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7/11/2011
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Batchbook Gives SMBs Social Business Control Panel

For small business focused on toilet training cats, BatchBook provided simple, streamlined, social contact and opportunity manager.

14 Leading Social CRM Applications
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Want to help Rebecca Rescate in her noble mission of toilet training the world's cats? She will be happy to add your contact information to Batchbook, a social CRM product for small business that she adopted when her company began to grow so fast that she worried about dropping sales leads.

CitiKitty sells a sort of training potty seat for cats, along with instructions for cat owners who would like to say goodbye to the litter box. BatchBlue Software's Batchbook is a contact manager and sales lead manager that emphasizes connections with social media, and with other Web 2.0 products for small businesses such as Freshbooks for accounting and MailChimp for email marketing. Rescate said it fit her need to get organized, without being too complicated.

"As a small business, I need something extremely simple," Rescate said in an interview. She had used Salesforce.com's service while working for a previous employer, but found that even the entry-level version was overkill for her needs and too difficult to use, she said. Really, all she wanted was a simple way of tracking contacts such as pet stores and distributors interested in carrying her product, and a system of reminders to follow up on opportunities.

BatchBlue CEO and co-founder Pam O'Hara said her company started with the idea that what small businesses needed the most was good contact management. "When you're starting a business, the most important thing is your network," O'Hara said.

Since it was founded in 2007, BatchBlue has added more social features to Batchbook so you can connect with contacts through social networks and monitor feeds from their profiles. Some of the social media integration features resemble those offered by Nimble, although Nimble has bigger enterprise ambitions. BatchBlue is instead focused on becoming part of a best of breed ecosystem of products for small businesses and was one of the founders of an organization for technical and marketing cooperation called The Small Business Web.

Even if the ease of use virtues of Batchbook catch the attention of enterprises that would like those same features, O'Hara said she can't cater to them because "it would change our product, and it won't be the product for small business anymore." Some of her largest customers have 40 or 50 employees, and a few of those have used the product's application programming interface to elaborate on its account management features, she said. But ultimately, she said, "It's a complement to me if you outgrow me. If you get to the point where you need to move to one of those enterprise systems, I'll take that as a complement that we helped you get there, but I am not going there with you."

Rescate won't be outgrowing Batchbook for a while yet. Her CitiKitty idea is essentially to get the cat used to the idea by initially mounting a litter box contraption with a hole in the center over the toilet seat. By phasing in litter box trays with larger and larger holes, the device gets the cat used to the idea of hopping up onto the toilet seat until they can do it with no special equipment at all.

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