Posts Tagged 'feedback'

One User Per Week, featuring Stew Goss

by Maggie Ronan

For my One User Per Week chat this week, I spoke with Ralph “Stew” Goss, a loyal Xobni user since learning about our Outlook product back when Bill Gates demoed it during his keynote at the MS Office Developers Conference:

Stew Goss

Since February, Stew has been wearing many hats as an Application Specialist, Programmer, and IT wizard at the Portland, ME office of Redlon & Johnson, one of the nation’s leading wholesale distributors of industrial products.  Ever the evangelist, Stew told me one of his early moves there was to introduce his new Outlook-using coworkers to Xobni.  A highly technical data buff himself, Stew likes to share his appreciation for the power of Xobni’s approach to email search.  When he installs the software on new users’ machines, two of his favorite features to show off are Xobni’s attachment-finding speed and how you can zero in on a particular email by person, rather than typing in a keyword and choosing amongst every instance of that word in your email corpus.

Around the world with Xobni Analytics

At a previous organization, Stew worked in international customer service, frequently providing support on projects centered as far away as Korea and China.  With this extreme time zone difference came various logistical challenges, including an email schedule that caused his Outlook inbox to fill up during sleeping hours.  Rather than being daunted by this asynchronous flow of correspondence, Stew realized he had just the tool to manage it intelligently: Xobni Analytics!  When he read an email from a particular contact, he would take note of his or her sending patterns to get a sense of what time the contact was most likely to open his response.  Instead of constantly adding and subtracting hours to account for time zones, Stew said he could use the graphs* in Xobni Analytics to gauge the response time required and manage his work flow: if it was likely the middle of the night at his contact’s home base, “I knew I could wait until the end of the day to respond.”  This way, Stew could figure out which contacts would be apt to see his response first, and prioritize his emails accordingly.

Please sir, may I have some more Actions?

Stew was overall very satisfied by his experience with Xobni, but when pressed for constructive criticism, he did come forth with the suggestion that we could perhaps take better advantage of the “Actions” tab in the Xobni extensions panel.  Currently the actions available to users there are “Schedule time with…” (which auto-generates an email to set up a meeting with your contact with your availability as represented in your Outlook calendar) and “Email…” (which…well, opens a compose window so you can email that contact), and there is some unused space underneath the options shown there.  It’s interesting to think of ways we could capitalize on that spare real estate–keep an eye on that tab to see how that area develops, and if there are more actions you’d like to see available in the Xobni sidebar, do let us know.

In addition to his day job as a Xobni evangel–err, Application Specialist, Stew also runs GuruTech, a business that specializes in creating scripted products and doing custom work in Second Life.  Thanks Stew, for the great conversation.

If you’re interested in being featured in our One User Per Week blog series just comment on this post, and I’ll get in touch with you.  Phone calls are about 30 minutes long, generally pain-free, and have even been described by participants with words such as “enlightening,” “interesting,” “useful,” …and some even go so far as to say “fun.”

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*Even if you don’t actively use Xobni Analytics in the sidebar tab or popout window, it’s working for you every time you perform a search.  Your contacts’ Xobni Ranks dictate the order in which they appear in search results in the Xobni sidebar and in which they are AutoSuggested to you in the compose window (if you’re using Xobni Plus).

One User Per Week, featuring Koni Konigsberg

Koni Konigsberg

I recently had the pleasure of chatting with Koni Konigsberg, Director of Operations at ROW Adventures, for this week’s One User Per Week interview.  After years of trip leading for the adventure travel company, Koni moved to the full-time position he currently holds, in which he coordinates the day-to-day operations of the Coeur d’Alene, Idaho*-based outfit.  Being Director if Operations involves a much-increased volume of admin work–including, inevitably, a ton of emailing.

Organizing email contacts, in and out of the water

Koni manages a group of full-time employees and seasonal trip leaders that tops out between 40 and 50 people.  Since a large number of the guides is on the road and in the water for rafting trips during the summer, he relies on email to coordinate this staff and ROW’s clients, to the point which he reports, like many of our users: “I live in Outlook.”  In the past, his method of organizing his email was to keep an individual Outlook folder for each employee and distributor he contacted, which required a lot of continuous maintenance on his part.  Xobni has totally changed his email habits since he discovered it a couple of years ago when Lifehacker gave away invites to our limited beta.  He now keeps only three folders: “Distributors,” “Guides,” and “Employees.”   Many Xobni users have reported doing away with Outlook folders altogether.

