First class service

Red carpetAt Orland Media, we promote “first class service” as one of our unique selling points. It might as well be unique, it’s so rarely encountered.

In this post we give some examples of what we mean by this, beginning with one of the number one annoyances you’ve probably encountered with other companies…

No automated phone system

Their way

When phoning many companies you find yourself confronted with a computerised menu system: “If you would like option A, press 1. If you would like option B, press 2.” Usually the options take much longer to describe than this, the tone of voice can be a little… frustrating, and the option you want comes last of all – or, even worse – not at all!

Once you have chosen your option, you are then presented with another fleet of options. Sometimes you don’t even know how many there will be until the prerecorded voice has finished reading them out. Probably again the option you require isn’t there, so you begin to randomly choose numbers.

This is all done to save costs. Effectively the obligation has been placed upon the customer to do the work of the company. Whereas there used to be a switchboard, now you must do the work yourself – although you never asked for it to be this way.

Our way

When you phone us you will either be put through to a standard answering service (which we try to avoid) or – more likely – you’ll be put straight through to a human being.

If it’s the answering service, we will return your call as soon as possible. And when we say that we really mean it. It will be as soon as possible (probably within minutes) and we will return your call. Those companies who don’t return calls don’t deserve business. It’s as simple as that.

No long holds

Their way

Having begun to hit random numbers through sheer frustration, you’re eventually put on hold while you are connected to “someone who can help you”. You are dubious about whether they will be able to help you, and in the meantime you are made to endure music you would never choose to listen to at an uncomfortably loud volume. This is periodically interrupted with a voice telling you both that you should be using the website instead and that your call is very valued. Familiar?

By the time you are eventually connected with a human being (if the line does not simply go dead), you’re in no mood for pleasantries.

Our way

There is no hold, no canned music. If you are answered directly by a human being (which we try to make the case) then that will be immediate.

Knowledgeable, clear speaking staff

Their way

You might, then – if you’re lucky – get to speak to a human being. You’ll probably find yourself connected to Mumbai, where the customer service department is located. The line won’t be so good, and you might not understand the operator’s accent. This, it is implied, is your own fault.

If you can understand the person assigned to your call, you’ll be hoping they are more expert than you in the issue at hand. But it might painfully transpire that they are not. They’ll ask you obvious things such as “Is your computer plugged in?” or suggest a brute force solution (such as asking you to completely reset your machine) instead of offering a skilled solution.

You might need to request that your call is escalated to a senior member of staff. Good luck!

Our way

Since we are based in England, in the United Kingdom, for telephone response we only employ people who speak clear English. This is so that there is a guarantee that they are easily understood by our customers (a “genuine occupational requirement”). You will be treated courteously and the person answering your call will not pretend to know things they do not. If they can’t help you themselves then they will connect you directly to someone who can.

No duplication

Their way

How many times have you been asked to key in your phone number, only to then be asked to provide it again at a later stage? Or, been asked to fill in forms in triplicate? This kind of bureaucracy is pointless, inefficient, and frankly insulting when you probably have better things to do.

Our way

We make a point of avoiding asking you to duplicate information. Wherever possible, we use our initiative and connect the dots. We might ask you to confirm information, but we don’t ask you to duplicate it when it’s obviously going to be the same.

Politeness

Their way

It has become fashionable for people who don’t even know you to address you with your first name, as if they are your friend, as if you are not paying them money and as if you are on an equal footing. Also, in meetings, you might find you’re not introduced to everybody, and you are just expected to magically know who they are.

Our way

This is not the way we operate at Orland Media. If we take on your business, then we regard you as having become part of a special group of people deserving of special treatment. We will address you formally until asked to do otherwise. You are our customer. We are the specialist in our trade and we’ll advise you, but we’ll be sure to always treat you with the utmost respect and courtesy.

For initial meetings you will be given clear directions to our offices, a smart room will be reserved and you will, of course, be properly introduced to the people in the room. For subsequent, perhaps online virtual meetings, as work progresses, you will be kept fully informed, not kept “in the dark”. We believe openness and clear communication are the best policies.

