What You Do When No One is Watching

This isn’t a post about technology.  It’s a quick story about a wonderful customer service experience I had yesterday and a good lesson for anyone in business.

My daughter has been trying to sell her car for the past few months.  I haven’t been involved to any great degree, but yesterday she was meeting a potential buyer who contacted her via Craigslist and she wanted me to join her as she wasn’t sure who she was meeting.  It turns out the buyer was a young man, and after the test drive he said he wanted to buy the car.  They agreed on the price, and he asked if he could pay and take the car home right away.  It was close to 5:00 pm on a Sunday.  He had to get the money from his bank and then we had to find an insurance agent that was open for him to get the insurance.  Believe it or not, we found one close by that was open until 6:00 pm.

He went off to get the money and we agreed to meet him at the insurance broker.  When we arrived we found out that the bank branch he went to was closed and he asked if he could do an online transfer instead.  We agreed.  It was approximately 5:30 pm by this time.  The online transfer was sent to my daughter via e-mail to confirm.  We waited for her to receive it.

The insurance broker office had 2 people in front of us waiting for service, and the man behind the counter told us that we would have a short wait.  In the time that it took for him to help the people in front of us the e-transfer still hadn’t showed up.  Another person had come in to the office, so we let him go ahead of us.  Now it was 5:55 pm, 5 minutes before closing.  While he was serving this new customer I overheard the person from the insurance office say that this was his last day on the job.  I was worried that the transfer wouldn’t happen and that he would ask us to leave.  I think we were all nervous.  I know the young man wanting the purchase the car was because he had an hour drive to get home and he wouldn’t want to have to come back again.

The last customer finished his business, and by then the man at the insurance office had started to help with our transaction, but I let him know that the financial part needed to happen before any insurance transfer, and that we were still waiting for the e-transfer notification.  Thinking we would be asked to come back tomorrow, he instead responded saying that it wouldn’t be a problem since he had lots more work to do still and that he would get our paperwork ready but then catch up on his additional work while we waited.

It took another half hour before the transfer finally happened.  6:30 pm!  In the mean time he offered his restroom for anyone that needed it.  He helped the young man purchasing the car first, and then helped my daughter with her paperwork.  We were very grateful for his patience and his help.  He told us she was his last customer, and that he appreciated that she was cheerful and understanding.  Sounds like he may have had a difficult customer or two to deal with that day.  We thanked him again and were on our way.  What a wonderful experience for my daughter.

I like the odd inspirational saying, and saw one on the wall as we were being helped by this person.  Character: What you do when no one is watching.

I would like to again thank Roger.  It was his last day.  He wasn’t getting paid after the store closed (I heard him say so).  He stayed open late just for us, and he did so while none of his co-workers or the managers of the store were there.

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IBM Connect Session: Why We Selected GoodReader

As we work through the details behind our presentation at IBM Connect 2016 this post is about our choice to select GoodReader as the app for our users. As we detailed in the presentation, our challenge was to replace three full large binders of paper with an app on a tablet. The material in the binders was being made available in advance of a series of strategy planning meetings that included 18 people over 23 days. The expectation is that all of the participants would have the ability to review the material and make notes to be able to speak to the content in the meetings. Did we mention this were senior managers and executives?

Our Change Agent, Terry, came to us with the request to figure out how to put the material on his iPad and give him the ability to annotate it with his notes using a stylus and eliminate all that paper. It also needed to be secure. He uses an app called Notes Plus and asked us to start there.

By this time I had an iPad so I purchased the app and started to learn how to use it. Notes Plus is a very useful tool that I am only scratching the surface on how to use. I use it primarily to scribble my notes and comments when in meetings. You start with a blank canvas and use your stylus to write notes. Pretty simple. It can also edit PDF files, so it seemed like a good fit for what we wanted. The trick was getting the material into the app. For that we looked to use the Connections app to transfer the files to the iPad.

The Connections app is great, and we have several users who are using it regularly, and a larger number of people using it off and on. For my test I built a Community and put some sample PDF files into it. I synched those files to my iPad using the app and then set about trying to figure out how to open those files in the Notes Plus app. It’s worth stating at this point that the Connections app doesn’t provide the ability to annotate files, so in terms of meeting our needs, despite the security in the app, it wasn’t going to be able to do what we needed it to.

While I was able to select a file in the Connections app and go through the process of opening that file in the Notes Plus app, editing the file, saving it and getting back to it, and keeping everything secure was going to be a challenge in terms of user experience. We wanted to give our users a seamless experience or it wasn’t going to work. I’ve already posted about the challenge we faced with the negative perception of Connections, so for this to work it needed to be easy and intuitive. So our search continued.

The next thing that happened was that I found this blog post from Luis Benitez. It pointed to the exact solution we were looking for. It specifically named GoodReader as an app that can be used with Connections to synch files, annotate them, and keep everything secure. It required that we install FileJockey on our Connections server to enable the WebDav protocol that GoodReader uses as one method to synch files, and after that we were off to the races.

My next posts will include how we set up GoodReader, including its fabulous security, and how we set up FileJockey.

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Posted in Collaboration

IBM Connect 2016: Session Slides

The slides for the session I presented at IBM Connect 2016 with my colleague Delores Beier from A&W Food Services of Canada have been posted.

