Customer Spotlight: Zoho CRM in a Gym?

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“CRM can apply to ANY business, and Zoho CRM is so flexible that we’ve molded it to fit like a glove with our gym.”

That’s what CG Arena manager Joey Kelly told us when we visited his amazing Gym in Austin ,Texas to get a first-hand look at how they use Zoho CRM.  Check out how CG Arena integrates Zoho CRM into their business below.

4 Simple Steps to Getting Organized

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This is a guest post by Lindsay Holloway, writer and editor of small business trends and technology. To read more from Lindsay, check out her articles on The Examiner

You may have missed National Get Organized Month in January or perhaps didn’t quite finish spring cleaning, but it’s never too late to get your home office or home-based business organized. And since we’re halfway into 2012, now is a great time to reorganize and cross a few items off your summer checklist.

Fortunately you don’t have to do it alone. You don’t have to ditch your cluttered filing “system” cold turkey. You don’t have to learn a new complex spreadsheet program. And you don’t have to hand over your paycheck to an assistant or professional organizer. There are myriad resources, tools and experts out there to help you, and we’ve put together four essential tips for getting your office or business organized this year:

1. Take control of your inbox. Small-business resource SCORE suggests creating e-mail folders to organize your messages. We all know what it’s like to have an inbox overflowing with both old and unread messages, so get ahold of the message madness from the get-go. Create working folders that make sense for your business, whether they’re based on urgency, task, contact group or department.

2. Stop clutter before it starts. To battle clutter, you must have systems and routines for dealing with it, says certified professional organizer Lorie Marrero. Aside from avoiding situations where “clutter cravings” can arise, she stresses the importance of dealing with things as they come and not letting clutter like mail, bills or filing stack up until it becomes a problem or wieldy task. For example, when you get the mail, immediately discard the junk mail; then organize and open the remaining pieces by importance.

3. Leverage free productivity tools. There’s an app for everything, right? Whether it’s on your smartphone, notebook or in the cloud, there are endless tools available to help you organize your schedule, documents, projects and more. Nowadays, it’s nearly impossible to mentally coordinate your daily tasks and appointments, so at times it’s necessary to let technology do the work for you. There are various calendar and scheduling apps, tools for conducting and tracking surveys, and project collaboration and management apps available.

​4. Organize your files and documents. While it may be essential to have physical copies of some documents, others are better made digital and others still could really be thrown out (safely, of course). And for these steps, there are convenient home-office and small-business gadgets. Consider a Xerox DocuMate scanner for taking those paper forms into the digital realm, or the handy yet robust Swingline Stack-and-Shred line of shredders for proper disposal of those dinosaur-aged files you’ve been too scared to throw away.

An organized space – and workflow – is necessary for maximum efficiency and productivity in the modern workplace. When work piles up, things get messy! So keep the above tips in mind this summer as you clean up your space and keep your productivity going. Happy working!

You asked, We listened. More control over your CRM

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@headhunter: @zoho ROCKS … new CRM GUI is just simply STUNNING….Would  have to be one of the best web apps I have EVER seen – EVER – Usability PLUS!

This was one of the responses to the public launch of our new UI.

It has been just a month since we launched the new look of Zoho CRM and the response we received was encouraging. The whole idea of the change was to make all our customers more productive at work.

Most of you liked the change. But, not everyone’s tastes are the same. We understand. A few of you who were still accustomed to the old UI felt that you were missing some functionality.

You asked, we listened and here are the updates that we have made…

Reflect your priorities. Customize Business Card View

For Sales Reps who just want to focus on selling and not on data entry, the business card view gives instant access to customer information. As a user, you could also change the fields – so, if you prefer to see the contact’s mobile number instead of the email id, you could set it from a list.

While this is very helpful, some of our users also asked for an option to change the priorities of the fields. For example, here’s a comment we received in our forums:
The problem with the business card view is that it does not reflect my priorities, but someone else’s. When I click through on a contact, I do not want to see my own name. Nor would I have chosen the items you have chosen…”

We now have that option. You can not only select the fields but also change their order. There’s more. In case you feel that you do not want to see the instant information, you can hide it too.

How do you benefit from this? More customer information on the screen and minimal scrolling. Less scrolling means you can get to your information faster.

Do not want the Quick Actions? Hide It.

Quick Actions – these are the basic actions you can take from a record’s detail page. For example, if you want to add a task related to a contact, it’s easy to do so right from the contact’s detail page itself.

This is a time-saver! But it is not necessary that you’d want to use these links always. Like this comment we received: “These ‘Quick Actions’ to the right of the new business card also have no useful function for me. Sorry to be so negative, but this is the truth. I just don’t use them...”.

You can now choose to hide the Quick Actions from a record’s detail page and work the way you want to.

Wide Screen? No problems now!

