14 posts categorized "Customer Service and Support"

12/09/2018

Wild Apricot, Condo Residents and their Electrical Vehicles (EVs)

Over the last 60+ years, the internal combustion engine (ICE) automobile has seen a dramatic rise around the world. Every year there are more cars produced, and that trend is towards one car for every person in the world. Since the 1950s, the number of automobiles has considerably increased, especially in developed countries. This trend has caused a significant reduction in the number of people per automobile, from 48.2 in 1950 to 9.7 in 2010. There are consequently more vehicles per person, which is a good indicator of potential mobility. Even though an automobile is an expensive product, second to only housing, the penetration of vehicle use around the world is astounding.

Vehicle Use Indicators 1950-2016

Vehicle Use Indicators 1950-2016, courtesy of Dr. Jean-Paul Rodrigue, Dept of Global Studies & Geography Hofstra University

 

Internal combustion engine powered cars (ICE) emit CO2 and are not very environmentally friendly. A typical passenger vehicle emits about 4.6 metric tons of CO2 per year. ICE cars also are also more expensive to maintain. And it appears we are not, on average, travelling more than about 12,000 miles per year in cars. The world's automobile utilization has leveled off at about 1,000 miles per month on average, or about 30 miles per day.  Peak mobility has been reached, especially in the US. It appears we are ready for a transformation in the use of vehicles. We are not using them that much, and traveling by car more than 30 miles per trip is an exception rather than the rule, with a vast majority of our trips taking less than 30 miles.

And guess what? It takes on average  30 minutes on 240V chargers to power a car to go about 30 miles -- not that long if you think about it. All things considered, we can safely make the change now, as EV chargers continue to be deployed in earnest across North America. we will save money  in the long term and help reduce emissions with a transformation to EV cars. All it takes is a one time infrastructure investment, and it turns out the places where EV transformation is happening fastest are urban centres, and in particular condominiums.

Recently we encountered a very interesting use case with one of our Wild Apricot customers: a condominium using Wild Apricot as a resident management system. The condo told us that there are 4 or 5 electric vehicles among the 250 units, and the EV owners would like to setup charging stations in the garage. This presents a variety of questions that the board to this point has not been able to address:

  1. Can the electrical system of the condominium support the concurrent charging of several EVs? How about 50 of them? Or several hundred EVs?
  2. How are charging stations deployed? Does the condominium invest in them for all residents or do they rough in parking spots for EV charger installations for future use? Or do they let owners invest in their own stations willy-nilly?
  3. How does the condo manage the electrical use and recover the costs of the electricity and capital expenses?

In general, it seems like a large risk that most have to evaluate sooner or later. The concentration of EV cars in Toronto has increased dramatically in 2018,  and property managers and board of directors are searching for solutions.

SWTCH-Deck_Page_02
Canadian EV adoption since 2011 by quarter, courtesy of Swtch.com


We think we have one, which is not only friendly and affordable but also very easy to deploy! We have started to build an integration with SWTCHEV.COM - a charging station integration partner who focuses on condominiums in Toronto. They have tied up with electrical contractor Pacific Light & Energy to create a cost-effective and easy to deploy solution for charging stations. And in turn, we have created an integration with Wild Apricot to display various information about your car. The benefits of the solution are many:

  1. Condo residents with EV cars can benefit from an effective 0.10 to 0.20 c per liter of gasoline, a dramatic decrease in the operating cost of a vehicle. This useful calculator will calculate your savings on many popular EV cars on the market today. On average you can expect $700 in fuel savings per year but it really does depend on how much you drive and the cost of gasoline. The more of a gas-guzzler you drive today (or more stop and go urban driving you do), the more savings you can expect. Savings can exceed $1000 per year.
  2. The condo board is able to recoup costs of installed chargers by charging a fixed per-hour fee for charging. Level 2 240V/32A chargers span between $1,000 and $20,000 per charger, with the average charger costing about $4,000-$6,000 installed. Most EV cars can charge a battery from empty in as little as 4 hours, with plugin hybrids taking as little as 1 hour.
  3. The SWTCH chargers are able to manage the load of multiple cars charging without needing to install new transformers or retrofitting the electrical system of the condominium.
  4. The deployment can be both shared (in visitor spaces, for example) as well as dedicated for every parking space and be rolled out in phases.
  5. Condominium property managers are able to comply to Ontario Regulation 48/01 (Operation Part IV) that established a new process for obtaining approval to install electrical vehicle supply equipment (EVSE) in condominium buildings.  As of January 1, 2018 the Ontario Building Code require 20% of inside parking spaces in covered buildings to have EVSE installed, with the remainder of inside space be EVSE-ready.
  6. Most importantly, EV and hybrid EV cars are better for the environment!

