The clever folks at Zoho just came out with a new release of ZOHO CRM,  For the most part it is a solid release, they fixed a few bugs and greatly enhanced the usability.  You can read about the full release here.  Below is a list of my favorite new features.

Reports, Rules and Views now have the ability to search on fields that are empty, BIG help but they forgot to add the NOT empty as a search criteria.

Case escalation rules.  You can now automate the “chain of command” when a customer needs to “speak to a manager”.

Notes about the contact or account are big part of any CRM system.  Some CRM vendors just give you a text field for the user to edit.  This means that the user need to enter their name and date each time they edit a record so anyone in the organization can keep track of who did/said what and when.  This new release completely automates this function by adding the user meta data to each note.

Nits and Picks – AKA, things I would like to see in the next release:

Please do not interpret this list as any form of complaining or whining about the software.  The Zoho CRM team has responded to critical bugs in 24 hours or less and have implemented suggested features faster and better than any company I have ever worked with.  In fact I created a little mini bug tracker in Zoho Creator when I first started working with the CRM software in February to track all of my requests and bug reports.

I just went through the list and there are a total of 48 cases in the system.  Of those 48 10 are still “Active” and all are feature requests.  These are detailed below, as you can see they are all feature requests, enhancements and are non critical, nice to have functions.

1: We need to be able to mass email within the system Contacts of Accounts by a certain Account Types like “Prospect”.  The mass email function needs the same criteria look up as the reporting engine.  For example if I want to create a report of contacts of prospects I can easily choose the criteria from both the Contacts and Accounts tables.

But if I use the mass email function I can only select criteria from one table.  This is not a show stopper because we can create the report and go out of the system to send but it would be much easier and more productive if we could get more granular with the mass email selection criteria.

I should mention that the process of selecting contact records from specific accounts is amazingly easy to accomplish in Zoho CRM.  This function did not even exist in NetSuite for a number of years and even now it is a convoluted mess.  This same process in Oasis CRM is even more un-usable than NetSuite.  The only way we could get anything close to what we needed was to have our CTO query the SQL database direct.

2: When you start a case from either the Contact or New Case and relate the contact the system STILL does not enter the contact email address or phone number.  This is important information and should be part of the case so the worker assigned to the case does not have to look up again.  This happens in other parts of the system as well.

3: There needs to be a way to push all the communication with the contacts under the account to the account page so it is easy to see the communication without drilling down to each account.  Basically aggregate all of the communication of the contacts of that specific account to a section in the account entity pages under “Communications”.

4: If you are dealing with a lot of records it would be nice to have a feature to go to direct page numbers instead of going through pages 100 records at a time.

5: You should be able to delete as well as deactivate users.

6: Field “Not empty” function is needed as well as a field “is empty” function or views and reports.  When managing large swaths of data sometimes I want to see if a related field has data in it or not.  For example I want to create an email list the email field should be not empty.  I can hack that now with an email field contains “@” but you get what I mean.

7: Second street address.  This is not life threatening as a simple comma will suffice between an address and unit number but it seems weird not to see it as a system field.

BTW, Zoho Creator is pretty cool app, just about anyone can create and publish a custom database on the web.  Here is the simple bug tracker app I built in about 4 hours to track and share these requests with the Zoho CRM team.