook and Twitter

Your contacts are the assets of your business – protect them

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Jody Johnson is the CEO of Action Coach in Miami, Florida. She needed a CRM solution not only for managing prospects but also for her work with her clients, business owners.

Business: Action Coach, Team Sage is a franchise member of a worldwide business coaching franchise with about 1,000 offices around the world. They help business owners fix their processes of time, team, and money.

The challenge: Keeping track and managing correspondence with all clients.

“The client and prospect base is the asset of most businesses. If you don’t have that documented somewhere that’s a huge asset that’s not accounted for in the business,” said Johnson.

How discovered Zoho: Learned about Zoho from the CEO of Action Coach of the Americas. Johnson now recommends Zoho to all of her clients.

Competitive analysis of Zoho: They had gone through two other content management programs that failed them because they either didn’t work with Outlook or weren’t customizable.

Unique use case of Zoho CRM: Manage everyone and everything all in one place: from prospects to current clients with all different kinds of correspondence (e.g., newsletter, emails). Johnson’s team facilitates communications by utilizing more than two dozen email templates.

Can track progress, see bottlenecks, and identify how certain business will affect their revenues.

Advice for others: Johnson started with Zoho three years ago. If she could do it all over again, she would have hired a Zoho consultant to simply tell her and her team all the things Zoho can do. For example, just last year they began utilizing the “Potentials” feature which allows you to indicate what a sale would be worth therefore allowing you to see which potentials would have the greatest revenue impact on the business.

“Most business owners don’t have a way of tracking a customer list or prospect list. They don’t have an integrated way or holistic way of reaching out to them,” said Johnson who sees this on a daily basis working with businesses. “A contact management system of any kind is really important.”

Your customer list and prospect list is the asset of the business. If that isn’t documented somewhere, then that’s not a sellable business. You need to protect that contact and communications information like you would a bank account, Johnson said.

Listen to her interview here.

Online CRM lets everyone have up-to-the-minute visibility into company wisdom

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For ten years Luis Gardolinski had been keeping tabs on his contacts. But it wasn’t easy. Managing them across his team and synchronizing them has always been a manual, delayed, and not always accessible process.


Luis Gardolinski is the CEO of Startrade, a company that builds software and equipment for logistics, specifically planning loads and new packages.

The Challenge:

Since 2001, Luis Gardolinksi always knew he needed some type of CRM solution. He spent so much time relying on paper and memory to manage clients and prospects.

Gardolinski’s first foray into contact management and CRM was the software package Act. While Act was useful, all the data was tied to a specific physical machine. In order to capture information in the company’s contact database, salespeople had to return to the office and recopy their day’s notes onto a computer that had Act installed. Once entered all that information had to be synchronized.

The wisdom of the company was always back at the office, sitting on an Act machine. And the information was always delayed by at least one day, as everyone had to wait for colleagues to enter their data and synchronized. While employees were out and about they never had a full view of what was going on in the office, said Gardolinski.

Even though Act had a myopic view at the time, Startrade used it for about seven years. It was pretty good for what they needed at the time. Although ultimately Gardolinski knew he needed an online solution.

We must be able to see what’s going on with each client at each stage of the sales cycle, said Gardolinski. He always wanted to know, “How far are we along to closing?” While he could do this with Act, he needed something that everyone could access anywhere and always be up to date.

How discovered Zoho:

Gardolinksi’s business and employees were becoming more mobile. A few years ago he moved them all over to using Google Apps and email, and tested a couple of other CRM solutions of which he can’t even remember. He landed on Zoho and chose to move over, but it wasn’t that easy.

It’s always a challenge when you change a piece of software you’ve been using for seven years to something else, Gardolinksi said.

Competitive analysis of CRM:

All the CRM solutions Startrade was looking at were either too fancy, more than they needed, or far too expensive. What really sold Gardolinski on Zoho was the speed of customer service he got especially upon testing the free service. After sending a request he got a response in 30 minutes and the problem was solved over the next 30 minutes.

Unique use case of Zoho CRM:

Now that all his information was online, Gardolinski and his team could travel wherever they wanted and have complete access to all the company data. This freed everyone from being locked to the office or wasting time with double entry.

