Zoho CRM - Q1 2024 update

We're a couple of months into 2024, and all of us on the Zoho CRM team hope that your business continues to flourish and grow, along with your partnership with us.

We're kicking this year off in high gear with the Q1 2024 update, bringing you a host of powerful features and interesting enhancements to help you get a head start in closing deals and offering great customer experiences. So stock up on your favorite snacks (lots of them—you're going to be here for a while) as we dive into the details!

Automating actions in third-party tools has never been this easy 

When you think of third-party integrations, two things come to mind: plug-and-play integrations, where the system handles everything once you've enabled it, and more complicated integrations where a developer has to code every aspect of the integration using APIs from both applications.

Seamless plug-and-play integrations aren't readily available for a lot of third-party applications that you might integrate with your Zoho CRM account, so you may be forced to take the harder path that involves writing code. But what if I told you that you could automate actions in these third-party tools without writing a single line of code?

That's exactly why we added Actions by Zoho Flow in Zoho CRM, which enables you to perform actions as part of your workflows using newly added options under the Actions menu of Zoho CRM workflows. All you need to do is select which application in which you want to perform the action and then choose the action. It's as simple as that. No more endless coding!

Help your sales reps build winning flows with Kiosk Studio

Zoho CRM offers numerous customization capabilities you can use to cater your business processes to your unique business needs, but in some cases, you may need features or functionalities which require customization beyond Zoho CRM's built-in capabilities, and which instead demand custom code. What if we told you this is now possible without the need for bringing in a developer?

Kiosk Studio is a no-code interface you can use to create bespoke functionalities within Zoho CRM that align with your unique business requirements. It enables you to build capabilities using basic building elements—namely, screens, decisions, and actions. You can import data from all CRM modules, create custom screens that contain fields not available elsewhere in the CRM, perform actions for records across the CRM, fire off webhooks, and execute custom functions.

You can empower your users further within Kiosks by incorporating Zia's powerful predictive capabilities. Embed Zia's Next Best Experience suggestions within the custom capabilities that you create with Kiosk to take your business operational efficiency up a notch.

Note: This feature is in early access and will release in phases to all customers.

Ensure perfect follow-ups with Cadences 

To build and retain customer relationships, customer follow-ups are necessary across a variety of situations, such as nurturing leads, gathering customer feedback, delivering products and services, and more.

Achieving this persistent level of engagement demands that your follow-up interactions include relevant and tailored content distributed at optimal time intervals. If necessary, you should also base every subsequent follow-up on how customers respond to previous follow-ups. But to achieve the optimal cadence for these follow-ups without hassle, you'll need Cadences: a robust tool that can help you devise and manage efficient follow-up processes.

Zoho CRM's Cadences includes the following key features:

  • Automate sequences of actions that are triggered by customer responses to ensure every follow-up is relevant and tailored to each individual customer's journey.

  • Automatically remove records that have reached their desired outcomes so you can focus more easily on the right records.

  • Use multiple follow-up methods across multiple communication channels, including emails, phone calls, and tasks.

  • Use robust analytics to track campaign performance and analyze customer behavior so you can measure the effectiveness of your engagements and plan future strategies.

  • Update audience lists both statically and dynamically to cater to various customer segments.

Note: This feature is in early access and will be released in phases to all customers.

New ways to bring personalized quotes to your customers  

One of the most important functionalities we added to Zoho CRM last year was Configure, Price, Quote (CPQ), which enables businesses to create and send personalized quotes to customers quickly, thus improving efficiency, offering a better customer experience, and shortening your sales cycle.

With CPQ, you can automatically add or suggest auxiliary products or services to add to a quote and define prices and discounts based on different conditions, giving your sales reps greater flexibility and speed in creating quotes and providing greater value to your customers' purchases.

We've introduced a couple of major updates to CPQ with this announcement, so let's take a quick look at what's improved:

Support for custom modules and subforms - Let's start with the most requested update first: We've extended the ability to configure CPQ and include custom subforms for all inventory modules in Zoho CRM, as well as any custom modules you may be working with. We've also extended CPQ support beyond the Quoted Item subform in the Quotes module.

