A customer database may not seem like the coolest thing you can be thinking about for your business. However, collecting better information about your customers, and then acting on that info, can really improve your bottom line.
1. Get More Customers Coming Back
Repeat customers are the best kind, right? Your customer database can help you get more of your customers coming back and buying again. How? By telling you important things like what they bought in the past, when they shopped, what color shoes they were wearing (okay, that might be a tad obsessive).
By looking at these details, you can craft personalized marketing campaigns to get your customers repeating. If you know they like dark chocolate, then maybe they will be interested in your newest line of specialty dark chocolate, which also happens to be on sale.
Take the details you know about your customers and use that information to connect with them again.
2. Discover Your Ideal Customer
Ideal customers are the ones you want more of. Your customer database can help you discover the customer profile that is best for your business.
Start by looking for customers who spend the most money with you. What sets them apart from other customers? Don’t forget to look at bottom line profit, and not just invoice amounts.
By keeping track of important details throughout the customer relationship, you should be able to piece together a picture of the perfect customer. Maybe your best customers are people you connect with on Facebook, or perhaps they are rabid sale shoppers. This information can help you tailor your business to better please these ideal customers.
3. Produce Happier Customers
Every business wants happy customers. Which begs the question, why do some businesses produce unhappy customers? The truth is, sometimes a business loses touch with the customer needs. A strong database can help you make sure that you are doing everything in your power to please the customer.
Your customer database shouldn’t just be a limp spreadsheet. You need to be able to use it to keep track of conversations, assign To-Dos, and stay on top of your relationships. By knowing all there is to know about your customers, your whole team can provide better service. And better customer service leads to happier customers!
4. Get the Context You Need
Context is so important. Let’s pretend you have a customer who sends an angry tweet. Before shooting off at the hip, wouldn’t you like to know what led up to this tweet? Your customer database can give you the full picture on that rogue tweeter. Maybe they have a troublesome history. Or perhaps they were once a champion of your business. Either way, you need to see these details before responding.
Good context helps with everything from making the sale to dealing with late payments and getting referrals. If you are not sharing customer context via your database, you are missing out.
5. Pass Your Customers Around
You’ve heard that it takes a village to raise a child? Well, it takes your whole business to please a customer. Your customer database should be all about collaboration. By keeping those customer details in one place (preferably in the cloud) you can hand off customers between sales and service easily. You can also handle the lifetime of the customers, even as employees come and go.
The alternative is to have each sales rep keep their own records, with another set of details in the office and maybe another set in the accounting department. That’s no good. A customer database can bring all that contact data together so that it is actually useful to the whole team. You can also pass along important customer related assignments and rest easy that they are getting accomplished.
A customer database isn’t just a boring thing that only big companies should worry about. Every business should have an active database full of context on their hot leads and customers. It is the hub where everyone goes for important customer details and it will improve your business by helping you provide a better experience for each and every customer.
– Cardboard box image courtesy of BigStock
We have a new FreshBooks integration for Batchbook that will help you keep your contacts up to date between your CRM and accounting software. FreshBooks was one of the more popular integrations in Batchbook Classic, so we are super pumped to announce it for the new Batchbook!
We’ve teamed up with Zapier to bring you this new integration. This means you can customize the integration to your needs. You can:
- Create a new client in FreshBooks for every new contact you add in Batchbook
- Create a new contact in Batchbook for every new client you add in FreshBooks
- Create a new contact in Batchbook for every new invoice you add in FreshBooks
- Use filters to create contacts only when certain criteria are met, like invoice amount over a certain number
Zapier integrations are really easy to set up, so all it takes is you deciding which way you want to send your contacts. Do you want every new Batchbook contact added to FreshBooks so you can have the correct data already there when you are ready to invoice? Or do you prefer to add contacts to Batchbook after you add them to your FreshBooks contacts list? It’s up to you.
All you need for this integration is a Batchbook and FreshBooks account and a free Zapier account. If you sign up through Batchbook, you will get 5 free integrations as well as 200 tasks per month. You can learn more about the nifty new integration and set up your Zapier account here.
