Archive of ‘Communicatie’ category

Your tone of voice defines you

The tone of voice in the contact you have with your customers defines you in their minds. This is much more serious than most people think. Because their return business relies on how they feel about you. And that could very well be different from what you believe has been your attitude towards them.

As an example, I just sent an email to a vendor in the US that I have bought an item from. I thanked him for the item, but also told him that Dutch customs read the paperwork he included with the item and charged me extra duties for it. I thought it nice to inform him of this matter because I had never had that happen with his colleague vendors. So, I reckoned he might like to know. Then the return email arrives in which the vendor basically tells me that I just need to suck it up and that it is not his fault.

Granted, he is right. It is not his fault that I got charged extra and he did list that taxes and duties are my responsibility. However, it is the tone of voice of the email that makes me unhappy. By the end of the message, I was feeling as if it were my fault that I bought from him in the first place. And that is the message that will stick. Meaning that I will not do business with George again, if I can help it.

If you get something that you might feel is a complaint from a client, make sure you respond to it correctly. Sympathy goes a long way in securing a next order. If this guy had told me: “Hey, I am sorry to hear that. Thanks for sharing and next time I send something out, I will check whether there are other ways to do this.” That would have made a world of difference. I would have appreciated the response and would have bought from him again.

Be friendly and be compassionate. You often don’t have to offer anything that costs you anything. But if the client feels like you care, that will make all the difference.

Nuts bedrijf Delta wil mij graag langdurig als klant. Mijn voordeel? Euhm, niets.

Screen Shot 2013-05-14 at 18.10.42Vorig jaar is mijn leveringscontract voor energie verlopen. Wij zitten al bijna 11 jaar bij Delta NV en zijn daar op zich best tevreden mee. Heb ik dan een speciale band met de Delta? Nou, nee, dat nou ook weer niet. Het is natuurlijk een lokale onderneming en daarmee lijken ze wat minder onpersoonlijk dan de grote concurrenten uit het midden van het land. Maar verder kan ik eigenlijk niets bedenken. Al is het gevoel dat je bij een kantoor binnen kunt stappen wel prettiger dan een onpersoonlijk 0900 nummer.

Maar goed, vorig jaar verliep het contract waarmee we ons voor 3 jaar aan de Delta verbonden. Een goed moment om over te sluiten. Dat dacht ook de Delta en ze stuurden ons een mail. “Wilt u uw contract oversluiten?” Ik heb er toen eens goed naar gekeken, maar ik zag eigenlijk geen enkel voordeel. Een vaste energieprijs is natuurlijk leuk, maar hoeveel voordeel haal je daar nou precies uit? Dus ben ik ook eens bij andere leveranciers gaan kijken. De een geeft je een cadeau, de andere een korting. Er is nogal wat te doen rondom het winnen van klanten in de energiebranche. Zo niet bij de Delta. Desgevraagd reageert de Delta in een tweet met “Het is een bewuste keuze om niet te stunten met kortingen. Wij bieden u de zekerheid van een laag tarief en goede service.^P” En daar kun je het als goede klant dan weer mee doen.

Nou ben ik wat betreft energie toch wel weer trouw. Dus blijf ik lekker zitten waar ik zit, laat het contract verlopen en ga verder met een variabele leveringsprijs. Op zich niets mis mee. Maar voor de Delta is het niet genoeg. Gisterenmiddag ontving ik opnieuw een mailtje van de Delta om mij aan te sporen om opnieuw de keuze te maken voor een leveringscontract. Gestimuleerd door mijn ongeremde optimisme besloot ik opnieuw de website van de Delta te bezoeken. Want als ze, zoveel maanden na het verlopen van het contract, ineens nog een mailtje sturen, dan hebben ze misschien begrepen dat het behouden van klanten je wat waard moet zijn. Dus klikte ik vol verwachting op de link in de mail.

