StillAlive ….. The Future



It has been fifteen months since Cogneto announced the acquisition of StillAlive. During the intervening period StillAlive has embarked on a program of improvement and investment. Winston Churchill- once wrote "To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often". Although we know we have yet to reach perfection, the changes we are implementing in the business are designed to bring us closer to this lofty goal.

New Future

Cogneto acquired StillAlive as we felt it was a strong established business, in a growth market with an Industry leading product. Fifteen months in, we believe that these initial suppositions are proved to be correct. As part of this evolution of change we felt that StillAlive needed a proper direction. Today we are very proud to launch the new roadmap for the service.

New Features/Our Roadmap


Over the last number of months, most of you will have noticed some performance improvements and we now able to provide you with our public roadmap for StillAlive. As a management team our commitment to you is to continuously innovate and improve our app, our goal here is to make your work life less complex and more productive. StillAlive will, over the next 12 months, be launching integrations for services like Slack, HipChat, JIRA, Assembla, Pivotal Tracker, along with new features such as test failure re-checks, geographic checks and integrations for tools such as OpsGenie, DataDog, PagerDuty as well as an overhaul of our UI/UX and much more. Our request to you is simple: talk to us- let us know what you want. Our roadmap is here, let us know what you would like to see on it.

Vision

Growth

Roadmap

New Leadership and New Investments

To make this road map a reality, the first change we needed to make was to the structure the personnel inside StillAlive. Today Cogneto’s leadership team is firmly rooted in Dublin, Ireland- we work in close quarters and have a strong philosophy around collaboration as a means to success. We have invested heavily in our engineering and design capability opening up offices alongside our Dublin HQ in Krakow in Poland. The biggest asset a business has is its team and this is where we’ve made our most significant investments to date. As far as our roadmap is concerned we are now is a position to walk the walk and realize our roadmap- not just talk the talk !!!! 

New Pricing

To fund these investments and bring us in line with prevailing competitive market rates StillAlive will be announcing price increases over the coming weeks across our plans. Although nobody likes getting a price increase, it does come hand in hand with the investment we’ve made in the current roadmap development and its ongoing development, and the investment in infrastructure to improve quality of life, and to support the features coming. Cost wise, StillAlive remains highly competitive against our competitors- this new price point however allows us the flexibility to innovate and improve our application thus bringing additional value to our clients in tandem.

... Lastly, and on a Personal note

As CEO, I’d like to thank you for your ongoing custom and loyalty to StillAlive. StillAlive has embarked upon a mission to become the market leader in web application user testing. Over the coming years we commit, to you, to deliver the very best product, features, support and service that we possibly can. So, to conclude, welcome to the coming future of StillAlive the real work starts here.






About the author   

Paul Keegan CEO of Cogneto

Introducing…..The new Point DNS



New Features/Our Roadmap


Over the last number of months, most of you will have noticed some performance improvements and we now able to provide you with our public roadmap for Point DNS. As a management team our commitment to you is to continuously innovate and improve our app, our goal here is to make your work life less complex and more productive. Point DNS will, over the next 12 months, be launching integrations for services like Slack, HipChat, JIRA, Assembla, Pivotal Tracker, along with new features such as slave records, zone back-ups, DNSSEC, fall-back records, and monitoring tool integrations for your DNS uptime monitoring as well as an overhaul of our UI/UX and much more. Our request to you is simple: talk to us- let us know what you want. Our roadmap is here, let us know what you would like to see on it.


Vision

Growth

Roadmap


New Leadership and New investments

To make this road map a reality, the first change we needed to make was to the structure the personnel inside Point DNS. Today Cogneto’s leadership team is firmly rooted in Dublin, Ireland- we work in close quarters and have a strong philosophy around collaboration as a means to success. We have invested heavily in our engineering and design capability opening up offices alongside our Dublin HQ in Krakow in Poland. The biggest asset a business has is its team and this is where we’ve made our most significant investments to date. As far as our roadmap is concerned we are now is a position to walk the walk and realize our roadmap- not just talk the talk !!!!

New Pricing

To fund these investments and bring us in line with prevailing competitive market rates Point DNS will be announcing price increases over the coming weeks across our plans. Although nobody likes getting a price increase, it does come hand in hand with the investment we’ve made in the current roadmap development and it’s ongoing development, and the investment in infrastructure to improve quality of life, and to support the features coming. Cost wise, Point DNS remains highly competitive against our competitors- this new price point however allows us the flexibility to innovate and improve our application thus bringing additional value to our clients in tandem.

... Lastly, and on a Personal note

As CEO, I’d like to thank you for your ongoing custom and loyalty to Point DNS. Point DNS has embarked upon a mission to become the market leader in managed DNS services. Over the coming years we commit, to you, to deliver the very best product, features, support and serviceIt has been fifteen months since Cogneto announced the acquisition of Point DNS. During the intervening period Point DNS has embarked on a program of improvement and investment that today reaches a significant milestone with Point DNS relaunch and rebrand. Winston Churchill- once wrote "To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often". Although we know we have yet to reach perfection, the changes we are implementing in the business are designed to bring us closer to this lofty goal.

New Look

Cogneto acquired Point DNS as we felt it was a strong established business, in a growth market with an Industry leading product. Fifteen months in, we believe that these initial suppositions are proved to be correct. As part of this evolution of change we felt that Point DNS needed a “New Look”. Today we are very proud to launch the new rebranded www.pointhq.com after all, an excellent product should have an excellent web presence that we possibly can. So, to conclude, welcome to the New Point DNS the real work starts here.






About the author   

Paul Keegan CEO of Cogneto

3 signs you should invest in a status page




Business is tough, your competition can be ruthless, and communication with each other has drastically changed. Whether you operate under a B2B or B2C structure, communicating to your customers, investors and the press can be challenging. Social media has increased these challenges through the immediacy of news and its proliferation, especially when a issue arises with your business.

Offering a status page to your stakeholders may be the solution. A status page is a page that reports downtime and other metrics to your customer's,employee's and stakeholder's. Essentially acting as PR machine your status page becomes “a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between you and your stakeholders.”

