Developing a human aspect and striving to build meaningful relationships in and around your small business can produce a wide variety of benefits and greatly contribute to the overall life span and outward growth of your small business. And having the right tools to build these relationships can help you accomplish these goals much faster than expected. Tune in as Pamela O’Hara, CEO and Founder of Batchbook, joins Brent Leary to share her social CRM solution.
* * * * *
Small Business Trends: Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
Pamela O’Hara: I am the Founder of Batchbook, a Social CRM product. When we met, you were giving a talk on Social CRM. I believe this was before anyone else in the entire world knew what Social CRM was.
Small Business Trends: You have a product that helps people with this area. How has tracking information on contacts changed since you got started with Batchbook?
Pamela O’Hara: Social has been a huge part of the change that we have seen. We started our product in 2006, about 6 years ago, before anyone had really heard about Facebook, or before Twitter was ever launched.
We’ve seen a lot of activity around social networks. However, we focus on small businesses. It’s been exciting to see how it changes business relationships. How much more connected you can get, what is your network when it’s not just them walking into your store once a month or so, or sending an email once a month or so.
Now you can really connect. You can see what they are doing. They can see a lot of more of what you’re doing.
Small Business Trends: Can you explain why you are not pricing per user, but are pricing per amount of contacts the company has in their database?
Pamela O’Hara: We launched what we call Relationship Base Pricing. Our feeling is, especially with small businesses and new businesses, it is really important to get your entire team involved in the relationship you are building with customers.
These early customers are so crucial to so many parts of your business. Not just revenue, these are the folks that are going to help you figure out who your market is; how to reach them; and what your price point should be.
It is really important that everyone is helping you. Even if you are solo entrepreneur, you’ve probably got your spouse helping you with bookkeeping; you’ve probably got one of your friends helping you build a website; someone else s ihelping you send out emails; it is important that all of these folks are helping you collect all of this information and all of these conversations.
We have restructured our pricing in Batchbook to bring everyone in. Don’t share one login across your whole team. If you do that, it is going to be a lot harder for you to understand who is having the conversation with who, and you are not going to be able to assign out tasks. Bring your whole team in, invite the whole village. They are helping you build this relationship.
Small Business Trends: You announced building your Integration Engine?
Pamela O’Hara: Integrations with other Web based business tools have always been very important to us. Because our product is based around collecting information about your contacts; what your relationship with those contacts is. But a lot of that information is actually happening in other systems, it is happening in your accounting systems; or in the email newsletters system; or in your customer service system.
It is really a burden to get all of that information in one place. And you do have to do a whole lot of work to view your relationship with that customer. We have always been big proponents of integrating our products. Which really makes it easy for our customers to pull all of that information from their accounting software, being able to view it in Batchbook and being able to update that contact information very easily.
What we did is build this new sort of tool for us and we call it The Integration Engine. And now, when we are doing these integrations with other products, we are able to have a very consistent experience for our customers within Batchbook. One of the things we were finding was, when we would do these integrations, or if other people were actually integrating with our products, depending on who wrote that integration, it would be an inconsistent experience for our customers.
What we wanted to do was really give some consistency. Consistency leads to usability. It just makes it a lot easier if you always know where you’re going to be going to find that information, or how you will import it, or how do you export it, or how do you think about it. So we are pretty excited to be able to now give our customers a much more friendly access to all their other systems through Batchbook.
Small Business Trends: I know how important that is to your customers, because it’s great having all of these services. But if they’re services that are standing alone or not connected, it makes it difficult for folks to get the most out of them.
Pamela O’Hara: Exactly.
Small Business Trends: Where can people learn more?
Pamela O’Hara: Our website is Batchbook.com , and we also organize the group called The Small Business Web. Which is a lot of other staff companies, like MailChimp; a lot of big staff companies like Google, and smaller staff companies who do invoicing, or different things that small business need. That website is TheSmallBusinessWeb.com.
That is a great place to go and see what all these other products are. If you can see from our website which one integrates with each other, it is kind of a nice way to build this nice little, almost enterprise level product. But they all focus on small business, and even more importantly – price for small business.
This interview is part of our One on One series of conversations with some of the most thought-provoking entrepreneurs, authors and experts in business today. This interview has been edited for publication. To hear audio of the full interview, click the right arrow on the gray player below. You can also see more interviews in our interview series.
This is part of the One-on-One Interview series with thought leaders. The transcript has been edited for publication. If it's an audio or video interview, click on the embedded player above, or subscribe via iTunes or via Stitcher.