Guided Selling - Guided Selling serves as an important step toward making CPQ a powerhouse for your sales team by enabling them to build accurate and meaningful quotes for customers. You can build pre-defined questionnaires that help sales reps identify customers' needs and automatically filter for the most valuable products for them based on their answers—greatly reducing the amount of communication it normally requires.

Gain greater control over your fiscal year 

Historically, Zoho CRM has only enabled you to define your fiscal periods by defining which month is the start of your business's fiscal year. We understand that not every industry and business adheres to the same norms, and that there has been a need for more flexibility as to what constitutes a fiscal year in Zoho CRM.

You can now choose from seven custom fiscal year models when defining your custom fiscal years, where each quarter is divided into periods and each period is divided into weeks.

Below is a look at some of the formats wherein the fiscal year is split into four quarters and 13 weeks per quarter.

  • 4-4-5: Each quarter consists of three periods. Period 1 has four weeks, Period 2 has four weeks, and Period 3 has five weeks.
  • 4-5-4: Each quarter consists of three periods. Period 1 has four weeks, Period 2 has five weeks, and Period 3 has four weeks.
  • 5-4-4: Each quarter consists of three periods. Period 1 has five weeks, Period 2 has four weeks, and Period 3 has four weeks.

This new format is perfect for businesses in the manufacturing and retail industries, where comparisons are made with previous months, but also across the same periods of the previous year. All other aspects of CRM tied to your fiscal years have been updated to accommodate the new fiscal year that you've defined. Custom fiscal years only have 364 days, so you can add a surplus week that will have accumulated over six years to any period of the fiscal year you choose.

Once the new fiscal year is set, your reports, dashboards, and custom views will be recalculated so that the data is in line with the new fiscal year. However, please note that any forecasts you may have defined will be deleted when you change your fiscal year.

Roll your targets up with bottom-up forecasts 

Accurate forecasting is vital to both the short- and long-term success of an organization, playing an important role in planning activities, budgets, resources, and more. To help businesses who are looking for more flexibility and accuracy in their forecasting models, we're introducing one of the most requested updates to forecasting in Zoho CRM: the bottom-up forecasting model.

You can now build your forecasts from the ground up by letting individual users define their own realistic targets, which can then be approved, rejected, or modified by the respective forecasting managers or your CRM administrator. These targets are then rolled up to define your organization's overall forecast. You can task individuals with setting or updating their targets, which, once approved, are locked and the amount is rolled up to the overall forecast data.  

Explore Zoho CRM's bottom-up forecasting and empower your sales team to define their goals and direct their efforts toward achieving them.

Leverage powerful formatting options for your fields 

Enhance the effectiveness of your communication and the visual appeal of your information using rich text formatting, which offers a wide variety of font styles, colors, and other special formatting options. You can enhance readability using bullet points and numbered lists, or emphasize crucial details by bolding, italicizing, or underlining text. You can organize your data effortlessly with increased and decreased indents, and easily indicate changes or updates using the strikethrough feature.

Note: This feature is in early access and it will be opened to customers in phases.

Manage currencies more effectively

Enjoy greater freedom and control over your transactions in Zoho CRM with the following major updates to currency management:

  • Multi-currency for trial editions - Users in the trial edition of Zoho CRM now have access to multi-currency functionality, with support for up to five currencies

  • Profile-based permissions for managing currencies - In addition to admins, specific users can be given permissions to manage the Currency tab

  • Filter currencies by status - Organize your currencies by filtering them by status

  • Currency details and logs - Track the most recent details of and changes to the currencies set in your CRM with detailed logs

  • Deactivated currency restrictions - Upon deactivating a currency, you'll be notified that the currency will not be available when creating records, and that any favorite currencies you've associated and all record creation actions will be replaced with your home currency

Effortlessly capture customer data through webforms 

In addition to embedding webforms on your pages and using them as iframes, we've introduced two new ways in which your customers can interact with your webforms: 

  • Webform links - Once your webforms are finalized, you can generate a link that you can share via email, blog posts, social media posts, or other messaging tools which will enable you to collect customer data without having to host the form on a webpage

  • QR codes - You can even generate a QR code for your webforms that your customers can easily interact with through OOH ads, print ads, conferences, events, and so on. They can simply scan the code and access your form to submit their data

In addition to these exciting enhancements, we've also expanded on the post submission experience. Instead of directing them to a specific URL, you can now direct your customers to a thank-you page—or even show a splash message—after they've successfully submitted their information.

