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Archive for September, 2013

What is library day and why do we have one?

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What would it take to shake things up?

How about an entire day off to change pace and reset? Herbert Lui believes in an administrative day off to take care of small tasks and errands. Some people call it a mental health day. I’ve heard that some companies have an “extended afternoon break” policy (like, “Go walk in the park and don’t show up again until you turn back into а human”).

At Relenta, each person has a library day once a week, every week.

What do we do on a library day? Everything and nothing:

  • Contemplate WTF just happened and where the previous week had gone
  • Read, research, reflect and otherwise switch mental gears
  • Tinker with new things without pressure or deadlines
  • Get lost in the moment of doing what you love to do whenever you feel like doing it
  • Answer a few support emails – because one, it’s addictive and two, reminds you what it’s all about in the first place

You gots to sharpen your claws every now and then. Pony up and try it.

Written by Dmitri Eroshenko

September 22nd, 2013 at 3:45 am

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Must read: Better Productivity Blog

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"Don't worry I am not going to sing. I am eating french fries."

In his profile, Rami Rantala, the author of Better Productivity Blog, is eating fries and promising not to sing. It’s the first clue that this is not just another zombie business blog.

For real. Each short post gives you a condensed nugget of wisdom to mull over, but my recent favorites are:

Think big things. Do small things. Easy to forget in the heat of the moment.

This is how I work. One thing at a time. One sentence in this blog post is worth dozens of other websites. “What would create the biggest movement?” This one change will make you ridiculously more productive. Activity doesn’t equal action.

6 unexpected research findings in productivity research. Most productivity tips are about better goal setting, better use of time, or better to-do lists. It doesn’t get much more boring than that. How about working in a warmer office with plants and photos of kittens instead?

How to finally get rid of your to-do list? I love the idea of a not-to-do list, or listing things I won’t do today (or ever).

Rami is humble. He’s quick to point out that he is just a regular guy on a journey towards productivity. He never claims to be an expert, but the tips he shares are more valuable than those of many gurus and ninjas out there.

Subscribe and enjoy!

Written by Dmitri Eroshenko

September 19th, 2013 at 4:07 am

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A simple trick to improve your eye for detail

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"You look different... trim your eyebrows?"

I have a new favorite pastime. Whenever I have a few minutes of downtime or just want to chill, I go through my list of recent contacts in Relenta, and replace their placeholder avatars with real ones. You can almost always find a person’s photo these days. Usually LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter do the trick, and, as an added bonus, you can connect.

Entertainment factor aside, seeing the face of the person you’re working with has two scientifically proven advantages: it increases your empathy and eye for detail – the primary hallmarks of excellent customer service.

Israeli radiologist Yehonatan N. Turner conducted a study in which patient photos were attached to the radiologic images.

You don’t have to be a doctor to conclude that seeing a person’s face increases empathy. For me that’s a given. The most interesting part of the study had to do with so called “incidental findings,” or things that radiologists notice on the image that are beyond the scope of the original exam.

Here’s the kicker, as reported by Science Daily:

In order to assess the effect of the [patient] photographs on interpretation, 81 examinations with incidental findings were shown in a blinded fashion to the same radiologists three months later but without the [patient] photos. Approximately 80 percent of the radiologic incidental findings reported originally were not reported when the photograph was omitted from the file.

So, those monopoly dude placeholders you have in your Relenta account? Make it a part of your routine to replace them with people’s real faces. They’ll be glad you did.

Written by Dmitri Eroshenko

September 11th, 2013 at 10:09 am

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5 languages of customer love

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"Keep calm and speak in tongues"

So you think you know how to love your customers? Maybe you do, but chances are they wouldn’t know that.

In his book The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts, Gary Chapman postulates that there are five ways to express love, and each person has a preference as to how to receive it. The five categories are self-explanatory:

  1. Words of affirmation
  2. Quality time
  3. Receiving gifts
  4. Acts of service
  5. Physical touch

Let’s say your significant other thinks you love her when you’re giving her gifts, but instead you just keep on touching her all the time. No wonder it ain’t goin’ nowhere.