We are investing in integrating Wild Apricot to support the ability to integrate a SWTCH account with your resident management system. Once logged in to the Wild Apricot portal you will have easy access to check your bill, pay through one website and reserve a charging station if so equipped.

It can look something like this once you connect your SWTCH ID to your account on Wild Apricot. If you want to know more, get in touch.

Condo home page

11/19/2018

Introducing the Wild Apricot Text Manager

Wild Apricot Text Manager logo
Wild Apricot Text Manager

 Wild Apricot allows any content gadgets to be edited by a website administrator. When placing your cursor over a content gadget you can see the option to edit, like below:

Content editor

However, many gadgets in the System Pages are marked as (System) and do not allow editing whatsoever:

System gadget

Now it is possible to change the text on form labels and buttons inside these System gadgets. You can also publish Wild Apricot websites in 2 languages!

The Wild Apricot Text Manager (WATM) is a simple to configure JavaScript library that levers the jQuery library already included with every Wild Apricot website. WATM will help any administrator manage and replace nearly every piece of system text in Wild Apricot. You can also use it to change CSS for any class or ID. WATM can be used optionally to enable 2 language Wild Apricot websites without needing to create any additional site pages or page templates. A list of replaceable elements is included in the easy-to-edit Excel configuration file. You can make a variety of changes such as global search and replace, modifying form labels and buttons, changing CSS properties on any class or ID and hiding certain labels or buttons altogether.

The configuration for the Wild Apricot Text manager is made inside a comma separated configuration file which can be edited in Microsoft Excel or another text editor. To activate WATM, a few lines need to be added to Wild Apricot’s Global Javascript. You will also need  to edit and upload  the WATM configuration file which includes the text edits and translations. The full WATM package is added to your site using Wild Apricot’s website Files manager.

Support for WATM is available by getting in touch.

 Download Wild Apricot Text Manager

 

Version History

0.1 - Initial Release 11/19/18

0.2 - Added support for many more system flags, added French translation into CSV configuration file, changed testing button toggle label 11/27/18

0.3 - Added support for adding a style, added several more system labels, added support for limiting the language toggle display "flicker" 12/5/18

0.4 - Added support for effective primary menu design changes, added support to override any CSS class or ID 12/13/18

10/18/2018

Modifying Text Labels on Wild Apricot Form Fields

Wild Apricot has a terrific system to manage website content, integrated with various membership management, event and ecommerce forms and workflows. In certain situations, it may be necessary to modify a form field label on one or more built-in Wild Apricot forms. These forms have hard-coded field labels as part of the various system pages maintained in Wild Apricot. It is possible to add other gadgets including content to a system page, but it is not easily possible to modify the content, formatting, placement or design of any fields.

One common suggestion is to use theme overrides to fix this problem, but at NewPath, we don't take kindly to theme overrides. They are not trivial  to create and are reserved only for specialized programmers and theme designers. Theme overrides are best for bespoke themes that require pixel-perfect placement of design elements, but for simple label changes and layout changes in system pages, we recommend jQuery.

jQuery is a code library already used by Wild Apricot and loaded by default on every Wild Apricot website. It is a really powerful set of JavaScript functions that can modify any part of a web page, on the fly as soon as a web page loads. 

The following code changes the labels on the form behind the "Send Message" button on a Wild Apricot member profile. In order to change the field labels (in the green boxes) we will modify the Email Member system page.