Een emmer ijswater daalde neer in mijn nek. Om te beginnen moest ik opnieuw registreren om mijn persoonlijke aanbiedingen te krijgen. Vervelend, want dat had ik vorig jaar ook al eens gedaan. En aangezien mijn klantnummer en mijn adres niet veranderd zijn, had dat dus best bewaard kunnen blijven. -Vlak na ik dit probleem had, is gebleken dat de Delta hun Mijn Delta offline hebben moeten halen, omdat mensen de gegevens van anderen te zien krijgen. Maar de site voor de energiecontracten is nog steeds online, dus die zal daar niet onder vallen.- Na opnieuw geregistreerd te hebben, krijg ik mijn die opties voor mijn neus. Ik kan mijn contract 1 jaar vastleggen, 3 jaar vastleggen of 1 jaar variabel houden. Tussen 1 en 3 jaar vastleggen zit precies €0,- verschil. Als ik het contract variabel hou, dan verwacht de Delta dat ik zeker €1,53 per maand duurder uit ben dan wanneer ik mijn contract vastleg. Vol verbazing zak ik achterover. Dit kan toch niet waar zijn. Ongeacht wat ik doe, het is de Delta blijkbaar niets waard om mij als klant te hebben. Mijzelf langer verbinden aan de Delta en ze daarmee een garantie te geven op een bepaalde omzet is duidelijk niet genoeg om mij als klant waarde te laten hebben.

Beste Delta, ik vind jullie best aardig hoor, maar de liefde kan niet van een kant komen. Als ik me voor langere tijd aan jullie verbindt, dan wil ik daar graag een stukje waardering voor terugzien. Dat kan in de energieprijs zijn, dat kan ook op een andere manier. Maar dat kan niet door mij hetzelfde te bieden als ieder ander die zich wel, of niet aan jullie wil verbinden. Dan kijk ik net zo lief rond naar een maatschappij die mij wel als klant weet te waarderen. En de mogelijkheid tot het eventueel kans maken op het winnen van een kaartje voor Concert at Sea compenseert dat echt niet.

Beste energiemaatschappijen, weten jullie je klanten wel te waarderen? Willen jullie mij erbij als klant? Je weet me te vinden. Ik hoor het wel.

How HMV’s twitter account went to the dogs – and how to prevent it

hmv-dog-marketingHMV was hot news on Twitter today when staff took over the retailers twitter channel. I am not going to dive into the whole deal about financial troubles and layoffs. It is a tough time for retailers in the business HMV is in and with their new owners it might take them some time to get back on top. In the meantime it has been interesting to see how new technology has been completely passed up on in the first steps of restructuring.

I will try to set the scene based on the -now deleted- tweets by HMV staff this afternoon. Apparently HMV had an intern make the HMV Tweets account on Twitter. Nothing special. Even big companies choose to let interns rule their interpersonal communication with their fans. A good idea? Not at all, and I can give you lots of  reasons why. However, that is not the purpose of this post, so I will leave them out.

So, HMV had a twitter account and they have mainly used it to communicate new releases, congratulating the stars on their own label and congratulating followers with winning their own competition. They did do a single personal retweet of someone calling everyone to purchase from HMV to support the high street. So, nothing too personal and relational on there. But as people love their media, they still have thousands of followers. There are two sides to that story. Yes, you can dump your messages to almost 70 thousand people as a corporate. But the people holding the keys to that account can also reach some of your most loyal 70 thousand customers with one simple click.

hmvtweetsAnd that is what happened. The person(s) who tweeted this have been seeing the demise of HMV as something they could have been able to turn around. It might have been someone who has really wanted to put in more than their share to make HMV work again. Or so the tweet seems to suggest when he or she says: “However, when the company you dearly love is being ruined and those hard working individuals, who wanted to make hmv great again, have mostly been fired”. So they broke the silence they were bound to by their contracts and came out with what was happening at the offices. The bad news spread quickly over twitter and it did not take long before the news picked up on it and articles started appearing on the BBC and ITV website.

Will this affect the retailer in the long run? Possibly. After all, the tweets first reached their 70 thousand most loyal followers. So what should have been done? It is hard to say, but it does start with control over the social media channels of your organisation. Especially when you are going to be giving the company a lot of bad news, it might be wiser to make sure the account is under control of someone you can really, really trust. Perhaps only for that first hour after the bad news hits, perhaps for longer, but make sure there is some kind of control. After all, these are channels that are now seen as at least as important for your communications as your official press releasees.

Quick tips?

  1. If you are a large organisation, use something like Hootsuite or another client that will allow you to grant access to teams of coworkers to your social media channels. You might never need to, but the ease of -temporarily- denying someone access can come in handy one day.
  2. If you are in a position where media silence needs to be obeyed, make sure social media is on that list of media channels that you have created a strategy for.
  3. Have a quick press release available when someone has been able to gain access to the account after all your trouble. Don’t let it spin out of control. Take over the channel again and communicate with your audience.
  4. Do not go around and delete all the tweets thinking that that will be the end of it. Screenshots happen. And they are around for a lot longer.
  5. Know your way around your social media channels. The HMV marketing manager that asked how to shut down Twitter is an example of how quickly your organisation can look bad.