The book’s companion site provides a rather elaborate testing framework so you and your loved ones can learn about each other’s languages and express yourselves accordingly.

That’s very nice and all, but it got me thinking. What if you’ve got thousands of loved ones? Your customers?

Statistically, some of them just wouldn’t feel your love no matter what you do. If that’s the case, stop and adjust. Try a different language.

Easy, peasy. We love all of y’all.

Written by Dmitri Eroshenko

September 9th, 2013 at 4:07 am

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Creatively organized

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“I’m free to do what I want any old time”

The stereotypes about creative people are silly. A writer living in squalor and not cleaning while he works on a masterpiece? Check. A painter with no social or business skills? You got it.

I see an entirely different picture among Relenta users. Our customers who are artists, photographers, designers and writers are top-notch business people. They run tight shops. They create, yes, but they also arrange shows, manage agents, keep schedules, market their work, and generally are what we came to call the happy customers. The artiste cliché hasn’t really been a hot thing since the 90s. The 1890s, that is.

Running a business and staying organized means more productivity. More productivity means more time you can devote to projects.

When done right, a management system for work and life doesn’t mean being a square. It means being free.

Written by Dmitri Eroshenko

September 5th, 2013 at 6:42 am

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Our Big Hairy Audacious Goal

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“Big, hairy and audacious. Just the way we like it!”

Leo of Zenhabits is famous for advocating against goals. The idea is intriguing enough, since most Type-A personalities spend considerable amounts of time setting up impressive goal lists and long-term goals, often through ridiculously complicated frameworks and calculations. What really makes me sit up and take notice, though, is that Leo has created a huge online following, a very popular blog, and many other successes with his method.

Personally, I have a love-hate relationship with goals. At Relenta we lovingly use Jim Collin’s strategic planning framework which, among other things, includes BHAGs (Big Hairy Audacious Goals).

Okay, here comes a tangent, can’t help it.

Our BHAG is to build a multi-purpose CRM platform that will make single-purpose apps unnecessary.

We’ve been moving in that direction since day one. Our customers are already enjoying built-in email marketing and sales deals management.

Going forward, we will tackle the following software categories, in no particular order:

  • Crowdsourced user feedback
  • Customer surveys
  • Appointments and scheduling
  • Invoicing, billing and time tracking
  • Helpdesk and support tickets
  • Chat

The rule of thumb is simple: If it has a customer database, then we want it. You’ll love it!

So. Stick around and watch our competition comparison table grow.

Back to the Zen of no goals. I know we won’t reach our BHAG if we rush, but we’ll get there eventually, one step at a time. For now we’re just doin’ our thing, staying in the moment with no goals other than the next monthly release, and thoroughly enjoying the process.

Written by Dmitri Eroshenko

September 3rd, 2013 at 11:09 am

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System update: The Labor Day release

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Without doubt, machinery has greatly increased the number of well-to-do idlers.— Karl Marx

Here is our modest contribution to your well-being.

Great news: More storage!

We’ve optimized our file storage architecture and passed on the savings to you. Starting today, you will enjoy up to 70% savings on storage space. Put another way, you get 2-3 times more storage for the same amount of money.

New features

Calendar export

Click and you shall receive. Your activities in iCalendar format, that is.

Send and archive

Check this option to automatically archive the original message to which you are replying.

Popular wishes come true

  • Sort groups on contact edit screen in the same order as left vertical Groups tab
  • Sort items in the response library in alphabetical order
  • Open Draft, Outbox emails in compose mode, instead of preview, to avoid an extra click

All kinds of improvements and fixes

  • Made URLs in comment section clickable
  • Reorganized the display of date range for events with various start and end dates and times on Agenda view
  • Added “Do not mass email” column to CSV contact export file
  • Improved folder name truncation method to prevent text wrapping to the next line
  • Fixed bug that allowed saving response library items without title
  • Redirect to contact view instead of edit after merging of two contacts

Have a productive Labor Day!

Written by Dmitri Eroshenko

September 2nd, 2013 at 12:39 pm

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