Thursday, July 26, 2012

Genetic Genealogy – The definition of Customer Service

According to Wikipedia, the definition of Customer Service is “the provision of service to customers before, during and after a purchase.”[i]  With this in mind, if I am working with clients, I need to focus on interfacing with the customer, identifying their needs and satisfying their needs. And as you will see in my post below, I also need to look at WHO my customers are. What do they have access to? Do they have a computer at home with internet access? Do they know how to use a computer? Or do they prefer to “touch” and “feel” what they are looking at?


When I agreed to help Keith with his autosomal DNA test from FamilyTreeDNA, I thought everything would be easy. He would take the test, find some matches, meet new cousins, fill in the gaps in his family tree and go on about his merry way!

But when that final email came that said his results had been posted, Keith was ready to go! He wanted to know what to do next and he was just busting with questions!  He wanted to know who all his matches were. Who they were related to. How they were related to him. How he could contact them. Would they give him information about his mother’s side of the family. Which side of the family were they from. The questions just kept coming and I was excited for him!

I was totally prepared.

I had the email all written out about how to log into the site with his user name and password. How to view his matches. How to view the pedigrees of his matches.

Except there was one tiny problem.


Keith had dial-up internet.

One thing about taking on “clients” is that you have to think of every possibility, probability, or issue that may crop up. You have to think about who your client is, or what kind of client they are. In this case, my client has dial up internet. But what about some of the older generations who prefer to have paper – something they can hold, touch, feel? How do you adapt your way of doing things to satisfy their needs?

After a few phone calls, we determined that the 23 pages of Keith’s matches could not be displayed with his dial up internet service. Well Keith being the inquisitive one that he is, asked a simple question:

“Can I download my match data?” - Why of course you can! And I can take care of that for you.

I can download his matches from the Family Finder section of his homepage into a csv  file which is just an unformatted format of an Excel file. There are a few limitations with this though: First, his list of matches will need to be redownloaded each time matches are added, which could be daily or weekly. Or I could filter his list of matches by date and then download the new ones and add them to the already downloaded list.

Second, one of the things that is lost when the list of matches is downloaded from the website to the csv file is the highlighting of the common surnames and their variations. The website automatically bolds the surnames that are in common between you and your matches’ list of names and includes surname variations. This is lost when the match data is downloaded. You can still do a search within the csv file, but it will not pick up name variations like the website does.

I saved the csv as an excel file and emailed a copy of it to Keith. He received it ok, but when he went to print it, it was at least 40 pages long. Another thing to consider is what if your client doesn’t have the Excel program on their computer? It can be converted to a PDF file which is easily read by a free PDF reader program. 

So far, working with Keith has been a great learning experience. I didn’t realize how little customer interaction experience I actually had. I also hadn’t thought about all the little things that could go wrong! I am definitely on my way to becoming a better professional.

Have you ever hit any unexpected roadblocks while working with a client? If so, please share your experience in the comments below or email me at ginger.reney (at) (replace “at” with the @ symbol).

[i], Definition of Customer Service, citing Turban, Efraim (2002). Electronic Commerce: A Managerial Perspective. Prentice Hall.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Genetic Genealogy - Tapley DNA - Part 2

Last month I wrote a post about my friend who took an autosomal DNA test with ftDNA and asked me for my help in managing his account. I discussed how to set up his account through the website, including how to add his surnames to the site.

Last week his results came back with a list of matches totaling 221 people! That's 23 pages of matches to go through!

The first thing we did was go through all the matches to see if there were any with the last name of Tapley. You can do this by typing in "Tapley" into the Name box. However, then I remembered that Keith's 2nd great-grandfather was really a Swain (son of Sarah Tapley and Cannath Swain; I think they were unmarried), so I also looked for Swain. There was one match with last name Swain and I suggested Keith email him right away.

We then performed the same search on the list of surnames that were shared between he and his matches. You can do this by typing in "Tapley" in the "Ancestral Surnames" box. This match has his pedigree posted with his profile, so we were able to find the Tapley in his tree. It was a Mary Tapley who married a Phillip Prettypool. This family ended up in Millidgeville, Georgia which is a good sign because Keith's family is from GA. I recommended that he email this match as well.

Unfortunately there were no matches with the Swain surname in their list.

The next thing I did was look to see if we were a match. Luckily we were not :-) However we did have quite a few matches in common. This is not unusual. Having matches in common does not necessarily mean we are related to each other. The key is to see what segments we share with each match. If Keith and I both share the same segment of a single match, then technically all 3 of us would be related. 

For example, JG and I share the biggest segment on chromosome 18. JG and Keith share the biggest segment on chromosome 1. However, Keith and JG also share a small segment on chromosome 18, about 1.92 cM which overlaps with the segment that I share with JG. So the 3 of us do share a very small amount of DNA. I did send JG a list of Keith's surnames, but we were unable to determine a connection (we weren't able to determine a connection between he and I either). 

I also added more surnames to Keith's list. Here is a list of additional surnames:


Next time we will discuss how to interact with his matches and try to determine connections.

Photo of quizzical thinker from the Joyful Public Speaking Blog, by Richard I Garber, accessed 15 July 2012.

To Cite This Post:
Ginger R. Smith, "Genetic Genealogy - Tapley DNA - Part 2," Genealogy By Ginger, 16 July 2012, ( : accessed [date])

Friday, July 6, 2012

Free Webinar on Native American Ancestry

This Saturday Ugo Perego will be giving a live webinar on using DNA to determine if you have Native American Ancestry.

I get a LOT of questions about this. I would say four out of five people claim they descend from a Native American Ancestor and ask me how they can use DNA to determine this. Let me just say this upfront: it is very difficult to use DNA to determine if you have Native American Ancestry. But don't take my word for it. Hear it from the expert.

Ugo Perego has a PhD in Human Genetics and 11 years of experience in the field of genetics and its applications in genealogy, ancestry, population migrations and history.

This free webinar is being presented on behalf of the Southern California Genealogical Society jamboree extension series. You do not have to be a member of the society to participate but you do have to register ahead of time.

Register for this event

Photo: courtesy of Stoneakin's fotothing page: "Native American Indian Chief Bow & Quiver"