New Interface, Features for Zoho CRM

Zoho has released a fully optimized user interface for its on-demand customer relationship management software, Zoho CRM.

One of interface's major upgrades is in functionality and customization, with further email integration, categories that look and act cleaner, and new product features, like Google calendar synch. "We wanted to reduce the number of clicks and to really improve workflow," says Raju Vegesna, product evangelist for Zoho. "We recently closed on 25,000 customers, which was really exciting for us, and we're slowly expanding the use (of the new interface)."

Social features have been introduced, including a full LinkedIn integration and Pulse, which is designed for internal collaboration.

"It's like Twitter for CRM," Vegesna says. "If you want to follow a particular opportunity, you can select a deal you're interested in and follow it. Under the Pulse module, you'll be notified when something happens, and you can even set when you want to be alerted or when there is a closing date on a particular opportunity."

Within a year, Vegesna expects Zoho to roll out integration with existing user interface applications, such as accounting systems."No matter what application you're in, if you're in a CRM system and a contact also exists in an accounting system, you can be notified when there are unpaid invoices and set notifications for when action occurs," Vegesna says.

The Zoho CRM Enterprise Edition now includes an integrated Zoho Creator App, which allows users to tailor categories like single line expenses, contact information, and currency and deploy them to sales and marketing teams. The enterprise edition also offers workflow Web hooks, allowing users, for instance, to synchronize contacts with a third-party app and set a notification when a change occurs in Zoho CRM.

Some of the features, like the LinkedIn module, are available to free users, Vegesna says. Pulse is available for enterprise and paid users only.

"We're not getting rid of the features we have, but…integrating them after taking user feedback," Vegesna says. "We wanted to make this user-friendly. There are so many consumer apps out there, but when you look at business apps, the common theme across the board is, 'They all suck.'"

On the interface front, improvements include:

  • Reduced click counts—fewer clicks required for navigation of the CRM suite, including reduced clicks to create, edit, or view contacts;
  • Focused content—replaces recent items, calendar, and sidebar items with menu bar icons and content adjustment capabilities; and
  • Anticipated user actions—screens now only display fields containing information entered by the user and blank fields are hidden.

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