Articles by Nick

Lulu Support and Connect Update

As many of you are aware, a couple weeks back we launched a new forum and knowledge base platform, Lithium. Since then, we have been monitoring the feedback from our users, and thus far the new platform has been received quite positively. In fact, we’ve even seen some of our longtime customers return to the forums that we haven’t heard from in quite sometime – praising the new system.

We also launched Lithium with the objective of creating a clear distinction between “Support” and “Connect“. Our intention is to have the Support page be the home for issues requiring direct Lulu team member involvement, while Connect is meant to be focused on “self-service” support with our knowledge base and community of fellow users. We have reinforced that distinction consistently within Connect, and we have our users helping to reinforce it with newer customers. In the past week, we have seen over 500 posts made to the new boards, and we continue to receive positive feedback on the changes we have implemented.

Over the coming weeks, we will continue to solicit feedback from our users, and we’ll be setting up polls to help gather that data. Please check the Connect home page to see the active polls on the right-hand side. We’ll also be looking at ways to increase activity and engagement, and we welcome any suggestions you may have.

Congratulations to the Project Team and all who supported the efforts in getting Lithium launched and off to an incredibly successful first couple weeks.

Lulu Launches New Connect and Support Pages for Improved Help

At Lulu, we succeed when you do. That’s why we look to our community to help us grow, adapt and get better. Always. Today Lulu launched an all new area to the Lulu.com site, Connect! The Connect section is our new forum, knowledge base and idea exchange area, and replaces our previous system. We’re quite excited about the improvements this update is offering, including enhanced navigation, speed, and an improved content structure.

The New Connect page

Additionally, it is a launching point for our newly revised Support page. We are striving for ease and speed in getting you the type of help you need, and the Support page is focused on emailing or chatting live with the Lulu customer service team. The link for Support is presented in the upper right-hand corner of every page, which will help you access important tools and resources you may need to reference. Our customer service team is dedicated to responding to you with the best solutions for your needs — whether you’re here to make or find something remarkable.

Screenshot of the new Support page

The New Support Page

While launching Connect and our Support page, we want to clearly distinguish between the functions of the areas served. Connect is designed to be your home for interacting with other Lulu customers, browsing our knowledge base, and sharing new ideas. It’s a self-service option that also hosts our community and will help you find great solutions. In the past, the forums have served as a place to post to get assistance from Lulu team members, as well as fellow customers. Moving forward Connect and Support will be separated so you can more easily get the help you need. That said, this doesn’t mean you can’t ask for help there, or that I’m going anywhere.

Connect continues to be the home of our community, and Lulu team members will still be present there, but it’s not the place to resolve specific cases. The focus moving forward for Connect is one of collaboration, building resources for our customers and helping our product team understand your needs. Feel free to browse our comprehensive knowledge base for answers to your questions about Lulu, join the conversation, or start one of your own, to share ideas, ask questions, make friends, and learn something new.

When it comes to issues that need a team member response to a technical matter or quality concern, we encourage you to use the options available to you on Support. Our team of Lulu Specialists can instantly see your customer history and will work to get you the best solutions.

At Lulu, we’re committed to giving you a more enriched experience. Currently, our customer service team has an 81% customer satisfaction rate, and we are improving on that every week. You’re definitely in good hands! Now get out there and Connect with other Lulu customers!

How To Use Customer Support & Our Online Community Part 2

Back in November, I wrote part one in this series. My objective in writing these posts is to help users better understand the Customer Service process, the Community tools available to you, and how to get the most out of both. In part one, I highlighted creating a case with Customer Service. In part two, I would like to cover some of best ways to use our Knowledge Base.

With hundreds of articles on almost every aspect of Lulu from helping new users to after you publish using our Knowledge Base can be daunting to say the least. There are at least two ways to approach it, by searching or browsing. I will discuss both options as well as suggesting a few tips & tricks for using them to find your answers.

Searching

Typically, I recommend searching our database to find the information you’re looking for. It’s probably the quickest way to find what you’re looking for. That said, you want to make sure you are finding the right information.

