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!

Maximize Your Productivity With Zoho Mail For Business

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As Business-Owners or Professionals, we’re constantly looking for ways to enhance our work productivity by accomplishing more in lesser time. A recent article at GigaOm, titled ‘15 Tips For Accomplishing More In Less Time‘ gives some advice on how this can be achieved. Many of the tips mentioned in the article talk about how email can affect your productivity. With the right features, of course, email can be transformed into a powerful Business tool that helps you maximize work productivity. This was also the main objective with which we recently launched Zoho Mail for Business, a powerful hosted email solution that includes several inbuilt productivity-oriented features.

Today, we’d like to highlight Zoho Mail’s Business features that go hand in hand with GigaOm’s productivity tips:

  1. To start with, Zoho Mail can help you stay focused on the important work with its integrated Tasks app. ​The Tasks app lets you add or assign tasks with options to include start/end times, not just dates and set reminders by pop-up or email. Task-tracking is made highly effective with features such as color-coding, status-tagging and a compact graphical report of the overall status of tasks. Here’s what one of our users, Angela had to say about the Tasks app..”I have been searching for a task management software and found some really expensive ones that are not nearly as effective a tool as the Zoho email task app. I love this system!

  2. Using Keyboard shortcuts for 35 commonly-used actions in Zoho Mail can save you quite a lot of time from not having to maneuver your mouse around, enabling you to check, read and respond to messages faster. You can even customize these shortcuts with your own keystroke definitions in the Mail Settings section.

  3. Unlike many other webmail interfaces, Zoho Mail supports multi-level folders and its Filters feature includes additional options such as ‘Begins with’, ‘Is not’, ‘Ends with’, etc. By being able to filter incoming messages and automatically organizing them into specific folders or sub-folders, you can spend more time focusing on critical stuff.

  4. More often than not, as you tend to respond to messages one at a time, the most important messages get lost in the Inbox pile, which builds up to an unmanageable scale. With Zoho Mail, you can take immediate action on every email by assigning flags and labels, moving them to archives or other folders with a simple drag & drop. By effectively utilizing the three types of flags, that is Info, Important and Follow-up, you can greatly simplify categorization of your messages.

  5. The Integrated Calendar app with shareable calendars helps to keep people together and up to date with important events, within teams or with customers. The app includes features such as the ability to check when people are free / busy while scheduling events, a smart add that automatically fills in available slots in your calendar with a single line input as well as email reminders for events. Together, these features help ensure that you can be in control of your calendar and stay organized while handling events.
  6. Ever been overwhelmed with situations where you had to interact with individuals from different teams or projects within a particular company? With Zoho Mail, you can now work in chunks and focus better by creating a main folder with the company name and sub-folders within this folder with the team names. Then, you can filter and organize incoming messages to these sub-folders and manage them more efficiently, one team at a time. Additionally, you can create email templates for different situations, common questions and insert relevant template chunks at compose time.

  7. When it comes to keeping it simple, Zoho Mail is equipped with features that simplify many otherwise complex tasks down to a click of a button. The best example of this is the ‘optional’ conversation view that unveils the history of a thread in a neat tree format, saving you the burden of manually searching for related messages. Also, the ‘Edit as new’ feature, that makes it easy to pick up and edit a previous email. Zoho Mail includes many such easy-to-use but powerful shortcuts for important actions.

So, those are 7 tips / features that make Zoho Mail an ideal choice for your Business communication needs. We hope you found these tips and features handy. If you haven’t already looked at Zoho Mail for your Business, now would be a good time to give it a try! To receive more updates and productivity tips, connect with Zoho Mail on Facebook and Twitter.

7 Reasons For Self-Employed Professionals To Choose Zoho Projects

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In a recent article titled ‘

Seven Keys To Productivity In The Human Cloud

Business Insider
shared a set of productivity tips for independent consultants and freelancers; self-employed professionals who generally work from their home offices, collaborating with multiple clients and juggling multiple projects. According to the article, these tips should be used by professionals in leveraging the power of cloud-based tools for attracting and delivering better business. We offer one such cloud-based tool, Zoho Projects, which is ideal for this purpose especially since its features match all 7 criteria suggested by the article.

We’ll take Business Insider’s 7 criteria into account, to explain why Zoho Projects is the perfect choice as a tool for self-employed professionals:

#1 In accordance with tip 1, Zoho Projects is a 

Collaborative workspace which functions as a conference room where clients can easily review documents, mock-ups, share comments or check on project status
. Project members can

easily add and share project-related documents
, spreadsheets, videos, etc from within the Project. These documents appear in the document tab where they can then be reviewed by clients.

#2 Tip 2 suggests that you use ‘ an end-to-end project management solution that gives you integrated, seamless access to all aspects of your projects ‘ and that doesn’t require you to login separately to a document sharing program such as Google Docs. With Zoho projects, you get

inbuilt access
to task management, bug tracking, time tracking, project reports, meetings, project wiki and more. You can also upload documents directly from Zoho Docs or Google Docs. Read more about the Google Apps Integration that also lets you add users from Google Apps, add tasks and events in Google Calendar and view project information in Google Mail. 

#3 Tip 3 stresses the significance of staying organized by maintaining all communications, documents, tasks and milestones in a central place and of selecting a solution that supports email collaboration. Zoho Projects includes separate tabs for organizing and maintaining all your documents, tasks and milestones within your project portal. It also includes powerful email collaboration that lets you add new tasks, forums, documents, comments and status via email.

#4 Clients should be empowered to find answers to their questions and not have to rely on back-and-forth communication, says Tip 4. Zoho Projects makes all these answers easy to find with a comprehensive project dashboard that lets you view status of tasks at a glance, and keeps documents, milestones and conversations all in one central location making them easy to track. Another aspect of Zoho Projects that enables easy access to answers is the visual representation of project and task status in the Projects Reports feature. The inbuilt forums and Project Wiki also help in quickly accessing information or answers.

#5 Tip 5 talks about the importance of supporting a flexible work environment that makes it easy to invite people, control access limitations and track work-hours and expenses. Zoho Projects offers all of that flexibility; inviting users is easy, client access controls and project user access controls are seperately defined and timesheets allow project users to log their hours for tracking and billing.

#6 Invoicing, can be better aligned to purchase output if done directly from within the project workspace, says Tip 6. And of course, Zoho Projects comes with inbuilt timesheet and billing software that lets project users log and track time, record billable hours, generate customized billing reports, export timesheets and create invoices to bill your clients.

#7 Tip 7 explains why maintaining a consistent branded look with logo and colors, is important so that clients can be made to feel comfortable about your Project workspace presence. With Zoho Projects, a project team can create that consistent branded look by adding their own logo, customizing the layout, changing timezones and setting the language according to their preference.

So, if you’re a self-employed professional, you now have above 7 reasons to start using Zoho Projects. Here’s what one such professional, Raphe Patmore, experienced when he started using Zoho Projects:

My client had never used Zoho before. Once I’d set up the whole project on Zoho I shared it with him. His response after visiting Zoho was, “I knew straight away this was going to be a well managed project”

Read what some of our other customers said about Zoho Projects or share your own experience with us by writing in to support at zohoprojects dot com. If you liked this post, please share it with those who you think will find it useful.