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Archive for User Spotlight

Delightful Collaboration VI: Getting Right-Brain Friendly

Marney MakridakisI first really made the acquaintance of Marney Makridakis of artellaland.com about one week into her trial, when she sent a lengthy email containing about a dozen questions about CoachAccountable.  Pretty much all of them were of the hard-hitting variety: questions that came from savvy about the how the system worked and thus whose purpose was to push for more.

Marney got right to the point:

Hello. I’m a new user (currently on the trial) with a handful of questions.  I’m starting with about 30 clients, though in the future I may have more than that, as I may be planning a Team setup, where I can supervise my coaches’ coaching – in which case I would have a pretty robust team system.

My questions are below. Some of these may be more along the categories of “wish list” items – but perhaps you might be able to direct me through a workaround for things my client and I might try.  If a phone call is easier for providing support, let me know and I’m happy to call over phone

I opted for the phone call–actually chatting with a coach is way more fun than banging out a detailed email in solitude.  As luck would have it, the answers to a few of her questions were already in my immediate plans and would soon be released (Action Projects and Client Exports).  For the other things we got deep into the nitty gritty of flow (eliminate all emails flying back and forth and have it all instead in-system), scale (manage a large pool of clients in a very high-touch manner), groups (lots of group interaction, collaboration, and sharing), and user comfort (having system be friendly for creative and very visually oriented types).

» Continue reading “Delightful Collaboration VI: Getting Right-Brain Friendly”

Hanging with Kelly Talamo

The first two times I met with CoachAccountable users it was while I was abroad: John Kentworthy early last year in Singapore, and David Frank Gomes a few months ago in Vancouver.

Kelly TalamoThis time I had the luxury of a CoachAccountable user coming to me, and in my own country no less!  Kelly Talamo was in town from New Orleans for the day, and wanted to make a morning of meeting me at a coffee shop in my neighborhood.

In early September Kelly emailed me the following in response to CA’s birthday announcement:

Thanks for sharing this killer news.
I’m so grateful for you and your system.  It’s totally been a gift for me.

My business continues to grow — even more than when we spoke last. I’m about to swap out some old clients for new ones and also about to bring one of my clients into a team environment.  I’ve mentored a gal who’s becoming the “lead coach” in one of my companies and when I walk out the door they are committed to their own Coach Accountable system.  :)

So business is great for me — but will be even better for you!  Having said all of that –  I have a confession (of sorts) to make. That is — as well as I’m doing in my coaching and consulting — I’m not where I should be (knowledge-wise or practically) on Coach Accountable.  I’m so busy growing people – and creating solutions for my clients – I’m sort of “neglecting me.”  Not totally — but in this area.

So – I had a special request that I’d like to run by you.

I may be coming to Denver to spend time with a friend — and I was wondering if you and I could perhaps meet at a coffee shop – where ever you are and spend about 2-3 hours where you could walk me through some of this. I know this is kind of ‘special treatment’ – and I’d be happy to pay for your time — but it’s also how I learn the best.

Would you consider that?

It’s always a treat to meet the folks who use my system, so I was immediately keen.  As I’ve mentioned before, I can’t buy market research better than experiences like this.

» Continue reading “Hanging with Kelly Talamo”

Customer Raves: Michael Leahy

It was last fall when I first made the acquaintance of Michael Leahy of BraveHearts on the telephone, and since then he’s been one of CoachAccountable’s most discerning power users.

His thorough use of Groups and Courses have pushed the platform forward, and his perspective and insight of what would be useful have lead to an impressively high rate of his feature requests ultimately making it into the system1.

One of our more recent exchanges led to the creation and launch of Client Engagement Reports, and as with so many other bouts of his feedback CA is better for it.

In June Michael was kind enough to favor CoachAccountable with a testimonial.  I usually prefer kind words regarding CoachAccountable to be more about the software than about me (because the software should stand on its own merits, right?), but I suppose the customer support aspect of CA is worth touting now and then (and my wife will tell you I spend a lot of time on that part of the business!)

Take it away, Michael.


Michael LeahyIf you are a successful coach or mentor and you’re looking for a best practices, leading edge platform to work with, look no further. As a discriminating and hard to please  technology industry veteran of 20 years, I spent YEARS trying to find a robust, fully functional solution for my mentoring practice that integrated appointment management AND client/practice management tools, AND that also offered excellent, responsive support. The winner hands down is John Larson and Coach Accountable

Rarely have I encountered an application developer like John who is so level headed, responsive and easy to work with. He truly believes in his product and loves his work, and it shows. And while I don’t always get my way re- new feature requests (who does), when it comes to fixing those inevitable software bugs or adding that logical functionality that might have been overlooked in a new software release, I’ve never met anyone more capable or responsive as John has been.

So let me save you a lot of wasted time and effort searching to and fro for a rock solid coaching/mentoring platform from which to grow your practice – choose CoachAccountable and spend more time doing what we all love and really want to do – coaching and mentoring!

Respectfully,
Michael Signature

Note:

  1. I welcome coaches who are using the system in earnest to weigh in on what would make the platform even better for them.  I don’t act on all of them because every new feature comes at a cost of complexity and dilution of other features, but ideas that I recognize to be widely useful among coaches generally make it in eventually.

