Collaborative CRMs and the Science of Fanhood

Date: Nov 27, 2013 3:00:00 PM

The best collaborative CRM technology brings together companies’ employees, brand advocates and prospects within a single, collaborative platform.

In a blog post titled “Tribal Management”, marketing guru Seth Godin writes: “What people really want is the ability to connect to each other, not to companies.”

Milk and cookies. Fred and Ginger. Baseball and Boston. Chocolate and… well pretty much anything. Life’s great combinations go down in the history books, but they’re most exciting when they first come together to delight the masses.


Delighted customers will become loyal fans.

Godin goes on to explain that businesses create fans, or “tribes”, by establishing people who: “…want to hear from the company because it helps them connect, it helps them find each other, it gives them a story to tell and something to talk about…”


We think Godin is saying that the science behind creating fans is: Work better, together. Be a storyteller. And connect on an individual, personal level.

Trying to picture how this could work? Imagine a company that:

• Inspires all-hands participation using transparent ticketing
• Allows employees and customers to solve problems together, and gives a company a single face to the public with integrated business silos (sales, accounting, customer service and marketing can all have access to the same customer data)
• Provides impeccable service and unified follow-through from the office, car, or Fenway Park with a mobile app

A 2013 report from the Marketing Science Institute study suggests that “the $48 billion spent annually on loyalty rewards programs may be better allocated to initiatives that enhance satisfaction, since satisfaction is the foundation of true loyalty.” That is the marketing holy grail, right? Loyalty.

By using a straight-forward, collaborative CRM interface that provides appropriate controls on information and just enough flexibility, SMBs can provide faster, better service. And as a result, those delighted customers will become loyal fans.

Integrated Ticketing & Collaboration Technology: A Fanhub Q&A

Date: Nov 18, 2013 7:00:00 AM

fanhub-lizAn interview with Fanhub's Technical Project Manager, Liz Elliott


So Liz. Hi!

Hi there, everyone.

We’re talking about Fanhub here. What do you think about it?

Well, I worked on the launch. I love it, of course. For small businesses, it’s a huge advance in collaboration technology. It combines the functionality of several different typical software solutions: ticketing, deal tracking, project management, CRM and internal communications. It’s efficient, and makes my daily work life so much easier.

You’re only a tiny bit biased.

Ha, yep I am.

What’s your role in all of this?

My title is “Technical Project Manager”. I managed the process of getting the software ready for launch, and releasing it to the world.

Kind of like a balloon, huh? You let it go, and wonder where it will take off to.

I hadn’t really thought of it that way, but yeah, it’s a bit like that.

So we know you’re the “technical” project manager, but can you tell us what Fanhub can do for us non-technical folks?

Basically, it allows you to track and manage all aspects of a small business. Starting with tracking the sales pipeline and new deals, Fanhub creates active records for potential new clients, tracks progress through the sales cycle, and records new business wins. Once a client is on board as a paying customer, you can maintain and support that client relationship with ticketing and contact management. It also provides for internal company communications using a social media format that makes it easy for employees to talk to each other and for the company to share news and announcements (similar to an intranet format).

Basically, it keeps everyone on the same page by storing data in a place where anyone in the company can access it and update it. There are also privacy controls so that information can be kept private, or access limited to specific individuals or groups.

If I needed to create a ticket, how does it work? Could you walk us through it?

I’d love to. The nice thing is that Fanhub is customizable to work with a company’s existing workflow. So you set it up to mimic the existing ticketing process and terminology. For example, a ticket is assigned a status, and that status can be called anything. A common format we see is: pending > review > final review > public release.

Contacts, (we call them “fans”), can be assigned to tickets to access and view progress, and people can either “follow” a ticket to be updated on the progress or “take ownership” to take the lead. Comments can be posted as internal so only employees can see them, or external - fans/contacts only see those posted externally as "Customer Visible." You can view a ticket history, attach files to a ticket, and add a unique "logging" email address to a thread so that communication that happens outside of Fanhub gets logged on the ticket.

Give us the bottom line. You use Fanhub every day to do your job, right? What do you like about it? What has it done for you?

For me, it’s about saving time. I can open multiple tickets at once, as well as the customer contact cards, and toggle through them almost like tabs in a web browser. Being able to keep all of that information open at once, and move back and forth through it, really helps me make connections across tickets that may be connected in some way and quickly make updates and change status as progress is made.

