for April 2021
Here is a quick run-down on what you will find in this bulletin:
These topics will be dealt with in more detail throughout this
Make Sure You Know How
Your Phone Sounds To Others
Last month I ranted about gmail putting the emails from compulife.com into the spam folders of those who have gmail accounts. It's just another example of how "big tech" takes the "hi-tech" tools that we have all embraced for doing business, and then messes up those tools to make our lives miserable. I'll leave the political "cancel culture" issue aside, which has shown how untrustworthy big tech can be, but talk about another example of a "hi-tech" problem that you need to think about. I believe this creates a lot of problems that are self inflicted.
At Compulife we have not given up our old "copper" telephone land lines or systems. Yes, I know that there are VOIP alternatives that are cheaper, but I don't trust the new technology combined with other things that we see going on. This is especially true where people's internet services can be canceled on the whim of "big tech". I don't trust "big tech" and I sure don't trust the internet. Our phones are NOT connected to the internet. If the internet goes down, you can still call us, unless you are using an internet phone.
Back to phones. If you call me on my phone and I can't hear you clearly because you sound far away, or the sound is distorted, do NOT be surprised if I stop the conversation to ask you about the technology that you are using. I will typically ask if you are on a headset, a speaker phone or a cell phone. Why? Because I think that most of YOUR customers will be "too polite" to say anything to you about the fact that you sound like crap (I'm talking about your technology).
Like Compulife, I KNOW that you make money by being on the phone with your customers. I believe it HURTS your ability to do business if you sound like crap; particularly with new prospects who don't really know you. If I raise this issue if you call, I am not trying to be a jerk, I think a good business person wants to know if they don't sound crystal clear. I remember the good old days when it was all land lines, and everyone virtually sounded the same - they sounded good on the phone. Then along came modern technology...
After interrupting a customer, and asking why the call sounds bad, it is NOT uncommon to find out that the problem is the headset being used by the subscriber. Once the customer unplug's the headset, and talks directly into the phone, the problem is gone.
I am a pretty active political volunteer and when I am engaged in campaigning (as I am now) I will typically spend 3 hours in the evening making volunteer phone calls. I grind out about 200 per night and talk to about 20 people per night. You can bet I used a headset but I don't use a wireless. Mine provides full ear cover (both ears; I don't want to be distracted by other sounds) and the headset has boom microphone (a good one) that puts the microphone right in front of my mouth. It is connected to my old (non-digital) phone, through an old "Plantronics" headset amplifier with volume controls for both my ears and also one for my microphone. I set the volume levels by calling people I know and getting them to do a sound check with me. The setup is relatively bullet proof.
No one will hang up on people quicker than people getting a call from a political volunteer. It's even worse than I remember when I spent time calling people and prospecting to sell insurance (in the last century). SOUND QUALITY when you are talking to new prospects is really, really important. If they can't hear you easily it's just another reason to hang up on you or refuse to talk to you. Make sure you sound good. If in doubt, have your wife or a friend use your headset and call you on a different phone. See what they sound like.
Back to those I stop to ask about their phones. Sometimes I am told that the person is using a speaker phone. Folks, speaker phones are NOT good. When I flew as a private pilot we wore headsets in the airplane. Why? So we could clearly hear the radio transmissions, and so our transmissions were clearly heard. Listening to the speaker inside the plane was NEVER as good and every other noise is distracting. And that speaker on your speaker phone also has your microphone and too many people don't pay attention and keep the microphone close enough to their mouth when they talk. The speaker microphone can also pick up all the other sounds around you, including your echo in the room, and it can be miserable listening to someone speaking on a speaker phone microphone. These are ALL problems I routinely encounter with people using speaker phones, and it makes the person you are talking to feel like they are NOT important enough to receive your complete attention. If you can't hold the phone to your head, and you talk for long periods on the phone, get a headset. Once again, GET A GOOD ONE that covers your ears so you can't hear other people and be distracted from the call that you are making or taking. Make sure the headset sounds good. Did I mention I don't like speaker phones?
Another big problem is bad cell phone connections. If you call me and you sound bad, and you are NOT using a speaker phone or headset, either of which corrects the problem when you stop using it, then it is often a bad cell phone connection. In that case I will take the customer's number and call the customer back to see if that fixes the problem. If it was a cell phone, that usually fixes the problem although I have had to make 2 or 3 calls to finally get a clear connection.
Anyway, all of that to say that the further advanced our technology seems to be, the more flaky and unreliable it also seems to be. In the case of the telephone technology that you are using, you need to be aware of it and take steps to minimize problems with it. Don't lose a sale because you sound like crap.