A question that we often receive on the support team is “How do I track my deals in Batchbook?” It’s a great question, and the short answer is you can track your deals in a Custom Field Set. The really great thing with tracking your deals in a Custom Field Set is you have the flexibility to customize that set with the fields you want!
We realized the tricky part of that seemed to be creating the Set in the first place. So we’re happy to announce that new accounts will come equipped with a default Custom Field Set named “Deals”. You can add that Set to any of your records by selecting it from the drop down in the Custom Data widget. Let’s take a look at the included fields, and how all of this works.
The Default Deals Custom Field Set
Deal name and Deal Description are both text fields, which means you can type whatever you’d like in there.
Who is this Deal with is a URL type field. If you are tracking your deals at the company level, you may want to include the link to the actual contact the Deal is with.
The Status field is pretty important for tracking where a contact is at in your sales process, or pipeline. By default, the Status field is a multiple choice field with three options:
If you’d like to add additional fields to these statuses, you may! Just edit the field, and press the green plus icon to get a new option.
NOTE: You can’t edit an option name once it has been saved. If you want to change “Pending” to say, “In Progress” – just delete the option for Pending and create a new option named “In Progress”.
Assigned To fields will give you a drop down menu of all the users on your account. NOTE: When importing into an Assigned To field, you’ll need to import the user’s email address they log in with, not their name.
The Amount field is a currency field, so you can enter the value of your deal. NOTE: When importing into a currency field, leave out your currency symbols. We’ll add them in for you.
Start Date and Expected Close Date are there for you to track a few different things. For example, you can create a list of “New Deals” by using data saved in the start date. You can compare the two dates to see how long it takes to close a deal. You can also use the Expected Close Date for forecasting purposes (read below for tips on how to do that).
Customize to Your Heart’s Delight
The best part of using Custom Fields to track Deals is you can use the “Deals” Set however you’d like! Change the order of the fields and add new ones according to your needs. If you decided to venture out and start a business on your own then maybe you’ll want to nix the “Assigned To” field – and that’s okay. You aren’t restricted to capture only the data we thought would be important to you. You have the flexibility to customize your account to fit your company’s needs.
Use Lists to Stay on Top of Deals
Tracking all of your Deals is vital, but equally as important is having the ability to search for particular deals. For example, I mentioned above you may want the ability to do some forecasting. This can be done by first conducting a search, then saving the results to a list. By using the “Expected Close Date”, you’ll be able to know what Deals are expected to close in the next [however-far-into-the-future-you'd-like]. For this example, let’s just use 30 days.
First, you’ll need to create a search to find all contacts where the “Deals – Expected Close Date” is “before”, “30 days from now”. Before 30 days from now is another way of saying in the next 30 days. A benefit of building your search with this natural language instead of a hard date is your search will update automatically for you. If a Deal is expected to close 31 days from now, it won’t show up as a result until tomorrow.
Here is what that search looks like, and for more information on creating searches and lists, you can watch our quick video tutorial, or check out our knowledge base for more information.
After you press the green search button, you’ll see an option to “Show Results”. This will switch the view from your search criteria to the contacts that match that criteria. You’ll also then see the option to save your search as a list. You will then be able to view it from your lists tab and stay on top of your deals that are projected to close soon!
If you have any questions about how to capture your Deals using Custom Fields, please let us know by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave a comment below!
I am joining the Batchbook team in opening up conversations about the challenges of raising a family in today’s workplace. Here is my story.
For me, the lines between work and life have always been a little blurry. My dad and mom run a small family business, and growing up it was run out of the garage. As kids, we sometimes pitched in, stapling brochures together (using the bed as our workspace), unloading tractor trailers in our driveway, and packaging orders in our the garage (which became a maze of boxes). My dad worked hard, but at the same time he was around. My mom helped him out, and as we grew up we had different people, usually friends, working at the house, using the bathroom, and sharing lunches at the kitchen table.
My dad in a garage full of boxes.