For example, if I am trying to find out how long I should expect the Mail shipping option to take, what should I enter into the search box? To begin with, I went to the Support home page, and entered “Mail Shipping Option” into the text box. This returned 155 Knowledge Base Articles, 729 Questions, 1029 Discussions, and 59 Ideas. A lot to go through.

Luckily, our search shows the top five results for each category, so all I have to do is look at Articles and try to find the one that matches what I’m looking for. The first option is “Shipping To Prisons” which isn’t exactly what I want. The second option though, “Shipping Times and Options” is exactly what I want.

In short, to get the most out of searching, you want to make sure you choose search terms that most accurately reflect the topic you’re looking for, and focus on the results that are most likely to give you the response you want. It may take a little trial and error, but you should get there.

Browsing

The second method for locating a particular article is browsing. This method is most effective if you know the general stage of publishing you are in, but you aren’t sure exactly what you need to know. Using the same example as above, I will demonstrate how to find the same article by browsing.

To begin, you’ll want to click on the Knowledge Base link from the Support page. From there, you should see a list of categories for articles. By reviewing the descriptions of the categories, I can narrow down what I’m looking for. While none of the categories themselves are titled “Shipping” the category Shopping on Lulu is described as “Learn how to browse, buy, download, or ship on Lulu”. That sounds about right!

Inside this category, I see a new category for “Shipping FAQ“. I’m clearly on the right track. Clicking into that category takes me to a list of articles, and the first one is Shipping Times and Options. Success!

Summary

  • Get a good idea of what you’re searching or browsing for before you begin looking
  • Try to use as accurate phrasing as you can
  • Don’t be afraid to browse around for the right answer

Holiday Shipping Deadlines

         

Ho Ho Holy Cow! It's the holidays.

This year, take some of the burden off Santa, but using Lulu shipping.

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Here’s the list of holiday shipping deadlines by region. Click the tab for your region of the globe and compare the deadlines for each ship method and order with the following constraints:

  • Orders from North and South America and for Publisher Grade Books must be placed by 11:59 pm EST, Midnight in the US
  • Orders must be 30 or less to meet the Holiday deadlines listed below. For order quantities over 30, add 3 business days
  • Some items may not be available for certain shipping options in your region. Double check your items in the shopping cart
  • Lulu does not recommend the Mail or Priority Mail shipping method and will not guarantee December 24th delivery

Disclaimer: The dates and information provided are intended to serve as a guideline for order delivery by December 24th, 2010. The dates provided here do not imply a guarantee. Weather and unforeseen circumstances may delay deliveries.

Happy holidays, and since you’re helping Santa out this year, don’t forget to eat the cookies.

How To Use Customer Support & Our Online Community Part 1

How many of us have run into a problem we couldn’t solve? Perhaps it was an unexpected error message, an order that takes too long to arrive, or a question about how to format your book. Regardless, most of us (and yes, I include myself in this) have run into an issue while publishing our projects because as easy as Lulu makes the process, writing and publishing a book is still involves a lot of error checking, revisions, and proofing. I have the advantage of being able to walk over to someone’s desk and ask for help, but obviously not everyone else does. So, what do you do? This is part one of a series on how to get the most out of our customer service.

Creating A Case With Customer Service
This is the easiest and most effective way to get help with an issue that is specific to you. Maybe it’s an issue with your order, or a question about your ISBN or Distribution package. Whatever it is, you need help and you need to talk to someone who works at Lulu.

Step One: it’s pretty obvious, but it bears repeating. Contact Customer Support. You should see the link under the Support tab on the right-hand side of the page.

Step Two: Select the area most appropriate to your issue. If it’s an issue with your order, select My Order, or if it’s about your ISBN/Distribution select that. If you aren’t sure, choose the one closest to what you’re looking for, or select Lulu Website.

Step Three: The more information you can give us, the better. Some of the fields will be required based on which option you chose. For example, email address, order number, “What’s the problem,” and “Describe the problem” are required for My Order. If you have an Existing Ticket id, please provide it. The order status, item id and item name aren’t necessary, but they can help and it’s better for us to have that information than to need to ask you for it or look it up.