Email member system page

1. Add a Custom HTML gadget anywhere on the page

Custom html gadget

 

2. Select the Custom HTML gadget and click the Edit code button and copy and paste the code below into the editor. Click Save.

<script type="text/javascript">

jq$(document).ready(function(){
$( ".fieldBody h4" ).text( "Send Referral" );
$("#idMessageSubjectContainer .mandatoryLabel").text ("Subject of Referral");
$("#idBodyContainer .mandatoryLabel").text ("Referral Information (include type of referral, contact information, and any other important information)");
$("#idReplyNameContainer .mandatoryLabel").text ("Name of Referral");
$("#idReplyEmailContainer .mandatoryLabel").text ("Email Address of Referral");
});
</script>

Jquery code for email members

3. The field labels should instantly change. You can now Save the edited system page with the jQuery code snippet. If the labels did not change, check that you copied and pasted the code correctly into the Custom HTML gadget.

Changed email members system page
Using this technique it is possible to modify any hard-coded piece of text in any system page that is not easily accessible through the website page editor. One of the ideas we are tossing around is to create an easy to install code library that will allow easy customization of all labels and support mutli-lingual for Wild Apricot.

Note that the functionality of the underlying forms does not change in any way at all. Different labels may create alternative ways of thinking about the various functions. Similarly with this function the event registration, member signup and renewal, donations, store and just about all other parts of Wild Apricot can be modified.

02/19/2018

General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and Wild Apricot: May 25, 2018 is GDPR Deadline

On May 25, 2018, the European Union will begin enforcing a new set of data protection regulations, known collectively as the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation). The GDPR regulates the collection and storage of personal data for EU residents (including UK residents), regardless of where the organization doing the collecting is located.

The GDPR replaces and expands upon the 1995 Data Protection Directive. The biggest change is the extended reach of the regulations, now applying to all organizations that collect the personal data of European residents, even if those organizations are based outside of Europe.

Consequently, Wild Apricot and any of its clients with members in Europe need to understand the requirements of the GDPR, and set up procedures for complying with them.

If your Wild Apricot database contains information about any European Union residents, please let us know and we can help you identify whether your organization is compliant with GDPR. Wild Apricot has begun auditing their processes and software for GDPR compliance, but as of February 2018 Wild Apricot staff have not completed the audit or any remediation actions. Organizations in breach of the GDPR can be fined up to 4% of their annual global revenue or €20 million (whichever is greater). There is a tiered approach to fines, whereby an organization can be 2% for not having their records in order, 2% for not notifying about a data breach, and so on.

 

02/13/2018

VIDEO: The new Wild Apricot Membership App

The new Wild Apricot membership application is a breakthrough for membership-based organizations. Now your members can interact with your organization from their iPhone or iPad! The member directory is searchable, you can check out your profile and you can register and pay for events. There is even a place to store your tickets. This app joins the admin app as the second mobile app Wild Apricot has released.  Here's a short demo of the capabilities of the new membership mobile app for Wild Apricot.

02/01/2018

Delighting Customers With a Digital Workplace

Customer-first-© iQoncept-Fotolia_70871759_XS

At NewPath we like to ask this core question: What's the most important thing to a small business owner?

Your business idea, you say? An idea is great. But without customers, it really is just an idea. And the value of an idea is related directly to the ability to bring the idea successfully to customers. The better you execute, the better the idea.

Time, then? Time is an important aspect of running a business, but we all have the same amount of time. Without customers, you just have a lot of time on your hands.

Money? It has to be money! Money is important, no doubt. But happy customers pay you for your services or product. Money on its own won't grow without value being delivered to customers.

So what IS the most important thing for small business success? Your customer! A customer is by far the most important objective for a small business owner. Happy customers will pay money for your idea and tell you when they'd like it delivered. Businesses increase their chance of success when customers are the MOST important thing.

Customer-oriented technology - a case study

So what does the customer have to do with building a digital workplace? Everything! Today, people are changing how they find valuable information, and they’re looking for help to prioritize what steps they take to run a business.

