The other day I was working with a new strategy client and we were reviewing her client sales and communication processes. When I asked her what she did to manage all of her client communications she showed me a pile of sticky notes on her desk. She shared that she was often forgetting important followups and conversations that she had because they would get lost in the piles. Sound familiar? You might need a CRM system too.
CRM stands for Customer/Client Relationship Management.
In simple terms, a CRM tool if used correctly, can help you manage all of the communication you have with your prospects, clients/customers, people you network with, service providers and more.
A good CRM is more than an address book. It is your memory -- only organized! For example, say you met someone at a networking meeting a year ago and had a conversation with that person. You can record the key pieces of the conversation in your CRM. Then, the next time you interact, you will be able to remember that person had 2 kids, loves baseball and was interested in your core service. You can track relevant information and ACT on it and personalize the communication by remembering things that the average person would not.
There are many great and many not-so-great CRM tools on the market. I use one called Batchbook and today I talk with Pamela O’Hara who is the CEO & Co-Founder of BatchBlue and the makers of BatchBook.
Keep reading to learn more about what makes this tool unique and maybe you will decide that it could be one of your Productivity Powerhouse Tools too!
BatchBlue was created with one goal in mind: to create useful, user-friendly software for small businesses. Also, a large focus of what we are as a company is about family. I wanted to create a company that allowed its employees to live life with the people they love, not just work at a job so they could feed them.
I love that you have a focus on not only providing a great tool for your customers, but also have a focus on helping your employees live a life they love! That is right in line with our philosophy as well.
Entrepreneurial stories are always so interesting. Tell me more about your epiphany - what transpired to make you be where you are today?
I was in the garage painting Disney characters on a refrigerator box-turned-princess castle when the inspiration for my small business technology company hit me. Working at the time as a technology consultant, I knew small business owners like me had a lot to juggle in their lives and in their businesses and needed better, more affordable tools to keep up with it all. So, along with my co-founders, I started my own company to provide small business the right software tools, education and attitude to make technology work for them.
Our first product, BatchBook, is a Web-based, customizable on-line contact relationship manager (CRM) designed to help growing small businesses organize their contacts and social networks. With BatchBook small businesses and entrepreneurs can easily manage contacts, communications and social networks in one place so they can focus on building their business.
Because of my previous work as a tech consultant, I understand the need for good data management tools and methodologies. My Web career started in 1994, when I designed Web sites and managed online communications for U.S. Congressman Jim Clyburn and the Food Marketing Institute. My entrepreneurial spirit led me to co-found and manage operations at Matrix Group International, a Web development firm in the Washington, D.C., area that develops Web-based technologies for large and small trade associations.
As a businesswoman and a mother, I am committed to running a company that can adapt to the unique needs of both our employees and our clients. My philosophy is that better organization leads to increased productivity and frees one to lead a more balanced life. I hold dual degrees in English and history from the University of Richmond. I am a southern belle by birth who loves the Boston Red Sox. I also harbor a secret dream to be a political cartoonist. I currently reside in coastal Rhode Island with my husband, two daughters and baby son where I am working on a third degree in Princesses and Group Teeth Brushing.
Princesses, group teeth brushing and technology...can't get any more fun than that! As a wife, mother of two boys and owner of one active dog, I appreciate tools that help me run my business effectively so that I can have time to be with those I love.
What sets Batchbook apart from all of the other Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tools out there?
Our great customer service! We offer new customers a two hour one-on-one consultation with a BatchBlue Onboarding Specialist to help them customize their account to their specific needs. We also offer users regular webinar training sessions with live product demos. These webinars also include a Q&A so that attendees can have specific questions. The webinars are archived on our website for future viewings.
Other ways we offer superior customer service is by incorporating feature requests, submitted by customers, into our regular staff meetings. Many of our integrations have come from user requests and we fulfill them as soon as we are able.
I know this to be true! I have submitted a few different enhancement requests that I have seen get implemented in various releases. I'll also share that your customer service is fast! There have been a few instances when I was first starting that I needed help and I got replies fast and with really detailed information.
One thing that sets the Batchbook product apart in my mind is the partnering you have done with other businesses that offer cloud solutions. Care to talk a bit about that? What was the inspiration? Who are you partnering with?
