Zoho CRM - Autumn '23 update

As our customers, you've given us one of the most priceless intangibles as a brand: your trust. To live up to that trust and ensure that we live up to the standards set for us, we're always looking towards improving the functionalities in and experiences with Zoho CRM.

Every year brings with it new challenges that businesses like yours and the applications you use need to overcome. As a CRM solution provider, we want to ensure that your business is fully equipped to deal with any challenges, present or future, so that your team can focus on closing deals and building relationships.

We've focused on improving the CRM experience for everyone in your business, including your sales teams, administrators, and even your customers. Let's take a quick look at the enhancements and features that we've rolled out for you.

For your customers 

A CRM is a tool meant not only to make the lives of your team members easier, but ultimately to elevate your customers' experience with your business. With a strong focus on customer centricity, we're excited to announce that all these powerful features will help you put the customer at the heart of everything you do.

Path Finder 

Last year, we introduced one of our most important important additions to the Zoho CRM toolbox: the journey builder in CommandCenter, which enables businesses to map out and automate dynamic, end-to-end customer journeys. Many of you have already taken advantage of this powerful feature to build comprehensive customer journeys.

But not every journey is as straightforward as you planned it to be, is it? There are roadblocks, diversions, distractions, and so much more that tend to take you away from your initial path. The same applies to your customers and their journey with your business.

But how do you identify when customers are having trouble on their journeys with you or going down paths that you never took into account?

To help you solve this very issue, we're adding another vital and powerful component to CommandCenter to complement the journey builder. Path Finder enables you to create visual maps of the various paths your customers are taking on their journey with your business. You can then compare the current customer journey that you've built using the journey builder with the output from Path Finder to identify and map out any gaps you have in your existing journey, and improve your overall processes at each of these touchpoints.

With Path Finder, you can identify and cover all possible paths, thus enabling you to build a more holistic customer journey and deliver meaningful interactions at every step.

SMS notifications 

Whether it's shopping, banking, navigation, or now even payments, for each of these interactions, you can be sure that customers receive SMS updates. And as a business, if you're able to integrate this key channel into your process, you'll have a powerful tool to connect with your customers.

You can do exactly that with Zoho CRM's SMS notifications feature, with which you can send your customers vital transactional information through SMS. You can create templates and get them approved by your region's regulatory body, and once approved, you can leverage Zoho CRM's powerful automation capabilities to keep customers updated on important interactions.

Note: This feature is only available for customers in India as of now, but please rest assured that we're working hard to ensure this feature aligns with the requirements of the regulatory needs in other regions so that we can bring it to all our customers across the globe.

Templates for your WhatsApp messages 

Apart from text messages, one of the most popular platforms for customers to engage with businesses and each other is, of course, WhatsApp.

You can drive customer interactions on this popular platform with the WhatsApp for Business integration we have in Zoho CRM. But we're adding another important functionality to improve the overall experience for businesses when using this integration: templates for WhatsApp messages.

Create templates for different types of messages, like transactional or marketing, so that your business has access to ready-to-use templates to respond quickly to or update customers when needed.  

Wizard support in portals 

Self-service is a vital part of your overall customer experience strategies. As a business, you need to empower customers to handle certain interactions with you on their own easily. Giving your customers access to their data in your CRM through portals, along with the ability to perform various actions, has been a game changer for self-service.

We're taking this a step further by introducing another useful feature that you can now leverage for portals. Wizards in Zoho CRM let you transform your record creation process into a series of smaller but sequential forms, giving you better focus on and clarity into the information that needs to be entered.

You can now extend this powerful feature to your customers through portals, and thereby give them more control over and a clearer understanding of the information that you require from them when they interact with your business through your portals.

Blueprint support in portals 

Customers are an important part of your business process; oftentimes, they're the center of it. But are they always actively participating? Not likely.

With Blueprint support in portals, you can now actively loop your customers and other external stakeholders into your carefully mapped out business process by giving ownership of specific transitions in your blueprint to your portal users.

A price revision for portals in Zoho CRM 

The price of portal user licenses is now $5 per user per month. This was the lowest price in the previous scheme, and now it'll be applied to all portal user license purchases.

For existing purchases, the new pricing will come into effect in the next payment cycle.

Customize your unsubscribe landing page 

They say, "All good things must come to an end," and as much as we don't want it to happen, it's true—like for a customer's interest in the emails that you send. Sometimes customers just don't want to be contacted anymore, and as a business, you need to respect that choice. So why not bid them goodbye in style?