Step Four: It can take up to 2 days for us to respond. In the meantime, please respond to the automated email you will be sent with pictures or other information relevant to the case as soon as you can. As previously mentioned the more we have up front from you, the faster we will be able to resolve your issue.

Step Five: Be patient with us. I know this is the hardest step, but we are going to do our best to help you make your work as remarkable as you envision it to be and as polished as it deserves.

We strive to support you as much as we can, and we appreciate your help and patience while we do that. I will post more advice on how to get the most out of our online support and community in upcoming articles. And as always, you can get a look at your support options, like LiveChat, on our customer service page.

From the Vault: Giving it Away – How Previews May Help You Sell

This post was originally put up back in February 2008,  but a lot of the advice rings true today. With so many new e-devices popping up on the market, readers are finding more and more ways to discover and purchase content. Offering a free downloadable preview is a great way to help a reader make the decision to push the “purchase” button. Enjoy the original post below:

I tend to come across a lot of material on the site because of my job. Sometimes, it’s because I’m looking for something to buy, other times I am checking out whether it’s in violation of our membership agreement, and still others I am looking for content to highlight. Regardless of the reason, I am often surprised by how much of it lacks a preview.

According to Chris Anderson, author of the “Long Tail“, on average, 500 copies of a book are sold per year. For a self-published author, selling 500 copies in a year is considered a huge success, but how do you get 500 people to buy your book when most of them haven’t ever heard of you? The simple answer is to let them read it.

Lulu Lens: How Do You Define A Successful Project?

One of the big projects we’re currently working on is reviewing how effective our publishing wizard is. It’s purpose is to help you get your book ready for publishing, and so we’re looking at ways we can improve on that core principle. We also recognize that there are a lot of different standards for what you’re looking to do with your book once you’re done with the publishing process, and we want to better understand your needs. To that end, how do you define a successful project?

Is it the number of books you sell? The reaction on your mom’s face when she sees her recipes in a printed cookbook? Holding the first copy in your hand? Tell us your stories, and help us understand how you define success for yourself.

Lulu Lens: Alternatives To Credit Cards For Payment

We’ve often heard from customers that they would like options other than paying by credit card or Paypal for their books and services. One of our users, dasbruce had an excellent recommendation for chavee3. Chavee3 asked how they could buy books online without using a credit or debit card. Dasbruce pointed out that you could buy a Visa or Mastercard gift card with the amount of your purchase on it so that you didn’t have to use a card with your personal information on it.

Do you have a preferred payment method other than a credit card or Paypal? If so, what is it?

Highlight: Comic Books & Graphic Novels

I’ve been into comic books and graphic novels since I was a kid. My taste has changed a bit, but I will still stay up late to go to the midnight release of the Scott Pilgrim’s Finest Hour at Chapel Hill Comics. Today is also the first day of San Diego Comic Con, the largest event in comics, and so I wanted to give some focus to some cool indie comics on Lulu.

Wapsi Square

By Paul Taylor

A wrench has been thrown into the comfortable Minneapolis neighborhood of Wapsi Square. Monica Villarreal, a young and skeptical museum anthropologist crosses paths with an Aztec deity and all cards are thrown to the wind. More than questioning her own sanity she slowly begins to question the world around her and the very history books that she holds sacred. Helping keep Monica grounded are her friends; Amanda, a motherly but cynical professional photographer, Shelly, a tough tomboy yet girly-girl mechanic and Daren the sage bartender at the local pub. Through a blend of humor and macabre undertones, enter the world of Wapsi Square and leave the reality you know at the door.
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Lulu Lens: Lulu Video Tutorials

At Lulu, we try to make sure that we create video tutorials for various areas of our site to help walk you through the process. Currently, we have videos on How to Make a Photobook, How to Publish a Book, and a One Minute video on How to Create a Cover. We want to know what else you would like to see a video tutorial for. Please comment and tell us what you’d like to see!