IBM Connect 2016 1480 Win, Win, Win: Changing Attitudes, Adopting Social and Going Green – A Customer Solution

Thank you to everyone who attended our session.  The room was close to full, and we really appreciate everyone who took the time to join us in an early-morning time slot.  Thank you also to John Jardin for helping with getting our iPad connected to the A/V output.

Watch this blog for more details on the solution we discussed, including the technical details of hooking IBM Connections up with the GoodReader iPad app.

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The Perception of Connections

I had several titles for this post, the Challenge with Connections, the Perception of Social Collaboration, and others could have been used. I imagine lots of my colleagues in the world of trying to bring these tools to organizations could write this and similar posts too. This isn’t a post for admins mind you, although they could fill volumes on the subject as well. This post is about the challenge of adopting Connections.

A widely discussed best practice for adopting Connections is to get your President/CEO/Leader on board and have that person be a shining example for others to follow. Easier said than done. Start slow is how we are coached. Get your CEO’s message into a blog post. It’ll work, you’ll see.

I have no doubt that it would. But what if your CEO has decided that Connections is a solution looking for a problem? What if despite all the hard work you’ve done to share the benefits of the tool falls on deaf ears because they’ve made up their minds in advance? Their perception of the tool leaves you in the dust.

This isn’t new, and in fact it’s in the best practices play book as well, but the place to start is with solving business problems. You have to demonstrate that Connections will solve those challenged. But it has to be a natural solution, nothing forced. Sometimes you just have to be ready for when Opportunity knocks on your door. Sometimes you have to be lucky.

I will be at IBM Connect 2016 in Orlando next week and will be speaking with my colleague Delores Beier from A&W Canada about just how lucky we got in using Connections to solve such a problem. It happened to involve every executive in the company, and more. The result was that we were able to open their eyes to the possibilities of what Connections could do. Some of those executives are now big supporters of the tool and all of them consider the solution wildly successful. And the CEO no longer looks at Connections as a solution looking for a problem.

Our session, 1480: Win, Win, Win: Changing Attitudes, Adopting Social and Going Green – A Customer Solution is Tuesday morning at 8:00 am. We hope to see you there.

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Reminder: IBM Connect 2016 Early Bird Discount Expires on Tuesday

Just a quick reminder for those planning to attend IBM Connect Lotusphere 2016 in Orlando in January, the early bird discount ($200) expires on October 27th, next Tuesday.  There is also an alumni discount code that saves you an additional $100, IBMC16ALUM.

And if you haven’t already heard, the conference will be at the Hilton Orlando this year for the first time.  You will have to arrive a day early or stay a day late if you want your Disney fix this time around.

I’ve already registered, and am hoping to be able to share a customer solution I was involved in this year on stage.  Those notices are rumored to be arriving in inboxes next Monday or Tuesday.  Either way, I hope to see you there.

IBM Connect 2016

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Hosting the Lotus Sandbox

Prompted by a tweet from Bruce, I contacted Peter about his blog post to discontinue the domain he uses to host his blog and the Lotus Sandbox at bananahome.com.

Jim Casale did the same, so now it’s hosted in two places.  I have posted the ZIP to Dropbox, and Jim is actually hosting the application at sandboxlive.com.

Thanks to Peter for keeping the Sandbox alive for so many years.  A lot of us in the community learned a great deal from the Sandbox in the early days.

By the way, if anyone is looking for the original Nifty Fifty, I can provide a copy of those applications too, courtesy of Curious Mitch.

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The Unofficial International Lotusphere 2015 Photo Challenge

It’s Thursday afternoon before Lotusphere 2015 and all I can think about it how much longer it will be before I leave for Orlando.  Some of you are already there, some are in transit, and some, like me, have yet to leave.  Very soon though.

One of the fond memories I have of Lotusphere a couple of years back was sitting with some members of our community over a frosty beverage at ESPN on the Saturday before things got started.  We had a laugh because the five of us around the table were each from a different country: Australia, the US, England, South Africa and me from Canada.  I *think* someone took a picture and tweeted it out.  Whatever.  The idea that members of our small community come from the four corners of the globe just makes me warm inside.  I recall a blog post from The Turtle many many years ago that captured the same sentiment: that we are among “our people” in the Lotus World.

Then I read Andy’s blog from yesterday and couldn’t agree more that we should have some fun while we enjoy our time in Orlando.  Putting the two ideas together, I bring you the Unofficial International Lotusphere 2015 Photo Challenge!

There are two ways to play and two rules.  First, the rules:

  1. Have Fun!
  2. Post your photo (Twitter or Instagram) with the hastags: #ls15 and #ls15photo

The two ways to play are this:

  1. Take a photo with people representing as many countries as possible, or
  2. Just cram as many people as you can into a photo and post it.

You are playing for fun, and maybe some minor recognition.  Even people who aren’t there with us this year can participate of course.  Join in and let’s have some fun with it.

The photo that won’t count in the challenge is the one you will want to be in, taken by John or others, and that’s the one that happens after the closing session on Wednesday.

I am looking forward to seeing everyone soon!  Less than 24 hours now.

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