MicroISV Productivity Tip

April 30, 2007 at 10:38 pm | Posted in MicroISV, Software Industry | Comments Off on MicroISV Productivity Tip

Get some sleep!

For those of us who haven’t been able to quit our day job yet, time is precious and we often find ourselves working late into the night after having already done a full day’s work.

However productivity will suffer if you keep it up too long. I know personally that after a good night’s sleep, a problem that seemed difficult the day before turns out not to be a problem at all. Not only that, your partner will appreciate it too.

With that, I’m turning in for the night.


Website Tweaks

April 30, 2007 at 10:25 pm | Posted in MicroISV, Web Development | Comments Off on Website Tweaks

Text2Go Web Audio PlayerI’ve made a couple of tweaks to the Text2Go website over the weekend. Both are what I consider to be useability improvements and are similar in nature.

The first involves the playing of text-to-speech samples. These are stored as mp3 files. When a visitor clicked on a sample, an audio player was displayed in the middle of a blank page and the sound was played. It worked but was a bit disconcerting and it did mean the visitor had to hit the ‘Back’ button to return to the current page.

I really wanted the sample to be played in place, so the visitor didn’t loose their context. A quick search of the web turned up a very handy script written by David Battino that did just what I wanted. It pops up a small window containing the audio controls over the top of the main page. The full article describing the script is Build a Better Web Audio Player.

Text2Go website lightboxThe second tweak was to the Features page and the way screenshots are displayed.  Previously when you clicked on a screenshot it was displayed in its own page. Once again, the visitor was forced to hit the ‘Back’ button to return to the Features page. Patrick McKenzie posted recently about a neat little script that displays screenshots using a lightbox. I’ve used his enhanced script which is based on Lokesh Dhakar’s original lighbox. Using the lightbox, clicking on a screenshot causes it to be displayed on top of the current page. To emphasize the screenshot, the main page is dimmed. The result is a not only cool but a more user-friendly experience I believe.

Wideband Networks – An Example of Great Customer Service

April 24, 2007 at 10:05 pm | Posted in Customer Service | 1 Comment

Out of serviceWhy is it that as companies proclaim to be more responsive, more customer driven and customer focussed, great customer service is actually becoming incredibly rare? Is it because the definition of a customer has changed? It seems that these days you’re a valued customer right up to the point at which you purchase a product or service. From this point on you’re no longer a customer, but instead, a cost which must be minimised, in every sense of the word.

Therefore it’s incredibly refreshing when you encounter a company that provides genuine, wonderful service.

Photo courtesy of Looking Glass’

Wideband Networks is one of these companies and what’s more remarkable they’re an ISP, only one step removed from the telco industry, where customer service nightmares seem to be the industry standard.

The following stories illustrate why I believe Wideband Networks provide great customer service.

On our recent return from NZ to Australia, we were forced to take up temporary lodgings with my mother-in-law. During this time we needed broadband Internet, so we decided to have ADSL installed on the line.

I did the usual search for the best value for money (read cheapest) plan that suited my needs and filled out an online application. A day later I get back an email saying that the phone line doesn’t support ADSL. What? An uncle who lives two houses down the road has ADSL, so the local exchange must support ADSL. The actual phone line was ADSL capable, so what’s the story? I sent a follow up email to the ISP’s support centre. Several days pass and there was no response.

By this time, we’ve arrived back in Australia and had no Internet connection. Things were desperate. Time to try another approach.

Perhaps a wireless solution might work? Wideband Networks provide wireless as well as ADSL and ASDL2 solutions. Before trying this, I decided to give ADSL one more try and so asked Wideband Networks if they could check to see if the phone line was ADSL capable. They ran a test and came back with the same result. There was something preventing ADSL from being installed on the line. Once again I sent back an enquiry asking what specifically was the problem. This time however I actually got a timely response. The support person had done some additional investigation and found that there was a code on the line that was causing the problem. They suggested that we contact the phone company and have them remove the code.

So I got my mother-in-law to call up the phone company and have them remove this mysterious code from the line. It turns out that it was a fault code that had been lodged against the line a couple of years ago when a tree had brought down the phone line and calls were temporarily diverted to her mobile. The fault code was removed and now the line was magically able to support ADSL. Note that there was never anything wrong with the physical line. The fault code was just an entry in a database, which prevented ADSL being ordered for the line.

I was so grateful to Wideband Networks for spending the additional time to diagnose the problem. At this point I could have gone back to the cheapest ISP and signed up again. Instead I signed up with Wideband Networks. Their plan wasn’t the cheapest but neither was it overpriced. I was quite happy to pay a little bit extra for some decent customer service.

The second incident occurred when we were finally able to move back into our own home. We needed to get the phone put on and have our ADSL plan switched to the new address. After evaluating a number of phone companies and the plans they had, we signed up. A couple of days later when the phone service was activated, horror of horrors, the number that gets called most often (my previously mentioned mother-in-law) turned out not to be a local call, but instead a timed, STD call. We had been assured that this number was a local call but it definitely wasn’t and was now going to bankrupt us in a very short space of time. Therefore we immediately switched to a telco that provides a fixed fee, untimed call to all locations within a 70km radius.

As soon as we had received our new phone number I contacted Wideband Networks to have them activate ADSL on the new phone. The next day I got a call form Wideband Networks to say that they couldn’t activate ADSL because the number was not appearing on their system. The problem was that as we were in the process of switching telco providers, the telco’s system was preventing them from activating ADSL on the line. I contacted the original phone company and they said that they’d made the transfer and it was up to the new telco to process the request. So I rang the new telco, only to be told the order was in a queue and it could take up to 3 weeks to process, perhaps even longer. I explained that this was preventing me from activating ADSL, I was without Internet access and could they please expedite the process. No, once it’s in the queue, that’s it, it was out of their hands. I just needed to let it run its course. Perhaps in the meantime, I could sign up to their incredibly overpriced wireless service? No, no, no, I just wanted them to process the transfer order.

The story does have a happy ending however. A couple of days later I got a text message from Wideband Networks to say that they had managed to activate ADSL and it would be available on Wednesday somewhere between 9am and 12pm. That Wednesday night I plugged the phone line into the modem and sure enough, my Internet connection had been restored.

I assume that Wideband Networks had continued to try and process my order. Something must have happened at the telco end to allow this to occur. Perhaps the transfer order had moved from step 1 of 12 to step 2 of 12. Who knows? The thing that impressed me was the way Wideband Networks proactively worked on my problem. I had only needed to make a single phone call to request the ADSL transfer and despite the obstacles they encountered with the telco, they were able to carry out my request without any further prompting.

Wideband Networks have gained a happy, loyal customer.

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