The business was part of our lives. It was truly a family business. As my brother, sister, and I grew up we would work odd jobs at the business. And when it was time for me to get my first real job, I ended up driving a delivery van for my dad.
I always enjoyed business, and wanted to grow up to be an entrepreneur. I credit this to my parents, who were hard working but always had time for us as kids. I had the benefit of growing up in a very loving family who stuck together. The joys and travails of the business probably had something to do with this.
I got my education in small business working for my dad for years. I did everything from sweeping out the warehouse (yes, we eventually moved out of the garage), to doing deliveries, to sales, to office management, bookkeeping, and marketing. Only in a family business could I get this kind of education. My older brother also made his career in the business, primarily in sales. For years we worked hard side by side and played hard together too. A Thanksgiving conversation was often about business. And while it got stressful at times, we always remembered we were a family first.
During this time of working in the family business, I met and married my beautiful wife and started my own family. Having flexibility in my work schedule made juggling those early years of marriage and kids a little easier. And some days, when I needed to get away from both the stresses of being a parent and the stresses of helping to run a small business, the three of us, my dad, my brother and I, would skip part of the day at work and hit the golf course.
It was a good gig, working with people you love. But it was stressful too. Running a small business that is trying to grow always is. And there came a time when I realized my heart wasn’t in this particular type of business. It was time to move on. It was hard, leaving behind the job that I had worked on and off since I was 9 years old. But I lucked out with my new job.
At Batchbook, I work from home, much like my father did before me. I have a small office upstairs. My wife is homeschooling our children, so as a family we are pretty much always together. For some, this wouldn’t work. But both my wife and I came from strong families that were all about sticking together through thick and thin.
My kids know not to bother me when I am working, for the most part. But they are young. Just this morning my youngest, who is one and half, pushed my office door open and greeted me with his winning smile and patented squeak. It was at that moment that I realized just how lucky I am. Sure, I work hard and have to meet deadlines, and sometimes the stress levels catch up to me. But when I get up and walk away from my desk, I get to see my family, I get to give a hug or sneak in a quick wrestling match.
My son built a Lego tower to the ceiling in my office.
While working from home isn’t for everyone, I am excited to see more and more businesses embracing it. There are hurdles to get over, but if you have good communication channels, it works. I have co-workers, just like anybody who works at an office. We have small talk and build friendships. We just don’t see each other that often. The two main people I work with live in Connecticut and Florida, while I live in New York. Batchbook is headquartered in Rhode Island. What we do lets us work from home, and we are lucky.
If anything, being able to work from home inspires me to work harder. I know why I am working, and I know how lucky I am to have the flexibility to enjoy fun moments from my kid’s lives. Hopefully, someday, my kids will look back and think about how lucky they were to have me at home when they were young, just like I realize how lucky I was to have my parents close by.
Our friends over at Mad Mimi have just launched a new integration with Batchbook, and it’s pretty sweet! For those of you not familiar with Mad Mimi, they are an email marketing provider that focuses on simple and beautiful emails.
The integration works by pulling Batchbook contacts into Mad Mimi, where you can select which contacts you want to send your email campaign to.
You can filter your Batchbook contacts in Mad Mimi by:
All of these fields are fully searchable in Mad Mimi, so you can email just the right contacts.
You can get all of the details about this new integration over at Mad Mimi.
And be sure to check out our integrations directory to see all of the cool tools you can hook up with Batchbook.
I am joining the Batchbook team in opening up conversations about the challenges of raising a family in today’s workplace. Here is my story.
My husband, my son and I live in the house my grandparents built on some farmland in 1949. At that time, they could look out their window and see nothing but forest and fields. Over the years, a few more houses sprung up on the property. Grandma Jenny’s brother Len built a house next door. Years later my father Stephen built a house in the backyard. And lastly, Len’s daughter Barbara built her house on the land, as well. 4 houses – all family. We lovingly dubbed the property The Ponderosa. By the time I grew up on The Ponderosa, the fields and forest had given way to strip malls and storage sheds. Nonetheless, I have many fond memories of playing outdoors, piling in the little wooden trailer with my cousins pulled by my dad’s tractor.