Keeping track of transients

While having a highly active group of guides clearly has its advantages for leading trips, it can be difficult to keep in touch with members of his staff in the off season, when they are often off on non-ROW-related adventures.  Yearly activities like sending birthday cards (and equally thrilling W-2 forms) used to be tricky when a guide changed email addresses and his manually-entered snail mail address from the Outlook address book was lost.  However, Koni has found that Xobni makes wintertime contact with his guides much easier, since by merging individual profiles as their contact info changes, he can keep an uninterrupted record of all of the communication he has had with them.  He’s also come to appreciate the Facebook friendships he was initially hesitant to accept from his guides, since he can see the cool stuff they’ve been up to in off season while he’s finding their contact info in Outlook.

Feature request: integration of companies’ social media profiles

Koni had a few interesting feature requests, including one in particular that struck a chord with me, since it applies to growing a company’s following across social media.  While he enjoys seeing the Twitter and Facebook streams of his individual Xobni contacts, he finds he’s often also interested in the social media action of his contact’s company, rather than just personal info.  Koni suggested that Xobni offer an option to set a contact’s profile to show her company’s Twitter and/or Facebook fan page stream, and perhaps the ability to toggle between the individual and company profiles.  I’d love to see this kind of functionality be added to the product.

It was great talking to Koni about his experience with Xobni.  If you’re interested in hearing more about ROW Adventures, check out their Facebook fan page.  And, as always, if you’re interested in being interviewed for One User Per Week (and gaining eternal Internet glory, as well as a free Xobni t-shirt), comment on this post and let me know.

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*If you’re looking for a beautiful, slightly-off-the-beaten-path spot to visit in the U.S., you could do a lot worse than Coeur d’Alene.  “Barbara Walters called the city ‘a little slice of Heaven’ and included it in her list of most fascinating places to visit.”

One User Per Week BlackBerry Edition, feat. Nan Palmero

nan palmero fw

Now that the public has had access to Xobni for BlackBerry for a few weeks, I thought it would be an opportune moment to feature a user of the new mobile app in our One User Per Week blog series.  I asked Tyler, who heads up our alpha forum, to put out an interview request to those who had been testers, and I was surprised that I recognized the name of the first respondent: Nan Palmero, the winner of last year’s holiday letter-writing contest.  Eager to learn more about Nan and hear a seasoned Xobni for Outlook user’s thoughts on Xobni for BlackBerry, I gave him a call this morning.

Many email accounts, many contacts

Nan’s day job is “Chief Inspiration Officer” at Sales By 5, a position in which, as the name suggests, he performs many typical duties of a CIO, including evaluating new technology for the company (not coincidentally, everyone there uses Xobni for Outlook), as well as internal and external team building, crafting marketing messages for clients, and a variety of other roles.  As though playing the part of inspiring all of the employees within his organization as well as clients doesn’t keep him (and his BlackBerry) busy enough, Nan also works as a contributing writer for BlackBerry Cool, a leading blog within the BB community.  With unique email accounts from these two positions, as well as a personal Gmail account, all feeding into his BlackBerry, staying on top of saving contact information in the phone is a real pain point for him.  While the BlackBerry itself only keeps email from the last 60 days, Nan observed that Xobni’s ability to bring in contact info from all historical email allows users to “do a deep dive and find the contact that was otherwise lost.”

Dodge awkward phone calls with Xobni for BlackBerry!

I asked Nan if there had been any instances during his use of Xobni for BlackBerry when it really came through for him in a notable way, and he did indeed have a story to share.  Recently he needed to arrange a lunch with an acquaintance with whom he knew he had exchanged emails in the past and whose contact info he could have sworn he had saved.  When he went to email her, her address was not autopopulating, and Nan feared that he would have to call her up and do the ol’ “I know we’ve emailed each other before, but I can’t…seem…to find…your address…” call.  Instead, Nan remembered that Xobni could pull up her email address instantly, even though he hadn’t saved it, and bam!–lunch scheduled, via email, and the world saw one fewer awkward phone call.

It was especially cool to hear Nan’s perspective on the BlackBerry app development process, as he is a BlackBerry power user as well as an alpha tester of Xobni for BB.  We really appreciate the support we get from him and all enthusiastic Xobni users–in fact, we count on it in order for our products to succeed.  If you’re interested in participating in a One User Per Week interview, leave a comment on this post, and I’ll be in touch.

One User Per Week–Revived!, featuring Mason Carpenter

Last year we began a blog series called “One User Per Week” in which Xobni users graciously allowed our co-founder Matt to pick their brains about their relationship with Xobni, including how they found out about us, the capacity in which they use our products, their favorite Xobni tips and tricks, and the top feature requests they have for us.  We had some great conversations and learned a ton from our users, but then got a little distracted*, and One User Per Week went on hiatus.