You can now completely customize what your customers see when they unsubscribe from your emails. You can leverage merge fields to personalize the content of the unsubscribe page, as well as the confirmation page they see immediately after.

For your sales team 

Every day, your sales team clocks in and spends the rest of the day using your CRM as they interact with customers, follow up, and close deals. Making their jobs and lives easier is the focus of many of our latest additions to Zoho CRM. Let's look at what we have in store for your sales team.

Enhancements to your home pages and dashboards 

Home pages are a vital part of your team's daily operations. A great home page carries all the important information that your team might need to get an idea of what they need to do for the day when they log in. We've got some enhancements to ensure that your team is able to get the perfect home page set up for the jobs.

  • Profile-based home page sharing - In addition to role-based home page sharing, you can now share home page components based on a user's profile as well, giving your users more comprehensive insights into their activities.

  • Access multiple home pages - No longer are users restricted to a single home page; they can now access up to 10 home pages: up to five based on their roles and five based on their profiles.

  • Dashboard support in copy customization - You can replicate analytics configurations from source accounts to target accounts for your dashboards, with certain restrictions.

Lookup filters 

Take a minute and think back to the last time you were trying to link records across modules. Imagine clicking on that lookup field for an account and getting blasted with hundreds and hundreds of records from the Accounts module. Imagine scrolling through them endlessly to identify the right account while avoiding inactive accounts.

Now imagine how easy that would have been if the lookup field only displayed specific records based on conditions that you've predefined: accounts from a specific region, products that are still in stock, subscriptions that are still active, and more.

With lookup filters, your admins can ensure that your sales team has access to the right records when they perform a lookup by defining the right conditions.

Threshold for assignments  

Your sales reps are hard at work every day engaging with customers and helping prospects find value in what your business offers. The last thing you'd want to do is overload them with more leads than they can handle with high-quality engagement.

To help you mitigate this risk, Zoho CRM now has the option of setting thresholds on the amount of records that can be assigned to each rep in your business. You can:

  • Set limits on record assignment - Define a maximum number of records that can be assigned to a rep without overwhelming them, so they can devote time and effort towards having great interactions with each lead or customer.

  • Set limits on backlogs - Ensure that new records are only assigned to reps once their existing backlogs fall within the defined limits.

  • Automatic reallocation - If there are excess records that can't be assigned due to the threshold, you can set up automations to ensure that they're redistributed periodically to your team.

Voice recording fields in the Calls module 

One activity your sales team spends a lot of their time on, is calls. For prospecting, making follow-up calls, and even scheduling meetings and site visits, your team handles a wide range of interactions over the phone.

Wouldn't it be great if you could manage your call recordings right inside your CRM so that sales managers, or even sales reps, could quickly access the recordings and obtain important information or learn how to hold better conversations in the future?

We've introduced a voice recording field in the Calls module where you can add links to your call recordings, which will then render as an audio player so you can listen to and analyze conversations. As with any system in Zoho CRM, you can also define who can see and interact with this field for an added layer of security.

Exciting updates to Mail Merge 

Mail Merge offers a great way to customize, personalize, and share documents with your customers by integrating with Zoho Writer. By utilizing merge fields, you can combine data from your CRM with pre-existing templates, eliminating the need to create a new template for each document. This enables you to create personalized quotes, terms and conditions, contracts, agreements, and more.

Here's a quick rundown of the enhancements we have for you in Mail Merge:

  • Inventory modules support - You can now use Mail Merge capabilities to create merge templates in the Quotes, Sales Orders, Purchase Orders, and Invoices modules as well.

  • Import PDF support - You can now import PDF files into your merge templates to ensure that your content/terms are locked when you distribute them to your customers.

  • Image field support - You can now leverage the image fields in merged templates to pull any images in a record into the merged templates, which you can then format as needed before finalizing the documents.

Zia is everywhere 

You've probably been hearing a lot of "AI this, AI that" for a while now. AI is everywhere. We won't be caught lagging behind the competition, so you can be sure that you'll see cutting-edge AI capabilities seeping into multiple functions across Zoho CRM. Let's see what the AI department has introduced:

  • Assignment - Zia will now suggest users for assignment when records are created manually as well, and you have access to reports where you can check the assignments to understand how Zia assigns these records.

  • Scoring - Zia will intelligently score your incoming leads based on various factors to make it easy for your sales team to prioritize their outreach and follow-ups.

  • Recommendations for existing records - Once the recommendations are up and running, they'll now appear for existing records as well, in addition to any records added after the recommendation was set up.