Self-service made easy  

Portals enable you to facilitate collaborative selling by looping in your partners, vendors, and fulfillment teams, and by offering an excellent self-service experience to customers. Until now, users could only access portals via an invite from your organization. However, all of that has changed with the latest enhancement to portals in Zoho CRM.

You can create a dedicated signup form for your portals and host it on your webpages, where your partners, vendors, or customers can sign up. You can also deploy automated welcome emails upon signup. And, of course, to keep things secure, customers need to authenticate their access with an OTP before accessing your portal.

You can also view detailed analytics regarding the performance of these forms, as well as run A/B tests to help fine-tune your forms. If your organization has reached its maximum allotment of portal users, you can track new signups under a separate view, helping you monitor which and how many potential customers are waiting for access to your portals.

Get accurate aggregations in your subforms  

Aggregate fields in subforms are a great way to perform important mathematical functions on the data you've gathered from your subforms and to derive insights. So far, you've had the ability to work with three different types of aggregate fields:

  • Predefined functions - Easily apply common mathematical functions like SUM, AVERAGE, MAXIMUM, and MINIMUM

  • Formula functions - Customize your aggregates with personalized formula expressions

  • Manual entry - Keep things in your control by manually entering values

With this update, we've introduced a new type of aggregate field you can work with in your subforms: condition-based aggregate fields. This gives you greater flexibility and control over the fields that you want aggregated in your subforms by defining very specific criteria or conditions. Some important capabilities that come with this new field type are:

  • Criteria-driven aggregation - Set specific conditions or criteria to filter and prioritize the data that's most relevant to you, rather than just collecting general information. The system will then gather and aggregate only the data that meets these conditions

  • Distinct data views - This feature is revolutionary for datasets that cover various categories. If you have data that distinguishes between different categories, such as cameras and photography devices or printers and scanners, you can now easily separate and analyze these categories individually, guaranteeing clear and accurate insights

Understand and manage your email storage 

Looking back at our journey, we've consistently focused on enhancing email features, and one crucial example is email storage. However, every business uses it differently, which poses challenges for admins and managers in effectively managing it, given the absence of clear rules on utilizing and procuring additional email storage in Zoho CRM.

That said, email storage is now capped at 500 GB per organization or 5 GB per user—whichever is lesser. This storage includes all emails sent from within CRM, and for emails sent from the user's configured mailbox, storage is calculated as follows: For POP users, email content and attachments will be taken into account, while for IMAP users, only the mail content will count towards the overall storage.

To help your organization manage the new storage system, we've introduced two new views:

  • Admin view - Your organization's admins can get a complete picture of how your organization is using email storage, as well as much how individual users are using. If the need arises, they can delete unnecessary emails and send notifications instructing individual users to delete emails in their accounts, right from the dashboard

  • User view - Individual users can use this view to track their own usage of their allotted storage space and delete emails that they've sent from Zoho CRM or a configured mailbox when needed.

Note: This feature is in early access and is being rolled out in phases to ensure there's no disruption to operations. If you're interested in obtaining early access, please submit a request and we'll be happy to enable it for you.

Monitor and improve your email deliverability

If your organization frequently relies on emails to communicate with customers, it's important to make sure your emails actually get delivered. Getting hit with spam complaints is the last thing you need, as it can severely hurt the credibility of your emails. To help ensure that your business develops good email sending practices, and to help businesses like yours comply with Google and Yahoo’s updated bulk email sender guidelines, we've introduced a few dedicated enhancements:

  • Mandatory domain authentication - To improve Zoho CRM's sender reputation and meet the industry's high standards, all emails sent from Zoho CRM will be sent from email addresses tied to authenticated domains. If you add the necessary SPF and DKIM files to your domain's DNS settings, your email-sending domains will be successfully authenticated

  • Enhanced bounce management - We've streamlined the process of managing your bounces. Instead of classifying them as soft or hard bounces, they're now classified as temporary and permanent bounces. You can also now directly unblock email addresses that have been temporarily blocked due to a bounce if you feel the issue has been resolved. However, to unblock email addresses that are permanently blocked, you'll have to reach out to the Zoho CRM support team