Well, today, I am pleased to announce: hiatus ended.  The One User Per Week blog series is being revived—and version 2.0 will include such enhanced features as a consistent schedule, posts addressing new Xobni products in addition to our Outlook sidebar, and a new author (err, that’s a feature alteration, rather than an enhancement 🙂 ).  I’m excited to take over the reins and get an in-depth understanding of how individuals make use of Xobni.  And so, without further adieu, let’s jump right into One User Per Week: The New Class.

mcarpenter

Mason Carpenter, Professor at Univ. of Wisconsin School of Business

My phone call last week with Mason Carpenter, Professor of Management and Human Resources at the University of Wisconsin School of Business, was a great jump-restart to One User Per Week.  We’ve never featured someone who works in higher education before, so I was eager to hear about how Xobni is getting put to use in a university setting, and Mason is an engaged Xobni evangelist, so it was great to hear about how he’s been spreading the word about Xobni, as well as how he sees it fitting in as a tool in the online social networking landscape.

The hunt for the “Ultimate Aggregator”

Mason is very interested in social networking and in particular, tools that incorporate social media into business.  He has a bold dream that one day he’ll encounter the “Ultimate Aggregator”, in which all of the information he is looking for about an individual is just there.  That dream is something that our company and Mason have in common, so it was pretty wonderful to hear him say that currently Xobni “is the closest thing I have to one-stop shopping.”  We’re working hard on becoming the Ultimate Address Book, so that “the closest thing I have to” will be omitted in future utterances of that statement.

Attachment magic: “It’s just there.”

The volume of email Mason manages working at an educational institution (over 100 non-junk email messages daily) qualifies him for the dually elite and painful categorization we refer to as Email Power User.  So while he initially was attracted to our Outlook sidebar, which he heard about through a friend at McKinsey & Co., for its social media integration, he has found Xobni’s search capabilities invaluable for hunting through his historical email.  He noted that he has become especially dependent on Xobni’s ability to find attachments: Mason, like most Outlook users, used to take for granted that finding an old attachment exchanged with a contact would be a pain.  With Xobni, he reported, “it’s just there.”  Again, that’s exactly our goal—you shouldn’t have to think about the right syntax to construct your search to get the information you need, it should just be there.

For recruiters, Xobni profile = instant snapshot of a candidate’s web presence

When I spoke with him, Mason was looking forward to a talk he’s giving in April to 100+ HR professionals who work in MBA recruiting.  He was excited about the prospect of sharing Xobni with this group, since, in addition to the major productivity boost Xobni provides its users in general, its social network integration makes Xobni specifically valuable for recruiters, in that it can instantly get them a snapshot of a candidate’s web presence.  By now, most of us know that recruiters often evaluate candidates’ online footprints to weed through the tremendous volume of applicants they encounter daily, and Mason confirmed for me that a basic Google search** is one of the top tools for this group of professionals.

One trouble with getting info about a candidate this way is that sorting through the search results to find ones that pertain to the specific person you’re looking for (particularly in the case of more common names) can wind up being a pretty time-consuming task.  Spending 5 minutes to enter a candidate’s name into a search engine (and maybe Facebook, LinkedIn, & Twitter) manually and then comb through to find relevant results might not seem like that much time, but apply that process to 20, 50, 100 candidates and suddenly you’re talking about serious time.   It was exhilarating to explore this use case with Mason because he had some really good insight into how using Xobni could improve this process for recruiters.  We’ve gained a lot of traction in the HR community already, and I’m excited to hear about how Mason’s presentation of Xobni will be received in his talk next month.

It was a pleasure to chat with Mason, and I’m looking forward to talking to more users for future OUPW posts.  If you’re interested in having your Xobni experience featured on the blog, please let me know by commenting on this post (be sure to leave your email…which will not be visible to anyone but our blog admins), and I’ll get in touch with you.

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*In our defense, we’ve had a lot to be distracted by during that time, including the release of Xobni Plus, Xobni Enterprise, and most recently, Xobni for BlackBerry and Xobni One.  But enough excuses—I’m willing to bet that we’ll be able to release some hot new products and maintain this blog series at the same time going forward.

**As a side note, if you haven’t noticed before, we have a Google search bar integrated into our Outlook client, should you want more info from the web than what’s already presented in the Xobni profile you’re viewing,: Search bar screenshot

Announcing Work Smart Wednesdays: Our First-Ever Live Twitter Q&A!

Twitter in Outlook with Xobni

At Xobni, we’ve dedicated ourselves to helping you work smarter, not harder, by developing powerful email products to reduce the time you spend digging around your inbox so you can focus on…well, whatever it is you were actually hired to do (we assume it wasn’t to search unsuccessfully in Outlook 🙂 ).

