tl;dr Nerds don’t have to be antisocial. In-person communication tells us more than plain text ever can. Contact creates trust. Enthusiasm is contagious.
As IT workers, we are affectionately called nerds and geeks. As such, we’re well aware our brand does not call to mind anything remotely resembling an extrovert. What people imagine isn’t just the opposite of a “people person”, but something wholly satirical. SNL’s Nick Burns, The Big Bang Theory, and The IT Crowd come to mind.
It is perhaps no surprise, then, that when we tell our clients a technician will be at their office every week – whether they ask us to be or not – that we are met with more than a little bit of hesitation. Sometimes, there is a look of interest at the sheer novelty of it. More often than not, Why? is scrawled upon their faces.
“Why do you send a tech to my office ever week?”
We thought we’d take a moment to answer that unasked but most evident of questions.
1. Body language is important
Allow us to point to the obvious. Our clients don’t actually ask us why. We only know that they want to know why because we’re sitting in front of them, looking at their puzzled expression. In a nutshell, this is reasons 1, 2, and 3.
Body language accounts for 55% of what’s communicated. Though this figure isn’t exact, it’s a good rule of thumb. When we’re face-to-face, body language let’s us know when someone is distracted, angry, or we haven’t made ourselves clear.
2. Touch brings trust
Touch brings trust comes from FastCompany’s excellent article detailing the benefits of in-person communication. As noted, a handshake and the proximity of another human being creates literal (and figurative) warmth. When people are warm, they feel safe.
We often work with our clients when they’re under a deadline or regarding sensitive data. Sometimes a technology is profoundly confusing. Our clients must trust us to do what’s best for their business.
3. Emotional contagion
It’s happened more than once that in our excitement for what a new technology means for a client’s industry, we start speaking in the technobabble we promise not to use. We correct it as soon as we catch it, but, hey, we’re human.
That works the other way, too. Sometimes, we don’t know what a project, deadline, or new hire means to our clients. An email labeled, “Exciting News” or a non-committal text reading “important” just doesn’t quite convey the moment.
When we’re face-to-face with a client, we get it. We have no choice but to get it. Excitement is contagious. Whether it’s a momentous event, the urgency of a project deadline six months out, or whatever monotonous process is sapping the creativity out of the business, we know where to align our efforts to help our clients produce.
One more reason
We promised just three reasons in the title, but there is a fourth. The fourth reason is so near-and-dear to us that we think it deserves its own post. That reason is to ask questions. Not just any questions and especially not annoying questions. We ask the kind of questions that improve productivity, reduce stress, and build your business.
We agree that we’re defying a stereotype when we send a team member to your office every week. We know that can be a little confusing at first. We hope that you will agree it is a great and necessary change from how technology has previously been administered. Do spread the word that gone are the days of one-sided communiques from on high that tell of the great, new features that you will love despite your inability to use them. Instead, introduce a friend, face-to-face, to Sherwood Chamberlain, the friendly, human face of technology.
tl;dr Scroll down to the section, “3 questions for profitable software purchases”
It’s a very rare occurrence that someone says to us, “I saw this really cool software and I’d like to spend thousands of dollars on it to show off to my friends.”
Most people start with a need and then buy software for that need. A person needs to create custom PDFs, so they buy a PDF Creator like Adobe Writer. A manager needs reports to track how often the sales team converts a lead, so a CRM like Salesforce is purchased.
Put another way, most people don’t spend a Saturday “window” shopping Crozdesk for fun (that joke slays at the IT Comedy Club).
But, if people buy software to meet a need, why is it so many businesses fail to see a return on investment from their software purchases?
The answer is simple: Most people buy to fulfill their need, not the needs of the business, regardless of the type of software or expense. This isn’t necessarily borne of some undesirable trait. We’re obsessed with productivity. Sometimes, in our desire to increase our productivity, we forget that the only productivity that matters to the business, is the productivity that increases profits.
How, then, do we protect ourselves from our zeal and make productivity about business profits once again? You should ask yourself three questions.
3 questions for profitable software purchases
In what way does this software increase business profits?
Ask yourself if it effects labour, capital, or materials. Labour: Does it free a team member to do another, more profitable activity? Capital: Does it reduce the cost to complete an activity? Materials: Does it replace a good or product (e.g. paperless systems).
Does this software require additional training or a change in workflow?
Training can be costly and time-consuming. A software that can handle the needs of a complex business will generally be more complex than the typical, out-of-box solution. A protracted learning curve can delay the return on investment or, worse, prevent a busy business from ever making use of the software.
Who will be responsible for developing or maintaining the software?
As the person responsible for authorizing large purchases, it is fairly common in small businesses that the financial officer becomes responsible for software. In other cases, it is the department head. In either event, this is often not ideal. Managers rarely have time to dedicate to learn a new software, conduct workshops, or sit on the phone for long periods of time to work through the technical details of API integration – the things necessary to earn a strong return on investment.