CoachAccountable in Review: Session Documentation

In addition to the testimonial she so generously provided last month, Twila Gates offered to write a mini series reviewing the various features of CoachAccountable as a way to share with other coaches her experiences and how she’s made it serve her practice so well.

Recently I’ve had a few requests for a CoachAccountable user’s group, and until that’s ready I imagine Twila’s accounts make a fitting way to fill some of that void.

Twila has opted to start with the basics for her first piece, and herein describes CoachAccountable’s documentation of coaching sessions.  Take it away, Twila!

» Continue reading “CoachAccountable in Review: Session Documentation”

Gettin’ Pictorial

Last week my wife and I were in Vancouver enjoying a little getaway, during which I had my second international face-to-face with a CoachAccountable customer.  This time it was David Frank Gomes of Life Compass Coaching.

Relative to the timeline of CoachAccountable, David and I go way back.  He was one of the very first people checking it out with whom I chatted on the phone, one of my early attempts to convey in words the how and why of the system.  This was in November of 2012, just over 2 months into CA’s public existence.

I think the job I did of convincing him was good but not great in that green period of my sales call ability: it wasn’t until 5 months later that David came back as a full-fledged user of the system, but to my delight he’s been a vocal fan ever since.

During our visit we talked of Team Edition’s imminent release, our mutual paths as entrepreneurs in the coaching space, and David’s experience of using CA for his year+.  For David’s practice though he loves the system he finds a lot of its mechanics (for example of Metrics and Actions) to be cold, uninspiring, a little too right-brained.  For his sake, he told me, he’d love to give his clients a more visual experience: something to viscerally inspire the dynamic process that dealing with life’s issues and ambitions generally is, and communicate more than just numbers and graphs.

“Like sharing images,” he said, “yes I can upload it as a file to share with the client and put it in their Files tab, but then they have to click through and download it to their machine and open it.  It’s clunky.  It would be nice to see them just appear in the Stream tab.”

» Continue reading “Gettin’ Pictorial”

Customer Raves: Twila Gates, RN

It was back in September when I put out a call from some of my favorite early adopters of CoachAccountable for a testimonial, something tidy to fit in to the then under constructions testimonials section of the CA homepage.  Some I heard back from immediately, others took a little while, still others I never heard back from (it’s cool, goodness knows it’s a serious favor, and not anyone’s job to do my marketing for me).

Twila Gates, Senior Credentialed ADHD coach of the ADHD Success Network lovingly let me know that time was tight but she’d get back to me.

Today she got back to me, and then some.  I’m delighted and humbled by the way-above-the-call-of-duty missive she has written, which I share with you now.  Twila, take it away.

» Continue reading “Customer Raves: Twila Gates, RN”

Ode to Squeaky Wheels

I got a bit of feedback recently regarding the management of Groups, in particular managing a large number of them.  As of about a week ago Groups were listed in the order in which you created them, and one of my customers suggested it might be nice to have the most recently created on the top of the page, rather than at the bottom.

I thought about it for a minute and realized this was worth handling quickly.  To her I said:

Hmm…

Good call!  Perhaps I need to add the ability to sort groups so you’ve got total control.  Give me a minute! :)

John

Perhaps most important in this communication wast the postscript:

PS: I love that you guys, as power users, are so up on giving me feedback.  CoachAccountable is better for it!

Her reply:

Thanks! Glad you are cool with it :) Some time I feel like a pain…

A pain?  I quickly wrote back to set the record straight, for her and now here on the blog for everyone else:

Nope,

I totally love it: customers who might be conventionally categorized as a pain are my favorite, because y’all challenge and demand of me to make a system that JUST SINGS.  When I nail it for you guys, I nail it for a lot of other people who might not feel so free to be as vocal in demanding perfection.

The end result is a really sharp system that people are all the more apt to fall in love with, which, as you might imagine, is good for business! :)

An Invigorating Trifecta

It’s been a delightful week on the CoachAccountable customer interaction front.

Last week I realized that one of the coaches on CoachAccountable is located right here in Denver.  So on Monday, after attending her yoga class, I spent two hours with her at a nearby Village Inn over coffee comparing notes and swapping stories.  I was tickled to hear what a perfect fit CoachAccountable continues to be for her practice, and as we parted company that night I felt thoroughly on the right track.

Then on Tuesday I got one of the most deeply complimentary comments I’ve ever received on this blog, leaving me feel utterly appreciated for willingness (and frankly my joy) to listen to what coaches need and respond accordingly in the growth and evolution of this platform.  To have it be said that my baby is “the best damn software application I’ve found out there after spending literally years looking around and trying and testing a litany of apps” in a public forum is high praise indeed, and from a rather domain-savvy individual no less.

