An Independent Review of Zoho CRM in Asia
Zoho is a privately held software company that develops online Customer Relationship Management and business productivity solutions for small and midsize businesses. The company is based in Pleasanton, California although the majority of the approximately 1,500 staff reside in India.
Zoho offers cloud based CRM software and an online office suite containing over 25 online applications including word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, databases, note-taking, wikis, project management, invoicing and other productivity applications.
CRM Software Suite
Zoho CRM is a SaaS solution and features Sales Force Automation with leads, accounts, contacts, opportunities, and sales forecasting, Marketing Automation with basic campaigns, lead generation and email marketing, Inventory Management with products, price books, vendors, sales quotes, sales orders, and invoices and limited Customer Support software with web to contact forms, auto-responders, reports & dashboards, and email integration.
The cloud solution offers Google Apps integration, Microsoft Outlook synchronization, and mail merge documents with Microsoft Office. There are also CRM add-ons and integrations with Zoho CRM for Google Apps, a plug-in for Microsoft Outlook, a plug-in for Microsoft Office, Zoho CRM for QuickBooks, the Zoho Mail add-in and Call Center CRM Software integration using the Zoho PhoneBridge.
In addition to Zoho CRM, the company offers cloud based online collaboration applications, including Chat, Meetings, Docs, Projects, Discussions, Share, Mail, Wiki; business applications including Assist, Marketplace, Books, People, BugTracker, Recruit, Challenge, Reports, Creator, Site24X7, Support; and productivity applications including Calendar, Sheet, Notebook, Show, Planner and Writer.
The Zoho CRM Mobile Edition is a native mobile device application that allows access to Zoho CRM from an Android or iPhone. Zoho CRM can also be accessed from a mobile phone with a web browser.
There are three versions of Zoho CRM—Free, Professional and Enterprise. Each edition offers a free fifteen day trial. The free edition is for three users and is ideal for individuals and small start up companies. The Professional edition targets growing companies who wish to streamline and automate their business processes. And the Enterprise edition provides additional CRM functionality, user permissions, data sharing and more administration features.
Zoho CRM offers excellent value for money with the cost of Professional edition being US$12 per user per month and the Enterprise edition being US$25 per user per month. Payment is monthly or yearly and versions can be upgraded, downgraded or cancelled online at any time.
Southeast Asia Support
Zoho CRM is aimed at small to medium sized companies and is starting to attract considerable interest in South East Asia, particularly in Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand. Zoho Corp. does not have a regional office so prospective customers are advised to contact one of the regional Zoho Alliance partners. A list of the partners in South East Asia can be found at https://www.zoho.com/partners-resellers.html.
The Zoho Alliance Partner Program (ZAPP) includes implementation and training partners that have CRM consulting implementation experience. In Southeast Asia there are currently three Zoho Alliance Partners.
CRM Software Cloud Delivery
Data centers for Zoho CRM are not located in South East Asia, and most probably will not be in the future. Therefore, online system performance may incur degradation due to hops, latency, jitter and packet loss.
The company guarantees 99.5% uptime, however, the guarantee is not backed with any financial credit or refund policy for non conformance. Zoho claims its data center and software delivery are US/EU Safe Harbour compliant (helpful for European companies) and TRUSTe certified (helpful for privacy). However, the company does not possess information security attestations such as ISO 27001 or SAS 70 Type II.
Zoho CRM Strengths
- The entry level nature of Zoho CRM may fit well within Southeast Asia. With the exception of Singapore, most SMBs in Southeast Asia are still running manual or spreadsheet systems to manage customers.
- Zoho is a low cost CRM solution. However, some clients have complained that the initial affordability of the core licensing is misleading when other optional add-ons are selected, such as Zoho Mail, Microsoft Outlook synchronization, Quickbooks integration, Phonebridge, and mass emails beyond the daily limit of 250.
- The improved UI (User Interface) released in December 2011 is designed to improve user productivity.
- With Zoho CRM for Google Apps you can synchronize with Google Mail, export Zoho CRM events to Google Calendar and add your Zoho CRM contacts from Google Contacts.
Zoho CRM Weaknesses
- CRM software functionality and feature sets are limited.
- Zoho has a small customer base and very limited market visibility in Southeast Asia. Also, only English and Vietnamese languages are supported. This could be an issue in some countries such as Thailand and Indonesia where English is not the primary business language.
- Zoho does not benefit from an online ecosystem or marketplace of integrated third party products.
- There are particular voids and irregular behavior as compared to most other CRM systems. For example, an items list price is not recorded with the item information. A price book entry must be created in order to store the list price. Similarly, the list price can be entered during the quotation, sales order and invoice processes, but without, at minimum some password protection, allowing the entry of the selling price into quotes, sales orders and invoices, opens the process to mistakes or abuse.
- There are similar differences in terminology throughout the application. For example, there are two base prices, unit price and list price. The unit price is in fact the item cost and the list price is the selling price.
- There are considerable differences between CRM editions. For example, workflow management is only available with the Professional and Enterprise editions. In the Enterprise edition you have access to all workflow management functionality for up to 30 workflow processes, while the Professional edition only allows for 10 workflow rules and only offers workflow alerts and workflow task functions. It is incumbent on the CRM buyer to understand the many details among versions in order to select the best product for their needs.
Short List Zoho CRM Software When:
- You desire a very low cost CRM system.
- You are a small to medium sized company seeking an entry level CRM system. A guideline is less than 30 to 40 users.
- You use Quickbooks as your accounting software and want an integrated CRM system.
- You are looking for a CRM application along with online productivity systems. For example, Zoho CRM integrates with Zoho Mail, a business email hosting application, Zoho Writer, an easy online Word Processor and Mail Merge application, Zoho Meeting, an application that provides online meetings, remote support and web conferencing functionality and Zoho Sheet, an application that allows for the creation and sharing spreadsheets interactively on the Internet.
Consider Alternative CRM Software When:
- You seek a balanced CRM suite, with comparable functionality in SFA, marketing and customer service.
- You seek an on-premise or private cloud solution, or you feel you may change software delivery methods from cloud/SaaS to on-premises or vice versa.
- Your require reasonable marketing software or customer support software. The marketing software is quite limited and the customer service module is really just for internal processes such as a help desk, which means that there is no reasonable (external) customer support functionality.
- You require a vertical market or industry specific CRM solution.
- You require extensive system integration or software customization.
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