Previously, we had set a fixed width of the page. Customers who are using wide screens or high resolution monitors told us that this wasn’t pleasing to the eye. “We rely heavily on the wide screen view for all of our data to be visible and this new UI does not scale automatically…“, was a comment we received.

With the latest update, you can choose the layout that you prefer. Fixed or Wide Screen, Zoho CRM fits your screen just the way you want it!

Sticky Recent Items

In our new interface, we changed the Recent Items list to a drop-down at the top menu bar. It could be clicked and used whenever needed. But then, you could not keep those items in view always.

This is another option we have provided now. You can pin the Recent Items list to your screen while you navigate within your account. You can always close it once you are done.

Let your CRM match your company’s image

A cleaner, clutter-free look. This is what we achieved with the colors that we had selected for the new UI. Color preferences can vary, of course. For example, we received a comment like this: “But if I could “skin” my UI to match my company colors, I’d feel a little more in control of what changes were coming my way…

Zoho CRM already had the ability to add your company’s logo to your account. And now, with custom themes, you can set the colors for your tabs and also choose a different background. Your account will look unique and match your company’s brand image.

We understand that every user has different work patterns. Thank you very much for your feedback and we hope that you like these updates.

Any other ideas? Let us know in the comments below.

- Sharanya R

12 Business Resolutions for 2012

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What better way to start the year than with a list of resolutions that can help your Business grow and prosper in the New Year. We’ve put together a list of 12 such resolutions that you can pick and choose from.

So, here’s wishing you a Happy and Productive New Year 2012!

#1 Prioritize

“Start every day with strategic clarity by spending 10 minutes reviewing what one-to-five things you want to achieve this year, what your strategic priorities are for achieving them, and (most importantly) what businesses, activities and opportunities you have decided to say “no” to because they distract you from what is truly important.” – Kaihan Krippendorff, author

More Resolutions from Business authors

#2 Focus on Less

When it comes to focussing your attention, energy and business resources, less is certainly more. The best example of this, is Steve Jobs’ approach to Management.

#3 Sell More

We’re guessing ‘Sell More!’ is already among the top of your Business resolutions for 2012.

To make it even easier for you to achieve this, the all-new CRM Interface comes with…

  • Simplified user actions designed to reduce the time your CRM time, so you can focus on selling
  • Pulse. Taking sales tracking to the next level, by letting you follow what’s (not) happening in your Business
  • Social CRM Integration with LinkedIn so you can associate LinkedIn profiles and engage your customers better within the CRM system

And More.

#4 Watch your Cash Flow

Are you keeping an eye on your cash flow yet?

Effective cash-flow management is essential to the growth of all businesses. Simplify your accounting process, choose an accounting solution that helps you stay on top of your finances. And start making financially informed decisions today!

Optimize Time

The time and energy you (and your team members) spend on your Business projects is perhaps your most valuable resource. Make the most of this resource, by using time-tracking tools to track the time spent on your projects. Another way to do this, would be to integrate time-tracking into your invoicing process.

Remember, time saved is money earned!

Streamline your Support Process

Great support means repeat business. And thats reason enough to streamline your Customer Support. Customers now look forward to proactive and participative support. Your support process should take into account multiple channels and should be easily trackable and measurable.

#7 Get Paid Faster

An automated invoicing process can help track time and expenses while you focus on other aspects of your business. Work with an invoicing tool that comes with additional features such as reports, mobile accessibility and integrated online payment capability.

Create a Customer Community

Do you have an online customer support community where your customers and employees can interact, share feedback, discuss ideas and brainstorm?

If not, set up a forum where you can engage them and gather valuable insights.

#9 Go Social

Social media is more than just an extension of business ethics. Your customers are out there,having conversations about your Business (or your competitors). It’s all up to you to be a part of those conversations, engage your customers and prospects, provide support and share content that matters to them.

So does your Business have a clear social media strategy linked to your overall Business objectives?

If not, now might be a good time to start! Here are more reasons why.

#10 Don’t be afraid to talk Pricing

The price of products and / services that your Business offers is probably not the main decision-making factor for your prospective clients. But, it certainly is important.

Here’s why you shouldn’t be afraid to list prices on your Business website.

#11 Collaborate

Foster an environment that encourages employees across various teams and locations to collaborate effectively. Online tools for Project Management, Discussion forums and Web-Conferencing can help you on the way to achieving this.

#12 Stay on top of your numbers

In order to make informed Business decisions, it is critical to keep an eye on your Business reports. An online reporting and Business Intelligence tool can make it easy for you visualize and analyze your Business data.

All the best with your resolutions!

Email isn’t a productivity killer unless…

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As with every other productivity tool, what really matters with email is how you use it. If email is draining your work productivity, it’s probably because you’re doing one or more of these:


  1. you make it the aim of your workday to achieve Zero-Inbox status.

    Let’s face it: the more email you send, the more you’ll receive. Set aside some time daily to respond to selective emails that are urgent and important. Mark the rest for

    later follow up
    .

