Zoho CRM & You - Go Further Together

As we swing into the new year, we wanted to compile all the features we've added to Zoho CRM recently in a neat little post and present it to you. We'll cover everything new across sales enablement, including additions to Zia and features and enhancements that improve your overall sales operations.

Let's start this year off with a bang and welcome to the first big update for Zoho CRM.

Sales enablement  

At the end of the day, a CRM is meant to complement your day-to-day activities and elevate the quality of your team's work. Here's a quick look at the features that we've added to Zoho CRM that enables sales teams to perform their daily activities with a high level of efficiency and personalization.

Email threads   

Because emails are still by far the preferred communication channel in business interactions, it's vital to ensure that the experience of working with emails is nothing short of great.

One big quality of life improvement we've made is that you're no longer forced to read every conversation with a customer as a separate email; Zoho CRM now supports threaded views for your emails. You can open any email and simply expand the attached list of emails to see the entire history of correspondence.

Transactional SMS functionality now available in Zoho CRM

Timely communication has always been an integral part of maintaining meaningful relationships with your customers. Zoho CRM's omnichannel communication system enables you to make sure that your business is always available across the channels your customers actively use.

Add an extra layer of communication and stay in touch with your customers using Notification SMS, which enables you to send vital transactional SMS messages to customers from right inside Zoho CRM.

  • Personalized message templates - Build a personal connection with your customers by using merge fields to pull contextual information into your SMS messages.

  • Automated SMS messages - Trigger important SMS messages from workflows, Blueprints, and CommandCenter journeys.

  • Uninterrupted communication - Make sure your business is always ready to send out important SMS messages by setting up a minimum credit balance and leveraging the auto-recharge option.

Note: This feature only available in India currently and is being opened in phases. We are currently working towards making this feature available across more countries, so please look forward to our updates in the future.

Roll-up summary fields   

When sales reps work with their prospects, or account managers work with key accounts, having summaries of key records at their fingertips can be a huge help when it comes to prioritizing their engagements and optimizing their processes. Roll-up summaries give your team quick access to data like the total number of pending activities for a lead, when the next activity is due, and account-level details, like total revenue generated, deals in the pipeline, deals lost, and more.

User lookup field support in subforms   

Subforms are an effective way to capture different pieces of information related to CRM records as line items in a form.

At release, subforms supported a wide range of commonly used fields to serve the needs of the different businesses using Zoho CRM. Now we're expanding these capabilities through support for user lookup fields. You can now relate users in subforms using lookup fields like user email ID or any other information available in the user detail page.

Subform support in email templates   

Subforms offer a lot of versatility in how you associate information in Zoho CRM. Now you can bring this versatility into your email templates, enabling you to communicate relevant information to customers with ease.

You can now insert any of your subforms into your email templates as tables, and then add or remove rows and columns from the subforms like you would with any other tables in Zoho CRM.

Deal lookup fields in Invoices   

Invoices are a key part of every sales process—often the final step marking the successful closure of deals that your team have spent long hours on. To ensure everything was connected, you were able to associate your invoices to specific accounts or contacts through dedicated lookup fields. However, it wasn't possible to associate invoices directly with deals.

Instead of spending time creating a custom lookup field and then associating your invoices to specific deals, we're happy to announce that Zoho CRM invoices now natively support deal lookup fields. Now you can freely associate specific invoices to individual deals, as well as preserve this association when you convert a quote into an invoice.

Enhancements to portals   

Portal was a game-changer for organizations looking to work more closely with their customers, partners, and vendors by extending controlled access of their CRM to people outside their organization.

We're bringing some much-needed quality of life changes that make it easier for you to work with the portals feature in Zoho CRM:

  • Change email IDs of portal users - If an existing portal user has changed their email ID—which is tied to their portal access—you can now easily update the email ID of these users, allowing them to access the portal through this new ID.

  • Customize the template for portal invites - You can now freely customize every aspect of portal invitation and email ID confirmation emails, including changing the content of the subject line, email body, and sender addresses, using merge fields and formatting to personalize content, and, finally, editing and saving these email templates across different languages.