My husband and I had been married for 4 years when we decided to start a family. We were both commuting into the big city for our jobs, not ideal for trying to raise a family. We put a lot of thought into this decision. We knew it wouldn’t be easy but we have a great relationship (reason number one), I have a job that allows for a flexible schedule (reason number two) and we have great support at The Ponderosa (reason number three).
Our son was born on 3/1/11. I was able to take 3 months maternity leave from work. When the 3 months were over, I started back to work part-time transitioning from the Customer Experience team to QA which required less of a set schedule. This was a much needed step as I was working around the schedule of a newborn and QA allowed me to work unconventional hours.
I am very lucky to have a job that allows for such flexibility. I’ve attended meetings via Google Hangout from my couch with my son on my lap watching Sesame Street.
When I went back to work full time my cousin, who lived next door, offered to watch the baby for the summer so we wouldn’t have to put him in daycare too early. When September came, he started his new routine. We continue this same schedule today: my husband takes him on Monday, my mother on Wednesday, I take him on Friday and he’s off to daycare on Tuesday and Thursday.
It took a while to learn how to juggle the new routine of having an extra person in our lives. It was a bit stressful for me until I made a schedule for myself which balanced working at home with taking care of a baby and my other household duties. I wake up early on Friday morning and get some hours of work in while my husband is home. I then work again while Robbie naps. I make up any other hours on Sunday morning. My husband works on Saturdays so my house cleaning time is allocated to Robbie’s Saturday afternoon nap. It sounds silly, but having this designated time for chores is a lifesaver for me. I’m also now very efficient at getting a lot done in a little amount of time! On Sunday, my husband is home and it is our one day together as a family. We sometimes plan activities to do together but we also use this day for swapping time for ourselves. If he goes out for drinks after work one night, I get some free time to spend as I please. I also have made a commitment to taking a yoga class once a week. My parents pick Robbie up from daycare and feed him dinner. The class is early enough that I get home in time for bath and Blue’s Clues. I can make up any work time that night or the next day.
Living on The Ponderosa has its perks. Our Aunt Helen (affectionately known as Titi) frequently swoops in and takes Robbie over to her house. They have a whole routine together which involves pushing all the buttons on her phone and sticking foam letters all over her living room.
He loves spending time with Titi and Tata (Uncle Len).
On any given day, I’ll be plugging away on my laptop and I’ll hear the sound of one of dad’s tractors going up and down the long dirt driveway. I look out the window to see he’s got my son on his lap and Titi hanging on the tailgate. I can’t help but think back to that time in my life and I am so grateful that he is building happy memories of growing up on The Ponderosa just like I did.
This is one of the most common questions we get by email and during onboarding sessions! What is the difference between a tag and a Custom Field Set and which should I be using? Each can be really useful in different ways! Let’s first talk about what each is and then we’ll jump into examples of how you can use them!
What is a tag?
A tag is a word or phrase you can use to group similar records (contacts, tasks, lists) together. When you tag contact records, you are able to filter, search, and build lists based off of that tag name. You can create tags from a record directly using the tag box, or in the ‘Account Settings’ section, which you can find under ‘Settings’ after you click on your name in the top left hand corner. You can also add tags from the import screen when you are importing your contacts!
Now, for Custom Field Sets….
Like tags, a Custom Field Set allows you to group similar records together; BUT also allows you to add additional custom data fields and relevant information to that record. Custom Field Sets can be applied to contacts (company or individual), communications and/or To-Do’s.
You can build your Custom Field Sets by clicking on your name in the top, left hand corner and choosing ‘Custom Fields’. There are plenty of field types to choose from like text, number, data, multiple choice, yes/no, and the list goes on.
Tag vs. Custom Field Set
This is where you might be saying to yourself, I’m not sure if I should be using a tag or a Custom Field Set? Here are some examples of how you might use each:
Tags are super useful when you want to group contacts together but don’t need any extra information.
