The Object People Ltd.

The Challenge

objectpeople logoThe Object People was a market-leading producer of programming tools that aided developers in linking relational databases to object-oriented applications. Customer support was provided by many of the same developers who created the products, ensuring a high standard of expertise in helping users. But as the company grew, the increasing demand upon customer support meant that conventional channels like email and phone support would be taxed.

The Solution

I recommended that Object People develop a system of internal newsgroups to link customers and support engineers. Given the high levels of technical knowledge among the customer base, I was certain that the newsgroup environment would encourage self-helping communities to emerge online.

Just installing a UseNet NNTP server was not enough. It was vital that the newsgroup system be easy to browse and search, and that users behind firewalls not have their access blocked. After thorough study I found and evaluated the DNEWS software package. DNEWS offered a highly customizable web front-end to the NNTP server and an easy-to-use management interface. And all for a license fee of only US$600! This was substantially cheaper than typical CRM software solutions.

The Results

topwebhelpCustomers moved quickly to the web-based support system. As the various special interest communities gelled online, support specialists were freed up to focus on software development and consulting tasks. The company's productivity was improved markedly at modest cost.

BEA Systems, the eventual purchaser of Object People, adopted the very same technology months later as they encountered similar customer support challenges, after seeing the results at Object People.