  • Email credibility dashboard - We've introduced a dedicated dashboard inside Zoho CRM to help your business monitor your team's email sending practices. You can closely monitor spam complaints and bounce rates, and even use Zoho's recommendations to improve your email sending practices. Scores are assigned to accounts based on the spam or bounce complaints they've accumulated over a period of time. You can then identify and filter out accounts with poor credibility to ensure that your emails get delivered to important customers

Centralize every email communication in your deals 

This is one of the biggest quality-of-life updates we've made to how emails and deals interact in Zoho CRM. Historically, you've only been able to associate one primary contact with each deal, and could track only the email interactions you've had with this contact. But a deal doesn't necessarily involve just one person, does it? You likely interact with multiple contacts that occupy various roles across your customer's organization.

The good news is that you can now map these people as contact roles under the same deal, allowing you to centralize every email interaction you have with these people under the deal associated with the client's organization. You can then filter through emails, review older conversations, and get an idea of how the interaction and the deal negotiation itself have evolved.

Connect with your vendors via emails right from inside Zoho CRM 

We're excited to announce one of the most anticipated and requested updates to our email capabilities: the ability to send and manage emails from your Vendors module. With the latest upgrade, you can use the Vendors module to manage vendor details, send emails, and track email conversations; you'll no longer have to switch between your email app and your CRM to send emails or review communications with vendors.

This new functionality includes sending emails, checking consolidated conversations you've had with vendors in your email related list, sending out mass emails to your vendors, and even running reports on the emails you've sent to your vendors. You can also let vendors opt out of any email communications you send from Zoho CRM so that you can stay compliant as you collaborate!

Note: This feature is in early access and it will be opened to customers in phases.

Fast and secure authentication for your email relays  with OAuth

Email relays are a great way for businesses who rely on email for communicating important updates with customers to send these emails without having them mislabeled or marked as spam. This way, your business can route the emails you send from Zoho CRM through your company's servers before being sent to your customers.

In order to simplify the setup of email relays—and to enhance the security of the overall email relay itself—we've now introduced OAuth authentication configurations. You can now directly set up relay servers by using the OAuth login from your email service provider.

To enhance the overall experience, we've also added a service provider option, for which you'll be prompted to log in via your OAuth credentials or password.

Provide secure access to Zoho Support for debugging  

There's no such thing as a perfect, bug-free, or error-free software tool—and the same goes for Zoho CRM. We try ensure that you face as few issues as possible when you use our product, but you may sometimes face issues that require intervention from Zoho support.

In order to streamline the entire troubleshooting process, we've introduced a new functionality called Support Access, which you can enable to provide Zoho developers or support agents secure and temporary access to your Zoho CRM account, which in turn enables them to check and resolve the issues you may be facing.

You can define a timeline for the temporary access, which goes into effect the instant you enable the support access feature. If you feel like you've resolved the issue, or if the Zoho Developer or Support agent have resolved it, you can immediately revoke or disable the access at any time.

Note: The assigned Zoho developer or support agent will be added as a hidden user so as to not affect your license count. There are various restrictions on the actions of the support user, which you can learn about here. All of their actions are captured in the audit log as well for an additional layer of accountability.

Migrate the Services and Appointments modules between CRM accounts 

In the off chance that you're migrating between two Zoho CRM accounts, you no longer have to worry about recreating or transferring your Services and Appointments module data from one CRM account to another. We've introduced migration support for the Services and Appointments modules, which streamlines the entire process through a series of clear and simple steps.

Read more about the important points you need to keep in mind or the configurations you need to make before migrating.

Predict which customers might churn based on their activities 

We introduced Churn Prediction in Zoho CRM to help businesses identify at-risk customers and come up with strategies to retain them long-term. We've now introduced an enhancement that enables businesses with an online presence to predict the churn of their customers more accurately.

You can integrate Google Analytics with our Churn Prediction model to enable Zia to analyze and learn from your customer's online behavior, identify risk factors, and better predict customers who might be thinking of leaving your business. This gives you a more comprehensive picture of which actions Zia has taken into account to predict their churn, thus giving you a clearer idea of which corrective actions may have the biggest impact in reducing the risk of churn.

Get notified of anomalies right where you work  

Day in and day out, there are deviations across key metrics that you may not notice as you go about your daily activities in Zoho CRM. Maybe there's a drop in the number of leads, or your team failed to follow up with a customer.

