thomas.wieberneit@aheadcrm.co.nz
How to zohotize a global business

How to zohotize a global business

About two years ago, I had the pleasure of speaking with Elie Katz of National Retail Solutions, NRS, about how he and his team “zohotized” NRS. During this year’s ZohoDay24, I was happy enough to continue this conversation with Rene Selemi, director of retail operations at IDT Corporation, the parent corporation of NRS. IDT is a global provider of communications and payment services, headquartered in Newark, New Jersey. The company employs around 1,700 people. You prefer to watch the interview? You can do it right from here. IDT started to use Zoho around 7 years ago for its internal startup NRS. The scope was customer care with the objective of enabling the business to respond to quick and effectively to customers. IDT and NRS originally settled on Salesforce but after using it for about a year decided to move away in favor of Zoho as it was a better fit and faster to implement. Says Selemi “We had Salesforce for a while for about a year, but at the end we decided to go away from Salesforce and actually implemented Zoho. [..] It was a better fit [and] it was quick to implement. That was number one. We did it when minimum resources and we did it very fast.” This is very much in line with what Elie Katz told me two years ago: “the other implementation still did not yield results for his business in spite of mounting bills”. The two main criteria that IDT worked and works on, are functional fit and cost. What started as a point solution has become the backbone for NRS since then...
The power of a great customer – vendor relationship

The power of a great customer – vendor relationship

As part of my series of customer interviews, I recently had the chance of speaking with Keith Cooper, vice president of customer experience at Bergen Logistics. Bergen Logistics is a global third party logistics provider, based in North Bergen, New Jersey. It primarily serves the luxury fashion and home goods segments but is available in other verticals, too. In Keith’s words “When you order something from a company’s website online, the order comes to us. We pull the order, we pack the order, we ship the order, and it arrives to you in most cases the next day.” If you prefer to watch the interview, you can do so here. Bergen Logistics started to search for a CRM solution with the original focus on the-lead-to-order process. The trigger was the owner of the company inquiring for the status of a lead that he had given to sales a while ago – because the prospect was inquiring. At that time, “there was a belief [in the sales organization] that it was okay to take three or four days to respond to a client when they wanted to talk to us because we’re very bespoke; the salespeople sort of have this view that they would wait.” Not only did this risk the company reputation but additionally, available data showed that 40 percent of the prospects didn’t want to wait that long. They were trying to resolve a business issue. This translated into loss of business. The company did research and narrowed down the competition to Salesforce and Zoho. They did an in-depth analysis and went for Zoho. “Between Zoho and Salesforce...
What the heck is customer experience?

What the heck is customer experience?

What the heck is customer experience, and who is responsible for it? These are two very good questions, for which I, myself, have some very distinct answers. Let’s start with them, before I dive deeper into that topic with Praval Singh, VP Marketing for Customer Experience at Zoho, who – naturally – has some good answers, too. You prefer the original? Of course, you can watch the complete conversation, too. Praval Singh of Zoho talks customer experience Here it goes. Re customer experience, I am with Paul Greenberg and Bruce Temkin, who some years ago defined customer experience. Paul defines customer experience as “how the customer feels about a company over time” while Temkin defines it as “the perception that customers have of their interactions with an organization”. Either does it for me. It is the customer’s perception. This makes it quite easy to answer the second question. Who is responsible? Answer: The customer! Why? Because the organization cannot control how I perceive my interactions because it simply doesn’t know enough about my current context, aka situation, at any given time. Organizations regularly do not know enough about my cultural background, my current situation, or my current mood. What they can do, is taking an educated guess, based upon whatever data and algorithm or AI they have at hand. What the organization can control to some extent, is their half of an engagement. This means that the best intended engagements can result in unintended and undesired perceptions. Customer experience is a function of the customer’s experiences, the expectations towards a brand/product/company and the customer’s mood at the time of...
You are only as good as your customer remembers

