lonely written words—are all you’ve got”

—Virginia Shea

“communication happens when I know you know what I know”


Help Desk 2.0

This post is about Extensis and the great over-the-top service I received from someone there today. I’m making sure my Extensis representative Girish sees this post so that he can go personally thank that someone for providing great customer service in under 300 characters.

Today I had a Help Desk 2.0 experience. Help Desk 2.0 is my name for providing support using non-traditional or unconventional means. While working on a scripting project this morning I went searching for examples of how to script Extensis Suitcase, the font management software we use at work.
Google results were practically nil with most every link parroting release notes about AppleScript support in Suitcase but nothing really providing details of the syntax I needed for my project. While I’m a fairly good AppleScripter, the Suitcase dictionary wasn’t helping much. All I needed were some snippets to get me started.
Sure, I could E-mail Extensis technical support but that requires a login and then waiting for an answer. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll do this but I just wasn’t in the mood today. When you’re going gangbusters on something you don’t really want to stop. Forums are a great option too, but everything I found when searching for “AppleScript” returned results for Portfolio, another Extensis product.
Remembering an experience with VMWare, I looked for an Extensis Twitter account. Sure enough: http://twitter.com/extensis. Reading the tweets I saw a lot of dialog rather than marketing.
I tweeted:

@Extensis I’m an experienced AppleScript scripter but would like to see example snippets for Suitcase. Do you have a reference?

Wait and see.
Doing more research on some other forums I found one post that made my jaw drop:

Apr. 2, 2009

MacInTouch Reader

It should be noted that the latest version of Suitcase Fusion 2 v13 has NO Applescript support.

The previously strong scripting support has been completely removed and there is no replacement scripting support.

Without reading any further I decided to simply install a demo of v2 and use the Script Editor to look at the AppleScript dictionary. Sure enough, it didn’t have one. What the hell!?
Pissed off, I tweeted:

You’re kidding me @Extensis! You removed all AppleScript support from Fusion v2!? WTF!?

All I could think was that my plans for automating some tasks that I have to perform on nearly 100 machines a few times per month are now down the drain. What a let down from a company that’s always had a strong Mac presence for years!
Then during a meeting not more than 20 minutes later, I received an alert on my iPhone. I had a tweet from @Extensis:

@meck We provide scripting support for Suitcase Fusion’s font management core: http://bit.ly/cRItRR

Really now? Really? I tapped the link and viewed the first couple of pages of a PDF document detailing how to script both Suitcase Fusion v2 and the Universal Type Server client. Another tweet exchange with @Extensis and I learned that the scripting method was changed to offer cross-platform scripting. That just made me smile. I was really glad to eat my words.
Here’s what I like about offering support via Twitter.
I know a few folks, including myself sometimes, who offer support via Twitter. It’s not a framework for extensive communication. You can’t elaborate and you have to severely edit sometimes. Simple cordialities like “Hello”, “I hope you can help me”, “I’m really sorry to bother you” and “thank you in advance for your time” are snipped in favor of “just the facts, ma’am.”
This in turn makes offering support easier instead of more difficult. Help Desks that monitor E-mail accounts or answer telephones must often wade through incomplete details and even emotions that their customers inject into their messages. 140-character messages are faster to read and digest and 140-character answers are long enough to include straight-forward answers or even URLs to detailed answers. And the “respond” button is simpler to use than wading for an address or phone number that may or may not be buried in the details.
Help Desk 2.0 could make the future of the Help Desk so much more efficient. Imagine having an incoming tweet system monitored by multiple staffers. They can literally browse every incoming tweet and if one of the staffers can answer the question, he can flag it for himself and answer it.
All of this could happen in less than five to 10 minutes and the result is that the customer gets near instant gratification. A Twitter account that is “registered” with the Help Desk 2.0 staff would be as effective as an E-mail address, which often serves as verification of identity for low security situations.
So, Girish, please pass along my thanks to whomever your @Exensis tweeter is. For such a quick response I have to think it’s someone in support. Maybe someone on your Help Desk. Whomever it was that responded to me made my day, enough so to write all of this you’ve read. I’m so glad you’re using your Twitter account for something more than marketing fluff.

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