Now you don't have to worry about missing these important anomalies, as Zia will automatically identify them without any special configuration. Zia will then notify users of these anomalies in their most frequently used custom views, where they can view detailed information about the anomaly and plan the steps they need to take to address them.

Get a better understanding of the voice of your customers  

In Zoho CRM, Voice of the Customer (VoC) is a powerful tool that can help businesses understand their customers at a deeper level. By analyzing incoming emails and calls in CRM, as well as survey results (Zoho Survey) and support tickets (Zoho Desk), VoC distills the content so you can derive important insights on the following attributes of your customer base: sentiment, intent, keywords, competitor mentions, RFM analysis based customer segments, forecast analysis, and more.

We're adding a few enhancements that can help you get more out of VoC and build strategies that align more closely with what your customers need and expect:

  • Gather insights from social media and notes - In addition to our existing channels, we're now including social media and notes as sources to derive insights into what your customers think and say.

  • Build customized dashboards for insights - You can now edit the charts you have access to, customize existing dashboards, or create custom dashboards with insights that matter to you.

  • Trigger automated actions based on VoC insights - You can now execute workflows based on keywords in emails from your VoC analytics so that you can react to customers when they bring up specific topics and keywords in conversations.

Segment and group contributing factors to derive insights from Zia Strategy Influencer 

Zia Strategy Influencer is a great tool for getting detailed insights into how your business is performing and what's driving or hampering your growth. These driving factors—called contributing factors—were previously listed individually and required that you select them one by one in order to see the corrective actions you could take.

With the latest update, Zia will identify and use underlying patterns to group these factors into different segments for the Target Contributors and Anomaly Finder components in Zia's Strategy Influencer. This segmentation helps call attention to important factors that could greatly improve your overall business if necessary corrective actions are taken on time.

Zia Vision has been fine-tuned and upgraded 

We've made a couple of enhancements to Zia Vision that we'll quickly go over so you can see how you can put it to use to improve your overall validation process for images entering your CRM.

Let's say we're using Zia to validate product images on an ecommerce platform, and we use the match option to ensure that these images match the color, design, and overall quality of the reference images. For example, let's say a seller uploads an image of a red dress and Zia validates it based on how closely it matches the reference images used for training.

The detect option helps sellers validate product images where the product forms a part of the image. For example, let's say you're uploading product images of sofas and want the images to contain a sofa in a room. When a seller uploads such an image, Zia will attempt to detect the sofa within that image.

We've now added the option to do both in a single rule, thus improving the accuracy of Zia's image validation, as images will only be approved if both of the following are present:

  • A complete match to the reference images

  • Detected (or undetected) objects

For example, let's say you want to match product images of laptops but also ensure that the webcam, screen, keyboard, trackpad, and so on are present as well. Using this method, you can ensure that tablets, desktops, and other objects are not mistakenly approved.

Visualize how data is connected across Zoho CRM 

Have you ever wanted a comprehensive picture of how the modules, fields, subforms, and picklists in your Zoho CRM account are interconnected? The new Data Model feature offers a clear overview of these relationships so you can gain a deeper understanding of how your data is connected across the product.

Get a complete list of entities and use it to drill down into and highlight how they relate to other entities. You can even identify whether relationships are one-to-one (lookups) or many-to-one relationships (multi-select lookups) based on the type of relationship line used: single relationship lines for one-to-one relationships and multi-relationship lines for many-to-one relationships.

We've also provided a developer mode, which gives you more detailed information about the entities you're looking at, namely module and field API names, as well as the data type of each field.

If this piques your interest, you can check this document for more detailed information.

Orchestrate complex processes using Circuits 

If you're a Zoho CRM veteran—or simply someone who's always wanted niche integrations or to be able to perform very specific operations in Zoho CRM—you might be familiar with writing custom functions.

The challenge with the current state of custom functions is that they're monolithic, meaning that you probably end up writing one big custom function that performs multiple operations, but which in turn becomes very hard to maintain, reuse, or debug if there are issues.

To bridge this gap and make it easier for developers to build and orchestrate complex operations with custom functions in CRM, we're introducing Circuits, which enables developers to do so in the form of a state machine, and even to expand these into microservices and custom applications. Circuits encompass the following use cases:

  • Orchestrate custom functions - Address complex needs in your business by associating custom functions with state machines built in Circuits.