And I will close by pointing out that if it seems at times that Compulife is "old school" there is a VERY good reason for it. We have been around long enough to remember when "old school" was much more reliable and reliability is a big part of what we sell and provide to our subscribers.
Are You Backing Up Your Files?
As I was drafting this bulletin on the weekend I had an emergency contact from one of our internet engine users who was panicked because his server was hacked and he had to replace all the files that had been on the old server, including those used in conjunction with our internet engine. He was having trouble trying to get the files working.
During the course of our conversation I explained that is why Compulife purchases internet service from about 4 different internet provider services, and operates sites separately for each of those servers, usually with complete duplicates on more than one server. Why? That way, if a server goes down, we can just point the domain name to another server, and we are back up until we resolve whatever problem was occurring with the server that failed (in fairness, they rarely do). He said he has now learned his lesson and will be doing that also.
I have told other customers that story and they are unimpressed. They say they have bought "cloud" servers that automatically duplicate their sites on multiple servers. Sounds good, but here's the problem. Once something has been hacked and damaged, then that problem gets duplicated across the cloud. Backups of damaged files are still damaged files.
That is why if you backup the hard disks on your PC computer to a second hard disk, you really need a third or a fourth hard disk used in rotation to ensure that if you have a problem on your hard drive, you aren't duplicating the problem over the top of what had been a good copy of the hard drive before the problem occurred.
But that takes time and effort, which no one likes and I don't like it either. But once you lose something, you will know why you need to do it.
CQS.EXE The Build Continues
Last month our programmer made excellent progress developing the new menu and client entry system for the new Windows program. While we have nothing that we can show you yet, that will come relatively quickly. The design is settled at this point, and we are now building and debugging the various menu items making sure that each connects correctly to the old screens in our existing software.
NOTE: While the menu and client screen will be changing in this first version, and while those will look different and be organized differently (hopefully simpler and better), other elements or our software like the comparison window or Pick 12 windows will work EXACTLY as they do now.
The purpose of this step by step process if to get your feedback before we get too deep into the development of the new software. We will want your input and expect to learn a great deal from that input. And customer responses always inspire us to come up with further changes and innovations that address common issues and concerns.
We lost about a week of development time in March as a result of a series of new products that one of the Canadian life insurance companies is introducing to the market. Often times Canadian companies will look for new ways to innovate products that add tremendous amounts of complexity, or which take a new tact at doing something different than any other company that we have seen before. In this case we ran into both things, and have had to make changes to our program to address those innovations.
We will have more to say about that in our Canadian midmonth update, once the company has officially rolled out their new product line, but we are trying to avoid making such changes at this time because we are trying to get to and complete the overhaul of our data structure, something that has been LONG OVERDUE. Originally we were going to do the overhaul of the data structure, and then release a new version of the software to go with it. We decided to break the revisions to the program into two stages, making the first stage compatible with the OLD data structure, then introduce a new data structure that takes over from the old, and then finish the overhaul of the new program that talks to the new data structure.
In retrospect I am confident this is the right way to do this, as it will give us a longer transition period between old and new, which will give us more time to address feedback from you.
There Will Be a Careful Transition
You will not initially be FORCED to use the new program, but it will be available. Later the old program will stop and ask you if you would like to try the new program. Later the new program will replace the old program but you will still be able to go back to the old program as an option. Eventually the old program will disappear, and you will be forced to use the new program. That will NOT happen until the data overhaul is complete, and we are satisfied that the new system works as well as the old system.
We are rolling out the new interface before the overhaul to the data structure to give you time to adjust to it, and for us to fine tune it and modify it based upon YOUR feedback. While this is Compulife's software and you need to learn the way we do it, to another very real degree this is your software. We want to hear from you because YOU are the person using the software and we want to make it a good fit for you. That is a process we have engaged in for the last 39 years, and we are not about to change a winning formula now.
Our Current Programming Plans for 2021
The following is the current order for new work that we will be doing in 2021:
Introduction of New PC Version: CQS.EXE
Overhaul Of Current Product Data Files
Introduction of Compulife Basic Plus (with Pick 12)
Anyone with questions about any of these upcoming projects can call Bob Barney to discuss:
Please don't email me essay questions, just call. If I'm not in, email me your phone number, I'll call you.
These planned objectives will easily consume our programming time during 2021. The good news is that once the product data files have been converted, and we have introduced the new CQS.EXE, and upgraded our internet engine to use the new data files, Compulife will be turning it's full attention to our web based, Compulife Basic software. The long term goal is to have a web based product that does everything our PC based software does.