Most status pages can be set up in less than 5 minutes, so it is not a momentous task to undertake. Here are some signs you might need to invest in a status page for your company.

Unprepared for crisis situations:

Downtime is that special time in company's life when all your customers want to talk to you, your inbox fills up, and your phone won't stop ringing. All while you are trying to fix the issue that caused the downtime. Suddenly realize that you are unprepared this crisis situation and while you want to respond to everyone personally you cant do both at the same time. Downtime happens to every business of every size, if you do not have a preemptive strike planned for when this occurs you need a status page.


Inconsistent dissemination of information



If the person responsible for updating your customers during a crisis is also the person responsible for fixing the issue that caused the crisis. This will lead to a inconsistency of emails, irregular tweets or posts on social media and all lead very confused and angry customers. If you do not have dedicated resource for keeping everyone up to date when a crisis occurs you need a status page.

Unrealistic expectations for Social Media: 

If you are relying on your social media profiles to keep your customers up to date when a crisis with your company occurs YOU NEED A STATUS PAGE. A  crisis can occur at any time of the day or night and unless you have someone who can update your social media profiles 24/7/365 your expectations are unrealistic. Add to this the fact that the fans/followers of your social media profiles are not going to see every update you post, (that is unless you are going to pay to promote every update for every profile). Suddenly you realize expecting social media alone to keep your customers informed will only lead to very frustrated customers. By using a status page you can update your customers  via email, sms, twitter and a variety of webhooks ensuring even those who don't use social media are kept aware of what is happening.

There are a ton of great companies using status pages including Emarsys, Emailage, Concur, Michigan State University, and of course Cogneto (owners of StatusHub.io). If you don’t have a status page for your SaaS product, I hope I’ve convinced you to join the ranks of these great companies.

If you would like to set up your own status page. You can avail of a 14 day free trial when you sign up with StatusHub.io today.


StatusHub Case Study - Telenor Digital




For  online companies with no status page should be aware that while your social media channels, and your  shiny new marketing awards are great they wont save your ass when a problem happens and it is not communicated effectively with both your staff and your customers. A fact that Telenor Digital is well aware of.


Telenor is a Norwegian multinational telecommunications company headquartered at Fornebu in Bærum. As one of the world's largest mobile telecommunications companies it has operations in Scandinavia, Eastern Europe and Asia. Telenor Digital is a community with Telenor that exits to shape the company's digital future. With a staff of over 150 employees their work is key to transitioning Telenor into an Internet Leading Telco.

As the home of Telenor’s high-tech development house, they create globally scalable solutions within next-generation communication services, cloud services, eCommerce, and the “Internet of Everything” for various business units around the globe, with Asia currently being their largest customer base.

In doing this, Telenor Digital enables the global distribution of their own and third party services and also support new ventures within digital entrepreneurship.

Telenor Digital had been developing their own in-house availability monitoring solution, however due to time spent on this project, it was felt an off the shelf product would offer a better experience. 

In finding a similar system, they required a service that could offer stability and a level of support availability that would allow them to investigate issues as they needed. Another requirement Telenor Digital had for the availability monitoring solution, was a service they could set up, that did not need to adjust to suit their needs.

The Engineering Productivity team was responsible for finding the software that could meet these needs, having reviewed available solutions they found that some were very expensive and others required customisation in order to fit their needs. This is when they found StatusHub.

How did StatusHub help?

As the team responsible for providing systems and tools for the DevOps-y teams. The Engineering Productivity team were tasked with finding a suitable availability monitoring service. Their search lead them to StatusHub.

One major benefit for Telenor Digital is that StatusHub and PagerDuty are easily integrated. They were delighted with how little time it took to set up their "StatusHub".  By displaying the page on screens in their office, everybody can see the status of the company at a glance.

Results, ROI & Future Plans 

Since implementing StatusHub, Telenor Digital noticed that they are able to measure impact of service availability more precisely, partly due to displaying their "StatusHub" on screens around the office. This has allowed service managers to take more control when issues arise, ensuring that they offer customers a higher level of availability.

Why should you use StatusHub?

The unfortunate reality about running any online business is that every now and again you are going to suffer some downtime;
  • Bugs in production;
  • Networking issues
  • and over 100 other little things that can go wrong throughout the lifetime of your business
If you don't handle this with the grace of a dainty little butterfly your customers and ultimately your bottom line will suffer.

As customers ourselves we have all suffered this before with products and websites we use regularly and the lack of communication is infuriating, which can lead you to never recommending them to your friends and possibly even switching to one of their competitors. This is not something you want your customers to experience with your brand.

Make StatusHub your experience revolution.

With StatusHub the good news is unexpected issues don't have to be a customer service disaster. StatusHub allows you to embrace transparency during these times which will lead to your customers forgiving you for any inconvenience caused. StatusHub gives you your very own "StatusHub" offering you a always up and always on way of communicating with your customers. This incredible tool allows you to build a world class customer service experience. 

With your "StatusHub" you can communicate with your customers about; 
  • the status of your service and its independent parts
  • planned and unplanned maintenance 
  • and incidents about downtime 

Another cool thing your "StatusHub" can hook up with some of the tools you may be already using such StillAlive, PagerDuty, VictorOps, UptimeRobot and Pingdom allowing you to automatically update your "StatusHub". Keeping your customers up to date with issues as and when they happen.

If you'd like to learn more about statushub for enterprise, visit our site.

StatusHub Updates: New Relic, JIRA and Platform Wide Updates




Over the last few weeks we have locked ourselves away in the cogneto cave putting our nose's to the grindstone and drinking copious amounts coffee to ensure that we continue our push for improving what not only StatusHub does but how it works for you.

Finally we are delighted to release some exciting changes that we feel will go a long way to improving your experience with our service and how you engage with your customers.

JIRA

This first change is the one we are most excited about. Over the last while we have wanted to offer our customers a way of being able to report issues with their services to statushub while they were recording them internally. Thanks to this new feature you can now create an incident for statushub within JIRA and link it to an existing JIRA issue.