  • Debug issues easily - View the execution and errors of each state with detailed logs so you can identify causes of failures, debug issues, and rerun circuits easily.

  • Developer friendly - Leverage simple JSON syntax to build Circuits.

  • Connect to existing automations - Circuits you create can easily be associated with and executed through workflows, custom buttons, or blueprints.

Note: This feature is currently available in the US, EU and IN DC only.

GraphQL:  A new way to fetch the data you need from Zoho CRM 

In addition to fetching data from Zoho CRM using REST APIs, our team has been working towards successfully supporting the query of CRM data using GraphQL.

One of the biggest advantages of using GraphQL is that you can be very specific about which data you want to pull, which greatly minimizes the amount of data transferred over the network and makes more efficient use of your existing bandwidth. You can also pull multiple resources in a single query, which enables you to reduce the number of API calls you make to get the data you need.

Another advantage is that you get the complete schema for your CRM data, enabling you to identify the exact query you have to run to get the data you need. You can define conditions in your queries, as well as sort the data according to your needs.

Note: GraphQL is available in the Ultimate Edition of Zoho CRM.

In addition to all of these big updates, we also have many powerful enhancements that you might find interesting to incorporate into your business process. Let's take a quick look at them.

 Enhancements to Zia 

  • Expanded support for enrichment - We now support enrichment for all standard and custom modules, as well as an expanded number of fields

  • Competitor widget - Monitor competitor mentions in your customer communications with a dedicated widget and filter out records that mention competitors with smart filters in your modules

  • Competitor in workflow - Build workflows to automate different actions, emails, and campaigns based on the competitors your customers mention

  • Search suggestions in Ask Zia - As you enter search queries, Zia can automatically suggest relevant queries and modify them based on your CRM usage for a more personalized search experience

  • Enhanced presentation with Zia Analytics - Zia can now contextually analyze your CRM usage and add to your best time to contact presentations elements such as specific dashboard charts, KPIs, VoC forecast charts, and analytics, as well as narrate them in the form of a story within the presentation. This enables you to build your deck quickly and focus instead on connecting with customers

  • Call highlights - Zia will help you make the most of your calls by highlighting important details in your call transcripts, including people, companies, competitors, keywords, phrases, and more

  • Enhancements to activity extraction - You can now capture multiple activities in the emails you receive—like calls, meetings, and tasks—as well as commitments you've made to customers in your replies

  • Feedback mechanism in Email Intelligence - To help Zia make better decisions and suggestions related to your business emails, we now offer a feedback mechanism that you can use to help us train Zia's algorithms more effectively

  • Zia suggestions for analytical components - In addition to your reports, Zia can now analyze the access and usage of your custom views and dashboards, and suggest the most accurate analytical component for you to use. These suggestions also include new KPI and chart components

  • Enhancements to Zia's Strategy Influencer - You can now add multiple criteria when creating an influencer component, and you can now extend access to Zia Influencer dashboards to other users across your organization. Users can also view the underlying configurations of dashboards they create. Another big update we have in store is that Zia's Strategy Influencer now supports multiple languages, so all of the valuable insights Zia offers will now be available in the language of your choice in Zoho CRM

 Enhancements to Zoho CRM 's calendar

  • Synchronize unavailability - With the added support for two additional calendars—Zoho Calendar and Zoho Recruit Calendar—meetings or events scheduled on these calendars will be automatically reflected in your CRM calendar as well, marking you as unavailable for that particular slot

  • Track your tasks - Stay on top of your tasks by tracking them via your CRM calendar, where all of your assigned tasks are now blocked

General enhancements

  • Best mode of communication - In addition to right time to contact suggestions, Zoho CRM also provides suggestions for the best mode of communication to use to connect with your customers

  • Formula fields - We've added a few basic functions to our formula fields. Check out the full list here

 Thank you for your continued support!

That wraps up our Q1 2024 Zoho CRM updates, and as always, we hope that you get a lot of use out of these features and can provide us with your honest feedback. We use this feedback to build and refine our features and functionalities.

We have some big news heading your way, as we have some truly innovative functionalities in the works, and we can't wait to share them with you. Until then, from all of us at Zoho CRM, Happy Selling!


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