Increasing SMBs’ capabilities, at little cost, with CRM

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Thanks to a combination of economic pressures and the
ability to interact closer with the customer, there’s been a notable rise in SMBs
implementing CRM, said Michael Fauscette, Group Vice President, Software Business
Solutions at

IDC

.


At the CRM Evolution Conference in New York City, I spoke
with Fauscette and Brian Vellmure, Principal and Founder of Initium, LLC (

blog

) about the current
state of SMBs deploying and integrating CRM into their business processes.


SMBs awoke to wanting to implement CRM when the recession
hit, said Vellmure. It was a time everyone was trying to “do more with less.”
Today, that productivity and customer connectedness has carried through. They’re
using CRM to acquire more customers and automate marketing processes, continued
Vellmure.


As for integration, Vellmure is seeing a lot of growth in
business intelligence. Companies are getting more contextual awareness by connecting
their data with other databases, such as Hoovers.


Fauscette is most impressed with how companies are using
communities to create networks of support, thus alleviating their own customer
service demands. Not only are people helping each other, but they’re also
getting product feedback to help them actually improve the product.

Three unique ways to use Social CRM to grow your business

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You’ve got tons of customer data, but often your customers
aren’t talking directly to you. They’re talking to other customers and a lot of
people who aren’t your customers. This mass of unstructured data in the social
sphere (e.g., Twitter, YouTube, Facebook) is a goldmine not just for immediate
feedback, but for a host of unique customer service and product development
opportunities.

At the CRM Evolutions Conference in New York, I spoke with
analyst Ray Wang of

Constellation
Research

. He offered up three unique ways companies are taking advantage of
Social CRM:








  1. Steal sales from
    competitors

    – By following your category and your competitors, you can
    discover people in purchase mode you never would have found. This is the best
    time to intercept and introduce yourself into the consideration mix.

  2. New uses for your
    product

    – Videos of people with your product may introduce new ways to use
    your product that you hadn’t considered. Feed this information back into
    product development or new ways to market your product.

  3. Triage a problem before
    it blows up

    – When a customer has a complaint, escalate that problem to
    your company’s contact and action center and close the loop quickly so as to
    solve the problem in real time.

Are you not ready for Social CRM yet? That’s quite alright,
says Wang. While you’re waiting to launch your Social CRM campaign, start collecting
Twitter handles from your users so you can connect their social activity with
your customer database.

Visualize your data better: Conditional formatting and more!

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A chart makes it easy to see a trend over time or to compare how different figures stack up. To achieve a similar effect with plain tabular data is difficult, but not impossible! That’s what conditional formatting in Zoho Reports achieves.

Conditional Formatting of Tabular Data

You often see conditional formatting applied to financial data, where positive values are typically in green and negative values in red. A similar example below, where we show the best ‘CTR’s in green, the bad ones in red and the intermediate ones in yellow. You can apply color to the cell background and to the font (‘Clicks’ column in the below example).

Definitely easy to identify outliers and easy to comprehend, right? Zoho Reports now supports conditional formatting in base tables and query tables. We will be extending it to pivot and summary tables soon. You can access conditional formatting by right-clicking on a column.

Area and Stacked Area Charts

We have been continuously adding new chart types. The latest ones to come in are area and stacked area charts.


Try conditional formatting and area charts in Zoho Reports and let us know your feedback comments.

Cloud Software is to Desktop Software as…

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How do you think Cloud Software compares with Desktop Software?

Last week, we asked our Facebook fans and twitter followers to come up with their own analogies to describe this comparison.

Here are some of the interesting responses we’ve received so far:

On our Facebook wall:


“192.168.0.1 to 127.0.0.1″
Adam K Dean ‎ (This one got 6 likes on our wall)


“A tap is to a dried up riverbed”
Marty Neill


“A renault 4 is to a mercedes benz”
David Castillo


“Meditating is to yawning”
​ – Josh Ward


“Man Vs Cave man”
Arif Ali

As twitter @replies:

“as Asteroids were to Dinosaurs”@caps_phisto

“credit card is to cash”@alvarofelipe

“as smiley cookies are to regular cookies”@adamgolomb

“as wings are to boat anchors”@DortchOnIT

So, which is your favorite analogy from these? Can you come up with some of your own?