How to integrate Statushub with Jira

https://spoke.cogneto.co/hc/en-us/articles/211993645

New Relic

Pingdom , VictorOps , Uptime Robot , PagerDuty , PRTG , and Nagios are all monitoring tools that have been able to connect to your statushub since we acquired StatusHub early last year. Now we have added New Relic to this growing list.

How to integrate Statushub with New Relic
https://spoke.cogneto.co/hc/en-us/articles/211941105

Platform Wide Updates

Platform Wide Alerts or Disaster Mode as lovingly call it. Is a quick and easy way to notify subscribers when disaster strikes and multiple services are affected by the same serious problem. Once enabled StatusHub will add a large red notification bar to the top of your page. Also StatusHub will notify all your subscribers of the issue even those who would normally miss notifications to the affected services, due to being only subscribed to a sub-set of your services.

How to use Platform Wide Alerts

https://spoke.cogneto.co/hc/en-us/articles/211363969-Platform-Wide-Alerts


As always, you can add your $0.02 to our Community Feedback section of our knowledge base and even request your own features , which will be added to our Deathwish Coffee pouring sessions. If you've not been checking out our roadmap to see what we're working on next, please visit http://statushub.io/roadmap.


Originally posted on blog.statushub.io

Your Friday Inspiration: Product Launch Failures and How you can avoid them.



The start of a any project is an exciting time. You’ve goals are agreed and mapped out, for what will be an awesome new website or application — except that is not always how it turns out. Sometimes, despite your careful planning and best efforts, a project will fail.  I have taken a look at what I believe are some of biggest project failures over the few number of years.
London Olympics 2012
In June 2011, the Olympic committee announced 2.3 million tickets would be available for purchase for the 2012 London Olympics. As excited fans from around the world rushed the site to purchase tickets to their chosen events, they where soon met with "Sorry, we can not process your request at this time". The website had failed because poor planning meant it could not handle the rush of visitors. 
London had gone to extraordinary lengths to win and host the Olympics, only to have its website crash when it opened its doors to the public. Something that could have easily been avoided with the right planning and preparation. 
ObamaCare

ObamaCare is the pinnacle of failed website launches. All you have to do is Google "failed website launches" and resulting search will fill page after page of how ObamaCare became the chagrin of the Obama administration.
Healthcare.gov was launched in October 2013 and was designed to offer a single trusted point of information and transparency about the health insurance market. It was designed to allow consumers review health insurance plans and get the best value for their healthcare plan needs. The creation of the website was a requirement of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that President Obama signed into law in March 2010.
On the day Healthcare.gov launched it experienced a combination of high demand and technical glitches both of which overwhelmed the online system early in the day. According to Health and Human Services spokeswoman Joanne Peters, more than one million people had visited HealthCare.gov on the day it was launched which was five times more users than have ever been on the Medicare.gov at one time.

It is thought that 2.8 million visitors alone was able to cause the website to fail according to US administration officials. The site was created to provide assistance for over 30 million people.

Tetris


Developed in Moscow in 1984 Tetris was the first entertainment software to be exported from the USSR to the US. Since this time it has been available on almost every games console and mobile phone. It one of few games that became a huge part of popular culture. So how can it be considered a such a dismal failure?

The reason I would consider Tetris a product launch disaster concerns the secret battle between Nintendo and Atari. Long before Tetris became such a huge part of pop-culture, every software manufacturer that encountered Tetris, quickly realised the games massive potential and everyone wanted a piece of the action.
Everyone wanted the rights to produce the game for their console including the two biggest heavy hitters at the time Atari and Nintendo.

In theory Atari won the race; they got approval to mass-produce the game long before Nintendo got to the table. But there was a problem; they were negotiating with the wrong person. Nintendo may have been late to the game but they rapidly identified the “go-to” guy and began negotiating in earnest and won the deal after some unpleasant legal wrangling.
Unfortunately by the time Nintendo was finally crowned the victor, Atari had already manufactured over a quarter of a million games. On losing the case Atari were then faced with an expensive and embarrassing obligation to dispose of all their Tetris game cartridges. A mistake that cost them millions of dollars.

So while Tetris may have been a major success for Nintendo it also represents a massive disaster for competitor Atari who failed to do their research properly and eventually missed out.

Mark's and Spencer

In November of 2011 H&M was ready to launch it new Versace Collection. Loyal customers looking to purchase the new Versace Collection from H&M's website were greeted with a message saying "We’re sorry, we are experiencing large number of visitors at the moment, please try again later."

The "Try again later" message is the last thing this retailer's avid fans wanted to read. Given that most of the retailer's designer lines are smash hits. It was poor planning on H&M's behalf not to have prepared it's website for the outstanding sales and interest?

Blame it on the boogie

Leaving the ‘who’ aside here for a moment to look at the issue, website failures are not an uncommon event. A new website or online resource is launched whose aim is to engage people in a self-service/online manner to in order to reduce footfall traffic to office or retail stores. Think back to the last time you tried to buy a ticket for the hottest show coming soon on Ticketmaster and you will know exactly what this is like; the website becomes unresponsive, grinding to a halt or ‘falling over’.

With the combined experience of everyone at Cogneto, we have dealt with everything from online store launches, to utility companies relaunching their customer management portals to financial institutions launching new portal sites. And often, the results are the same despite best advice. The website took a pasting much like a Conor McGregor opponent.

So why does this happen and do people allow it to happen?

Let me be crystal clear here. No-one ever deliberately wakes up on the morning of the launch of a new product where a significant financial investment has been made and consciously says “Hey, who cares if it fails as the boss looks on.” It is utterly naive to also assume there’s a level of carelessness about these kind of failures. What in actuality has happened is down to usually one of two things;
  1. Poor planning 
  2. A lack of tools

The Million Dollar Question: ‘How to you stop it happening?’

