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Archive for January, 2008

Why is customer satisfaction worthless?

At least once a month I will be reviewing a business related book and how it may be applied to the E-Learning industry. (with specific applications to the Education, Corporate, Government, or Entrepeneur segments)

This month, author Jefferey Gitomer answers the above question in his book “Customer Satisfaction is Worthless, Customer Loyalty is Priceless.” In a nutshell, his answer is that satisfied customers will shop anywhere! Loyal customers will encourage others to buy from you and FIGHT before they switch!  To put things in perspective, Gitomer asks,
“Would you rather your spouse be just SATISFIED or would you perfer LOYAL?”

What is a loyal customer?
One who insists on dealing with you because you meet or exceed their needs. You give great delivery, great service and a memorable experience every time. They will proactively talk about and refer people to you. In a word – you WOW them.

What do customers want?
The bottom line is that they only want 2 things. They want to know you CARE about them personally, and they want to know you can HELP them, now.

How should we treat customers?
We should create frequent, lasting, memorable impressions -
treating every customer as though they were our favorite celebrity, hero, friend, neighbor, or grandma.
(that reminds me…)

Are you using the ”Grandma” Self-Test?
Why?   To determine if “what you say” to the customer will be acceptable or irritable.
How?   Put “grandma” at the end of everything you say. If it sounds like something you would say to your grandma, use it, if not, don’t.
Want Examples? Sorry we’re closed, grandma. It’s our policy, grandma. What is this in reference to, grandma? (got the picture?)

Is the customer always right? (and does that make us always wrong?)
It’s not about right or wrong. It’s how you react to and handle the problem. Let’s face it, people don’t stop doing business. But they can stop doing business with you, which means YOU’RE FIRED! by the real boss – your customer.

Why would the customer not return?
Because you are : not showing personal or genuine interest, responding poorly, unavailable, unfriendly, rude, over-promising, inadequately capable of handling the customer’s problem, too pushy, poorly presented (image), giving dumb excuses, nickel and dime-ing, a part of poor: product quality-service delivery-or training.

So, what are you doing to build loyalty and ensure repeat purchases?
In the book there are lots of ”Principles of Customer Service Success.” Here are just a few:

1. Your customer is your paycheck
2. Your attitude determines the degree of excellence of service you perform
3. Customers call, contact, or visit for one reason – they need help!
4. The value of a customer is 20 times his/her annual salary
5. Your friendliness and willingness to help is in direct proportion to your success
6. The customer’s perception of good or bad service is the measure of your success or failure
      (in the end, the customer perception is all that matters)

Once you realize that “satisfaction” is the lowest level of acceptable service, then you understand the power of “loyalty.”
The only way to measure loyalty is… unsolicited referrals and re-orders.

Do you have a Customer Service Training Program?
Get the message out to your employees about how to treat your customers.  There’s a ton of valuable information in this book. Use it. Teach it. Create a course and test your employees on it. Use this content (or your own) to deliver it:
     Online - using a LMS (learning management system)
     On a LAN (Local Area Network)
     On Paper
     On CD-Rom

Need more information?

To find out more information about Jeffery Gitomer, this book, and his other products, go to http://www.gitomer.com/

To find out more about putting your course content into an e-learning solution so you can distribute it to your employees, customers, or students, call or email me. I would be happy to offer you a free consultation.
(1-866-696-8709 x922 frank@atrixware.com)

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Usability in eLearning Communities

Usability is one of the most important things to take into account when designing a website. Proper usability techniques can greatly improve the “stickiness” or amount of time spent on a site. It can also generate many more sales if users can easily find and purchase what they are looking for. One of the best resources on usability standards is a site called useit.com and I urge anyone interested in this topic to visit this site.

In my case, I do a lot of designs for online e-learning businesses. It is a perfect example of why you must have a flexible website that can be effective for a variety of users. The ultimate goal is to enable the same online quiz or study guides to be used by anyone. Online quizzes and online presentations have to accommodate for this diversity to create a pleasant experience for all users.