You are only as good as your customer remembers

As you know, I am very interested in how organizations are using business applications, which problems they do address, and how they review their success. In a next instance of these customer interviews, I had the opportunity to talk with Melissa Gordon, Executive Vice President, Enterprise Solutions at Tidal Basin about their journey with Zoho. You can watch the full interview on YouTube. Tidal Basin is a government contractor that provides various services throughout the government space, including disaster response, technology and financial services, and contact centers. Tidal Basin started with Zoho CRM and was searching for a project management tool in 2019. This was prompted by mainly two drivers. First, employees were asking for tools to help them running their projects. Second, with a focus on organizational growth and bigger projects that involved more people, Tidal Basin wanted to reduce its risk exposure and increase the efficiency of project delivery. This way, the company could actually create a triple-win situation, benefitting the employees, customers, and the company. also following the top management’s motto “if you take care of your people, and you take care of your customers, everything else will take care of itself.” The thought behind this is “that providing a mechanism for people to be more efficient, because everybody wants to come to work and do a good job. Nobody wants to do mundane tasks that don’t add value. And so, if you can provide a mechanism to do that, it enables our employees to then take better care of our customers.” Being tasked with implementing it, Melissa started off with a software selection process. This...
The ABC of Zoho AI

The ABC of Zoho AI

During ZohoDay24, Zoho amongst other topics, gave some insight into how the company looks at AI. Raju Vegesna presented Zoho’s AI vision and progress. Additionally, I had the opportunity for a one on one with Zoho’s director of AI research, Ramprakash (Ram) Ramamoorthy. If you want to listen and watch the interview, you can do this here. Both represented a vision that is refreshingly differentiated from the current hype with everyone and their dog talking like large language models, LLMs, are the everything one needs. Well, let me tell you: They aren’t. But let me come to this point later. In addition to not every language model being created equal, and typical for a hype, there is still too much talk about the technology itself, whereas in the words of Raju and Ram the best AI implementation is “when the customer doesn’t know they are using AI but finds value in the output”. This resonates very well with me, as one of my beliefs is that the customer shouldn’t care about the technology that is used to achieve the desired outcome, within some constraints like legality, ethics, and efficiency, of course. Zoho is a technology vendor with a focus on business applications. So, Zoho quite quickly realized that consumer type AI that e.g., helps with spell checks, or nowadays research, suffers from two fundamental flaws: lacking privacy/security and accuracy when it comes to business applications. Both violate some of Zoho’s core tenets, namely their pursue of privacy and business applications that offer a lot of value to the customer. Take the example of improving one’s writing – for some...
How a company matured with a little help of Zoho

How a company matured with a little help of Zoho

Early May, technology vendor Zoho conducted its annual signature event Zoholics in Austin, TX. During this event, Marshall Lager and I had the opportunity to have a conversation with Jason Yoffy, director of engineering at RJG, a training and technology company that on one hand trains plastic injection molders how to make better parts with less waste and on the other hand also provides technology to support better production processes. RJG exists since 1985. It mainly serves companies in the automotive and medical industries that create safety critical and precision parts from plastic with close to 200 employees. We were interested in learning the good, the bad, and the ugly about their journey with Zoho; the needs they had, the experience on the way and, of course, where Yoffy sees scope for improvement. You can watch the complete interview on YouTube. RJG used an “antiquated, server-based”, i.e., an on-premise CRM system that the company wanted to replace as it left much to be desired. The chief concern was “enabling our sales team to sell better.” A lot of processes still were manual, which did not keep pace with the company’s fast growth. Reporting was difficult, of low accuracy, and slow. Lots of relevant data didn’t even make it into the system. Given that, there was lacking transparency in the state of the business; the teams did not get an understanding where everybody was, what the state of initiatives was. Creating a quote for a customer took far too long. While all this is not uncommon, “we wanted to grow up and find a solution that would help us move into the future.” Naturally, one...