We also feel this sets us apart and one of the reasons we’re so committed to integrating our technology with other small business solutions is because we know it will benefit the customer.
We’ve partnered with some like-minded software companies such as FreshBooks, MailChimp and Shoeboxed to provide users access to a variety of small business tools and services that can be used right from within their Batchbook account.
I use your iPhone app. and it is fantastic. Do you have plans to support any other smart phones?
Yes, we are currently in the process of developing an Android app as well. This will be available to customers this summer. Some of the features include:
• Offline access to contacts, to-dos, & deals
• Changes in either web app or phone app are immediately synced
• Make phone calls or launch Google maps directly from contact record
• Browse and search To-Dos
• Browse, search and edit existing contacts; add tags
• Add new people or company contacts (companies & people)
• Browse, search and edit existing deals. Create new ones!
What are the problems that the majority of your clients hope to solve when they contact you?
Many of our clients, most of which are small businesses and entrepreneurs, are looking to solve a crucial need for a CRM solution that will allow them to manage and track contact information, communications and tasks for their greatest asset – their people network. Using Batchbook, users have access to a customizable contact manager that keeps their contacts in sync with other business applications they already use, mobile devices and social media networks. For small businesses, this is an important need.
Pamela that is great, so how can people get started and what is the cost?
To get started, we recommend first visiting our website at www.batchblue.com. We offer five account levels ranging in price from $14.95 to $149.95 per month for Batchbook. Each account offers a free 30-day trial and all accounts can be upgraded, downgraded, or canceled at any time. They’re also all pay-as-you-go.
We can’t have an interview here and not talk about productivity! How do you and your team stay on track and make sure you are working on the right things?
Here are some tips and tricks our team uses to stay on track:
- We have weekly staff meetings where people participate in person or via video chat online because face-to-face contact is crucial for staying in line with projects at hand and being a good communicator.
- Seek out tools that help you run your business more effectively and quickly share important data or have conversations on the fly. Of course, we rely on our own tool, Batchbook, but we also look to tools such as Google Chat, Google Docs, TripIt or Skype for helping us staying organized.
- Delegate, delegate, delegate. Make sure everyone understands what their tasks are and be available to answer any questions.
I know that it takes a great team to pull off fantastic usable technology. Would you like to tell us more about who is behind the scenes at BatchBlue?
We have a tremendous team that genuinely cares about the community around them – both locally and across the globe. In previous years, we’ve joined the international effort to raise money for men’s health with our own Movember team. We’ve regularly partnered with our friends from the Providence Geeks on the “Geeks for Good” food drives to collect donations for the Rhode Island Community Food Bank. We also made a donation this past holiday season on behalf of the employees of BatchBlue to Boys’ Town of New England. Our team participated in Blog Action Day 2009, which was focused on how small businesses could affect climate change. Also in 2009, we joined the AppSumo Start Up Bundle 5o% of each sale of the bundle, including Batchbook and other great software for small businesses, was donated to the National Wildlife Federation to help animals affected by the Gulf-area oil spill. We’re always looking for ways to creatively help our friends and neighbors.
Any favorite productivity tools that you use?
Certainly tools in the Google Apps Marketplace are a great start (https://www.google.com/enterprise/marketplace/?pli=1).
Do you have any future projects you’d like to tell us about?
Right now we’re working on something pretty big at BatchBlue: a major rebuild of Batchbook. Our team has been working very hard over the past few months to take all of the knowledge we have gained since launching 5 years ago to rebuild the product, from the ground up. Much of the work is back-end streamlining and optimizing to make the infrastructure more powerful and scalable. We’ve also improved the interface and work-flow to make it much faster and easier to use. And we’ve got some exciting new features built in, as well. We still have a ways to go but will be continuing to polish things up and test them out in the coming months. Keep an eye out for the new Batchbook coming soon!
I can't wait to see what you have coming! Anything else you would like to add?
Sure! For all things BatchBlue, check out our blog at http://blog.batchblue.com.
How can our readers get in touch with you?
Pamela, Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions today and I wish you continued success!
All - If you don't have a CRM tool that you love, I encourage you to check out BatchBook and if you'd like some strategy help, let us know. We'd be happy to help you figure out a flow that will work great for your business.
To your success!
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