Like many people, when I visit a new web site, I tend to look at a site very briefly. If my intended topic or item is not immediately available, I will leave the site and search for another one. Using clear keywords on links and navigation tabs is very important to keep the user focused on the task at hand.

A couple tips…

User interaction is a key to the success of a site. By adding some Flash animations, it is possible to generate a more interesting and interactive experience for your visitors.

When designing a site with text heavy articles, online quizzes, etc. for the web, it is very important to manage the materials to suit the needs for a wide variety of users. Keep paragraphs relatively short and try to limit yourself to about 10 words per line. Split up blocks of text with images and design elements.

Here is something that you may not have realized: the ability to scale text and image size by using ctrl + (Windows) command + (Mac). Many design elements will become jumbled and the site becomes very hard to read. Make sure your site will scale properly to ensure a pleasant experience for all users.

As one of the main designers of the Atrixware.com site, I have tried to make sure is a good example of a site that scales text and design elements very well (although its always a work in progress).

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How to Create a Successful E-Learning Presentation

“How to Speak so People Will Listen” was the presentation given at a recent ASTD (American Society for Trainng and Development) meeting in Philadelphia. PA. Dilip Abayaserkara, Ph.D., A.S. from Speaker Services Unlimited was the presenter. I was among the over 50 people priveleged to attended. Dilip is a renowned Speech Coach, accredited speaker, and Toasmasters’ Past International President.  Although most of his information was geared toward “live” presentations, there were also some other ideas that transfer easily into the Online E-Learning Presentation and Distance Learning Presentation style as well.

Here are a few “tips” for you to consider when you create your next presentation:

1. Reduce encoding errors (the message you send)  Example: Don’t say “you look ugly in that dress” if you mean “that dress does not compliment your beauty”

2. Make it easy for the audience to decode (understand/apply your message) Use short words & sentences. Use rhyme, rhythm & cadence. Use images & examples the audience can relate to. Example: Don’t say “Pulchritude extends merely to the epidermal layer” if you mean “beauty is only skin deep”

3. Reduce interference as much as possible. The communication channel (face to face, phone, email, online, etc) determines what the interference is  and what you can do about it.          Example: Online Presenters can integrate more interactive features: read, view, listen, click, write etc.  instead of requiring your audience to just listen to a “boring” lecture or read “dry” content. Create interest and participation not distraction and apathy.

4. Be “First Brain Friendly”  Be What? The first brain is the most primitive part of the brain which directly receives all the sensory inputs and is the gatekeeper (filter) for the rest of the brain (logical thinking and creative part). The first brain seeks (senses) safety and trust before allowing any words, numbers or language in (which is your message/content).  Example: Smile, use open and accepting gestures, be sincere and credible and confident and caring and enthusiastic. (Like an adult is in front of a baby. Let them know it is safe and secure to be with you and learn from you) I think that is why so many successful presenters start with a joke, an icebreaker, or an interesting story to ease the initial “tension” and then the audience is receptive to what they have to say.

5. Give the audience what they want, not what you want. Why?  When you go fishing, is the bait food that you like, or that the fish likes? Example: The audience wants: understanding, relevance, significance, value, inspiration, entertainment, etc.

6. Communicate Clearly. Begin with one sentence or phrase with your crystallized purpose. Then introduce appropriate content, words, examples. Associate new information with old information, keep it simple. Example: How about Martin Luther King’s “I have a Dream” speech.

7. Be Organized. If possible, every presentation should have: an introduction, a body and a conclusion with a smooth transition/flow.  One theme with main points and supporting data, an appeal to the mind (factual) and heart (emotional), If you would like to learn more about Dilip Abayasekara, his company Speaker Services Unlimited, or his presentation, “How to Speak so People Will Listen” send me an email at frank@atrixware.com and I will forward you his contact information.