Translation support enhancements   

Globalization is the name of the game today; as a business grows, teams from across the world enter the fold. When you have teams spread across the globe, you can be certain that some of them are more comfortable and productive working with your business's software in their native languages.

To make our application more inclusive and accessible for global teams, Zoho CRM has introduced the translations feature that enables you to export the labels used for your fields and picklist field values to be translated, and then import the translated values back into Zoho CRM.

With the latest enhancements, you can now translate the following values in Zoho CRM, in addition to field labels and picklist field values:

  • Module names

  • Subform labels

  • Related list labels

This enables your international team to work with Zoho CRM in the language they prefer, which leads to better adoption and productivity—in addition to the benefits Zoho CRM already brings to your business.

Global picklist values make capturing data across modules easier 

Picklists are an excellent way of capturing niche information your organization needs so that your team can connect with customers and close deals more effectively. However, Zoho CRM previously required that you manually re-create the same picklist values again and again if you planned on reusing the same values across different modules. This task was time-consuming, and if the picklist values weren't re-created exactly, it would usually end up affecting your reporting.

With global sets, your admin can now define a global set of picklist values that can then be assigned to any picklist in any module. This makes it easy for different teams to work with the same set of values while ensuring that there is consistency in the picklist values across your Zoho CRM account.

Analytics and sales performance management  

Numbers don't lie, and when it comes to your business, it's vital to have ready access to data that indicates how different aspects of your business are performing. This helps you identify areas of strength, areas that demand improvement, and which strategies and corrective actions you can put in place to ensure your business keeps growing.

We introduced a lot of big changes last year—new reports, as well as a forecasting system—so we're starting off this year with some enhancements to our existing features. Read on to learn more!

Archive your forecasts   

Forecasts play a vital role in the growth of a business, from helping your organization decide its direction and goals to helping senior leaders prepare relevant strategies to achieve those goals.

We revisited our forecasting system and overhauled it in last year's release. Our new functionalities ensure that businesses can leverage the new forecasting system to set ambitious goals and work steadily towards reaching and even exceeding them. However, one limitation was that the new forecasting system only stored two years' worth of forecasting data (the current year and one year in the future).

We recognize that it's important to preserve this historical forecasting data for the insights it holds. Hence, you can now archive up to five years' worth of business forecasts, enabling you to view your performance history whenever necessary. It's important to note that these forecasts will be deleted when your business changes the start of the fiscal year, so we request that you be careful when making changes to your fiscal year.

Search and highlight support for reports   

Reports are the primary means by which you can track how your business is doing. As you grow, so does the number of metrics you can track through Zoho CRM's reports system. But this growth comes with a big pitfall: It becomes harder and harder to keep track of important reports among the tens or even hundreds of reports you have running at any given time.

This next update enables you to search for and highlight reports whose names match the text you provide. You can think of this as your Ctrl+F or Cmd+F search function, right inside Zoho CRM.

URL-based performance tracking in webform analytics   

For most modern businesses, the online webforms spread across their website are a big source of leads. To improve the quality and the number of leads coming in through these forms, businesses consistently have to analyze how these forms perform and make necessary changes to keep submissions and conversions high. You can do all of this and more with Zoho CRM's webform analytics—and now we're expanding on its capabilities.

In addition to everything you can already do, you can now analyze your webforms' performance based on their URLs. This is especially useful for businesses that have used the same webform across different pages on their websites. Each URL's numbers are tracked separately, providing detailed performance data for every URL in your domain.

A new analytical component to give you deeper insights into your sales process 

Adding to the ever-growing list of components designed to slice, dice, and display key metrics from your sales processes, you can now add the stage component to the list.

As the name suggests, this component gives you a complete picture of how your records are spread across different stages of your processes, like lead qualification, nurturing, and even your deal management process. From the number of records in each stage to the total number of records entering and exiting each stage—as well the ones that reach the final stage of the process—the stage component breaks all of it down effectively and visualizes it across a pyramid or staircase model for your reference.

You can access and test out all these incredible features right now by signing up for free trial of Zoho CRM today.

Predictive intelligence  

One of the most powerful aspects of technology is its potential to leverage vast volumes of data to produce meaningful insights, make intuitive predictions, and offer personalized recommendations to improve experiences. We've introduced some powerful new capabilities to Zia and enhanced some of our existing AI functionalities to improve their effectiveness.