For example, maybe you need to know the type of relationship you have with a contact. You could tag them, customer, affiliate, partner, etc. Maybe you need to know that a group of contacts attended the same event. If there is nothing more that you need to know about the event (like where it was, when it was, etc.) this is the perfect time to use a tag!
In the past we have referred to tags as virtual paperclips. They’re like bookmarks for your contacts! As you can imagine, tag names will be completely different based on your industry, workflow, and personal preferences, but they can be very helpful!
Custom Field Sets
Now, if you’re saying to yourself, I actually do need to know more information about my customers and partners or I do need to know where and when that event was, that is where you want to use Custom Field Sets!
For example, you could create a Custom Field Set named “customers” and within that field set, you could create a field for how you met the person, when you met them, when their birthday is so you can reach out to them and say “Happy Birthday”, their favorite products, when the last time is that they bought that product from you, etc.
Like tags, you can search for the Custom Field Set itself, but you can also search for the specific data within the Custom Field Set!
Creating Custom Field Sets and having this additional custom data is so valuable! By knowing all you can know about your contacts, you’ll be able to foster those relationships that mean the most to you and your business!
Again, the Custom Field Sets will vary greatly depending on your industry and we are happy to help with any questions you have! Email us anytime at email@example.com. Also, consider using some onboarding time! We find that this is a great opportunity for our customers to ask us any burning questions about setting up their Custom Field Sets and workflow!
Check out some example Custom Field Sets we have put together in our Knowledge Base:
Custom Field Set Examples for Contacts
Custom Field Set Examples for Communications
Custom Field Set Examples for To-Dos
Please feel free to share ways you are using tags or Custom Field Sets! We would love to hear them!
Disqus is the leading discussion software on the web. If you have a blog or a website where you take comments, Disqus can help you manage all the discussions that take place. And now, by integrating Disqus with your small business CRM, you can stay engaged with the people behind the conversations. Our Disqus integration makes it possible.
Get to Know Your Commenters
It’s great when you get a comment on your site. It means someone is paying attention and wants to engage with you. But what do you know about that commenter? And what follow up do you want to make, other than commenting back?
By bringing commenters to your CRM, you can match them up with other information you know about them and you can plan the next steps of the relationship.
Import Disqus Users to Build Context
Our Disqus integration includes easy import so you can add Disqus users who leave comments on your site right to Batchbook. We offer filters so you can bring in just your top commenters, which you can set to be the most active Disqus users or the most liked across the entire Disqus universe.
Once you have them in Batchbook, you can build out their profile a little more. You can save their comments on your site as communications or assign To-Dos to the rest of the team for more in depth follow up. You may also have some contact info already in Batchbook. If so, you can merge the records together for one complete contact history.
See Recent Comments Inside Your CRM
When you import a Disqus user from your blog, you will get a special widget which will always show their 5 most recent comments on any Disqus forum. This can give you a lot of context about your contact, and provide ideas for how to reach out. You can also get a sense of what other blogs your customers are reading and check them out for yourself. Perhaps there are advertising or guest posting opportunities that you can pursue.
Of course, you can turn any of the recent comments into To-Dos or communications. We are all about helping you take action and organizing your conversation histories (no matter where those conversations take place). Think about it, you can now get your emails back and forth with a contact, notes from meetings and phone calls, saved tweets or Facebook posts via HootSuite, and blog comments via the Disqus integration all in one conversation stream!
The Disqus Integration Helps You Build Community
As a CRM for small business, Batchbook is all about helping you cut through the noise and focus on your most important contacts. Our integration with Disqus is a great example of this. You can use it to discover influential contacts, those who are well liked or very active as commenters on blogs. These are good contacts to build relationships with. They can be the cornerstones of a strong social community for your business.
With this integration, you can not only engage with those people who leave a comment, you can see other information as well, like if they are active on Twitter or if they are current customers. You can get a fuller picture and build a long lasting relationship with the contacts who want to engage with you!