If you would like to learn more about ASTD, click here www.ASTD.org.

If you want to learn more about Online E-Learning and/or Distance Learning Solutions, visit our website www.atrixware.com, give me a call 856-831-7772, or send me an email at frank@atrixware.com.

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Offering Offline and Online E-Learning

It’s not often I get to personally meet our customers, but each time I do, I spend as much time as I can learning about them, their successes, ideas, how our products and services have helped them so far, and how we can help them get to the next level.

I recently had the pleasure to meet on of our long-time customers in person. Steve Terepka took the trip from his e-learning business in Florida all the way up the east cost to our offices in New Jersey. Steve has asked me to not mention his company name or industry.

Atrixware E-Learning Customer Visits Atrixware OfficesSteve is not short on ideas. At one time, he was one of a few companies competing in the e-learning space of his industry (while other companies were sticking just to classroom training). However, those other companies took notice, and it keeps Steve on the cutting edge of e-learning technology.

He and I discussed many ideas and concepts – and I think I learned more than he did. Just like any other evolving trend, e-learning is expanding into many forms and industries, and becoming more of a core part of training and development than ever before.

I see Steve’s e-learning business maturing at an incredible speed. He started by offering a complete study kit which included texbooks, training video’s on cd-rom, and a variety of practice quizzes on cd-rom. He is using a combination of e-learning authoring tools, including the use of Test Pro Developer to create his practice quizzes and flashcard quizzes, and Visual E-Learning Design Studio to create e-learning front-ends for his videos and his quizzes.

He is now preparing an offering for online e-learning delivery. This is important, since many people now expect to be able to study and get their training online. However, many companies today totally miss out on the desktop/cd-rom e-learning offering, forcing their students to be ‘connected’ and online. There are many things that can be done more efficiently via a cd-rom, for example, high quality video, or large presentations. If you are looking to offer e-learning on cd-rom, consider our desktop e-learning authoring tools for the task.

I have no doubt Steve will continue to be successful. He is always looking to improve his offering with better content, and more ways to access it.

Are you going to be in the Southern New Jersey area? Please feel free to stop by – I would really enjoy meeting you.

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Use Weblearning 9 to Create an Online Business, or add to your Existing Business

Ed CormierThat’s what Ed Cormier is doing. Ed is the founder and President of IEI (International Education Institute, LLC) which is his 5th corporate startup company. Ed has a background in Marketing, Management, PR, Sales, and Advertising. He is also a Certified E-Learning Designer. Ed is in the process of creating “demo” courses and developing “License Exam Prep” courses for several “niche” industries.

Ed and I first met via a phone conversation in early 2007. Through the months, we had several conversations, and he even began using our Weblearning 8 Online LMS System. He told me his work schedule is 24/7, so I was happy but surprised to hear he was going to visit us.

During his visit in January of 2008, he told me again (in person) that he works 24/7, but this time he clarified that it’s “24 hours a week, and 7 months out of the year.”

Besides getting to know Ed’s humerous side, he also revealed some very creative and cutting-edge e-learning ideas. Then he shared with me a few “surprises” (and I promised I would not tell) that he will be integrating into his courses that will make learning for his end-users more fun and interactive than anything available now!

Ed is creating content for several end-user markets including: students, customers, and employees. I had a chance to demonstrate for him the new Weblearning 9 System which proved to be flexible and scalable enough to accommodate all his ideas, plans and markets.

Ed’s next stop on his busy schedule was to visit some of his family in Pennsylvania. But before he left he told me about some of his “other” projects. When Ed is not starting up a new business, he is either teaching “in class” and “online” at Southern Connecticut State University, or he’s working on his PHD dissertation in Educational Leadership. WOW – How does he do all that in his 24/7 schedule?

Our goal at Atrixware is to help make Ed’s dreams, ideas, and plans, a reality. With Ed’s knowledge and content, and Atrixware’s technology background and e-learning systems, we know we can make it happen for Ed. And, we can also make it happen for you.