Therefore, your digital workplace should be set up in a way that you’re providing this kind of information (online content), in a way that your prospective customers can find it (and you). The pre-sales and post-sales process has changed so that customers are doing more research long before they may ever interact with you directly.

Yet there’s a natural tension between putting technology in front of your processes and being truly customer focused. That’s why when choosing the right technology solutions for your business, it’s important to discern when your technology will enhance your customer relationships, and when it will get in their way.

For example, we mentioned a customer in our last newsletter who is working on becoming digital workplace in a customer-focused way. They are trying to automate a process that is very cumbersome and complex for their patients.

When a client needs a medical test, they need to fill out forms through a paper clerical process that involves a staff member to select the right form so the patient can fill them out by hand. Different information is needed for different tests, different forms are needed for different insurance companies, and patients also want to identify the best price for the tests they need.

As you can probably tell, this is all very time-consuming and means the clinic can only serve a limited number of patients. The system NewPath designed routes data to the necessary forms depending on which insurance they have, and generates an editable PDF for the clinic that can be digitally processed or uploaded to the clinic website.

The whole thing takes far less time, and is more accurate. Automating this data collection for the customer, and automatically generating the right set of forms depending on the condition is much more customer-friendly.

In this example of digital workplace transformation, our customer was looking at what the customer values. They understood how painful it was for their patients to look for and fill out all the different requisitions, and investigate which clinics took their insurance, etc. This process ensures the right information is sent to the right place, helping their client navigate a very complex healthcare system.

These technology solutions will also help our client scale their business and talk to more patients. We’ll talk more about the specifics of this project in a future article. If you’re curious about the tools we used, click these links to learn more about Formstack and WebMerge.

Delighting customers

In a digital workplace, a business uses cloud-based technology to deliver value to customers, ensure customer success, and manage their resources. They also use technology to help deliver their value proposition consistently, delighting customers and attracting prospects through digital marketing.

Let’s take a deeper look at these last three areas, beginning with consistent value proposition delivery. Right now, clients may have a different experience depending on how they interact with your business, and with whom, and also how you portray your business value, products and services.

When you use technology, you’re taking processes that are malleable and flexible, and creating an interface where clients can consistently get the same high level of service. For example, At NewPath we prefer to talk to our customers in short meetings on a regular basis to work through the issues in our projects, so we’ve created a consistent method to achieve this.

When customers want to book time with our director Alex Sirota, they access his online booking calendar, powered by Appointlet. Instead of having to go back and forth by email to find a mutually convenient time, Alex presents a digital interface that allows customers to choose a time that will work for both.

There are a consistent set of steps that occur every time they schedule a meeting. They choose their time zone, type of meeting, and preferred location (these preferences can be saved for future bookings).

Once they select a time, the underlying technology springs into action. The customer receives a confirmation with a calendar invite and a reminder before the meeting, all of which is totally automated and personalized.

Now let’s talk about the opposite of delighting customers, by using a not-so-delightful example we can all relate to: the automated phone system. You’re having an issue with one of your vendors so you dial customer service, and then various phone cues tell you which number to press for certain outcomes.

In the past we would have connected with a human voice, “How may I help you?” and that person would triage your call manually and connect you with the right person who could solve your problem. Today, customers are forced to do that routing ourselves, but if our problem doesn’t fit neatly into one of the options, it can be extremely frustrating.

So while these automated phone systems certainly make for a consistent experience, it’s definitely not delighting customers. Now with new advances in automation and artificial intelligence, there are some phone systems that you can speak to with natural phrases and it can translate those into its set menu items. In other cases, the system will identify your phone number and recognize you as a current customer to route your call accordingly. These are all steps in the right direction.

Another way companies are using digital to delight customers is by providing support via social media. They know customers are there already, and this may be the first place they go to talk about a problem they’re having with a company, product or service.

Some companies provide comprehensive social media groups on Facebook, online support materials or forums, which can be cost-saving as well. Others offer instant chat, or the option to have someone call you back instead of waiting on hold.

At NewPath one way we try to delight customers is with our customized video training sessions. Why not just send them to the support articles at Wild Apricot or our other vendors? The difference is that we train them on a particular sequence of things they need to know to reach their specific goals.