Planning is key. It is merely not enough to meticulously plan the content and functionality of your online resource. Nor is it enough to make sure you’ve enough compute, disk IO and network traffic availability. Most of the failure stems from the omission to include a plan to test these resources under load. This form of testing will demonstrate several things:
  1. The performance of your infrastructure design to handle the incoming flood/waves of requests for pages 
  2. Whether your network can handle what could inadvertently become a by-product unwitting DoS attack on your network and compute resources due to the nature of the content being served 
  3. How interactive portions of the site that process input (i.e. forms) perform while a mass of simple webpage requests are going on 
  4. Where optimization under load is needed for the content being served. 
  5. How your scaling technology or ability to scale on the fly works (if it works at all) 
The second key is understanding that in today’s landscape of commodity compute services, there are tools available for this and services using these tools available.

Won’t somebody please think of the Children?



At Cogneto, we’ve been involved with large scale website launches where using our Smasher product, we’ve handled the performance and load testing of interactive and passive parts of sites. We have completed testing at various user loads; simultaneous waves of registrations, ramped up page request loads across ‘hot’, ‘tepid’ and ‘cold’ content on the site (‘hot’ being the most likely hit content, with ‘cold’ being the most infrequently hit content). All of which was able to kick back great performance metrics and alerts on what was going on with resource requests from the application layer.

If you’ve an upcoming web project launch or an existing one you’ve concerns about, please get in contact with our Smasher team today, and we can help you avoid the front-page woes.

Trust what is it and why does it matter?


Source: http://www.wsj.com/video/arrow-meets-apple-in-william-tell-comic/2BF841CD-58C2-4967-8E2A-AAC267B07EB7.html

Trust lies at the heart of almost everything we do everyday. which is hwy when our trust is lost we can feel betrayed, angry and even taken for granted.

But is trust and why do we hold it so dear?

Trust can be defined a reliance of the integrity, strength, ability or certainty of  a person, product or service. - Dictionary.com
Looking at this definition we can safely assume that trust is not about a matter of technique, a trick or  tool to be used, but a matter of your character.

Trust is like blood pressure, silent and vital to good health but when abused can be deadly. - Frank Sonnenberg

Taking a look at this as a whole it becomes clear that before a company can earn a customer's business, they first must earn their trust.  After all research has shown that the most-trusted companies have higher revenues, profitability and shareholder returns. So what do we need to do to inspire our customers to trust us.


Take for example the last time you went into a shop you'd never been in before.  You walk in and begin to look around.

Within seconds you have already began to make a series of quiet evaluations. As you wander around, picking things up, you have already thought about how the prices compare to what you’ve seen elsewhere. You have asked yourself what is different about the merchandise, is it clever or tasteful or unique. But there are other, less overt ways that you have been evaluating the store, as well. Looking around, you see if you’re the only customer or if the store is crowded. You notice if the displays look faded or fresh and if the staff is bored or attentive.

The results of these quick evaluations determine whether you buy something or you turn around and walk out empty-handed. The intangible qualities of the shop, the overall vibe have a huge influence on your decision to buy.

So how can we inspire trust with our customers when they shop online were they have less information to make the same decision of trust.

Stephan Delbos of Brand Embassy wrote an article for their blog earlier this year. In it he states "At one time or another, everyone buys something on the internet. For some it’s a 2:30am purchase of a waterproof radio that sticks to the shower wall, and for others it’s a simple pair of pants." So we can see at some point we have all trust one enough to make a purchase without ever seeing the product or service we were buying. So who did these companies inspire trust within us to make these purchases.

Stephan suggests that this is all down to how responsive the company's website is to our needs be this through bots or empathetic human contact. He also states that making contact with your customers is only the first step the second is how quickly we can do it. First Response Time is what he believes is key to winning your customers, by answering their questions in the shortest amount of time possible we will be able to earn their trust and eventually their custom.

While having a low first response time is great it is not the only factor behind why a customer will first you. Abby Glassenberg of whileshenaps.com points out our trust in online business is dependent on a number of factors such as :

Functionality
An indication that your online business is trustworthy is the design and functionality of the site itself. Like a cluttered and dusty brick-and-mortar store, an outdated website will not inspire confidence. You may find it hard to believe that in 2016 this advice still hasn't hit hoe for some people, but I'm sure if we all know a website that can greatly benefit from a simple redesign. However if a full redesign is not with you budget there are two things you can to that will help inspire trust in your company. The first and easiest to implement is to take a look over your site to ensure your product descriptions are free of grammar and spelling errors. The second, test the speed of your site to be sure potential customers aren’t clicking away due to long load times. 

Referrals
When customer's have to make decision to buy form a company they have never bought from before they look to other people guide us. Their experience with a product/ service can have a powerful influence over future customers.

By offering testimonials from past/existing customers directly on your site you can quickly build confidence in future customer's mind showing them it is safe to trust you and what you sell.

Consistency
Consistency proves that you can make and keep promises. If you have a blog, it should be updated on a regular basis, with this commitment our faith in you as a business can be strengthened. We as customers see that you did what you said you would do. And we trust that you’ll do the next thing, too.

But happens when you make a mistake and lose your customers trust. Can it be won back.


The short answer is yes and to prove this all we have to do is look to the car manufacturing industry.
Only last year Volkswagen experienced a major PR disaster when they had to recall over 500,000 vehicles, after sharing incorrect emissions information with authorities. Toyota had to recall of 9 million cars in 2009, Ford recalled almost 19 million vehicles in 1996, and GM’s has recalled over 30 million cars since 2010.

Despite each of these major PR disasters that may have led to the companies losing their customer's trust. We can see that they have been able to repair the damage these events have done by following these simple steps.

Acknowledging the issue

The first step to regaining your customers trust is to admit that their is an issue in the first place. As part of acknowledging the issue you should also investigate the issue. This is best done by creating a task force with a full mandate to act on behalf of the company while the crisis unfolds. Being silent or slow to communicate with the outside world can do more harm to your company than good. Once you have the task force in place they should be able to act without internal bureaucracy and, most importantly, quickly enough to keep up with the press and social media.

Apologise

Unlike OneRepublic says in their hit song, it’s never “too late to apologize. ” (If you didn’t get the pop culture reference click here)

We all learned as kids that the key to apologising is sincerity. Just like when you were a kid, apologising simply because you are forced to apologise will come across shallow and insincere.

