Counter Culture Coffee grows across the country with Zoho One
Counter Culture Coffee is a specialty coffee roaster based in Durham, North Carolina. They cultivate relationships with coffee growers and partners to ensure an ethical and sustainable supply chain, from seed to shelf. Counter Culture Coffee was founded in 1995 with three values: quality, sustainability, and education. They started in Durham but have now expanded into thirteen cities including roasteries in North Carolina and California with training centers and staff focused on bird-friendly coffee. If bird-friendly coffee is a phrase you’ve never thought about, you’re not alone.
Coffee’s ethical problems have been a focus of coffee sourcing for some time now, to the point that coffee not marked “free trade” stands out from the rest. Sustainability, though, is an issue less examined by the general public when picking their coffee. As bird enthusiasts, the founders decided to make it a priority to create a product that was friendly to birds, the environment, and the people who grew it. In 2006, they established their direct trade policy, which is continually being refined and strengthened. Every year, they publish a sustainability report to ensure transparency and accountability to their customers.
Counter Culture has now grown to one hundred and twenty employees, and for the past ten years have been using Zoho to facilitate their growth while maintaining their high standards.
One, CRM, Desk, Analytics, Campaigns, Forms
When looking for a software solution to bring together their work processes, they had found in using Salesforce that it came along with too many features and too steep of a learning curve for what they needed. Counter Culture needed something that would provide visibility, accountability, and a smooth on-boarding process. At the time, as a small company focused on crafting their product, Counter Culture had developed a very common kind of work process that consisted of a patchwork of software, email, and spreadsheets. This kind of system works until it doesn’t, and Counter Culture realized they had hit that wall in 2011.
Customer support was another area where, as they started to scale rapidly and care for more customers, Counter Culture felt growing pains. Support was being managed through a group gmail account, which often lead to missed emails, slow responses, and general confusion. When they wanted to get feedback from customers and leads, they would send out surveys through Typeform. As a process, Typeform worked, but it was disconnected from the rest of their systems.
As they were looking to move into higher level prospecting, Counter Culture did not have the visibility across the company necessary to drive sales and make things easy for customer support. Deliveries were handled by way of a customer calling and someone driving out to deliver them their coffee. “Our business was very reactive, which doesn’t work since in our industry, the decisions we make now impact our business eighteen months from now,” said Bryan Duggan, Wholesale Operations Manager.
With Zoho, every department is using the same software and processes, streamlining the company’s overall work process. “Zoho helps us be more proactive and better understand our interactions with partners. It also lets our team stay focused on education and technical services instead of getting caught up in the software,” said Duggan. As of now, Counter Culture is running on Zoho One, heavily using CRM, Desk, Campaigns, and Forms.
First, in 2011, Counter Culture moved their account management from Salesforce onto Zoho CRM, pairing it with Zoho Forms as a replacement for Typeform. CRM was the only Zoho app Counter Culture used for seven years, managing all three branches of sales (wholesale, grocery, and ecommerce), before expanding into Zoho One to cover more of their business needs.
Zoho Desk, Zoho’s ticket management solution, replaced their support email system. This created a structure that ensured that no tickets were lost while saving employees’ time. Beyond that, Desk supports their community offices throughout the US, where they work to educate and empower customers. Financial and operational processes are handled in Netsuite, which integrates with Zoho One to maintain a cohesive system and give overarching analytics and reports across the company.
Communication and collaboration are always concerns for companies spread over multiple locations, and Counter Culture found a system that worked between the Google office suite and Slack. Zoho’s smooth integrations with Google’s applications made it easier to make the transition and ultimately further centralized information.
Duggan emphasized that the intuitive nature of Zoho One was key to adoption. He said, “what made it so easy is how they were able to get in and have it set up with a little training. The staff felt like they quickly understood it and it was intuitive. Adoption of Zoho is now at its highest because they continue to reinforce the value by expanding our usage. Zoho continues to make our jobs easier and as people see that, more people want to use it.”
Benefits and ROI
Since adopting Zoho, the communication experience has become better for both customers and employees. Account reps in California have visibility so they can see when customers call the office and follow up on issues reported in Desk. This means the customer gets their response faster and the representative saves time to do other, potentially higher priority work. This is largely thanks to the shorter and easier onboarding process that comes with an integrated, intuitive system. “We have seen our adoption rate increase by 25% and expect that to reach 40% by the end of this year,” said Duggan.
In general, the account management process has seen a drastic improvement in productivity. By using Forms to feed into their CRM, Counter Culture has cut down on data entry and automated parts of their process that used to be handled individually. “Productivity has improved 10-15%, and we hope to move that closer to 20% by the end of the year,” said Duggan.
By switching their annual budget process from spreadsheets to Zoho Analytics, the process became very smooth for them. “It helps us predict where things are going so we can make decisions before problems arise,” said Duggan. Analytics pulls data from across departments into one place so Counter Culture can instantly access information they need to find solutions.
By becoming more proactive, Counter Culture can spend more time improving their business and now have the overarching data to drive improvement exactly where it’s needed. This has not only made things easier for their employees, but Duggan says that since implementing Zoho One, Counter Culture has also been able to double customer satisfaction. Zoho One has made proactive decision-making a reality by centralizing data and giving Counter Culture time back to deepen relationships with customers and suppliers.
Counter Culture continues to deepen the connection between their various teams, and next they are looking to integrate Zoho with more of their vertical-specific software. Bringing the marketing teams’ system, based on Caladio, into conversation with Counter Culture’s Zoho-based processes will let them take their proactive approach even farther. Zoho Social, SalesIQ, Invoice, and Projects are all also in the process of being evaluated to see if they will fit into Counter Culture’s process.
As Counter Culture continues to refine and streamline its business process on Zoho One, we are excited to see how their sustainability and ethical practices push the industry further into a green future.
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