Bringing the data over from Act wasn’t as easy as Gardolinski thought it would be. Looking back at it now he would have paid for a direct import from Act. But in actuality he saw the difficulty or importing his data as an opportunity to refresh it. He realized a lot of his information was really stale and this forced him to pick up the phone and call new and old clients, renewing relationships and contact information.

Advice for others: 

Even if you can import your data easily, don’t just import everything, advises Gardolinski. Use the move to a new system as an opportunity to renew your database like he did. Call your clients and update all their information.

It takes more time, but it’s worth it to do it right, Gardolinksi said.

Listen to the interview here.

See ‘Exactly’ How Conversations Unfold With Zoho Mail

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Whenever I have run into a situation where someone goes… 


We talked about this last month Hari! Remember you said….. and I said ….and blah blah….

… I used to wonder how it would be nice to have a

conversation view

for all conversations we ever had.

If you think about it, great ideas just fade into oblivion, good prospects are lost and projects get delayed because we are unable to connect the dots and keep in sync with our discussions and conversations. Thanks to the rather exclusive conversation thread view feature in

Zoho Mail
, I am able to catch up on all my email conversations.

Recently, I was checking the feedback received from Zoho Mail users who chose to take the optional survey when they logged out (Thank you all). To my surprise, 47% have said that they never use the conversation view. Then these questions ran through my mind:

  • Is it possible that 47% never had any long conversations over email?

  • Are users just not aware that a conversation view exists?

  • Conversation view is redundant and not used much? (In my opinion, this cannot be)

Well, to make it clear, conversation view does exist in Zoho Mail. Unlike in other email programs that stack incoming responses, it is


by a small


 like icon (check Figure below) without affecting the classic inbox message arrangement. Maybe our design was so focused on not being a distraction and missed out on attraction?
Switching to Zoho Mail's Conversation View

All you do is click the chat-bubble icon to unfold the conversation, displayed in a threaded view format which, I think is special. Why do I think so? Let’s see:
Zoho Mail's Conversation Thread View

Specialties in Zoho Mail Conversation View:

  • Skim through the entire conversation

    This is made possible by messages arranged in a thread view fashion with a part of the first line of all responses. This can particularly be helpful for business email users to quickly catch up on their exchanges with customers and prospects. All you do is search for the name and then unfold the conversation by clicking the mentioned chat-bubble icon.

  • Just click-read your way through the thread

    If skimming through does not suffice, you can just click a response in the thread and view the full message in the bottom pane. No need to scroll your way up and down the conversation. Can you imagine how painful it can be to scroll through a thread with 30+ exchanges?

  • know the exact order of how conversations unfold                   

    Ever found yourself lost in between an elaborate back and forth discussion in emails with many in CC? Now take a look at the conversation view snapshot of a discussion we had about improving Zoho’s social media presence. It is so easy to follow, who replied to whom and how the conversation unfolded from start to end. Also notice how some responses branch off into separate threads / sub-topics? This helps to exactly understand the context of responses, saving time in trying to figure things out.

  • Label or flag individual messages

    So, you are clicking through the conversation and run into a response from someone with that important information, idea, proposal or you-name-it, something useful. You can quickly set a flag or assign a label right there to that message.

  • Label the entire thread / conversation

    Well, if you find the whole conversation to bear substance, assign a label to the entire thread. I labelled our entire conversation shown in the snapshot ‘SocialMediaDiss’. This way whenever someone goes, ‘Remember the social media discussion last year’, its just a click-on-a-label away.

In fact, I feel the conversation view is a must have for

business email
 purposes with many CCs and group email addresses involved in messages. For instance, at times I forward a message sent to me to someone who can handle it better. Then a couple of days pass, I shift focus to other incoming messages and suddenly run into a response addressed to me again from a previous thread. Now, what do I do to catch up on what happened in between? Yes,

one click to unfold the conversation


If you are already a Zoho Mail user, feel free to comment about your views on the conversation view feature, particularly improvements you would like to see.

If you are someone using another email service featuring the stacked type conversation view, try

Zoho Mail
. You may like the change. You are big fan of the stacked view? Tell us why.

Oops! Just realized my screen shot reveals another feature update we are working on and testing within our team.  Any guesses on what it is?