  2. you believe email is real-time.

    It isn’t. And doesn’t need to be instantly responded to. If you need

    (and only if you need!)

    to initiate a real-time conversation, use IM, or make a phone call. Or even better, make it a face-to-face conversation, if that’s possible.

  3. you believe in the ‘a folder for every email and every email into a folder’ rule.

    Heard of

    Email OCD
    ? If you’re spending a lot of time just moving your mail into folders, you’re wasting valuable time that could be spent on other important tasks. Instead,

    make automated rules
     for emails that absolutely must be organized into folders. Leave the rest in your inbox.

  4. you need to hunt for emails manually, one folder at a time.

    Every time you have to look for that all-important email that suddenly needs to be referred to,

    use an advanced search feature
     to fish it out. Not only will this save you search time, it will minimize your dependency on folder-organization too (see the point above)

  5. you use the ‘reply-all’ function for every email.

    Before you use ‘reply-all’ and reply to everyone who is marked on an email, think about whether your reply will be relevant and / useful for all the intended recipients. If not, mark the email to only those who will benefit from reading it. It’s good email etiquette and saves everybody (including you!) a whole lot of time.

  6. you use email for debates and discussions.

    A more productive way to encourage ideas, discussions and brainstorms within your team(s) and / customers is to use an internal discussion forum. At Zoho, we use

    Zoho Discussions
     for all such “discussions”.

  7. you only send / check your email at the desk.

    Being able to check email on your mobile device is a necessary evil. You can spend time outside your office, meeting your customers and prospects, and yet, still find time to

    check email while you’re on the move
    . Remember to do this judiciously though, for not all email needs to be read / responded to.

  8. you check email during face-to face / telephonic interactions with people.

    Avoid doing this at all costs. For one, it’s rude. Also, you miss out on important conversations and the chance to make an impact on your audience.

Are there any other email-productivity-killing-habits that you can add to this list? Which email habit are you going to change today?

How we took Zoho CRM’s UI from “The Worst” to “S-U-P-E-R-B!”

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In Quick – out quick, nobody gets hurt” – That captures what we set out to do with our new CRM. Thanks, Gary, for noticing it.

But we must admit that was not always the case. Our old UI was pretty bad. Why? And most importantly – why and how did we fix it?

Well, traditionally we focused on the MANAGEMENT side of Sales. We were making CRM Administrators and VPs of Sales happy.  Their goal is to automate the entire sales process and also get insight into their sales funnel! With our features around Customization, Role Based Security, Workflow Management, Web Forms, Reports and Dashboards and so on, that was very easy to do.

For example, this is the kind of feedback we were getting from THAT audience.

 @sarahschaeff: Loving the flexibility & functionality in @zohocrm
So we were making sales execs and CRM admins happy. But what about the daily users?

The WORST UI! That’s what Meaghan said. We needed to hear that. Thanks again, Meaghan. We took that to heart.

By talking with our users, sales & marketing folks – the people who cannot live without a CRM system on a day-to-day basis – we learned what should have been obvious since the beginning: they want to sell more and spend very little time inside their CRM. To be more productive is all they wanted. Consider your typical sales rep. Their focus is to qualify more leads, close more deals and meet the monthly sales targets. They don’t like spending time inside the CRM system and updating status.

So then we asked ourselves questions like:

How do Sales people behave inside a CRM system?
- What do they expect a CRM system to offer?

- What are their CRM usage patterns?

And then we understood. We needed to provide a balance between Automation and Productivity. Our feature set was good enough to automate any business, but we had to re-design the user interface of Zoho CRM for easier navigation and data access. It should be a CRM system that helps Sales Reps to focus more on managing their customer relationships and less on CRMing.

After 9 months of iteration and iteration, the outcome of our efforts is almost ready:   

So we were, understandably so, elated when we saw Gary’s tweet. We think we’re on the right track.

Here are some of the highlights of the new design:

An new, organized setup.
The Setup page is better organized with all links grouped under relevant headings. It’s easier to find what you are looking for and there’s no more scrolling.

The Business Card View. Goodbye Scrolling!
When clicking a contact, you’ll find the basic information at the top of the page. So, if you have a call with a contact, you do not have to hunt for details like the phone number or the account name. It’s right where you can see it.



Faster access to customer conversations
Right below the Business Card view is the Notes section – which you can get to quickly during a call. And we made it easier for sales reps to enter notes. And from our very own, internal experience, usage of notes inside CRM sky-rocketed.

Those are just three examples of the many changes we made.

The public launch of the New Zoho CRM is not very far away. Meanwhile, you can start working on the new CRM, right now. We’re still fixing some details – so please let us know your feedback. Please take into account that you’ll be accessing your live DATA but with a different UI. Any changes that you make will be reflected on your “other” account – it’s just the same data, just looking at it through a different – and hopefully better – window.

Check out our new CRM today. Head over to


Stay tuned for more!