In the years we’ve spent in this space, we’ve accumulated quite a bit of knowledge about email and workplace productivity in general, and rather than sit on what we know, we want to share it with you, our valuable users.  To that end, we’re excited to announce our first-ever Live Twitter Q&A, during which we’ll spend a concentrated hour fielding as many of your questions as we can.  We hope you’ll join us for our inaugural Work Smart Wednesday:


Xobni Live Twitter Q&A
Work Smart Wednesday, March 3rd
11:30AM-12:30PM PST

It’s easy to join the conversation: Direct your questions to @xobni and end them with the hashtag #WorkSmarter between 11:30AM and 12:30PM PST this Wednesday.  Questions tweeted using Xobni’s Twitter extension will receive priority, so if you can, post your questions from Xobni.

If you’re not available then, write your question on Twitter or as a comment on this blog post (please tag with #WorkSmarter and keep it <140 characters) ahead of time, and we’ll answer as many of those as time permits during the Q&A as well.

Example:

  • BillGates: @xobni I want to impress my coworkers with my taste in Outlook tools–what’s the easiest way to invite them to use Xobni? #WorkSmarter

  • Xobni: To @BillGates Open up the Xobni Options menu and click “Invite Users”. Select your invitees there & get a chance to win Xobni Plus for free!

Of course, we’re always listening to you on Twitter (you should take a moment to follow us if you haven’t already), but we’re especially excited to dedicate this entire hour just to answering your top questions.  Get your questions ready, and we’ll see you there!

Priority Beta Invites Have Begun

Following our launch at TechCrunch 40, we initiated a program by which Xobni supporters could gain priority access to the invite-only beta program by placing the “Xobni for my inbox” badge on their blog.

Xobni outlook add-in for your inbox

A few hundred Xobni loyalists have done this and yesterday we sent out invites to the first 50. If you are one of these priority beta users: thank you and we hope you are enjoying Xobni Insight.

We will continue to ship invites to the rest of the priority beta users over the next week. If you haven’t signed up already, there is still time to become a part of this group and gain priority access to the beta. Please follow the simple steps at http://www.xobni.com/priority to join.

We are looking forward to a wider release of Xobni soon. This closed beta period has allowed us to interact closely with our beta users and has been very helpful as we scale our software and our team to handle the challenges ahead. Last week we posted a blog post about the support issues and feedback we’ve been receiving. This is a good example of why the closed beta period is so valuable.

Priority beta users, please help us improve Xobni by filling out the user study survey we sent in the invitation email. As always, we love hearing your questions, thoughts, feedback, and bug reports. Please send your emails to support@xobni.com and feedback@xobni.com.

Heaven of the email world

Many Xobni users have taken the time to send messages of thanks and praise. We’ve enjoyed them so much that we’ve decided to post some quotes on our blog. Here are a few of our favorites:

“After a couple of days I am hooked. I used to struggle with email organization, but with Xobni it’s now easy to find an email from three weeks ago and see what my reply was.”

– Michelle Howard

“I could attempt to describe how I feel about the email software you have designed and how it is benefiting my team and me with regards to efficiency in a drawn-out, sophisticated, wordsmith-ish explanation. However, I’ll sum it up rather direct and to the point: this $!@* is *!!%# awesome. Seriously, Xobni is the heaven of the email world, and your team members are the angels.

Keeping up with the files and document exchanges between every contact was such a pain previously. Now I simply type in the name of the person I am on the phone with into the Xobni search box, and right there is a list of every document that has been exchanged between the two of us. “Yes, Luis, I did get that Market Opportunities document,” instead of, “hold on, let me look…no, not in that email…nope, not in that one either. Hold on….,” etc., etc.”

– Brandon Mullins, CEO BookMesh Inc

“This is a terrific product!!! I downloaded and installed it yesterday and have become addicted to using it for my searches, analysis, and am even using it as the primary reading pane.”
– Ajay Singh

“It’s fantastic how you managed to improve Outlook, giving users useful features (files exchanged, conversations, …) and information (top time to send a mail in order to get an answer quickly). I’m really fond of your ‘plug-in’ and my colleagues are too…”
– David Weinachter

“I really like it, lots of innovative details (who would have thought there’d be room for improvement given how long Outlook has been around). “Conversations” and “Files Exchanged” are very useful and are complimentary to desktop search tools. LOVE how the most recently viewed e-mail stays displayed when going to Calendar or Contacts. This alone is worth a plug-in!”

– Brent Edwards, Ph.D.
Executive Director, Starkey Hearing Research Center

“I’ve used every plug-in from Auto-mate, to Anagram, to Lookout and Google and I have to say, I’m impressed so far with your features.”
– Matt Wyndowe, Facebook

“Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaawesome! Do I need to say more?”
– Ovande

We would love to hear more about how you are using Xobni and what you would like to see in future releases. As always, feel free to email us at feedback@xobni.com.

Thanks as always!

Skyler, Xobni Support Team


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About Xobni

Xobni’s contact management products offer lightning fast email search and organization of your inbox, as well as an innovative and comprehensive address book for the mobile device.

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