We also record these training sessions so our customers can review them later. We know that after the session when they try to replicate the steps, they may run into a bump or two. With the recording, they can re-watch the lesson as many times as they need to. Of course we’re always here for questions, but this empowers our customers to do more on their own and they tell us this is much appreciated.

We think there is a huge opportunity for service-based companies to do more video-based collaboration, training and support. It’s a way to delight customers, and can also save costs and time for you both.

Lastly, let’s look at attracting prospects through digital marketing. We find that the best way to do that is through content marketing and through building relationships with vendors that recommend our service.

How does being a digital workplace support your ability to distribute content? The first way is that you need to have a website built so that it allows you to categorize, structure, and publish content in a way that is optimized for the search engines. The second way is through email marketing, where you build a prospect list and keep in touch on a regular basis. We’ll talk about each of  these marketing efforts/tasks in detail in future articles.

Customer first, digital second

At NewPath we interact with customers primarily between email and
Zoom, and sometimes by phone. Internally, we use another channel called Slack that allows us to structure conversations around different customers and projects, but we haven’t given our customers access to that channel. We don’t want to superimpose our way of doing things onto our customers. If they hear about Slack and are interested, we will let them into Slack, but until then we’ll keep using the support channels our customers are used to.

Cloud

We think there is a place for digital transformation in every single part of your business: sales, accounting marketing, operations, HR, and client management. The caveat is that the transformation should be customer focused, not just an excuse to use an interesting digital tool. That’s why we suggest testing new solutions first with a subset of your customers, figuring out what really resonates and delivers value they have not experienced with anyone else.

If you have any questions about your own company’s digital transformation, feel free to get in touch, particularly around the implementation phase. We specialize in helping small businesses prioritize their digital transformation projects, and select and implement the right tools for the job.

01/30/2018

VIDEO: Redirect a menu to another page in Wild Apricot

This short video shows you how to setup a menu item that points to another page with 1 click. The documentation behind this workaround is on the Wild Apricot help system.

05/02/2017

Collaborating in the Cloud Era

Cloud-meeting-Fotolia_135807401_XS

Collaboration means different things to different people, but in the end we all need to work with others in some capacity or other. With more people equipped with faster bandwidth, built-in webcams and microphones, and mobile apps, the cloud is opening up all sorts of possibilities for working together to get things done - without having to be physically in the same location.

Cloud-based collaboration helps create a sense of shared responsibility. It levels the playing field for people to participate from a variety of settings and locations. It turns location-dependent work into location-independent work.

There are many cloud-based tools out there offering easy and low-cost collaboration options, yet many people are still hesitant to use them. They may feel resistant to learning new technology, or sense resistance from their team. They may not want to spend the money. In many cases we find people just don’t realize the capabilities of these tools, and how they can improve workflow and productivity and replace ineffective processes.  

How do we at NewPath Consulting collaborate with our customers? Which tools do we use, and why do we think the cloud is useful for better collaboration and fewer misunderstandings? We’ll answer those questions in this post.

Collaborative scheduling with Appointlet

Everyone gets frustrated with the back-and-forth of booking meetings. One person proposes a few times, then the other person replies with a few other times, and after a few more rounds of emails they agree on a time (with no guarantee that time actually gets onto either person’s calendar).

A cloud-based tool like Appointlet (Alex’s online calendar) eliminates the need for this back-and-forth. With Appointlet, you establish different types of appointments (30-minute initial consultation, 60-minute meeting, etc.) and set your available meeting hours (e.g., weekdays from 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.) and other policies (e.g., insert a 15-minute gap between all scheduled meetings).

When someone visits your Appointlet calendar via your website or a link you send by email or instant message, they can select an appointment type and choose one of your open times. Then Appointlet syncs with your own Google or Office 365 calendar so you will never be double-booked.

Online schedulers create a unique sense of transparency. NewPath Consulting’s Alex Sirota notes, “By allowing others to transparently select their appointment from my available time slots on my calendar, based on my preferred scheduling policy, I am giving the most amount of options to my appointment partner - setting the stage for mutual respect as well as reducing the actual amount of overhead time to set a meeting.”