The on Wednesday I enjoyed two hours on the phone with a woman from the East Coast who’d just gotten signed up with her account and was keen to get oriented and running as soon as possible.  I don’t think either of us expected our exchange to last quite so long, but there was just so much good stuff to cover.  I was delighted to get a glimpse into what’s confusing for a newcomer, and she was delighted to have me point out all the ways in which the system is already perfectly equipped for her needs.  To hear her excited reactions to one feature after another was perhaps the best hands-on experience I’ve ever had of a new coach’s first impressions of CA, and it utterly made my day.

To summarize: interactions with coaches are the best, and I shall continue encouraging that sort of thing.  INCLUDING a public write up of how fun it is to connect (ahem).  If you want to get acquainted and chat with me about the system sometime on the phone (or better yet are in the Denver area and would care to meet up), know in advance that I’m all for it, so drop me a line.

CoachAccountable isn’t some big faceless company where all the real people are hidden behind support ticket systems and lengthy phone wait times.  Rather: it’s just some dude who’s out to make seminal contributions to the field of coaching.  A dude who, for now, still has time to reply to your emails and chat with you on the phone.

Delightful Collaboration V: Appointment Enhancements and Client Abilities

The subject of today’s Delightful Collaboration is Michael Leahy of Brave Hearts Mentoring, who since becoming a user of CoachAccountable has had an exceptionally high percentage of his suggestions make it in to CoachAccountable.  Michael comes from a background of software development, and that has a lot to do with the regularity with which he’s able to perceive new features which would be more universally beneficial.  But moreover he’s a power user, and, for example, the sheer volume of appointments that he schedules per week gives him a unique insight into how things would be better to serve both power users and regular users alike.

So let’s take a look at his contributions thus far:

Smarter Appointment Listings

When you have a lot of clients and they each have a few scheduled, the dashboard listing of all upcoming appointments can be quickly overwhelming.  Sorted as they were (strictly by date), the pending appointment requests easily got lost in the shuffle.  Since each pending request begs a response, accept or decline, that turns out to be a problem.

Now the pending requests are floated up to the top, ready for responding to.  And among all upcoming appointments, now only the first 10 appear.  This puts into focus only the most immediately relevant ones.  To look further out, a handy “View all upcoming” button reveals the entire collection.

Coach-Only Appointment Types

Previously, any type of appointment that a coach could schedule was available for a client to schedule as well (assuming client scheduling was enabled).  But sometimes that’s not ideal, and there are some types of appointments which should be reserved for only the coach.

Now appointment types can be designated as schedule-able only by the coach.

Calendar-Embeddable Exceptions

Contrary to the model I’ve worked in and assumed of others, where the “office hours” into which clients can book themselves are more limited, the way Michael works is that essentially all work hours are open to client scheduling.  So keeping accurate exceptions to availability is critical to ensuring that clients schedule themselves at workable times.

Rather than have other life happenings in a separate calendar and have those happenings also need to be entered as exceptions in CoachAccountable, Michael figured it’s much easier to setup those exceptions once in CoachAccountable and then have then appear in his regular calendar software.  So now the collection of availability exceptions can be embedded into iCal, Outlook, and other systems much like appointment calendars can be.

Private Notes for Clients

In Michael’s work, where clients are working on overcoming sexual addiction, privacy is of utmost importance.  In the past I’d been remiss to add much to do about privacy between coach and client, reasoning instead from a premise of totally open and shared collaboration, but Michael sold me on a very good point: yes, client accounts are akin to a guest in the coach’s house, but more than that client accounts can be a certain sanctuary for clients where everything is kept all together as a useful resource, and that resource gets even better when a client is free to have their own privacy within it as well.

Thus clients too can create private journal entries for their eyes only, allowing them to feel even more at home within their client account.

Self-Assigned Worksheets

Here again Michael’s status as a power user reveals insight: before an appointment, Michael’s clients fill out a worksheet.  With so many clients having so many regular appointments, the need for coach to assign the worksheet for each one becomes cumbersome quickly.

Thus now specific worksheets can be made available for self-assignment by clients.


There are a few other tweaks,  and a spelling mistake catch or two, but the above captures the broad strokes of Michael’s contribution to date.  It’s an impressive set and speaks volumes to Michael’s sense for what’s widely useful.  In fact, while writing this post Michael had another good idea in my inbox which I reckon I’ll be adding: the ability to share library files with some or all clients in one fell swoop.

Thanks Michael for bringing your insight to the party, CoachAccountable is even better for it.

Delightful Dissent Re. Pricing Plans

After explaining in detail the reasoning behind why I charge $50/month for white-labeling, I was delighted to receive a comment containing most thorough dissent from Michael Leahy, one of the newer customers of CoachAccountable, and one of my favorite for his high level of engagement and input.

I believe it’s the first real criticism ever to be expressed in the comments of this humble blog, and while the always-positive environment of the community’s feedback is a delightful boon to my morale, it does pose within it the chance of this devolving into a sort of rosy echo chamber.  By contrast, Michael’s strong opposition brings forth the chance for a lively exchange and exploration of ideas (if you haven’t read it yet, go check it out first before continuing), and affords me the chance to get off my laurels and work through a thoughtful response.

This is good stuff, so I’ve opted to move this more center stage into a post of its own rather than have it languish in the comments section.

» Continue reading “Delightful Dissent Re. Pricing Plans”