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Take Zoho CRM mobile with Zoho CRM for iPad

Zoho CRM just added iPad support to their iOS app. Will Kelly walks through some of the app's standout features.

Tablets are becoming an important element in Customer Relationship Management (CRM) as sales teams enjoy a new level of mobility, because they can now have near instantaneous access to the last customer data. Even Zoho is getting into the act by adding iPad support to their Zoho CRM iOS app, which should appeal to current Zoho CRM users.

Setting up Zoho CRM for iPad

Zoho offers only a free trial for mobile access to Zoho CRM. Each Zoho for iPad user requires a $3.00/mo subscription to mobile access after the free trial.

Using Zoho CRM for iPad

Since Zoho CRM targets small to medium businesses (SMBs), an easy-to-use tablet app is a necessity -- and Zoho does a good job delivering on the promise. Even if the app's faux 1970's wood paneling background option puts you off when you first open it (Figure A), you're going to find an app built around capturing sales information: notes, tasks, and events as they related to leads and accounts. The tools are very accessible and take advantage of the iPad's screen real estate. Figure A

The Zoho CRM for iPad includes easy-to-use tools for capturing lead and account information.

Entering data for contacts, leads, and task information uses standard iPad interface features. The app is well designed and laid out, but some of the fields -- especially with finance and states -- could benefit from select controls out of the box to cut down on manual text entry. I could see a harried salesperson taking shortcuts when entering data, but this is overall a minor concern.

Standout features

Here are some standout parts from the app:

Module access

With Zoho CRM for iPad, you have full read/write access to modules for Contacts, Accounts, Leads, Potentials, Tasks, Events, Calls, and Cases. During my testing over Wi-Fi and cellular, I found the access to be robust with little or no lag time between the iPad app and Zoho CRM in the cloud.

Contact Import/Export

Sales people can import and export contact information from Zoho CRM and their iPad's address book using Zoho CRM for iPad (Figure B). It's a feature that works well, but it's probably best done when you have Wi-Fi access to the Internet. Figure B

Importing and exporting of contact data is best done over Wi-Fi.

Custom views

Zoho CRM for iPad lets you access custom views that are present in your organization's instance of Zoho CRM. Customizable views are the hallmark of many CRM systems, but to take advantage of them with Zoho CRM for iPad, they must be preset before the mobile worker hits the road.

Offline access

Mobile CRM requires offline access because, even in today's wired world, a user is going to run into times when they cannot get online. Zoho CRM for iPad includes offline access, letting you enter in data for syncing later, when you can get back online, without needing manual intervention.

In App calling

If you work for a company where tablets are replacing desk phones, Zoho CRM for iPad lets you call contacts directly from the app. Currently, the feature only supports Skype, but for the feature to show full promise, it really needs integration with some other popular Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) and Unified Communications platforms.

Manage settings

When it comes to managing settings in a content rich application like a mobile CRM app, at first blush, I want to say that I would like to see the option locked down from some users.

Tap More | Settings and you'll reach a nicely laid out Settings page that includes a variety of View Display Settings down the left column with controls that make it easy to change how you view contacts and leads (Figure C). Figure C

Zoho CRM for iPad settings control the customization of app settings.

You even have the option to reset the application from the Settings, which could prove to be dangerous in the hands of some users. Zoho clearly marks the option, but I would still make it a part of any end user introduction to the app so that they avoid it.

Take CRM mobile with Zoho CRM for iPad

Zoho CRM for iPad running on one of the new iPads with a retina display is a very capable CRM tool for SMBs or for sales teams that spend a lot of time on the road. I was pleasantly surprised about the app's performance, especially in light of some vendors moving away from iPad native apps to HTML 5 interfaces for iPad access to back office applications. Zoho just plain delivers on an easy-to-use mobile CRM application for the iPad, and it should certainly appeal to organizations using Zoho CRM.

About

Will Kelly is a technical and marketing communications writer based in the Washington, DC area. He has written about SMB technology, data center management, project management applications, mobile computing, Microsoft Office, and productivity applica...

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