What are your business dreams, ideas, and plans? Call me at 866-696-8709 x922 or email me at frank@atrixware.com and let me know. Maybe I can help.

Are you planning a visit to the Philadelphia/Southern NJ area? Come and see us. I would be happy to introduce you to our staff, show you what’s new and maybe I’ll even buy you lunch! (the Philadelphia Cheesesteaks are awesome).

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Tips to improve page ranking on Google…

After developing many websites, I have come to rely on a few tips to improve page ranking in Google and other search engines. This is by no means every search engine optimization tip. It is more of a basic guideline you can use to help improve page ranking.

The internet is full of optimization tips so if you would like to learn more, search for something like “page ranking” “search engine optimization” etc. Here goes…

Make sure all of your title and Meta tags are as descriptive as possible. This is very important for your site and is one of the most basic elements a search engine will view.

It is always a good idea to have a site map to increase the search engine coverage of your website. It also helps search engines learn the structure of your site.

You also want get as many links to your site on “high quality” websites (ex. Newspapers, Blogs etc.). Each site that links to yours is counted as a “vote” in Google and increases ranking. The more “votes” the better.

The use of many keywords in the body of your site is also very helpful. Always try and make all text on your site HTML text whenever possible. This includes text that is over an image or rendering text in a flash animation as HTML text.

Finally, you also want to submit your URL to Google and other search engines. Search engines also offer free online applications that will help improve your page ranking.

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How to Make Your Own Quiz

What a broad topic. I know – you just want to make your own quiz, and do something with it – like put a quiz up on to your web site, or make a quiz you can email, or make a quiz for your website. Some of you might be doing it for fun (maybe you want to make a quiz for fun, for example), and others are looking for a was to make a quiz you can use to quiz your students.

For those of you just trying to make your own quiz for fun (for myspace for example), you are probably best served using a free or low-cost quiz maker software product. There are a handful out there. Atrixware offers a free quizmaker as well – its actually a full older version (2002) of our Test Pro Developer product. For more information on getting the free quiz maker we offer, just click here.

If you want to make your own quiz that actually counts, you have various products to choose from. Atrixware offers a few products that can help. Our desktop quizmaker software product is called Test Pro Developer. It is offered in several ‘editions’, but for most of you, the Basic/Academic edition will be more than adequate to let you make your own quiz and put it up on your website, email it to your students, make a printed quiz, make an online quiz, and much more. We also offer a very popular online quiz system / LMS system called Weblearning. It enables you to make your own quiz (actually many quizzes, and also learning presentations), place them into courses, and enroll students. For more information on the Weblearning LMS, click here.

For a fun quiz, you probably want to keep the questions to a minimum (10 questions or less), and stick to simple multiple-choice and true/false question styles. When you make your own quiz and its one that will count towards a grade, the content of the questions is obviously paramount. Make sure the questions are good and the answers are accurate. Using a system such as Weblearning (which has statistical reporting) will help you determine which questions are too easy, which are too hard, and which ones need to be modified.

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Very Impressive DHTML Color Picker

I realize that not all of you share my personal (nerdy) love for coding and technology, but I just had to post a link to this really nice DHTML (JavaScript/HTML) color picker: http://www.colourlovers.com/blog/2008/01/16/free-advanced-dhtml-color-picker/

Here is a screen shot of what it looks like:

DHTML Color Picker

My guess is, you will see this in an upcoming Atrixware product ..

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Improve Customer Service (and sales) With Live Chat

We used a chat program several years ago, and wound up ditching it – primarily because it lacked a few features we wanted. This year, we decided to take another stab at it – and this time, it appears the chat systems (often called ‘Live Chat’ or ‘Live Assistance’) have grown up a bit.