Money back guarantee

Their way

Once you have bought something you may find there is no recourse if you find the service is not exactly what you required. You can’t cancel it – you might even be locked into a six month or one year contract. With telephone service of the kind outlined above, you’ll feel trapped. It can even be hard to escape, with hosting providers refusing to release domain names and automatically taking renewal payments.

Our way

Currently, we don’t automatically take any payments from anyone. For our development work we issue invoices, and for our hosting packages we send reminder e-mails and our customers login and make payments annually, online. We don’t even store credit card details, so we can never take your money without your authorisation.

Not only this, but we also offer 30 day money back guarantees on all our hosting packages. This means that if, for some reason, you find the package doesn’t suit you, then we’ll be happy to refund your payment in full.

Put us to the test

If these problems ring a bell, try moving to us and eliminating them. You might use our web development, web hosting or our other services. In any case we look forward to hearing from you.

Free preloader

View the preloader

In this post we release a Flash preloader component (an SWC file) which is suitable to be dropped on the first frame of any Flash movie and it’ll preload that timeline with precision.

(Click the image on the left to see the preloader in action.)

Preloader (1701 downloads)

There are a few notable things about this preloader which make it worth using:

  • It waits .2 of a second then checks whether more than 95% of the movie has already loaded. If it has, the loader aborts – you never even see it.
  • When it starts preloading it doesn’t include data already loaded (for example, itself). So, it doesn’t jump to 10% immediately. It preloads remaining data, always starting at 0%.
  • It will always centre itself on your stage and remain centred if the stage is resized.
  • It’s animated nicely and drops in and out of view.
  • It smoothly tweens between (even small) data chunks, rather than jumping.
  • It has appropriate pauses during its operations.
  • Its colour is configurable via the Component Inspector.
  • You can also decide via the Component Inspector whether or not the timeline it is loading should fade in once the load is complete.

How to install the component

This component uses ActionScript 3 so requires at least Flash Player 9. To use it you’ll need to have a copy of Flash CS3, CS4 or CS5 and place the Preloader folder (with the Preloader.swc inside it) into this directory or its equivalent on your system:

C:\Users\{User}\AppData\Local\Adobe\Flash CS4\en\Configuration\Components

How to use the component in the IDE

To use the component without writing any ActionScript at all, restart Flash or choose “Reload” from the submenu on your Components panel, and you should see the preloader in there.

Then, when you wish to add it to a project, make sure the first frame of the project is blank and drag the component from the Components panel onto the stage. It doesn’t need an instance name. You can then go to your Component Inspector and set its two properties.

Then just export your movie – try a Test Movie then hit ctrl-Enter again to simulate download.

How to use the component in pure ActionScript

If you wish to add the component using code instead, you will first need to drag it from the Components panel into your Library (as before), then your Document class will need to look something like this:

package {

 import flash.display.MovieClip;
 // Need to import the class..
 import com.orlandmedia.utils.preloader.Preloader;

 // Document class extends MovieClip..
 public class Main extends MovieClip {

  // I'm using a Singleton pattern here for the Document class
  private static var _instance:Main;

  // This'll hold the preloader..
  public var preloader:Preloader;

  // Constructor function
  public function Main()
  {
   if (_instance)
   {
    throw new Error("One instance exists! Please access via Main.getInstance()");
   } else {
    _instance = this;
    initialise();
   }
  }

  public function initialise():void
  {
   // This is not to do with the preloader, but stops a 2 frame movie on the *second* frame after the preloader has finished, as a means of stopping it looping
   addFrameScript(1, stop);
   // This instantiates the preloader - note parentheses are not needed when not passing any parameters. Preloader inherits from Sprite.
   preloader = new Preloader;
   // This optional line sets the colour of the preload bar - in this case to red
   preloader.colour = 0xFF0000;
   // This adds the preloader to the Display List - it'll do the rest
   addChild(preloader);
  }

  // Part of the Singleton pattern
  public static function get instance():Main
  {
   return _instance;
  }

 }

}

We have not yet implemented Live Preview for the component on the stage (showing the colour)  but may do so in the future.

This component is issued with the MIT license and you’re welcome to use it in your own projects both personal and professional. It utilises Jack Doyle’s excellent TweenLite library.