TextExpander lets you instantly insert snippets of text as you type, from a repository shared with your team. This turns out to be an excellent crisis management tool. It’s incredibly helpful to have multiple team members improving content as a crisis unfolds. It’s even better that the updated content is immediately available to everyone on the team on all of their devices. Recently, the Smile team, and a few others, encountered this firsthand when our products began to crash on launch.
At around 10am on February 16th, we began receiving reports from numerous users that PDFpen and PDFpenPro were crashing on launch. Our support team gathered crash logs, and the logs indicated the problem had to do with code signing. Turns out, the provisioning profile which allows PDFpen to access iCloud had expired along with our code signing certificate. For details on what happened, I recommend this excellent piece from Rob Griffiths on the Many Tricks blog.
Once we understood what happened, we updated our code signing certificate, recreated our provisioning profile, and rebuilt PDFpen and PDFpenPro. We deployed the updated apps and wrote the first draft of our response to customers as a TextExpander snippet. We were responding to affected customers within 3 hours of learning of the problem. We managed to ensure that no one had an entire day without PDFpen. Then, we got to work on an email to our customers. We started by expanding our snippet into the MailChimp editor then adjusted the content as needed. That was SO much faster than writing from scratch, and time was of the essence.
Our initial snippet used “today” as its point of reference, and it needed several points of clarification. Each time we received customer feedback, we could adjust the snippet content so that it would be better for future customers. When we got to the end of the day, we replaced “today” with “February 16th” and adjusted our tense a bit. We refined our description of what went wrong. When news sites got in touch, we used our most recent snippet as the basis for our response.
On February 16th and 17th, the Smile team expanded 2,397 snippets saving almost 12 hours of time. We ended both days with empty support queues, which would have been impossible without TextExpander. Looking at my own personal statistics, I saved over 3 hours of time on those two days. That was time I was able to use ensuring no customer went without a reply and ensuring we proactively emailed all of our customers as fast as we were able.
TextExpander has many more skills than crisis management, though it’s good to know that TextExpander is incredibly helpful in a crisis. Improving content as a team, always having up to date content, and being able to expand that content in any app makes it much easier to work together. It’s also really handy when weathering a crisis.
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