While it may seem like the person asking for the meeting has to do more work, they’ll have multiple options and are guaranteed a spot as long they can find a match. They have the power to not only schedule a meeting, but to cancel or reschedule - all without having to start a new email thread. Appointlet also ensures that both parties get the appointment in their calendars and receive email reminders.

Online appointment booking systems save time, and set equal responsibility. “I won’t book appointments by email anymore,” Alex says, “My appointment booking link is in my email signature, and I also offer it anytime a customer needs more help than I can give by email.”

The key for Alex was to change the tone when he invites someone to book a time. Instead of being a chore for the other person, it’s a way he can provide better service. “I tell them, ‘I’ve opened my calendar for you to select a time at your convenience,’ and they can also select how we’ll meet - phone, video conference, or face to face.”

Collaborative meetings with Zoom

As long as you have reliable internet access, a webcam, and a microphone, video conferencing can change the whole way you think about office space. At NewPath Consulting, we often use the cloud-based conferencing tool Zoom as a more environmentally-friendly alternative to in-person meetings. This eliminates multiple expenses, including the time and energy to get to a location, fuel costs, wear and tear on you and your mode of transport.

And while in-person meetings commonly don’t start on time, when the technology is in place, most web-based meetings start quickly with just the click of a mouse.  In fact, Zoom and Appointlet integrate beautifully, making it easy to set up web conferences and share the technical details with all parties involved, making it even faster and smoother to get started.

Zoom depends on a couple of important prerequisites. All participants need to have a reliable and speedy internet connection (at least 5 Mbit/s or faster for both uploading and downloading), and a decent quality microphone, camera and set of speakers. It’s also important for all callers to be in a relatively quiet environment because background noise from one person’s line can undermine the entire meeting.

Another benefit of Zoom is that you can patch into the meeting from any phone to a variety of local or toll-free dial-in numbers; you don’t need to participate via video or the web. You can also record meetings to the cloud and/or to your computer. Meetings then become a form of self-documenting, real-time, customized, just-in-time training (that can be accessed forever). We find that our customers really appreciate this high degree of customer service.

Collaborative project management with Google Docs

Lastly, let’s talk about collaborative project management. It used to be that I had my documents on my computer, and you had your documents on your computer, and we could maybe send each other drafts of documents and share via email or USB key.

First launched in April 2012, Google Drive allows users to store files in the cloud, synchronize files across devices, and share files. Now instead of on “my computer” or “your computer,” documents are on Google’s “virtual computer” - the cloud. Along with protecting your files from accidents, corruption, theft, or computer crashes, Google Drive also makes them much easier to share and collaborate on documents, spreadsheets or presentations.

Another aspect of the cloud era is that we don’t have to wait until everything is perfect before we share our work with someone else. The whole point of Google Drive’s collaboration features is for people to create and edit documents together. One person can share even the most basic outline or title, and everyone else can jump right in to contribute and improve. There is a shared responsibility across all parties to make the document better, continuously refining and shaping the message until they all think it’s the best it can be.

Not everyone is comfortable with this approach but we’re experimenting with it more and more at NewPath Consulting because it is the future of collaboration. One of our business development documents has seen 13 major edits so far - and we expect at least another 13 before it’s finalized!

In Google Drive there are ways to enter edits as comments (you can tag one or more collaborators to call their attention to a comment), as suggested changes (must be approved by the original author), or by actually updating the current version of the document. Any collaborator can review the document’s revision history to see exactly who changed what and when.

Slack - the ultimate collaboration tool

Slack is a real-time messaging app that allows you to divide conversations into specific topics/projects, share files, message individuals directly, and much more. It’s accessible via Mac, Windows and Linux, with mobile apps for iOS, Android and Windows Phone.

Too many people live and die by their email, which becomes a never-ending and constantly changing to-do list. It’s difficult if not impossible to prioritize tasks, keep conversations straight, and effectively communicate with groups of people.

Slack takes project management out of email and is a way to structure organizational tasks into conversations. It’s the equivalent of Facebook for work - a ‘water cooler’ where people can move projects forward by making quick decisions in real time.

