Customer relations in the Web 2.0 world

When I wrote my review of Zoho’s MS Office plug-in, I did not expect anything.  I simply hoped that someone would find my post useful when thinking about using the plug-in.  Imagine my surprise when a couple of days later Ahmed from Zoho commented on my post. The main thing he said was that they will try to incorporate my suggestions in the next plug-in update.

The Zoho team is doing this right, using the web to their advantage.  There are valuable lessons that other companies can learn from this.

Take heed, people are talking.  But do you know what they are saying about you, your company, your brand and your products?  This doesn’t just apply to what’s being said in the various media sources.  Do you know what is being said in the blogosphere? On social networks?  Google Alerts can be a valuable tool when you want to know what is being said out there.  Configure your alerts to search for the names of your company, your products, your executives.  That way you’ll know if any of these are being mentioned anywhere.

If someone is talking about you, what do you do? If they are saying positive things and you can respond, thank them for their kind words.

If they are complaining, be sure to respond.  Don’t attack them, instead try to address the problem.  Studies show that a satisfied customer will tell 2-3 people about his experience with your company. A dissatisfied customer will share their problems with 8-10 people and some will push that number to 20.  Now imagine how these numbers change in the Web 2.0 world of blogs and social networks.  How many people can I reach with a simple blog post?  And an unhappy customer will become a loyal consumer if you fix his complaint and do it quickly.  80% of these folks will come back to you if you’ve treated them fairly. That percentage rises to the upper 90s if you respond immediately. If instead you let the negative posts floursih out there, you never know how many people they will eventually reach, how many potential customers you may loose.

Good job, Zoho.  You got it right.

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Zoho MS Office plug-in falls short of my expectations

I started this post rather upbeat, intending to sing praises to Zoho and its nifty Microsoft Office plug-in. Alas, as I was writing this and experimenting with the plug-in at the same time, a couple of things had dampened my excitement.

As of late, I’m pretty much exclusively use Zoho for my personal documents. My work documents are still all done in MS Office and will likely continue to be so for years to come. But Zoho has become the vehicle of choice for anything not directly related to PSC.

In all this time of logging on to zoho.com, I don’t know how I did notice a nifty little Microsoft Office plug-in, which allows me to work with documents and spreadsheets on Zoho through my local copy of Word and Excel. Don’t get me wrong, I like Zoho, but still nothing beats the auto-correct features in Word. So, I am loving the idea of being able to use Word to open a document straight from Zoho, work with it and then save it right back.

A few things disappointed me though…

  1. No auto-login feature. The plug-in can remember my user name and password from Zoho, but doesn’t log me in when Word starts. I have to click on the Login menu option before I can do anything.
  2. Ctrl-S doesn’t save the document back to Zoho. I have to click the ‘Save’ button on the Zoho plug-in menu in order for my changes to be committed back. I imagine that clicking Ctrl-S saves the entire document in my local temp folder. Not cool.
  3. Fonts and paragraph format gets messed up moving the file back and forth between Word and Zoho. It seems to eventually resolve itself. But it is freaky to see the document reformat itself.
  4. Internet Explorer script crash on Save. Trying to save the document from Word back to Zoho repeatedly generated a couple of script errors.  Talk about a moment of panic after you spent half an hour typing.

So in short, the Zoho Office plug-in is a cool idea but, in my opinion, it needs to fix the few things that I mentioned before it goes from cool to great.

Zoho integrates Google authentication

Zoho, an online suite of applications, now allows you to login using your Google account.  Zoho is fairly recent discovery for me, but I’m very much in love with it.  I was already using Google Docs a little bit, but as of late have been switching to Zoho.  There’s something about the Zoho interface that I like a little better than that of Google Docs.  Also, although I haven’t used much of anything else other than the Writer application, I keep thinking that with a greater selection of applications on Zoho, I may take advantage of something else some day.
Now, I can’t help but think that with this Google authentication integration, something is going on behind the scenes.  I wouldn’t be too surprised to hear about Google buying Zoho in the near future.

The worst part about it, I can’t remember my Zoho login now.  If Google and Zoho ever part ways, I’m gonna be in trouble.

On a side note, every time I use one of these online applications, Google or Zoho, I can’t help but think back about 10 years ago to Lotus unveiling its eSuite at the Lotusphere.  I remember sitting in the audience, watching the demo, and wondering why anyone would ever use something like this.  Today, I’m using a very similar product and loving it.  And I can’t help but wonder (marvel) at how far ahead of its time Lotus eSuite was in 1998 – 1999.