If at all possible, meet with your customers face to face. When you look someone in the eye and say, “I’m sorry,” it is 1,000 times more sincere than a phone call or especially an e-mail.

In fact, emailing an apology note may be worse than the initial error itself. It basically reads, “I cared enough to write a couple of sentences and move on with my day.”

Also, since you have already addressed the issue, you now need to apologise for the specific error that was made. Don’t just apologise in generalisations, but apologise for the specific infraction committed. Your customer will always  hear the difference.

Rebuild your reputation

Now it’s time to get to work. Acknowledgement and apologies only go so far if no action is taken. Remember you’ve just lost your most essential brand value—trust—so anything and everything you say in the future will be questioned. Next up fix the damn problem. if you are going to recover and regain your customers trust you need to fix the problem and fix it fast.

However, you may not be able to fix the specific issue. There are times when what has been done is done. In these cases, you need to come up with a plan of action for how you will address the issue for your customers and prevent it form occurring again.

This not a time for running and hiding. This is the time to be up front, present, and responsive. Even after you have addressed the situation head on, there is still much work to be done. To be sure you have repaired the damage done you need to be prepared to astonish your customers. While it common sense that you set out to astonish all your customers, you need to sprinkle in a few extra “awesome moments” for those customers that still are not 100% sure they made the right decision in choosing you after you let them down.

Crisis or not you should always look to get to know your customer better, consistently adding insane value, will allow you to become one partner they couldn’t imagine NOT having on their team.

Final thoughts

Looking back we see that trust is the building block to every relationship we will ever have. earning our customers trust can be an emotional process which why it can take a long time to build but only seconds to destroy. However when we make a mistake that leads to losing this trust, by acknowledging the mistake and apologising for it we can take first steps on the long road to rebuilding this trust. 

 Further reading





Your Friday Inspiration: Customer Loyalty




If you want loyalty get a dog

If you want loyalty and attention get a smart dog --

 Grant Fairley

Someone who is loyal is reliable and always true, just like your trusty dog. Loyal comes from the Old French word "loial" which roughly translates to "legal" but if someone is only loyal to you because the law requires them to be, that's not true loyalty, which should come from the heart, not a contract.

In this digital-era, finding loyal customers has become very difficult thanks to the internet. A platform that can either be your friend or foe. Forcing companies to develop strategies around loyalty all with one goal; take influx of reviews and opinions of the company and turn into customer loyalty.

All of which can be easier said than done. All reviews are based on experience, but customer's don’t choose your product or service because of the experience they had; they choose it because of the experience they remember. There is a big difference between experience and memory.

In article for Beyond Philosophy Colin Shaw takes a look at a TED Talk where Professor Daniel Kahneman, discusses the difference between experience and memory and the cognitive traps we can fall into when we compare the two.



In his talk Kahneman, discusses two self's the 'experiencing self' and the ‘remembering self’. If we take the example of going to the movies we can easily explore what each of these mean.

So you head to the  cinema to watch a film you have been planning for weeks to see, you are 30 minutes into the film and you are enjoying yourself. But then two people turn up late and proceed to shout over the rest of the film and ruin it on you.

During the experience, before the people came in, you would have said your experience was great. That is the 'experiencing self'. After the movie you would say it was bad because my memory of the people crashing the movie spoilt it. That is the 'remembering self'. This shows us that there is a BIG difference between an experience and the memory of an experience.

Once you know this you should look to ensure that your customer's memory of their experience with your product/service is better than those they have with your competition. By helping them to create better memories with your products/service this will ultimately lead to customer loyalty.

Once memories have been formed they will usually result in feedback and reviews. Good bad or indifferent all the customer feedback and reviews directed towards your company is a goldmine of information for you. Vivek Jaiswal Co-founder, Customer Guru offers us 10 tips on using customer reviews to build customer loyalty

In his article Vivek states that we need to ultimately go through every single bit of that feedback and act upon it. Capturing the voice of the customer and adapting to it is what will propel your business towards success. When your customers know that you are listening and taking action they will become an outstanding promoter for your brand.

After all, Seth Godin once said:

It is easier to love a brand when the brand loves you back

Further Reading:

9 Ways to Build Customer loyalty

The simple recipe for Customer Loyalty

What A Goldfish Can Teach You About Customer Loyalty

Customer Service Lessons from my night in A&E



Earlier this month,I was playing bubble football with some random strangers thanks to a competition I won on the radio. I was only 5 mins on the pitch when I fell and dislocated me knee.


This was not the first time I had injured myself in way I should not have been able to and I doubt it will be the last. While I sat on the hospital bed in accident and emergency of Beaumont Hospital, looking the those around me I began to realise some of life lessons I learned from my many trips to the hospital. The following looks at those lessons and how I feel they can be applied to customer service.

Lesson #1:I have learned be a better listener.


I was born with a condition called Neurofibromatosis, this was the underlining reason to my many trips to the hospital. However, as it so rare I have often been left explaining what it is to the medical professionals around me. To be sure they understood what I was saying it took everything in me to sit still and really focus on not only what I said but how I said it. So that they could use this information when deciding on my treatment.

Customer Support Application: With a focus on minimising resolve times there can often be a rush to solving your customers issues. In the heat of those moments, we must sit still and really focus on what the customer is saying. For it is in those moments of listening that we often are able to determine the real issue and how we can solve it to prevent repeat issues. If we practice this often enough, it will not take any more time to solve the issue the customer is experiencing.

Lesson #2: I have learnt to be more patient. 

As a patient I have sat in waiting rooms for over 50 days of my life to date. When a doctor, surgeon, physiotherapist or nurse was running late I had no choice but to wait. When I finally did see them I didn't really care why they were late, I was just so appreciative that someone was there to see me.

Customer Support Application: When your customers are having issues, they may not be able to articulate the issue they are experiencing as well as the next person. You need to have the patience to allow them the time they need to explain their problem. The other side to this coin, is learning to be more patient with customers who may not fully understand the solution you give them, to fix the problem they are having. It is this through patience that we can actually turn around and save time.

Lesson #3: I have learned to be more appreciative.