Alex of NewPath says, the answer is clear, “Slack is the first place I go to receive and send information related to customer service or internal NewPath projects. It's a prioritized communication channel for our staff. Email is what we use for communication with the outside world, for now. We’re looking at inviting customers into the Slack channel where our team is already discussing and executing their project.”

Separating discussions into distinct channels and projects is the key to being able to focus, no matter which tool you’re using. That way people aren’t wasting time managing messages that don’t pertain to them, and they can consciously tap into a specific discussion when it’s time to work on that project.

There are many integrations that can help bridge the gap for people who are attached to the tools they’ve gotten used to, and that make Slack even more productive and fun. In a sense one can stitch together a collection of cloud tools, all within Slack.

Though we’ve come to the end of this blog post, we’re still at the beginning of this brand new era of collaboration. We’re experimenting on your behalf. We’re working with new tools in new ways, testing them internally before bringing them to our customers to experiment with us. Then we can know how things really work and whether they truly make our work and our lives better.

05/11/2015

GoDaddy Pro Launches and We Helped Make it Happen!

Web developer jobs are projected to grow by 20% in the decade leading up to the year 2022, significantly outpacing the projected growth in jobs as a whole. That's cool, isn't it?

But what is powering this trend? We think you can point to the 25M+ businesses in North America that are selling, marketing and serving customers online. By all accounts they are becoming more competitive and productive by leveraging what we call "the small business web" - software that runs in your browser and enables more efficient and effective selling, marketing and operations.

On May 6, we were delighted to be included in the launch of GoDaddy Pro (press release), an innovative platform that makes it super easy to support web developers, designers and consultants who help small businesses. We have been involved over the past few months in a customer council along with several other companies providing feedback on the design of the platform. It was refreshing and exciting to be involved directly with the design of a new product like GoDaddy Pro.

One of the cool features we mentioned in the press release is a free monitoring system that will help you monitor your customers' websites uptime and alert you by email or text message of any downtimes. A website that is down is equivalent to a closed front door, and we want to know quickly before our customers (or their customers!) find that their "virtual front door" is shut. Here's a screen shot of how clear and easy this feature works:

GoDaddy Monitoring 2015

Here's GoDaddy's blog post detailed some of the terrific features in the new product. And here's a longer video detailing this new program.

 

01/21/2015

Don't lose your domain name! New ICANN rules being enforced now.

In January 2014, all domain name registrars were asked to sign a new ICANN agreement. In plain english, this means that your domain name (yourbusiness.com or myco.ca) is maintained by your registrar. You may not even remember who that company is but you pay them (or your IT consultant) a yearly fee to renew your domain. It's like the phone number of the internet.

Without a functioning domain name your website and email can go "dark." In 2014, the new contractual agreement between your registrar and ICANN, the organization that regulates domain registrars may have changed dramatically. ICANN introduced a new Registrar Accreditation Agreement (RAA) at the end of 2013 and as of January 2015 most domain name registrars have signed the new agreement (you can check if yours did on this regularly updated list). This is the first major update of the agreement since 2009.

The new agreement stipulates that the information on your domain (address, phone number and email address) must be confirmed via email. You may have received a notification from your registrar, that you may have ignored as a scam. Or maybe you didn't receive the email.

This notificatoin IS MOST DEFINITELY NOT spam! Here's a note from one of the oldest registrars, Network Solutions.

Here's the important clause:

You must verify your phone number or email address.

After you register a domain, transfer it to a new registrar, or transfer ownership of a domain, you will have to confirm your email address or phone number with the registrar. If you don’t do this within 15 days, your registration can be suspended or terminated.

You must keep your contact information up-to-date.

You are required to update your registrar on most changes to your contact information with 7 days of any changes.

A suspended domain name means your website and email will stop working. Nothing will be lost, but you must confirm this information to keep in good standing. It can be unsettling for this to happen, so please take good note of your domain names and keep them up to date. Let us know if this has happened to you or if you are concerned. We can confirm netfirms.com has started to enforce this process in January 2015.