Windows Restart – More than you think

June 5th, 2017 • By: Patricia Egen ACT CRM, Microsoft, Swiftpage, Swiftpage ACT, Windows

Patricia Egen Consulting Fast TipsEvery week I try to have a social media “theme” and this week it’s Tips and Tricks.

Last week we helped a client who couldn’t get Act to open after Windows did an update without him asking. Nothing appeared to be wrong. I asked him if he had rebooted and he said yes, multiple times.

Then, I did my normal “call in the guru” (that being my husband) and he said have him do a RESTART and not a reboot. I’ve been working with PC’s forever and I “thought” reboot and restart were the same thing. Shame on me for believing that.

What I learned made me think it would be a good blog article because I believe other people had the same idea as I.

Starting with Windows 8, Microsoft came up with something called Fast Start/Boot. Basically, people were complaining about how long it would take Windows to start up after being shut down – especially those who saw that Mac’s came up so quickly.  Their response was the Fast Start. If this is enabled on your computer (which it is by default) then Windows basically does a hibernation.  The machine only saves a snap shot of the operating system but not applications (or in this case, Act).

A restart, however, reloads the operating system intact, sort of a like a clean refresh.

When we told the machine to restart, Act opened up just fine. Confusing. Indeed. Grateful customer, indeed. New lesson learned, you bet.

If you are curious and want to see where this option is set, go to Power Options in the control panel.  Click on Power Options.  Then click on Choose what the power buttons do.   When you click on the Change settings that are currently available, it will make the checkboxes active where you can change them. You will probably notice the Fast Start is checked.

After doing some research on my own, I didn’t see the boot time taking any longer – and if anything I saw some of my apps load faster by unchecking Fast Start.

Strange things once again in Microsoft land. And once again, it’s so true you learn something new every day.


Using Actdiag – Act’s diagnostic tool

May 12th, 2017 • By: Patricia Egen ACT CRM

For years, there has been a diagnostics tool included with Act. It’s called Actdiag. While it’s not a tool that everyone will want to use, it’s powerful and can get your Act database out of a jam in a crisis.

There are several options that Actdiag can handle. The one I am going to cover today is Reindex.

Within Act, under the Tools menu, there is a database maintenance option that an Administrator can use to Check and Repair a database. This is something that should be done on a regular basis to keep your Act database running smoothly and efficiently. You can set it up to run using the Act scheduler as well. It can be run from a workstation that is connected to the Act server.

If you run check and repair and it gives you an error, then you need to use Actdiag to fix the issue.

Part of the check and repair from within Act is a reindex function. What this does is go through all the tables and reorganize data. When you do adds and deletes in your Act database, over time the indexes get fragmented. A reindex “realigns” them. Running the reindex inside Act does a bit more than just the realignment. It puts things in place so that your searches work fast. If you have done a check and repair and cannot find something via a search, that you know is in your data, then you want to perform a Reindex using Actdiag.

For the most part, running Check and Repair inside Act is sufficient. Running a reindex from Actdiag will be faster because it is doing less other steps. You want to do it from Actdiag if you suspect, like mentioned above, that there is data that is in such a squirrely state (that’s a technical term) it cannot be fixed by the normal check and repair.

The other important thing to realize is Actdiag needs to be run on the server hosting the Act database. And, when you run a reindex from Actdiag, it will disconnect any users currently in the database so you want to use this tool either off hours or let people know there will be a temporary disruption in access to the database.

There are lots of other things you can do with Actdiag, but the reindex feature is the one you may need to turn to if you can’t get to support or your Act consultant and you are stuck.

To use Actdiag, click on the Windows Start button and enter ACTDIAG in the run box.  And remember you need to run it on the server hosting the Act database.

If you want to know additional information about this nifty tool give us a call (423-875-2652) or call your local Act consultant.

Pain or Passion – Keys for Nurturing Customer Relationships

May 1st, 2017 • By: Patricia Egen ACT CRM, Management, Organization, Sales, Sales Automation, Social CRM

It’s hard to come up with fresh materials for social media. Every weekend when I plan out my tweets for the week, I’ve settled on having a general theme. It helps me gather material and puts a focus on things that come up spontaneously throughout the week. As I have said before, life in general is the best producer of ideas for posts.