Patients are one appreciative bunch! They truly are grateful when a doctor, can see them at short notice, review their labs with them, review all their medications with them, allow them to the ask questions, listen to them, educate them, counsel them….and the list goes on and on. Being around people like this many who were often much worse off than I was has taught me to be more appreciative of what I have.

Customer Support Application:  Just like patients, customers can be appreciative bunch, when they take they time to offer you feedback be sure to always say thank you. It is not just about having good manners. It is about showing appreciation for the fact your customer took the time to share the experience they had with your product/service.

Lesson #4: I learned about individual uniqueness. 

This lesson I learned from other people who also suffer from Neurofibromatosis. The genetic condition affects everybody differently. Indeed, no 2 patients are alike. As there is no cure for the condition, there is no one size fits all for how each patient should be treated. When I came to truly understand this I learned how we are all the same but yet uniquely different.

Customer Support Application: Just like patients in A&E every customer is different from the last and will be different to the next. Just like any good doctor will know what works for one patient may not work for the next. You too should know what works for one customer in solving there problem may not work for the next. You should also be aware that not everyone will be as familiar with your products/service as you are and you should be able to adapt as such to help them with any issue that they may have.

Working within customer service can one of the most challenging of occupations, but it also can be one of the most rewarding and gratifying. I know it is for me and I have my customers ( and my many nights on a hospital bed) to THANK for this.

What Pokémon Go has taught me over the last 7 days.



Since its release on July 6th Pokémon Go has been a massive success. It has taken over tinder as the most downloaded app. It has boosted Nintendo's valuation by as much as $7.5 billion. It dominates popular culture media and conversations on a daily basis. It has even resulted in a Pokémon themed dating service, PokéDates a service that promises to match you with your PokéParamour all you have to do is turn up the Charmander.





As someone who rushed home from school to finish my homework so I could watch Pikachu and Ash on one of their many adventures I can easily see why the game has become such a huge success.

Even if you’re not playing, there’s no way you could have missed the gamer changer that is Pokémon Go. This worldwide phenomenon, is quickly changing the way that we interact with our phones and the world. While augmented reality apps have been around for a while, nothing has changed the game like Pokémon Go. So as I’m sitting at my desk, burning virtual incense to attract Pokémon, a few things have occurred to me that relate to actual work.

Pokémon Go lesson #1: When you promise an experience, make sure you deliver.


As Ninatic is a former Google company (A company that held Gmail in beta for 5 years) it is no surprise that Pokémon Go has been released at a beta stage. A quick search will show you that almost everyone who has used the app has encountered at least one if not all of the following issues since the app was launched earlier this month.
  • servers not responding
  • inability to create accounts, 
  • an app that hangs just when you’ve caught that Abra that took 10 Pokéballs to catch. 
  • or the app not accepting your login and having to start from starch again.
To make matters worse when you do take the time to submit a support request, you will have a better chance of finding a Mewtwo than receive a response from there customer support team.

All this together is almost enough to make you want to drop kick your phone and quit playing altogether. 

A post on Reddit highlights how some customer imagine these issues have come about.


Now imagine that you are about to launch a brand new website/app/service. You’ve paid for media, and emailed your entire database, and then you suddenly spot an issue that could result in serious problems for you customers. Do you take a leaf out Ninantic's book and launch anyway or do you stop and fix the issues even if it does mean having push your release date back by a few months.

Follow Ninatic's approach and all of your hard work, and the excitement you’ve built with your prospects and existing customers, has just been washed away. Of course marketing snafus will happen – it’s inevitable. Nor is any software ever 100% bug free. However you can mitigate some of the risk with a couple of key steps;
  • Test
  • Test
  • Test 
  • and Test again.
Testing is something that should be done at every stage of any project you take on and not just something to tack on at the every end. Even you have managed to do this and the project launch has has been a success you should continue to test. Over time you will make slight changes, developers will come and go and you will hopefully gain a lot of new customers. All this can lead to stress on your application and without the proper testing along the way it can lead to a lot of frustrated customers.

At Cogneto Smasher.io our stress testing service that cant help you with this testing before you launch and long after your project has become a success to help you ensure it remains that way.  If you are launching a project soon and would it to be fully verified by a third party  I would be happy to discuss with you how Smasher can help you.

Pokémon Go lesson #2: People will hand over their information for the promise of a great experience.

When I first set up my Pokémon Go account last week when it launched here in Ireland I was pleasantly surprised by the brazenly broad amount of personal information that was required for logging in. Niantic, the makers of Pokémon, requested access to just about everything about me except for what I ate for dinner and whether I wore boxers vs. briefs (reports suggest they have since backed off). 

Yet this did not stop me and millions of other people from signing up immediately? Nope. Setting up “gates” by putting forms in front of your best, most compelling content, is truly OK. This not only helps B2B marketers to convert unknown visitors to known contacts, but it also provides an opportunity to score those contacts through how they have interacted with your high-value content.

However given Ninantic's lack of communication or willingness to return the favour and share information with its customers when issues occur it shows a lack of transparency with the company something which will be sure to come back to haunt them later.

Had the company reciprocated the sharing of information via status page informing customers of errors as and when they happened. Frustration between customers and company may not be so high.

Yet it seems even this basic task was left to fans of the game to create themselves. As fans of the game and providers of a status page service StatusHub we too created our status page (pokemongo.statushub.io). 

If you would like to offer your customer a level of transparency and trust that comes with sharing information about issues to your services. I would be happy to speak with you about how StatusHub can work for you and some of the company's that are already enjoying the benefits tour StatusHub service.

Pokémon Go lesson #3: People are social and actually like talking with other people about topics that excite them.

Over the last week I have got to experience the unstoppable virality of Pokémon Go. All you have to do is take a walk down to your local park/ shopping centre to see what I mean. Yes you may see zombies staring at their screens and think that people have been doing this long before Pokémon Go. So what has changed. For people who have been playing the game things couldn't be more different.



People who don’t know each other are working together as teams to battle gyms, and actually talking with each other to coordinate attacks.I have even stopped what I was doing to offer tips to the person sitting next me on my regular commute who was just starting to play the game.

