"Small business is in our DNA," says Michelle Riggen-Ransom, the cofounder and communications director for BatchBlue Software. When Riggen-Ransom and co-founder Pamela O'Hara launched BatchBlue three years ago, the emphasis was on contact management for small businesses. However, as the two began using social media in their personal lives, they quickly reoriented the company with social media as the ground floor. This month, BatchBlue has announced greater sales functionality for its BatchBook social contact management product and also integration with online helpdesk software player Zendesk.
"As we discovered the usefulness of [social media] tools, we realized our customers could benefit from these same tools," says Riggen-Ransom. "Our CRM enables you to track contacts and see what they are talking about in social media spaces, giving you a more holistic view…to see what they are talking about in Twitter and LinkedIn and Facebook." The main dashboard for the BatchBook social CRM application is customizable. Users can bring in lists generated by tagging functionality and also social network searches. Riggen-Ransom and O'Hara say that the Web application is especially geared toward those businesses with limited technology staff and those needing to track contact information that goes beyond basic email software.
"It's been an interesting ride," Riggen-Ransom says. "We are a nimble company and are able to adapt to what our customers are asking for and build that in to our product."
Some of the custom features in BatchBook for Sales include:
- Deals management: Set customized fields with information such as the value of deal or their status including won, lost or pending.
- SuperTags: Track information that's unique to a specific Deal or industry.
- Calendar: Provides a high-level look at your BatchBook activity including Events, To-Dos, Communications and SuperTag dates.
- Charts: Tell at a glance what Deals are won, pending or lost.
- Assignments: Managers have controlled access and can assign leads and contracts to sales associates.
"[BatchBook was] quick to adopt this idea of social CRM and integrating with Twitter and having things called Super Tags where you can use all these ways to describe customer segments from within the service," says Brent Leary, founder of consultancy CRM Essentials. "And then they did a smart thing which was be apart of The Small Business Web community of companies that have open APIs so they allow their offerings to work together."
The Small Business Web, which now includes about 40 companies, was launched by BatchBlue in March alongside:
- FreshBooks: online invoicing and time-tracking
- MailChimp: email
- Shoeboxed: receipt and business-card scanning
- Outright: online bookkeeping
"It gives small business the opportunity to have pretty cool applications to use in a seamless way," Leary says. For instance the seamless integration with Shoeboxed and BatchBook allows users of both to mail in an envelop of business cards to Shoeboxed, who then imports those directly into the user's BatchBook CRM system -- two birds, one stone.
"They have been making the right moves and building the right partnerships," Leary says, adding that BatchBlue was behind the Small Business Buzz Tuesday night Twitter chat. "It's a positive and inclusive community of folks gathered to figured the stuff out from the small business perspective," says Riggen-Ransom. "We are committed to not pitching the product -- it's a forum to talk."
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