My social media theme this week in Nurture Marketing. What led me to this idea was actually reading another article about selling. The article talked about telling stories as a way to talk about products and services. The idea was tell people why you do what you do or why the product was created versus what you do or how a product works. The article suggested remembering things that had happened and influenced you in your business and then telling the story.

One of the things I remembered was a presentation by Jim Cecil, author of Nurture Marketing. It was at a conference in Nashville and was several years ago. But I remember very clearly what Jim talked about and it resonated with me. It helped foster many ideas I have used in our own business and have helped make it the success it is today.

The conference I attended was around a product that rested on top of Act. The concept of the product was to put in place a model for keeping track of your customers – or in other word, nurturing the relationship – from cradle to grave. Bringing in Jim to talk about his methodology was a perfect fit.

There were several ideas that came out of Jim’s talk, but the one I will show here has far reaching power. Jim suggested creating two fields in Act – one called Pain and one called Passion.

Here’s what he suggested. When talking to your clients, don’t just talk about your product or service. Learn about them and their business. What keeps them up a night? That’s the Pain part. What wakes them up early in the morning, raring to go. That’s the Passion Part. I think of my sons and know that golf (and not just little kids) can get them up early in the morning before the crack of dawn. I know that HIPPA is keeping many people in the medical profession up at night. For me, gardening and cooking are passions. Wondering where the next project will come from is pain.  Your trick is to figure what these are for your customers.

Knowing what is painful for a client can help you find solutions that soften the pain or even eliminate it. Knowing what is a passion for client gives you something to use as part of a warm touch. For example, for all the clients in your database that have Golf as a passion, and you are lucky to have access to tickets to local golfing events, send them out as a “here, I was thinking of you.”

Save articles that relate to the pain and passion items. Once in a while, send out the article, using mail merge in Act (or add it to a SAM campaign) to everyone who had that topic as their pain or passion item. The email looks personal. It’s a warm touch. It’s not a sales pitch. It’s a “we think enough of you to send you something that you might find interesting.”

Warm touches are very effective. And Personal. And are part of nurturing the customer relationship.

I must be candid and say I don’t do the pain/passion article emails as often as I used to. We all get caught up in our day to day minutia. But it only takes a few moments. And it can have long lasting results. It is actually funny because I talk about the pain/passion field to clients all the time. Guess I need to eat my own dog food. Gee, wonder how many of my clients have Dogs as their passion? Hm. Gotta go find some articles.

Happy nurturing. And think about stories you have that have inspired you. Use them in your selling efforts. Use them in your nurturing efforts.

If you would like some help setting up Pain/Passion campaigns, give us a call at (423)875-2652. Mention this blog post.

For more info on Jim Cecil and Nurture marketing visit here:

You can lead a horse to water…7 UI design tips for increasing user adoption

We’ve all heard the saying, “you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.”  Maybe you can’t MAKE him drink, but… you can ENTICE him to drink. You can provide beautiful, convenient and tasty water so that he WANTS to drink.  Let’s apply this analogy to software UI (screen layout) design.

Designing a user interface that is attractive, intuitive and efficient is key for user adoption and ultimately, imperative to the success of your software implementation.

The general guidelines shared below can be applied to any software package, but the examples relate directly to Act! CRM software.

In Act!, the primary screens people use to enter data are the contact detail, company detail, opportunity detail and group detail. The Act! detail screens employ “layouts” that are customizeable, and I feel they *should* be customized.  Sure, the default interface is the result of untold hours of design, user surveys, trend analysis, yadda yadda. However, one size does not fit all, and these default layouts should be seen as a starting point, not the final destination.

1. Decide what information is vital to know about your customers/prospects for your business needs

If you are selling widgets, it might be nice to know at a glance if the prospect or customer you are working with has any of your widgets; what color/size/type/make/model of widgets do they have (or want to have); when they are going to be looking to buy more widgets, etc.

Create fields to hold this vital data. Consider drop down fields with limited choices and checkboxes to make it quicker for users to update these fields and to make it easy to find contacts through searches.

2. Make it obvious

By default, “business card” and prospecting data are shown in the top half of the Contact detail screen. Related and less-used data is “hidden” in tabs in the bottom half of the screen.

Once you’ve decided what additional information is important for your business to track, move the most-used information to the top half of the screen where it will be seen as soon as a contact is viewed.

HIGHLIGHT it.  Shading, lines, boxes and color draw the eye to what’s most important.

