2008 February (3)

Browse Month: February 2008

Late Night Post About Clients

Late Night Post About Clients - Small Business, Marketing and Web Design BlogIt should be a common knowledge already that the less the client pays for your service, the more of your time he/she consumes. Usually this happens because they try to save every penny and argue about minor things that naturally should have been let go. However, by concentrating on such minor issues, the client totally misses the major stuff that needs his/her attention.

For example, let’s take an online store. By being a royal pain in any place you can imagine the client takes about a week to decide between the two offered ways of presenting a single product on per line in the store (a decision of two hours at most, really!). Then we, thinking of a better way to promote the product the client sells, offer an addition to the store that (by our calculations) should increase product exposure by large volume. It’s a trendy perk, not many stores have it, so it would naturally rise confidence in web site. Client impolitely declines, since it will be more expensive and push us to complete the project. Which we, of course, did.

On the closure meeting that lasts two hours instead of 40 minutes client politely listens to the presentation on how to use their store (almost without taking any notes), after which goes on about how he wants us to change the design since “we never discussed that there would be only one item per line”. That is – after they have agreed on the draft, confirmed (no less then two times) that no additional changes are necessary and that web site will look exactly like on the picture. And after the week-long heated discussion on how to present single item per line in a best way. They delay the last installment. We offer that they keep the last installment and go with another web design studio, since they are dissatisfied with the job we did (although we did everything according to the specs, offered additional functionality and features, accommodated their shoe-string budget and so on).

Now, I am not writing this to bash clients – they are in their right to make mistakes. They probably just need to learn how to take responsibility for them, but that’s not my concern. The more clients come in our way the more I see a trend where people who pay more money for essentially same product (i.e. web site – in any of its form) take less of your time by managing important parts of their web sites and leaving technicalities to us. After all – that’s exactly what they are paying us for. People who can afford to spend more money value their time and our time more then those, who spend less. In different terms – they know how to delegate responsibilities because this makes them more money. This knowledge, as far as I understand, comes after certain level of acquired business experience. What’s cause and what’s effect – knowledge or money – I think is obvious.

So the next time I see this client (hopefully it won’t be as painful as it was last time) I will give them couple of links to a good articles on delegating responsibilities. No matter how much hard time our clients give me, I still believe in educating our customers. Can’t vouch for this particular case, but the general trend says that it helps.

Live Tech Support – Click Here (Part 4 of the review)

Live Tech Support - Click Here (Part 4 of the review) - istudioweb.comThis is a part 4 of the live help and live chat service providers. Previous parts can be found here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.

As we were observing various web site live chat service providers, it has inevitably come to our attention that the origin of the product has huge impact on the product itself. Even though almost all of these services mostly targeted to English-speaking audience. For example, one of the live chat services developed in Poland had really horrible English product description – like a textbook example of “how not to describe your product”. On the other hand, another live support service, originated in China, has vast amounts of information available with trial downloads and support options that even include Skype.

123LiveHelp – this provider of live support software targets small business owners of a somewhat larger size then mom and pop shops. Hosted solution starts at $50 per month per seat for text-only version and $150 per month per seat for text + video. Single owned license costs $599 for text-only version and text+video live chat license would be yours to own for a whopping $1599. Obviously you need a special need for a video feed, but if you do – this might be a solution for you.

MyWebChatLive – despite the poor outlook of the web site, this live help service claims to have a top-notch connectivity to tier 1 data centers. Not sure what that means, but in any case if you want to give it a shot – the pricing will encourage you to do so: 2 concurrent operators with all features enabled will set you off for only $17.95 with $2.95 for each additional operator. There is, of course, 30-days money back guarantee, free trial and other nice perks. What I liked about this service is that the desktop clients (again – Windows only) has that distinctive Vista/Office 2007 look. Among cons is the fact that service is configured for one web site only. Unfortunately, I was unable to test drive the service, since the live chat client download constantly timed out and the live support was – you guessed it! – unavailable.

(To be continued…)

Live Tech Support – Click Here (Part 3 of the review)

Live Help Services Review Part 3 - iStudioWeb.comThis is part 3 of the live web chat and live help review. If you missed first two they can be found here: Part 1, Part 2.

Most of live help service providers fail to impress for one little reason: their sales isn’t available. While trying to get in touch with anyone at some companies that provide live web chat I discovered that live chat sales reps were unavailable. The very tool they are trying to promote isn’t being used. And I am not talking 24×7 service, this is perfectly business time at around 10 – 11am EST. Besides everything else, this leaves an impression of a one-man shop behind the service, which (while being totally normal business model) raises the question of reliability.

Now, let’s move on to the reviews.

HelpOnClick – very simple live help and live chat service. While perfectly functional and quite inexpensive it lacks visual appeal for both web site itself and chat windows/operator screens (and it also lacked live operator when I needed it). While looking at operator screen I couldn’t help but think that it was designed by a programmer, not a web or interface designer. It very functional yet inconvenient to use for people who lack enough computer training – they simply look at wrong places in order to find a required controlling mechanism. Pricing varies from $19 for single operator license per month to $49 per month for Deluxe plan with unlimited number of operators.

SalesRep – offers hosted and outsourced flavors of live chat service. The hosted live help service starts at $8.95 per month for 1 seat, 3 seats will cost you $27.95 and 20-seat corporate license will set you back for $87.95 per month. It must be noted that certain sections of admin console for this service looked horrible in my Firefox. Overall experience of using this live help service provider was somewhat troublesome. The chat window (on both customer and operator side) kept blinking while refreshing all the time, sometime even preventing customer from typing. We didn’t notice any such problems with most of other services.

(Continued – Read Part 4 of the Live Chat Services Review)