Find out more about the integration. You can add the integration to your Batchbook account by logging in, clicking your name at the top left, and then choosing Integrations.
To say we are excited about our newest feature, drag and drop imports, would be a bit of an understatement. We are jumping out of our socks over here! Once you try it out, you will be too!!
I won’t waste too many words describing drag and drop importing, because it has to be seen to be believed. Watch the video below and then go try it out for yourself. It’s an evolution in importing, and it will save you a lot of time when bringing in new contacts to Batchbook.
Here’s the skinny:
Import any vCard file into Batchbook by dragging it in.
- This will import the data and map it automatically.
- You’ll get contact info, notes, and social data already hooked up!
Import a CSV spreadsheet into Batchbook by, yep, dragging it in.
- You will go right to the mapping screen, where you can match up your fields.
- Social profile info (Twitter and Facebook) will be hooked up automatically.
Keep it old fashioned if you like.
- You can still start an import by clicking on the Import button in Batchbook
- You can now select vCards as a source to import from, as well as CSV files, MailChimp, Xero, Eventbrite and Disqus.
- When you have social profile info in your vCard or CSV file, it will be hooked up and ready to go when you view the contact.
Check out the video:
It bothers me that the work/life balance topic seems to be stuck on the subject of moms. I’ve stayed out of the tech CEO mommy conversations, largely because I’ve been too busy being a start-up CEO and mom to three young children to have any time to join in the conversation.
I’m glad that the appointment of Marissa Mayer as the new CEO of Yahoo and the recent release of Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg’s book Lean In has sparked larger conversations about mommy execs, but I would like to extend these conversations to some of the practical things those of us working and caring for a family are doing. And I would like to hear from everyone facing this responsibility, not just the moms.
First, we need to understand the challenges.
The first step in coming up with a solution is to understand the problem. As I see it, today’s societal expectations and corporate policies do not accurately reflect the diversity of our family structures, nor the range of challenges our families can face. Yes, families with married heterosexual natural birth parents able to make a choice on the mother’s contribution to the family income represent an important segment of US households, but there are many, many other important segments. Families today come in many different shapes and sizes; single parent families, adoptive or foster parents, gay or lesbian parents, multi-generational families, families with a member with a disability, families in the military, families living close to or below the poverty line.
And the challenges they face are equally diverse; poor school choices, school safety, cyber bullying, home schooling, in-home hospice, food allergies, chronic health issues, debilitating injuries, learning disabilities, gifted children and many, many more. Not to mention the daily routine of being involved and engaged in the lives of those physically, financially and emotionally dependent on you.
This is about more than just who buys the bacon and who gets home first to throw it in the pan. It is about working together as a community to recognize all of the challenges and sharing our own experiences so that together we can come up with some better solutions.
Next, we need to share our individual solutions.
We at BatchBlue will be sharing our own varied stories on the challenges we face juggling work and family life. By sharing our experiences and encouraging others to share theirs, we hope others will benefit from the decisions we have made and lessons we have learned. We invite you to share your own stories on the challenges your family has faced and how you have dealt with them.
We’d love to hear from you:
- What does family care mean to you – from kids to pets to elderly neighbors to grandparents. Who is your family and how are you handling the financial and emotional responsibilities?
- How do you handle the daily routine in your household?
- How do you handle the inevitable disruptions to the daily routine?
- What is your biggest challenge in juggling the professional and personal responsibilities?
Finally, let’s change the world, one family at a time.
We will collect the stories and share what we are learning so that we can all benefit from the experiences of each other.
We invite you to share your story on your own blog or Facebook page, add it as a comment below, or send an e-mail to me at firstname.lastname@example.org with permission to publish it on our blog. To help us keep track, please include a short description of the effort, “I am joining the Batchbook team in opening up conversations about the challenges of raising a family in today’s workplace. Here is my story.”
Here are our stories:
My Story: Pamela O’Hara, CEO in Providence, RI
My Story: Stephanie Sweeney from the Ponderosa
My Story: Bradford Shimp, Clyde, NY
Please share your work/life story with us