Zia Presentation   

Data helps inform and drive your business's planning, strategy, and resource allocation activities, and you can access this data through dashboards and reports shared with relevant stakeholders. But what if you could routinely collect and collate business-critical metrics on a fixed schedule?

With a recent update, Zia can now assemble a collection of personalized analytics gathered from your CRM data, generate exclusive insights and behavioral analytics relevant to your organization's performance, and compile the most important findings in a presentation.

Recommendation analytics   

A great way of adding a layer of personalization to your customer experience is incorporating a recommendation engine into your customer engagement process. This has been made possible with the introduction of Zia Recommendations in Zoho CRM, which analyzes your customer data to suggest products, bundles, and cross-sell and upsell opportunities with new and existing customers.

We're now adding an analytical layer to your recommendations to help you understand the impact Zia's recommendations have on your business.

You can get a breakdown of everything from the number of active recommendations to the impact these recommendations have on your conversions, as well as the recommendation trends for certain products or services in your business.

Object detection in Zia Vision   

We've taken Zia Vision one step further by introducing the ability to detect specific objects that you run through the model.

Now you can train Zia to validate images uploaded into Zoho CRM only when it detects a specific object in the image that you've trained it to detect. This is in addition to validating images as a whole, which was already available.

Let's look at some simple examples where object detection could help your business:

1. A real estate company wants to ensure that images of luxury villas show a swimming pool, so they simply upload images of swimming pools as the training data for object detection. As a result, luxury villa images will be validated only if swimming pool objects are detected. If they aren't detected, Zia will declare the images invalid.

2. A car dealership company wants to keep images of defective cars out of their records, so they add closeup pictures of dents and scratches as the training data for object detection. Zia therefore validates images only if it does NOT detect dents and scratches in the image. If Zia does detect these objects, it declares the image invalid.

Consecutive negative sentiment notification   

Ignoring an unhappy customer once is bad enough, but what happens if you ignore them multiple times in a row? That's a situation that no business wants to experience firsthand. But how do you respond to customers who have bad experiences again and again? How do you keep your ear to the ground and take action when customers become vocal about their negative experiences?

Zia's email sentiment analyzes the content of every incoming email from customers and tags them according to the type of sentiment the content conveys: positive, negative, or neutral. Now you can configure Zia to notify you anytime customers send multiple emails in a row that express a negative sentiment. This helps you stay informed, identify the cause of the customer's issues, and take corrective actions before your relationship deteriorates.

Analytics for best time to contact   

When you're on the front line, engaging with customers day-in and day-out, the last thing you want to deal with is an important call not being picked or an email not being opened on time. It's a noisy world out there, where your customers are getting bombarded with ads, emails, and calls almost 24 hours per day. But even with all that noise, they often still dedicate time to going through important emails or picking up calls they think are of value.

Zia already tells you when the best time to contact your leads and contacts is by analyzing their email and phone response patterns.

We're now adding in-depth analytics so you can see the impact that Zia's best time to contact recommendations has on the conversion rate of your calls and the open rates of your emails. Get summaries of Zia's best time to contact suggestions, how many of your users are making calls and sending emails at the suggested times, and the impact it has on the success rate of your calls and emails.

Zia notifications on the go for Cliq, Slack, and email   

Zoho CRM brings you all of Zia's insights through Zia's in-product notification panel. But what about those who want to act on Zia's insights but don't spend much time inside the product when engaging with customers or collaborating with their team?

Fret not! You can now set up Zoho CRM to push Zia's notifications to your favorite app outside of Zoho CRM—whichever one you prefer. You can receive Zia notifications through email, Zoho Cliq, or even Slack, enabling you to leverage important insights without having to navigate away from where you're working.

Zia's similarity recommendations   

Sometimes a customer's interests, pain points, and requirements might overlap with those of other customers you've dealt with before. In these cases, Zia will identify records that share key similarities with the customer you're currently working with and recommend these customers to you.

You can then review these similar customers, analyze the notes associated with their records, and draw insights from the interactions you had with them to refine your pitch for the current customer.

