My name's Raven Beria, and I'm the founder of Brandalaxy, a brand consultancy firm in Hawaii. We facilitate workshops to align and unify purpose-driven companies focusing on the vision, values, and goals of their organization. I always try to deliver a process-oriented service to my clients, so picking the right tools for CRM was critical from the start, and I'd like to share my experience. Here are my thoughts:
When I was looking for my CRM, I based my criteria from what I learned in Jim Dubois's (the former Microsoft CIO) book, Six-Word Lessons to Think Like a Modern-Day CIO: 100 Lessons CIOs and Tech Leaders Must Embrace to Drive Business Velocity. Some of the core takeaways I got from Jim was to make issues visible to all teams, consolidate/eliminate everything possible, and cultivate a DevOps mindset that drives for automation, security, and integration.
As a result, I ended up choosing Zoho CRM because I discovered Zoho One - the entire suite of 40 + apps that include Zoho CRM for $30/employee. This made the most sense, considering Zoho had different apps for each department of a business, like marketing, sales, and project management, all able to integrate with its CRM and "talk" to each other. Here's a rundown of the other pros and cons:
Integrations: Thinking big picture of how the CRM integrated with the rest of my business was key, connecting with my current software to make issues visible to all departments. When I did this, I looked in the future of the kind of software I'd need in the future also. That's when I discovered one problem: there are a lot of apps for every single thing. Change is already hard enough, and I pictured how difficult it would be to explain and onboard new employees to different software. With Zoho's integration to effortlessly connect information from one app to another using its own software for a single log-in, it was a big plus for me. This allowed me to start consolidating external apps and move into project management apps native to Zoho.
Customizability: With any business, you should have an agile mindset, including the software that you have. Businesses spend a lot of money to hire developers and create a system for them. But the reality is technological solutions and the way you do business also evolve. That's why I wanted to make sure it was easy for me, as a business owner, to customize the solutions too. That way, when my processes changed, I could customize the features of my CRM. When I learned how easy it was to customize Zoho's modules and fields in user profiles, the business process workflow, and more, it became the top on my list.
Customer service: With the enterprise features for Zoho, I've had 24/7 access to Zoho's customer service, which has saved me a lot, including on weekends. Even when I have a single question on editing a business workflow, I can count on sharing my screen and getting live feedback and input from their support team.
Cons: Despite having a whole suite of tools that talk to each other, some of the apps still don't beat its competition, depending on how you rate stuff. For example, the Zoho Survey's customizability in appearance isn't anywhere close to other software's aesthetic design. That's important if you take branding really important, especially since the survey tool you use is client-facing. Nonetheless, you can still integrate other apps to Zoho CRM!
Overall experience: I've enjoyed my time with Zoho for my day-to-day operations and workflow. You can tell their entire team has an agile mindset too with all the constant updates that really rely on user feedback (take a look at the responses from the mobile apps, and you'll see what I'm talking about!). Overall, my experience has been great.
Total Rating: So far, I'll give it a 5 on my rating scale because it does exactly what I need it to do, along with having great customer service that's available to me 24/7.
Bottom line: Think like a chief information officer and think-big picture first, considering how you can (1) Make issues visible to all teams (2) Consolidate/eliminate everything possible, and (3) Cultivate a DevOps mindset that drives for automation, security, and integration. By understanding the above, you can implement a CRM that drives positive change everyone is involved in, instead of adding another software that creates resistance!