Delight the Customer

I’m often surprised how few companies and organizations make it their mission to delight their customers. Sure many companies claim that as one of their missions or core values, but so few actually deliver.

Whenever I have an awesome experience with an organization (like Zappos, or Nest), I go out of my way to recommend them to others and spread the word about them – not to mention that they will definitely get my repeat business.  In short, it builds a loyal customer base.

This seems like common sense to me – I’m amazed at how infrequently it’s done.

 

 

Presence

While I absolutely despise the Microsoft Lync client for Mac (as I’ve discussed before), there is one thing it does fantastically well: presence.

Because it’s hooked in and able to talk with Exchange, it knows what is on my calendar and can set my presence accordingly (away, do not disturb, available, etc), and without my having to do anything to make it happen.  That’s cool.

Adium doesn’t do that… and a couple of quick searches turned up very little in the way of existing add-on’s that provide the ability either.  There are a couple that come close to this, but they don’t’ set your status itself, but rather the text displayed in your away message.

Rather than admit defeat, I decided to build it myself.  Read More

NEST

As a tech geek I’m always on the lookout for cool tech to play with.  A few months ago a co-worker introduced me to the Nest Learning Thermostat, and I instantly knew I had to have one (several, actually…).

This thermostat eschews the notion that thermostats have to be ugly – it’s anything but.  That’s not the only place it differs from the norm – it’s also drop dead simple to use.

Nest is a “learning thermostat”, meaning that instead of having to set a complex schedule via cryptic and clunky menus, Nest learns from how you use it then starts setting temperatures for you. It even has the ability to determine if you’re home or not and automatically go into “away mode” to save energy when you’re not around.  There are a lot of other cool features you can read about on their website.

I did have a strange issue with one of my Nests.  One of my air conditioners kept turning itself on even though Nest was reporting no activity. An email to Nest support, at 8pm on a Saturday night, prompted a call back in under an hour with a very specific diagnosis. They were able to tell me which thermostat and air conditioner had the issue, and that it was a wiring issue with the common wire not providing enough power and the Nest inadvertently triggering the AC while it tried to charge itself.   Without ever setting foot in my house they could clearly diagnose the problem and tell me what needed to be done to solve it.

At 9pm on a Saturday night.

I wouldn’t expect that level of service and responsiveness from most companies, and certainly not from a thermostat company.

Well done, Nest.

 

Microsoft Lync via Adium

This post has been updated several times – be sure to read all the way to the bottom to see the latest updates, as this has become even easier to accomplish.

Microsoft Lync is the latest evolution of Microsoft Office Communicator – an instant message server / client geared towards enterprises that want to offer instant messaging to employees in a secured and controlled fashion.  It’s also one of the worst IM clients I’ve had the (dis)pleasure of using.

Admittedly I have been using the Mac version,  so you know right there it’s not going to be that great.  However there are three basic gripes I have with the client which cause me to hate it:

  1. It either crashes, or drops it’s connection, frequently.  This is not just a daily occurrence, sometimes it happens multiple times an hour.   It’s worth noting that when this happens I also lose any open conversations.
  2. It’s hideously ugly*
  3. It lacks tabbed chat windows.  This is a feature that every major IM client has had for a decade.

My favorite IM client – by far – is Adium.   Adium is the single most configurable IM client I have ever seen, allowing you to customize everything about it, from the way it looks to the scripts that it executes when certain events occur.  The community around it is large and active, providing a wealth of plugging and add-ons to meet any need you could possibly have.  It’s simply the most gorgeous and useful IM client I’ve ever had the pleasure of using.

With the release of Adium 1.5, and a special plugin, it’s now finally possible to use Adium to talk to the Microsoft Communicator / Lync server.  This means I can now use Adium instead of the hideous Lync client – something I’ve been waiting a long time for.

The setup is simple:

  • Make sure you’re running Adium 1.5
  • Download this plugin: http://db.tt/2yx5wYNt
  • Install the plugin and restart Adium
  • Add the new account using Office Communicator for the protocol

It doesn’t do everything (no video chat or screen sharing) – but it’s a huge step in the right direction.

[Update 5/4/12]:  One thing Adium doesn’t do (but lync does) is set your status based off your calendar.   I’ve addressed this via some AppleScript, as detailed here.

[Update 5/16/12]: The latest beta of Adium (1.5.1b1) uses a different version of libpurple, so the plugin doesn’t work.  A quick workaround is to run the following commands in Terminal:

  • cd /Applications/Adium.app/Contents/Frameworks/libpurple.framework/Versions
  • ln -s 0.10.5 0.10.0

Once an updated plugin is available I will link to that, but this should work in the meantime.

[Update 12/10/12]:

A helpful commenter provided more information on how to get the plugin to work with 1.5.4.   I’ve tested the steps provided and confirmed that it does work.

The requisite steps are:

Delete previous Adium.app
Download adium 1.5.4, open dmg, extract
Download plugin from http://users.rcn.com/zer0/SIPEAdiumPlugin.AdiumLibpurplePlugin(64bit).zip
Unzip plugin
Double click to install plugin
Quit Adium after it opens

Open Terminal (any directory)

  • ln -s Current /Applications/Adium.app/Contents/Frameworks/libpurple.framework/Versions/0.10.0
  • ln -s Current /Applications/Adium.app/Contents/Frameworks/libglib.framework/Versions/2.0.0
  • ln -s Current /Applications/Adium.app/Contents/Frameworks/libintl.framework/Versions/8
  • launchctl setenv NSS_SSL_CBC_RANDOM_IV 1

 

Quit Terminal
Open Adium
File > Add Acount > Office Communicator

 [ Update 11/12/13]: 

The latest versions of the SIPE plugin (available here: http://sourceforge.net/projects/sipe/files/sipe/) do not require any modifications as prior versions did.  Download and install, restart Adium and you’re good to go.   They also fix some of the weird problems encountered in prior versions.

 

* some people might not care about how an application looks, but I do.  I hate ugly, utilitarian, software.  As Apple has shown – make something beautiful AND useful and people will love it.

New Skin

Every now and then I feel the need to change things up. While I liked the old theme for this blog I must admit that it was getting kind of stale.

For those of you reading this on Facebook… nearly everything I post to my Facebook account is syndicated from my blog.  That’s what I’m referring to.

Anyway – While I would love to work with a designer and do a custom design,  until I find one who has some spare time to help me out I will be reliant on the themes of others.  Thankfully I found one I actually like without spending an inordinate amount of time searching.

A more substantial post will come later this weekend.  Probably.