Zia's Next Best Experience   

Modern customers are as driven to make purchases based on their brand experience as they are to do so based on pricing or the quality of the product itself. Every interaction—whether through email, phone calls, or meetings—is an opportunity for your business to offer meaningful experiences that convince customers that you're the brand for them.

However, how do you decide which is the best route to take when you engage with customers next? Zia now has the answer for you in Zoho CRM, through the Next Best Experience feature. Zia's Next Best Experience studies the closed-won deals in your organization, assesses how correspondences are handled at each stage, correlates the findings with your open deals, and displays suggestions in a widget within each deal.

Engage with customers on the right communication channel, enhance the overall buying experience, and even expedite conversions for your deals.

Custom intent categories for your incoming emails 

If you've been using Zia's email intelligence capabilities, you might have seen your emails being tagged with keywords like "request," "query," "complaint," and others. These keywords give you a quick idea of what the sender's intent is about before you even open the email.

Now we're giving you the ability to create your own intent categories that reflect the needs and processes of your business. You can train Zia with relevant keywords and sample emails for every custom intent, which will ensure that Zia can now recognize these intents from incoming emails and tag them with the custom intent that you've trained Zoho CRM for.

Call transcription and intelligence

The average business gets about 4,400 calls a month. That's a large number of calls, with a treasure trove of insights waiting to be gleaned from them. But how do you derive meaningful insights from your calls? Zoho CRM has the answer.

When you record your calls with your prospects and store them in Zoho CRM, Zia will automatically transcribe the entire call in a text document which your team can go back and analyze. Once your transcripts are ready, Zia will then go through every transcript to give you an idea of the call's general sentiment, intent, and emotional content, as well as a summary of each and every call. This helps your sales leader gauge the quality of your calls as well as measure your sales team's performance to determine improved strategies going forward.

History and usage information for Zia Data Enrichment   

Enrichment in Zoho CRM is a great way for you to improve the quality of the customer data you collect. Based on the information already present in the record—name, phone number, or email address—Zia will scrape the internet for any and all publicly available information associated with the record and help you update your leads, contacts, and accounts with whatever it finds.

However, it's sometimes hard to differentiate between the information you've collected yourself and that which Zia has updated through Enrichment—nor are you made aware of what your current usage and limitations are.

Zia's enrichment history gives you a complete timeline of all the records and the exact fields that were updated using Zia's Enrichment capabilities, giving you better clarity over all what information Zia added. Additionally, you can now analyze how the Enrichment feature is being used across your organization through the Enrichment Usage enhancement.

We collect and make available the following metrics for your reference:

  • Monthly limit and average consumption per month

  • A pie chart illustrating the total number of enrichments made across different modules

  • A trend chart illustrating the adoption trend of enrichment to date

  • A table distributing the number of enrichment limits consumed across modules each month

Routine messages for Ask Zia   

Zia is the industry's first conversational AI built for salespeople, enabling your users to do a wide range of activities, like updating records, adding notes, creating tasks, and getting reports—simply by asking Zia through chat or voice.

We're adding another enhancement to improve the way Zia serves the needs of users across your organization.

Routine Messages was built for users who ask Zia the same questions frequently. For example, sales reps might want to know the number of leads they've created at the end of each day; sales managers might want to know the number of deals closed each month; or, as you start your day, you might want to have a quick look at your open tasks or cases.

In these situations, you can pre-configure Zia to send you messages automatically at a set time or frequency with the data you're looking for; all you have to do is check the responses.

Churn prediction   

Today, it's more important than ever to make sure you retain your best customers, because nothing hurts more than losing a customer who you could have convinced to continue doing business with you.

We've all heard the saying, "Acquiring new customers costs more than retaining existing customers." And the numbers support this claim.

Given all the benefits of retaining customers—increased revenue, better word-of-mouth marketing, sustainable growth, and more—wouldn't it be great if you could predict which of your customers is upset or likely to leave your business so that you can preemptively take corrective actions?

Zoho CRM's churn prediction is the answer. Zia analyzes all your customer records, their interactions, purchase patterns, and more to assign scores to each customer. The higher the score, the more likely a customer is to churn. If you're a subscription-based business, you also get subscription-specific churn scores. This helps you identify at-risk customers, reach out to them, and take the necessary corrective actions so as to convince them to give your business another chance.