  • Segment your recommendations - Zia will group your recommendations and help you identify common factors to enable you to approach your opportunities more effectively.

  • Context for next best experiences - Based on your historical interactions, Zia will intelligently suggest the next best action to take, along with the context as to why you should take the suggested action.

  • Failed activities metrics for best time to contact - Zia will analyze and give you insights into activities that failed when sent/scheduled at the suggested best time to contact.

  • Subject line suggestions - When working with emails, Zia will suggest interesting and catchy subject lines that can help you hook your reader's attention.

  • Suggestions in webform A/B testing - Webform testing in Zoho CRM gets a dose of AI with A/B testing suggestions for low-performing webforms, as well as variant suggestions, dynamic traffic allocation suggestions, test duration extension suggestions, confidence scoring, and more.

Workflows for notes 

Automation does wonders for productivity. You can focus on your customers while you let Zoho CRM handle countless menial tasks for you, from updating records to sending emails or scheduling follow-ups. And you have complete control over when the system initiates these automations via workflows.

We're adding more flexibility to that now by giving you the ability to set up workflows that automate actions based on the notes you add to your records. You can set up automations for when notes are added, edited, or deleted, as well as based on the title and content of the notes, giving you another powerful avenue of automation to make your sales reps' lives easier.

You can automatically set up meetings when you mention demos in your notes, notify your manager immediately if a customer asks for a discount, and more. We can't wait to see how you put this feature to use across your business process.

Strategy Influencer 

Zoho CRM's Strategy Influencer feature consists of various analytics regarding your organization's overall trends and patterns, offering insights such as predicted targets, anomalies, reasons for missed targets, and solutions to achieve targets. Using these insights, you can understand your overall business performance and devise optimal strategies to enhance it.

  • Target Contributors - Understand all the different factors that have contributed to the current target that your business has achieved.

  • Anomaly Finder - Identify anomalies in your achieved and expected targets, as well as the impact these have had on the target amount across different time periods.

  • Gap Analyzer - Determine the difference between the predicted and actual values, and the underlying reasons for the differences.

  • Predictor - Track predicted and achieved targets for the top-contributing picklist and lookup field values Zia has identified, as well as their impacts during different time periods.

  • Prescriptor - Learn how you can achieve a predicted target, and also how to rectify a missed target to achieve it moving forward.

Performance analysis in forecasting 

Nothing makes sales reps happier than knowing that they're on track to achieve or even exceed their targets, because—let's be honest—while sales is tough and competitive, at the same time the sense of fulfillment one gets as they get closer and closer to their targets is unparalleled.

Forecasting in Zoho CRM is a great way for businesses to set up targets and help everyone across your business do their best to meet these targets. We've added a few powerful tools so your sales team can slice and dice your sales performance. Let's take a quick look at all the new tools at your disposal for better forecasting!

  • Performance trends - Users can see what their current achievements are compared to what their targeted achievements should be. They can even see the future trend of what their performance might look like as well.

  • Achievement comparison - Your sales reps can compare their achievements to see their growth on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis.

  • Compare across forecasts - Your sales team can even compare their targets, achievements, and open deals across different forecasting periods to see how their performance has evolved.

  • User performance page - Your reps now have a dedicated page to track their individual performances for a particular forecasting period, along with a complete breakdown of different forecasting metrics and performance data.

Custom forecasting categories  

When you're setting up your forecasts, one of the most important factors that illustrate your targets and achievements are the deals in your pipeline—and in particular, your open deals. Previously, tour team could categorize open deals into three categories to make it easier for the system to calculate your forecasts:

  • Pipeline - For deals that are still deep in the sales process

  • Best case - For deals that have the highest chances of closing

  • Committed - For deals that are simply awaiting closure

On the other hand, closed deals fit into two categories:

  • Closed won - For the deals you've won and closed successfully

  • Omitted - For the deals that you've lost

But if you feel that in your business process there are deals that don't fall under any of the above categories, you now have the option to create two custom categories. Additionally, you can even change the color that represents each of these categories (except closed deals). These new categories and the updated colors will be reflected across various locations, including forecast creation, target achievement reports, forecast performance reports, and user performance reports.

Keyboard shortcuts 

Back in the 1980s, a man named Larry Tesler revolutionized how we worked with computers with his chief innovation: keyboard shortcuts for the cut, copy, paste, and undo actions. Imagine our world today without these shortcuts to help us navigate the numerous documents, text files, applications, and software we work with.