If you go to our website www.atrixware.com you will notice the chat image (look on the right-hand-side near the top). It will either say something like ‘click here to chat live’, or ‘leave a message’ (if it’s after hours). If you just sit on the page, or, browse the site for a while, eventually a larger pop-up window will ask you if you need live assistance. Perhaps a bit annoying to some, but it makes it very clear to anyone that the live assistance is available (and consequently, we get about 3 to 4 times more chat requests than we did last time we tried this).

Conversing with your prospects (and your customers) is a major key to your business’ success. As a small company, all of us here at Atrixware ELearning Solutions try to converse and communicate with our customers as often as possible without being annoying. The chat is just another way to do that, and is especially effective if your market is global (where a phone call to you would be cost prohibitive). It’s also increasingly ‘normal’ for your prospect to prefer chat over a phone call, as many people feel like they remain more anonymous via chat as opposed to a phone call.

The chat application offers many other benefits as well. You can track a visitors steps to see how long (how many clicks) it takes them to get where they need (potentially identifying problem pages). It also tracks keywords visitors used to get to your site, and some other statistical data that mirrors what something like Google Analytics gives you.

If you are interested, the chat application is actually free (although the author accepts donations). You can get it here: http://www.craftysyntax.com/. Admittedly, the admin interface (which is what YOU will be using) is not as refined as the offering we used a few years back, but again, it comes at no cost to you.

Its a PHP/MySql application, so if you host with us, or just about anyone else, you will be able to use it on your website.

If you need Atrixware to implement this into your web site, a typical implementation takes only about 2 hours – so even then it’s a low-cost way for you to improve your customer service and your sales.

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Free Quiz Maker

As many of you reading this may already know, Atrixware (www.atrixware.com) has been around since 1997. 2008 represents our 12th year in business. One of the results of this many years is that we have released many versions of our products.

We already offer all of our desktop products in trial editions with no time limit. One of our employees had suggested offering an older version of the software for free (and offer a Free Quiz Maker), and most of us liked the idea. So, we chose Test Pro Developer 2002 Home Edition Quiz Maker (which is roughly the equivalent of the ‘Basic/Academic’ edition in our version 8 lineup).

Version 2002 is 3 versions behind the current version 8 of Test Pro Developer (think of version 2002 as ‘version 5′). Despite its name, it was actually released in late 2001. It certainly does not have all the bells & whistles of the version 8 product, and has a much older (2001-ish) interface. This older quiz maker product also does not have much in the way of online quiz creation ability (although you can make online quizzes with it). It also may take a few extra steps to get installed on Vista (as it was created way before Vista was out).

In any event, it is being offered for FREE (hence the Free Quiz Maker headline) for a limited time (to be determined by the powers that be here at Atrixware) ‘as is’, with no installation or usage support (although you can post in support forums if you would like).

Of course, the hope is, it will be ‘good enough’ to wet your appetite, but make you feel compelled to purchase our version 8 product — but if you don’t, that’s ok too.

Ready to get it? Follow these Steps

Step 1: Download the Installer
Step 2: Run the installer
Step 3: During install, always click OK, YES TO ALL, or IGNORE to any prompt.
Step 4: Run the software by clicking START > PROGRAMS > TEST PRO DEVELOPER
Step 5: Create a developer profile and then log into the software
Step 6: Click HELP > REGISTER TEST PRO
Step 7: Enter the following into approprate fields (you may want to copy/paste for accuracy)

Name: Free Promotion
Install Key: nS02%46Q9F
Serial Number: 3VD2-4194-3VD3-157G-2CL3
Email: promotion@atrixware.com
Edition: Home

Step 8: Close and Restart the Test Pro Developer 2002 Quiz Maker software

I hope some of you find it useful. Have fun!

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Piracy Protecting your ELearning Software Packages

Here are to videos I have personally created to show two popular and easy to implement concepts. Note that these concepts can be combined, and are most effective when used in combination with activation technology.

This one shows how to set up a date limit for using your software.

This one shows how to limit the # times a quiz can be accessed.

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