Sales operations

Modules, custom fields, workflows, views, processes—the list is virtually endless when it comes to the sheer number of factors you need to balance delicately to ensure that your CRM system setup is optimized for your business.

As an Zoho CRM administrator, you might be the one who has to juggle all these factors to keep the system in the best configuration possible. Here are some new additions to Zoho CRM to make your job easier.

Enhancements to the Zoho CRM sandbox   

In complex or large-scale Zoho CRM deployments, we strongly advise against pushing any changes or customizations to your production account before testing them properly in a sandbox environment. If you do, there's a good chance a lot of people will be in for a long day when something goes wrong due to the changes. So it's vital that all these changes and customizations are thoroughly tested in a safe environment before they are pushed to your production account, where all your business processes are situated. You can safely test all the changes and customization you wish to make to your CRM account in the Zoho CRM sandbox before you make it live.

We're now adding support for multiple advanced features that you can now extensively test out in your sandbox environment. For example, you can now work with and test out client scripts, static resources, trusted domains, wizards, and map dependency functionalities in the Zoho CRM Sandbox.

Admin tools for managing CRM configurations   

There are a number of difficult jobs out there, and being a CRM administrator is on that list. Day in and day out, CRM admins are responsible for making sure their organization's CRM stays in the best shape possible by configuring new views, customizations, automations, access settings, and more. Setting all of these things up is a challenge in itself, but when configurations become redundant or unused, deleting them becomes an even bigger challenge. Over time, your CRM might accumulate workflows that are outdated, templates that fail to incorporate newer merge fields, and reports that are no longer valid.

Zoho CRM's admin tools provide a centralized space, where you can delete obsolete templates, custom views, workflow rules, and reports, as well as track each feature's deletion history.

Preserve the essence of your records with record locking 

Your CRM is a network of interconnected records that tell a story about the journey the customer has taken with your business. Once the customer reaches a certain stage in the journey, you might want to ensure certain records are preserved as they are for a wide range of reasons: to maintain a proper paper trail, for legal or financial regulations, and more.

Whatever the reason, you can now lock entire records in Zoho CRM with the record-locking capability. You can do this manually, leaving it up to the sales rep to decide when a record needs to be locked or let Zoho CRM handle the locking process by defining the criteria of the records that need to be locked and the profiles to which those criteria should apply.

A final announcement before we wrap up, and this one is for all you AI and ML enthusiasts out there.

A no-code platform for building machine learning solutions is coming   

Machine learning (ML) and natural language processing are two of the key building blocks of robust artificial intelligence. At Zoho, our intelligent assistant Zia helps businesses elevate their operations across a wide range of applications, including Zoho CRM.

However, the needs of larger enterprises are often niche and aren't met by the out-of-the-box AI capabilities that SaaS CRMs and other cloud business solutions provide.

To address this very challenge, we'll be introducing QuickML, a no-code machine learning platform that helps businesses build end-to-end solutions specific to their business needs through Catalyst, an application development platform focused on empowering developers.

QuickML lets you effortlessly connect your Zoho services like CRM, Bigin, Creator, and Recruit, as well as external services, so you can import data using the native data connectors. You can then profile the data to understand its structure and connections, and then build a pipeline that applies various data operations and ML algorithms to your datasets to derive insights relevant to your business as a custom AI solution. Build ML solutions that give you the insight you need for your business without writing a single line of code.

If you'd like to try QuickML out when it's available, you can request for early access here.

Thank you for tuning in!  

There are a lot of features here that can positively impact the way your organization works and uses Zoho CRM. We look forward to hearing your thoughts and feedback on every feature discussed here so we can refine and improve Zoho CRM's ability to address your business's needs. Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

You can get a hands-on experience of all these features today, so why not get started for free? Sign up for your free trial here.

That wraps up our big announcement to start the year off. Our product team is working hard on a lot more exciting and powerful features, and we hope to introduce them to the world in the coming days. A new year often brings with it uncertainties, but at the same time, it's full of endless possibilities. We're excited to see what the year holds for Zoho CRM and we hope that you'll continue your journey with us and keep your eyes and ears open for more exciting updates.


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