We realize the importance of shortcuts like this and the quality of life they bring to the software in which they're available. Now you, too, can create a number of custom shortcuts with single keys or a combination of two or more keys for various actions inside Zoho CRM, like creating tasks, sending emails, adding notes, opening the settings menu, and more.

Navigate and work inside CRM with ease using your own custom keyboard shortcuts.

For your admins 

Last but not least, we'll be talking about the latest additions for the unsung heroes of your organization: your CRM administrators. So much work goes into keeping a complex CRM deployment up and running, and we want to do our best to give administrators all the tools necessary to make the management of your CRM account easier. Let's see what we have for your admins this time around!

Enhancements to find and merge and deduplication 

Nobody likes duplicates, unless it's money you find in your pockets before you throw your clothes in the washing machine. The same goes for duplicates in your CRM, from customers to deals or invoices. Duplicates in the system end up making everyone's jobs harder.

To help your business rid your system of duplicates more effectively, we've introduced some enhancements to our deduplication system inside Zoho CRM. Let's take a quick look at all the latest additions:

  • Customize search parameters - You can now add or remove fields to refine your search criteria further and identify duplicates.

  • Support for deals and custom modules - You're no longer restricted to just using deduplication capabilities in the Leads, Accounts, Contacts, and Vendors modules; the feature is now supported in the Deals module, as well as across all your custom modules, enabling you to clear your CRM system of duplicates effectively.

Extended controls for user fields 

The user field we introduced allowed your business to extend co-ownership of records to another user. However, the caveat with this approach was that they would have the same level of permissions as that of the primary owner.

We've now introduced an enhancement to user fields to set accessibility controls for co-owners through which admins can decide if the co-owner has full access, read/write, or read only access to these records. Now your team can collaborate on important deals or prospects while maintaining your data's integrity.

Global sets 

Everyone who's worked for any amount of time in a CRM knows about picklists, and any admin working with Zoho CRM until recently would have had to deal with the pain of having to re-create the same picklist and its multiple associated values across different modules to ensure that record information like lead source, industry, country, etc. would match as a record moves through your sales pipeline.

Say goodbye to that long, drawn-out process with the introduction of global sets. With global sets, you can create one set of picklist values which you can simply associate with different modules.

Your admins end up saving a ton of time and effort, and your sales team have access to accurate information in your picklists—thus keeping your CRM data clean and accurate across your sales process.

Custom domain mapping 

Every business does its best to ensure that its brand identity is established strongly in its customers' minds—from its name and logo to the colors, visuals, and sounds associated with its brand. So often it's jarring for customers when they see the names or branding of third-party tools in their interactions with a brand.

To help your business maintain consistent branding and credibility even when your customers interact with your business on Zoho's platforms, we've now introduced custom domains.

With this capability, you effectively get the best of both worlds; that is, you get the efficiency of the Zoho CRM system packaged and served under your company's brand name. As a quick example, instead of your business using crm.zoho.com to access your CRM account, it could be rebranded to your sales team's identity—something like sales.zylker.com. This involves a three-step process, and we believe it will be a game changer for businesses that are investing in building strong brand identities!

New enhancements to admin tools 

Admin tools—a feature we rolled out earlier this year—was a great addition to admins' toolsets in Zoho CRM. It helped them remove unused configurations like templates, reports, custom views, and workflows in bulk.

We've now added the ability to identify, filter, and delete your organization's roles, profiles, and webforms in bulk. This makes it much easier for your admins to keep your CRM clean and streamlined, so that your sales reps aren't hampered by bloat from unused configurations that impede their day-to-day activities.

Native integration support in sandbox 

Sandboxes are vital for larger organizations or businesses with complex CRM deployments to ensure that the changes they make to their CRM are tested before being implemented.

So far, we haven't supported the ability to test out integrations inside the Zoho CRM sandbox—but that changes now. To start with, you can now test out Zoho Survey and Zoho Social integrations thoroughly inside the sandbox and deploy it to your production account once everything is running perfectly.

We're working hard to expand this support for other key native integrations. Please stay tuned for updates on that front.

Thank you for tuning in!  

That's a wrap on everything new in CRM for now. You may have been working with these features since their early access, or you might be hearing about them for the first time now. Regardless, we hope that you continue to use these features extensively and give us brutally honest feedback as to how we can make them better.

As always, we're cooking up a lot more exciting features and updates in the background that we look forward to showing off, but that's a ways off. For now, we hope you rigorously test out and implement these new features, and if you feel like they could be improved, please let us know. We'll see you in the next update. Until then, from everyone on the Zoho CRM team: Happy selling!


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