Faster macros for your spreadsheet!

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We have made a significant update to the VBA Macro Engine in Zoho Sheet. Your macros could now run faster by up to 75% than before, depending on what your macro does.

Try the sample spreadsheet embedded below which uses Macros to generate Vicsek Fractals – a nice recursive pattern. Click on the ‘Generate Fractal’ button in each worksheet to generate different fractals. You can also change the number of iterations on the spreadsheet and generate the fractal again. Use the ‘Click to Edit’ button if you want to change the number of iterations.

Fractal generator using Zoho Sheet.


Learn more about this enhancement on our discussion forum.

Going forward, we will add more features to our Macros functionality
such as User Defined Functions, HTTP requests, and more. Let
us know what features in Macros, you would like to see in Zoho Sheet.

Steve Jobs, RIP

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“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle.” 
- Steve Jobs (1955 – 2011)

The New Zoho Mail: Smoother, Faster, Smarter

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Smooth, clutter free, fast and intuitive user interfaces are the order of the day. You are probably aware that we recently polished the UI for Zoho CRM – making it not only more beautiful to look at, but also -and more importantly- a lot easier to use. Zoho CRM is one app users spend a lot of time in. And so is Zoho Mail. That’s why we also just completed a major revamp of Zoho Mail’s UI and added brand new features like 3-pane view and advanced search that make your daily life a bit easier, as you spend a good chunk of your day inside Zoho Mail. Here’s what’s new in our latest update:

Overall UI makeover
We always felt that we could do a better job at being clutter free yet we also felt that there is no need to shock our users with a total transformation. So we started with a few subtle changes like scrubbing off unnecessary icons, retuning the look and feel of buttons and so forth. After many iterations and discussions in tandem with the art of balancing usability and aesthetics, we believe we now have a UI that is more clean and crisp.


New 3-Pane view

Given that by the end of 2010, the number of estimated email users stood at a mammoth 1.88 billion, it is almost a necessity for an email interface to offer the choice of different viewing formats. Now, Zoho Mail provides a new 3-pane view option in the form of neat
Toggle Layout
button. It takes just a click to switch between vertical and horizontal split of your entire right pane.

3-Pane View

Advanced Search
Not being able to get to a message that you know for sure is there somewhere in your rather bloated inbox is frustrating, right? That is why we have upped the ante on Zoho Mail’s search feature by appending an uncanny advanced search icon to the existing search button. You can drill down your search by specifying almost anything that you vaguely remember that is related to the message you seek.

Advanced Search


Smart follow-up flag

We hope you are making use of the 3 flag types you can assign to your messages as mentioned earlier on maximizing your productivity with Zoho Mail. One of them is the follow-up flag. Now, are you truly sticking to your commitment to follow-up on all those emails? To nurture a better sense of commitment, we have made the follow-up flag to ask you if you want to create a task and set a deadline. Smart, isn’t it?

Smart Follow-up Flag


Rename and add to Zoho Docs

It was clumsy not to be able to rename attached files when you attempted to add them to Zoho Docs. Now, it is possible to rename an attached file when you use the Add to Zoho Docs feature. Isn’t it nice to be able to directly store attachments online, even to shared folders, workspaces and thus have a copy available from anywhere there is an internet connection? Imagine the time and effort this can save from back and forth forward, transfer of attachments between your business personnel.


Better Address book

Searching for contact information can get tedious sometimes and also needs to be as simple as searching for messages. We made enhancements to the address book, making it a snap for you to get information about your contacts, ordered according to the frequency of your interactions. Also, searching for contacts by user defined categories has been made prominent and straight forward to use.


Speed and performance optimizations
‘Blazing speed’ is what is expected of an email service today. We have been making optimizations in the background to fulfill this need for speed. You will especially notice ​significant improvements in initial loading time, compose actions, mailing list loading time while switching between folders and email delivery time, now as fast as an instant message.

There you go! A smoother, faster and smarter Zoho Mail. While we are very excited about this update, what matters most is your feedback on if or not we managed to make the right judgment calls about improving the email experience. If you are an existing Zoho Mail user, tell us how you feel about the old and the new. If you are new to Zoho Mail, we will be thrilled to have you sign up and give us a fresh unbiased opinion of our new UI.