So I began to question what could I do that could help Cogneto harness that power for our products. So I asked myself 
  1. What could we do that would get our customers and prospects so excited that they want to share?
  2. What would we need to do to foster those interactions? 
Local user groups and meet-ups would be a great way to bring our best customers together with prospects. Our advocates would become our best sales people, because nothing sells like hearing from peers that have the same challenges.  However as our customer community is primarily online, I have begun to take a look at how we can create a virtual experience that would simulate that face-to-face interaction?

Give your loyal customers a reason to be proud of their relationship with your company, product, or service, and they will become your most effective marketing channel.

Pokémon Go lesson #4:  Good content is like a mythical rare Pokémon – those elusive very rare buyers will actually seek you out.

Back in 2010 I starting my career learning SEO before I had even graduated from college. Since then I have learned the value of good content and the many different forms it can come in.

Yet it took an app that can drain my battery by 90% in 45 minutes to teach me that no matter what age you are everyone likes fun content, even if you are at work/college. We are all busy. Sometimes, we are so busy that we forget to stop and have fun, so distractions, especially when they help you do your job better, can be a very welcome thing.

Take a look at you inbox. Go ahead I'll wait. Now many of the emails you received were B2B emails. Did you click on any of these mails.

Emails of any kind that get attention are either a) super, super relevant and timely, or b) humorous and offer a chance for some levity. That bottom-funnel, highly targeted communications email that you send every week probably works pretty well, because it is relevant.

But how are your top-funnel, “attract” communications doing? If you’re not already using humorous or provocative content, maybe it’s time to test something new. And it’s important to remember – catching a Pidgee is great, but sometimes you have to go out and actually find the Pokémon (or buyers) you really want where they are.


 


Pokémon Go lesson #4: Games are fun. EVERYONE LOVES TO WIN.

Since I first took up the control pad of my Sega Mega Drive many many years ago I learned that games could make learning a new skill or piece of software both fun and rewarding. Adding achievements to the process also gave me a reason to keep playing the game.

Take a look at your content does it offer customers/prospects a chance to feel rewarded for having taken the time to engage with your company. If not can you create this experience for them.

Content that educates prospects about your service, while being fun and sharable, is a great way to juice up your “attract” content.

Is your product reliant on continual usage for your customers to get the most out of it. Perhaps you can find a way to reward your customer for ongoing engagement. They’ll have fun, possibly become more loyal, it will give them a reason to share and it will give you a reason to speak with your customers outside of them having issue with your product.


Wrap up

The lessons I have learned from Pokémon Go over the last week have been very valuable to me as a Customer Service Agent, even if you would prefer that Pokémon  would just Go away. At least we have all learned that nostalgia can be a very powerful tool.

Your Friday Inspiration



Please hold your call is important to us. A member of our support team will be with you shortly.
We hate to be told to wait, its human nature. As guy with a limp who becomes easily frustrated with people who walk slow. Today's technology has allowed to have instant gratification in almost every area of life, thanks to e-tolls, fast passes for theme parks and moving walkways. We can get have fast food delivered right to our door for when we are feeling extra lazy.

When we have a problem that need solving we really hate waiting. That is why those automated phone messages can be so annoying. Customer service teams have been able to use live chat, social media, knowledge bases and community forums to help reduce the time a customer has to wait for solution. 

But unless there is always someone available on the live chat and social media channels to answer questions we may have,  we can become more frustrated about having to wait till someone comes online to speak with us, or worse still having to submit a support request with no idea of when we will receive a solution. We face a similar issue with knowledge bases and community forums if they are not consistently kept up to date.

So how can we ensure our customers don't feel frustrated every time they try to contact our customer support teams. the obvious answer would be to either ensure we have someone available to answer questions or that our KB's and community forums are always up to date. But at times this is not always possible, so the next thing we should look at is ensuring our "First Response Time" is kept as low as possible.

First response time (also called first reply time) is the number of minutes (or hours) elapsed between the time a customer submits a case and the time a customer service rep responds to the customer. It’s best measured in business hours, so you’re not penalized for time off the clock. Common sense tells us that the less time a customer has to spent waiting to hear from us the more satisfied they will be with our service.

So how can we reduce this time to help improve our customer satisfaction. 

Collin Burke a Marketing Associate at InsightSquared highlights 3 ways that we can achieve this in his article 3 Ways To Reduce Your First Response Time for the company's blog. His article takes a look at why response times are so important an what we can do to improve them.

An article for PagerDuty shows how they were able to cut response time in half while increasing their support ticket volume. Keeping customers happy is a source of pride at PagerDuty. While having a reliable product that is loved by their customers makes their lives easier, people still run into the occasional issue. This article shows how they implemented some unique tools and processes to ensure their customers receive the support they deserve.

However, Gregory Ciotti who works in marketing for Help Scout recently published an article to LinkedIn. In it he shows us that the "Get em' in and Get em' out" may not always be be the best approach to improving customer satisfaction. While it is true people hate to wait, we can find it even more annoying if we are just being told what we want to hear in order to hang up and speak with the next person on the line. Gregory's article shows that taking time to solve a customer's problem could prove to be more beneficial to a company.

After all the last thing we want to do is deliver a a high speed customer service that ends up leaving a bad taste in customers' mouths either.

Your Friday Inspiration




Once a upon a time, in a far off land
As  children we all became familiar with this phrase when it came to our bedtime stories. We would lie there and fall asleep and dream of far off lands filled with giants , unicorns and magic. Through the art of storytelling we learned valuable life lessons. E.G Belling the Cat: Execution Is More Important than Ideas, something our founder Ian Bergin spoke about in a recent blog.

Telling stories has been a timeless skill and an essential driver of change throughout human history for both good and bad. Great stories surprise. They draw us in. They have fascinating characters. They make think, make us feel. Great stories stick in our minds and help us remember ideas and concepts in a way that balance sheets or text on slides never will.

I truly believe that this is only reason that Kickstarter and Indiegogo have become so successful. The thousands of creators who use these platforms have been able to rally the support of millions by being able to get their stories in front of people. These platforms just don't allow creators to tell there stories but they actually demand it. Every project has to have a video where the creators explain what they are doing, why they are doing it and why they need your help.