The questions above will start you in the direction necessary to make profitable software purchases. Identifying the ultimate end goal – profits – will eliminate the majority of wasteful software purchases. Understanding the associated costs of training or the change in workflow will help you decide the best time to implement a new software. Choosing the right person or team to be responsible for the development of the software will give the software purchase a long tail, increasing the return on investment many times over.
As a business technology productivity firm, our clients expect us to not only understand why things fail and how they succeed, but to take action to ensure they succeed. If the post above has left you with questions for your business, we hope you will reach out to us. We’ve turned our clients’ purchases into investments, from losses to profits. We can do the same for you.
Probably not. But maybe. We know: That wasn’t helpful. Let us offer something that is.
When you ask yourself the question, Should I click on that? you’ve posed a question of trust. How much do I trust this website? Or, to put a spin on it, How much do I trust myself to determine if this website is safe?
For instance, say you receive an amazing alert that you might have won some incredible amount of money. You just need to follow a link to find out. Well, there is an add-on for browsers that tells you if clicking that link is a bad idea. And, if the link you already clicked on (Oops!) has taken you to a bad site.
Web of Trust is the name of the add-on, and it’s available for Google Chrome, Firefox, Opera and Microsoft Edge. It installs on the top right corner of your browser, in the shape of a ring buoy. If it lights green, the website you are on is safe – this is the case for sites like google.com, facebook.com, or sherwoodchamberlain.com. When the ring buoy is yellow, the website is of a dubious nature, and you should be careful of what they have to say. If the ring buoy is red, the website was made with malicious intent, and you shouldn’t be there. (Unless, of course, you have malicious intent against the website, too.) If the ring buoy is white, Web of Trust doesn’t have information on the site. The internet is a vast web of millions of pages, and they need time to assess the credibility of the many pages that go live every day.
Rest assured whenever a new pop-up comes up and claims you found the one page on the internet that gives you a right to claim some sort of prize, Web of Trust will help you to determine how to proceed. So, here’s to good luck and letting that incredible amount of money you might have won be greeted by a buoy lit green.
The Default Printer setting in Windows 10 isn’t what it used to be. You may have recently found yourself printing a single document to a printer down the hall only to find that the next time you print a document, the printer down the hall – and not the one you print to ten times a day – is now your default printer. There is nothing wrong with your computer. In Windows 10, the Default Printer setting now translates into “last printer used.” If wish to stop this from happening, scroll down to “Follow these steps.”
Why has Microsoft done this? People are most productive when they work in blocks of time. Microsoft found that when working on Accounting, people print to the Accounting printer – not just once, but over and over again during that period. When they move on to the next task, their printer needs change. Keeping the last used printer means fewer clicks and less frustration. Of course, this doesn’t work for everyone – and that’s why they kept the option to turn it off (See below).
Follow these steps:
Click the Start menu in the bottom left
Click on Settings
Click on Devices
Click on Printers and Scanners
Set “Let Windows manage my default printer” to Off (you may have to scroll down)
This will make it so that Windows maintains the default printer you set up. Windows will no longer change the settings every time that you connect to a new device.
Be on the lookout for more practical tips and tricks in the future. It is our aim to educate our clients to create a better dialogue about using technology to make the greatest impact in your business. Knowing how to do something is useful, but knowing when to do something is a game-changer. Let’s change the game together.
We have all been there: that moment when
Internet Explorer Microsoft Edge decides not to respond anymore and you’re greeted with a hypnotic, spinning, blue circle (of death); when you’re in the middle of some important event and you need to close a program quickly and it just won’t budge; or when you’ve (accidentally) clicked a link to an unsavory page that demands you install software and there’s no way to close it. It’s a moment of frustration and panic — You’ve lost control. Computers are supposed to do what you tell them! Until they don’t, and then they wreak havoc on our lives. But we shall say: Never more.
What many people don’t know is that there is a combination of keys that may save you a lot of time and end this torture instantly. When you press together the keys Ctlr + Alt + Del, your computer responds with a menu that reads: ‘Lock’, ‘Switch user’, ‘Sign out’, ‘Change a password’, and ‘TASK MANAGER’, or simple a ‘Cancel’ button. I highlight ‘TASK MANAGER’ because if you were to click on that then you would see a little window – little in Windows 10, in the other operating systems is rather big – that shows all the current tasks your computer is working on. Selecting a task and hitting the ‘End task’ button yields a rather unexpected response: this task, and the window that serves it, are both gone instantly. This is a trick that most people don’t know, but a very useful one that saves users critical minutes (or worse?) of teeth grinding spent in front of the computer waiting to close the unresponsive process.
There are many other tricks like this, and you may as well expect many other blog entries in order to help make your computer experience a bit for enjoyable, if it isn’t already. One other quick note: remember that people who made computers and their operating systems – Alan Turing, Bill Gates and Linus Torvalds – are smart people. If you’ve had to use Task Manager to close a program, like Google Chrome and Microsoft Word, but didn’t save your current progress, it was likely saved for you automatically. The next time you open the application, you’ll be prompted to recover your lost document or at least some of it.