Every now and then I stumble upon something amazing, timely or just plain lucky. As a perk from one of my side projects, I got to attend the Fantasy Sports Trade Association’s winter conference in some town where gambling might be legal.
While I must have made the casino gods angry at some point this year, to the level where they decided to make my dice do very bad things, I did get to sit in on some very interesting discussions that did not just apply strictly to the world of fantasy sports.
One of the best discussions was presented by Robert Richman who was the Culture Strategist at Zappos. I found his discussion to be amazing, timely and I was lucky to stumble onto this. As your newly minted W-Systems Customer Advocate, I was able to take away several really good ideas that I would like to press forthwith. My favorite idea that Robert put on display was the notion of giving the customer something extra that they did not expect. This kind of action takes the satisfied customer and turns them into a megaphone of goodwill for your company.
After the conference, I looked back at the more successful projects that I worked on as a Software Engineer. I found that the most rewarding were the ones where I was able to make a fantastic “something extra” for the client. For example, on the homepage of Sugar, I created an interactive dashlet with a graph to deliver real-time reporting for managers and supervisors to check department results. The graph also needed to be set up for forecasting and to help find patterns to develop a better sales focus. Because I am certain our customer does not want their data shown, I created a demo of this because mere words cannot do it justice. (click on the picture to see it better)
This was my first foray into working with graph programming. The original design called for an interactive graph based on salesperson, region, or team. In the stripped down version of the example, I’m only showing salesperson, but with a swift click of the mouse, the supervisor can get a sales breakdown of any criteria in a fraction of a second. It’s a sales report on steroids! As I was learning how to program the graphing engine, I figured out some special little tricks to make it visually stunning, or at least better than a plain, boring view. If you hover over a data node, you will see the value come into view. In fact, I could make the nodes into any shapes, both of which were not in the original scope of the project and was just “something extra” that I threw in there. If you have a graph line blocking another one and you want to get rid of it, you can just click the label header and temporarily remove the line from view. Lastly, it was discovered during the programming that we needed to have the numbers be protected against the team security, so we added that in as well. These tweaks, while minor, made the project a rippling success because the data is both easily accessible and readable. To continue this trend of just doing things that are not expected, I would like to announce a new feature to Aaron’s Customer Advocate blog.
That’s right. For participating in reading this thoughtful blog, you have earned the right to maybe get something awesome. For free. Each quarter, I will take a question about how to do something in Sugar and post the answer for free. Did you need a report created? Send it my way and maybe I’ll do it for everyone to see. For free. Always wanted to know how to create a certain workflow? Have a question on how to hook up a plugin? Is there something you just want to see done in Sugar? Bring it to my attention via email.
If I answer your email, your question and my response will show up in my following post, and I will send a complete answer to you directly... for free! Hopefully, what I learned and realized will help you to make inroads with some of your customers and just make the world a little bit better.
Aaron’s Customer Advocate blog series and has been discontinued.