Unfortunately in an era of status updates, tweets and snaps many of us have forgotten how to tell a good story. However, it is these same omnipresent sharing platforms that has transformed our lives. That have made the skill of storytelling to become uniquely essential again. As we spend  up to 3 hours a day consuming content across these platforms, storytelling is a skill not only every individual will need to master but every business too.
'78% of of CMO's think content is the future of marketing' Hanley Wood 2013
The same research also showed that two thirds of marketers believe that branded content is superior to traditional forms of marketing. That's massive.

Perhaps this largely due to how social media has allowed us to become comfortable with talking directly to the companies we buy from. Business's are genuinely excited about putting their content in your Facebook feeds next to pictures of our friends and family. But as more companies begin to spew their content into every orifice of the internet  truly successful marketers will be the ones who can craft compelling stories.

Image Source

The truth is in the end  no one gives a shit about your marketing goals or product roadmap. But everyone likes a good story and those that can tell one will have an increasing advantage. With stories what you say is often moot compared to how you say it. Taking this point lets look at how we can use stories to improve how we engage with our customers.

In a blog post for  Constant Contact Marisa Donelan tells us that there is one thing your business has that is unique, which will always set them apart from your competition.  Your competition can never take it from you and you will always be an expert on the subject. Your business story.  Throughout the rest of her post Marisa sets out a series of ideas for how you can create customer connections through storytelling.

Similarly Corey Pemberton states that storytelling is a weapon that every business has in their arsenal that can help them level the playing field and stand out from their competitors regardless of their size. In his post 5 ways to captivate customers with storytelling for duct tape marketing, Corey shows us that every time you start you tell your story you should start with the end in mind. Understanding where you’re going, hones your focus; it keeps you from rambling and losing valuable attention.

Helen Nesterenko founder and CEO of Writtent.com reminds in in her article that people have been telling stories since we could draw on cave walls. Bedtime stories, grand odysseys, tall tales, epic adventures, tragedies, romances, comedies - these are how we understand one another, how we bond with each other.
When told correctly stories build connections between you and your prospects - emotional connections that keep them coming back to you. Through the art of storytelling we can win our customers hearts. In order to do this we have to know what makes a good story. Then refine them and know when to use them in right place to build connections with our customers. In her article Helen shows how to do just that.

As technology increasingly intertwines us all, those who can tell a good story will rule the world. It will be our job as businesses to make sure the good guys are the ones telling the best stories.  Like every other skill we are going to need to practice it.

Your Friday Inspiration



Well opinions are like assholes. Everyone has one: Harry Callahan -The Dead Pool

This is one of my favourite movie quotes of all time. All you have to do is open up Twitter or Facebook to see how true this is. No matter the topic everyone has an opinion, and even if they know nothing about that topic, they will still have an opinion. Don't believe me, just look ahead to the Olympics in August, how many of your friends and family will suddenly become experts in Badmintion or Water Polo or Volleyball, despite having never watched these sports before.

We all know that "Customer Feedback" are your customer's opinion of your product or service. Yet it is these opinions that  can either make or break you as a business. So why is it that companies feel that when customer's offer feedback they can ignore it.

In 2011 research from Maritz and Evolve24 showed that from 1,298 Twitter complainants found that only 29% of those tweet gripes were replied to by the companies in question.

However, as bad as no response is to a customer complaint. Some companies can may the matter worse when they do respond. Those of that use Twitter on a regular basis know that companies have been trying to use bots to respond to questions from customers, since at least 2013. Yet it never seems to end well, just ask British Airways and Bank of America both of whom experienced gaffes when they tried this approach. Even Microsoft fell victim to this when they decided to make an "AI" Twitter bot. The creation was designed to learn from its users through conversation. Needless to say, trolls made the bot, named Tay, turn into a huge racist in less than a day.




As a result, Microsoft's research team quickly deleted the tweets and put the project on pause

Now we have established that it’s inevitable. You’re going to at some point receive a negative customer review. Even if you’ve done everything by the book, it only takes that one bad experience to ruin your flawless record of positive feedback. Of course, you may be thinking that just because one person has nothing better to do than nitpick, it won’t really affect business, right? Wrong.

Research has proven that “80% of people have changed a purchase decision due to a bad review they saw.” That’s a fairly significant stat, and that’s putting it lightly. So what can you do to ensure when a customer decides to offer you their opinion that they feel their voice has been heard.

The 7 Best Ways to Gather Customer Feedback: A recent blog post from Gregory Ciotti at Help Scout discusses 7 ways you can gather feedback from your customers; these include everything from the traditional survey to your On-Site Activity. In the article Gregory asks us to examine why we want to collect feedback
from our customers and shows which channels is works best to help us complete our goals.

How you ask customers for feedback is as important as why you are asking them for feedback. But how can you be sure that they will take the time out of their day to offer it to you. In a recent article for Customer Guru Sonal Jaiswal shares 11 Excellent Tips to get Customers to COMPLETE Your Feedback Form.

When you ask your customers for feedback it can be often be difficult to get everyone to respond. Sonal's tips will help ensure that both you and your customer's get most of this experience every time.

Now that you have collected you feedback, what are you going to do with it.  However, not all feedback is equal. Some is aspirational, hypothetical or third party statements. Even when you have managed to weed those types out the feedback what remains is unlikely to be all of equal value. In a recent blog post for Intercom Sian Townsend discusses what filters you should apply to your feedback to help you decide which feedback is most important. Sian goes on to discuss how you can analyse the open ended feedback you have gathered. Unfortunately there is no perfect tool that can automate this job for you. Analysing open ended feedback is just pretty hard and time intensive. Read Sian's article Making sense of customer feedback to see how you can take open ended customer feedback and turn it into an actionable list of issues your team can address.

As you gather your feedback and turn it into actionable tasks to improve your product or service, the key to realise is you don't really close the loop but rather start the cycle again. This way your customers can tell you if have actually made any improvements to your business that matters to them.


Further Reading
PRODUCT FEEDBACK YOU SHOULD IGNORE