In past jobs, I usually had three pieces of software to accomplish the same things that Fanhub does.Now I can search for one project name and get all of the assets, tickets, project history, contacts… It saves time to have that all together and be able to toggle between different aspects.

Last but not least, anything new coming up for you and Fanhub?

Keep an eye out for our mobile app. It’s coming out soon!

Top 10 Surprisingly Smart Tools for Small Businesses

Date: Nov 16, 2013 1:37:00 PM

small_business_toolsAlright people, let's talk small business tools. Like a Letterman one-liner, sometimes it's the simple stuff that packs the biggest punch. We thought fondly of good ol’ Dave when we drafted this Top Ten List. It might be outdated next month, given the constant flood of tech innovation, but right now, these are some of our favorite tools for making small businesses run faster, smarter, better (while having more fun along the way). Do you agree?

  10.  Carbonite

Excellent and affordable online backup for any business. ‘Nuf said.

  1. Crowdfunder

Attention all entrepreneurs: step right up to create your deal, get it in front of investors, and get funded. This platform offers a blend of donation-based and investment crowdfunding for tech startups, small business and social enterprises.

  1. Slideshare

Did your invitation to speak at TED get lost in the mail? No worries. With Slideshare you can still reach a global educational and professional community with your presentation. Slideshare content spreads virally through blogs and social networks, so it’s a powerful tool for promoting conference material, white papers, or sales decks.

  1. Square

This miniscule credit card reader attaches to a smart phone or tablet. If you’re starting or growing a small retail business, this tool simplifies transactions so you’re free to focus on serving your customers.

  1. HootSuite

Twitter, FaceBook and LinkedIn, oh my! So many social networks, so little time. HootSuite is a social media dashboard tool that helps you manage and measure your posts, comments, likes and tags. Schedule posts in advance and get a whole week’s worth of content ready to go by Monday afternoon. Scan through recent updates from key outlets, see what your competitors have posted lately, and scan through your current messages – all from a single screen. Was that a sigh of relief we just heard?

  1. Skitch
Ideal for visually creative fields, Skitch lets you edit photos and images to add captions, circle meeting spots on a map, or annotate a PDF document. A child of the hugely successful Evernote product line, Skitch makes it easy to communicate visually.
  1. Survey Monkey

We’re not sure where the obsession with monkeys started for this market, but this is one primate that we’ve become quite fond of. Wondering what you’re customers really think of you? Want to understand why your former clients left, or where your customer service has room for improvement? Brainstorm the questions to provide the answers you need, and distribute a survey to your contacts for fast, anonymous replies. Feedback, speed back.

  1. Mail chimp or Constant Contact

You’re probably already using one of these tools to communicate with your network of colleagues, partners, customers and vendors. Simple, well-designed templates. Helpful online support. Straight-forward tracking tools. And low costs. Email marketing never looked so good.

  1. Elance or Odesk

In the world of small business, the work is typically an unrelenting flood. But the height of wading pants needed to get through the day varies. When you need help, you need it now. (And tomorrow is a great unknown.) Elance and Odesk are online freelance marketplaces. Post a job you need done, and wait for the proposals to land in your inbox. Pick the best one (fastest – cheapest – most highly rated), send an email along with any helpful files, and sit back while the work gets done. Easy peasy.

  1. HARO (Help a Reporter Out)

This free publicity service connects reporters with sources or story ideas. Get three emails a day from HARO with a long list of reporter inquiries for everything from Computerworld to the NYT, Forbes and Runner’s World. Reply with a quick pitch of your expertise, story, or case study and voila! You’ve become your own PR pro.

What's your essential small biz tool? Weigh in on SMB technology (or Letterman's best list...)

Social CRM: Why It’s Much More than a Tool

Date: Nov 7, 2013 2:00:00 PM

Social CRM is showing up everywhere, and its revealing whole new sides your sales pipeline, not to mention your company overall. You can think of social CRM as a tool, but it’s better defined as a philosophy. Businesses that invest in social customer relationship management are working from a new premise—from the reality that sales don’t happen in a vacuum anymore.

Small Business Project Management Software: 8 Must-Have Features

Date: Nov 6, 2013 5:30:00 PM

Today’s small business project management software is supremely easy to use.  Compared to the enterprise versions, small biz PM platforms are vastly more approachable and user-friendly. (We’re talking, like, the difference between rocket science and rocket salad.) But that doesn’t mean the various options are easy to find and compare.

If you’re weighing project management software options, use these 8 must-haves as a guide:

1.    Flexible User Interface