3. Use white space

Now that I’ve recommended you put your most-used data at the top of the contact screen, I have to caution you against having TOO MUCH information in that area. Clutter is the enemy of efficiency.

White space is a must in every design. There will need to be compromise…you can’t have every field available AND have an uncluttered, simple design. Be judicious about what fields are really needed on the main screen and what can be a click or two away.

Separate fields and sections with blank space to make it easier to read the screen at a glance.

4. Consider user input on design

If you are not the primary user of the system, it’s important to speak with someone who IS. This can also increase user buy-in and lead to greater user adoption of a new system.

5. Create multiple layouts for different scenarios

Layouts can be easily swapped, so consider creating a different layout for different users, departments and/or interfaces.

The marketing department may have different “key” fields for their purposes than the sales or service departments.

If you have multiple databases it can be useful to have a different background so that you know at a glance which database you are in.

Resolution and dpi scaling can mess up a design. Consider the screen resolution of your users. Act! By default has 3 different versions of each detail layout based on screen resolution.  It’s important to look at your layout on screens that your users view.

6. Remember your web users!

Your design may look awesome on the desktop, but if you have Act! For Web users, you will need to make sure that your design translates properly in a web browser.

If you have a layout that really only works on the desktop, consider creating a copy of your layout that is slightly different for web usage.

Some fonts may not translate well in the web interface. Make sure you are using a standard font in a size that is easy to read online for your web layout.

7. Remove what is not needed, and add shortcuts

In the desktop interface you have the ability to add or remove buttons from the navigation and toolbars.  If you are implementing Act! For the first time, consider what elements your users NEED, and remove extraneous navigation that clutters the screen and can cause confusion.

Add buttons for frequently used tasks. For instance, on remote user interfaces I find it useful to add the “synchronize now” button to the toolbar.  This saves 4 clicks and puts the sync function in the forefront.

Following these tips will result in a better Act! user experience. This should translate into greater user adoption and efficiency, and that is better for everyone.

Spring Cleaning for the mind

April 10th, 2017 • By: Patricia Egen ACT CRM, Business growth, Management, Organization, Time Management

During a meeting last week we were discussing a book to review during a quarterly education event coming up. Cleaning out my desk drawers the week before, I stumbled upon a miniature edition of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.  I suggested we use that as our book review. It’s timeless and still very relevant. That idea made me go look for the full size version and I re-read it over the weekend. Well, mostly I sped-read it.

The reading event triggered my blog post today. Every Sunday, I take time to do research on Twitter and blog topics for the week. It’s part of my business routine. People always ask us how to come up for ideas for blog posts and tweets and it’s actually pretty easy. Look at events the crop up and they will lead you to discovery of ideas.

The main theme I remembered from the book was finding out what is important in life and reducing focus on things that are not important. We all need to learn what is truly urgent and relevant and what can go away as not important. This theme comes up in many books I read on organization and time management.

One book said to create 10 yellow stickie notes with the word NO and then stick them on mail, paperwork, or “hypothetically” on those things that are not tangible – like spending time looking at social media sites like Facebook and Instagram. Those are fun – but do they need to take up valuable time during your productive moments.

Mr. Covey stressed that while it is critical to focus on urgent tasks, we need to ensure we don’t forget the Important but not urgent items as well. It really is about balance. Stop working on things not important – and focus on the important but not urgent items in more depth.

His 7 habits in the book are:

1. Be Proactive
2. Begin with the end in mind
3. Put first things first
4. Think win-win
5. Seek first to understand, then to be understood
6. Synergize
7. Sharpen the saw

Each of his habits is geared towards the same goal – keeping on track and focused. Know the end goal and move towards it. It’s not something you figure out and you are done. This is a life long journey of discovery and reshaping yourself. And to be successful we need to realize we are not on the journey alone. Once we have mastered knowing ourselves we move on to understanding working with others via communication, collaboration and teamwork.

It’s all about discipline. Develop a set of habits and stick to them. While it is easy to get distracted, setting up a plan for your day, sticking to it, ending it, planning the next day and repeating will ensure you keep on track. And of course you can keep track of these ideas using your CRM. Set up tasks to help guide you towards focusing on what is important and avoiding the time drains that keep us off target.

This was a good exercise for me and I realized it’d make a good blog post as well. We all need motivation and something to help us keep our eye on the ball. It made a very good start for my week. Spring cleaning for the mind so to speak.

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