Category Archives: Our Company & Staff

Meet the people on the other end of the phone (or the email).

Aplogies to Our Loyal Readers

If you subscribe to the comments feed on this blog, or read them online, and have been seeing a lot of spam among them recently, we apologize! Somehow, our filter plug-in got disabled. We’ve fixed it now, and are in the process of upgrading our WordPress installation to get the very latest in security. Thanks to everyone who wrote us about the problem, and I hope it won’t happen again.

Uninstall Survey Winner!

amazon.jpgCongratulations to Chris, who won our most recent Uninstall Survey Drawing! As many of you know, when you uninstall one of our products it brings up a quick “Why are you uninstalling?” survey. As a thank you to those of you who take the time to fill this out for us, we draw a name randomly from the list of submitters and give away a $100 Amazon.com gift card. So congrats Chris! Hope you find something fun to buy!

 And on a Product Management note, I love this survey. I learn SO much about the people who are using our product from reading the comments posted in these. To other developers out there, it’s a wonderful way to learn about just what it is your customers want from the product!

Our Partner Store is Open

We’ve just started selling a few partner products – titles developed and maintained by other companies. You may have seen other of the mobile sites doing this already, and you’ll probably see more over the next few months. We’re still a pretty small industry, and at least some of us are trying to work more closely together and give each others’ titles some extra exposure and sales. Plus, like Amazon selling shoes and hairdryers (both of which I’ve bought from them recently), we’re hoping that our featuring other titles will make it easier for visitors to find what they want, even if we don’t make it ourselves.

The support for any partner products on our site will be provided by the company that makes it – PocketInformant by WebIS, 1-Calc by OmegaOne, etc. – but we’re only selling titles that we know are well supported, and that we know we can always reach the author of. The sales will go through the Handango engine that’s the backend for our own title’s store as well.

It’s an experiment – if it doesn’t work well for us, for our visitors, and for the other titles’ authors, we’ll take it down. If it does, we’ll add more titles. We’ll never turn into a big software portal – believe me that we’ll never turn into a big software portal – but we’re hoping we can expand just a little and help our our visitors as well as ourselves and our friends.

Thanksgiving Week

horn.gifWell, it’s Thanksgiving week in Michigan, and I think we’re all pretty thankful that we have jobs – way too many people around here don’t. As well as that people are still buying our software, that we’re still winning awards (we just won 3 Best Software Awards from Smartphone and Pocket PC Magazine, announced today), that the guy who broke in a few weeks ago only took the one laptop, and that our offices aren’t freezing all the time (unlike the last two). And for the internet, which made this all possible, and which has given us all so many new and improved ways to goof off. And of course for our customers, friends and supporters in the mobile world. We couldn’t have made it without you.

Order Like a Pirate

captainmarctassin.JPGAvast me hearties! As many of you lads and lasses know, today is International Talk Like A Pirate Day! And by Blackbeard’s braids, ya can’t be a pirate without the lure of treasure!

SO, today (and today only) call your order in by phone and get a 50% discount on any of our titles IF you order like a pirate! That’s right ya bunch a scallywags. Half-off just fer talkin’ like a pirate!

And don’t dilly dally ya bunch a layabouts! We set sail at 5:00 Eastern Time (I think that’s -4 GMT countin’ daylight savings), so the discount’s only available until then. And don’t go thinkin’ a piratey note in an online order will do it. Phone orders only!

What a Mess!

You may have seen my other post with a pic of how many PDAs there are on my desk. Well, there are still a lot of PDAs on my desk, and with all the support email and testing I do, it’s just hard to keep it clean:

A Messy Desk…

I’ve been trying to solve this problem for a while, and it’s compounded by a few things.

  • I need a lot of USB ports.
  • I need a lot of electrical sockets.
  • I need to be able to have people come and take devices away and bring them back.
  • I need it to be easy to use without getting in my way.

After a lot of finagling and a trip to the office supply store, I solved my problem with a box cutter, a mailing tube, and some shipping tape. (Why does this sound like the way MacGyver foils some enemy contraption?)

A clean desk!

Now, if only someone could tell me where I could get a 10 port USB hub…

More and More … it’s about Support

I’m in process of switching away from a program I’ve liked for many years. I’ve been thinking about it for a while, but a bad support experience was what pushed me off the fence. The support people weren’t rude, or even hard to reach; they just didn’t know the answer to my question, said they’d find out and get back to me, and never did.

More and more, I’m basing my buying decisions on support. I dropped Vonage for VOIP because their support was clearly outsourced and had no idea what they were doing. I don’t mind outsourced, but I do mind not giving support people enough information to answer questions, or enough authority to solve problems. I’ll never buy anything from Dell again for the same reason. Their PCs are fine, their prices can’t be beat, but their customer service people can’t fix a problem, and can’t even escalate it to someone who can.

For software – I have to be able to get support. I depend way too much on software working to put up with no reply to my email messages, no followup on problems, or no way to know my message has even been received. My work, my personal info, my conversations: I depend on software, and on the safety net of knowing I can get help if I need it. I won’t buy a bad product with good support, but there’s a lot of good software in the world. I won’t – and don’t have to – settle for anything but good support.

We do phone support here – tollfree in the U.S. – and while it’s one of our biggest expenses, there’s no way we’ll drop it. Yes, it takes more time to talk to someone on the phone than to email them, but when someone needs help, we want to provide it, whatever it takes. And email is not always the best way to communicate, or even always a reliable way. No matter how good our email sending is, if someone can’t receive it, the communication doesn’t happen.

Kevin and Lee - our friendly and helpful support people

I’m proud of a number of things we’ve accomplished in the last 10 years, and high on the list is the killer support we provide. I’ve heard some of the conversations, and I’m always impressed. If every company – software or otherwise – had as good support as we do, things would be a lot easier for everyone. And I think that many, many people – the people who actually use, need and call the support lines – would be a lot less stressed and angry so much of the time.

We’ve Made It – 10 Years!!

10hat-big.gifI can’t believe it – Ilium Software has been in business 10 years.

We’ve grown to 9 fulltime (or close) employees.

We’ve released 12 products, discontinued 5, and converted 2 to freeware. We also have 8 currently supported free titles.

We’ve rented 4 different offices, as our space requirements changed, or needs of the people renting us space changed.

We’ve used 6 different web hosting companies, 5 different merchant services (credit card) providers, plus at least 39 different distributors (in our database, 9 are flagged as “gone”, 11 as “discontinued”, one as “should be gone” and one as “don’t ask”. I’m not sure why, but I’d bet it was me who wrote that).

We’ve somehow survived any number of stupid mistakes, made a few brilliant decisions, and had a lot of good luck and help from our friends.

Thanks to everyone who helped make this amazing milestone possible.