 

If you advertise, at least tell me most people like you…

orange-noel-pub-samsung

Photo courtesy of Christian Mehler

You might think that this is a given. Really, advertising is about showing people how much you are liked by your audience. Right? Well, not always. Very often you see little things slip into images that are used in advertising that might give you a different idea. When I was in Paris for LeWeb I spotted a poster in the Metro that suggests that 2 out of 3 people do not like the Galaxy Note 2. I am not sure whether they just do not like the phone, or whether they dislike it being on Orange. But if one pulls the other two towards the phone, the other two become distinctly unhappy. (Photo courtesy of Christian Mehler who gracefully travelled around Paris on the metro for two days to take this picture for me. Thanks!)

However much you might laugh about it, this is reality in advertising. So, if you are advertising your business or your product, just make sure that it makes me feel like your product is something that I really want to have.

Ikea into TV’s, what’s next?

My grandparents had one of these... Or...

No, I am not an Ikea man. Even though we do own a remarkably uncluttered Ikea TV unit. But I have got to hand it to them, this is a cool step for Ikea to take. They are integrating the smart TV into their furniture. Remember how television producers from the early days did the same thing? They had to repackage TV’s because they were huge, unpractical and they took up a lot of space in your living room. So they created cupboards around them. The TV really became a TV unit. I bet you remember one of your great grandparents had one of those. And now it is back. But the other way around. Technology is becoming so small, that it is becoming unobtrusive in your living room. So, you can now integrate media into your furniture because you want the furniture. Not necessarily the TV.

Naturally, I wonder why they included a remote with it. Why can’t I just control it with my smartphone or tablet. And I wonder why they included a blue ray player like they did. Surely they must have been able to fit that into the TV as well. On the other hand, I like the fabrik that the remote control commands go straight through. And most of all, it leaves me to wonder what is going to be next. Will Ikea supplement the Uppleva with cupboards with speakers so you can create a 5.1 or even 7.1 wireless surround system? Just to hide speakers and still give you the experience and the storage in your living room. Or are they going to integrate juice bars for your phones and tablets into couches and coffee tables? There are endless possibilities now that technology is so easily available and cheap to include.

So, good start. Now go on Ikea, be more disruptive than your flat pack furniture made you before. 😉

Disappointed in Windows Phone so far. Send me your tips! (Nokia Lumia test)

Last Friday afternoon I got my Nokia Lumia 800 in. First impressions were of a great looking phone with a solid feel to it. The packaging was nice as well, so it all built up pretty nicely. After getting myself a micro sim, the test period was on. I had set myself the challenge to really use it as my only phone over the coming weeks, to see how it would stack up to the iPhone and my Nexus S. Due to something missing on my Lumia, Nokia is going to exchange my phone for another one. Nothing to alarming, but to be honest, I loved the sound of my Nexus S turning on again.

I have written about Windows Phone before. But I had never tried to live with it. And that changed over the course of these last three days. I installed lots of apps, I made calls, took pictures, did video, texted and used social networking sites. Just like I do on my other phones. But it did feel different this time. Let me get this clear. I really do love the feel of the phone. I love the pictures it takes. I like how it integrates things into its user interface. And I definitely, definitely love the looks that Microsoft has given Windows Phone. The tiles are nice and mostly functional. Even though I don’t understand why some are animated and some aren’t.

But in a way, the phone leaves me feeling oddly detached. I am used to the notifications on Android 4.0 and iOS 5. Notifications that tell me when people want to interact with me across all networks. Yes, there is the “Me” tile that I can tap and then go to notifications to see Facebook, Twitter, Windows Live and LinkedIn, but that needs action from me. And as soon as I power up my Nexus S or iPhone, I get flooded with updates that I never saw on the Lumia. And that annoys me. My phone is not about calling. It is about interaction.

And about making a call. That is a completely different problem. When logged on to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Windows Live and four of my Google accounts, the address book becomes a total nightmare. Lots of people are in several of my networks, which puts them in my address book several times. But not all of them have phone numbers. So, I keep on choosing the wrong contact. And trying to call home, I didn’t even find the number. I am sure there are great ways of streamlining this. I do that on the Nexus S and iPhone as well. But I have not found out how to do it on this one.

I think Nokia made a nice phone, but I am not enjoying it because Windows Phone doesn’t work the way I would want it to. And I might be able to solve a lot of this by choosing the right apps. So, tell me, what are the apps you enjoy most on Windows Phone and why? And how did you sort out your address book? Looking forward to hearing from you so I can give the Lumia a second chance!

A marketing campaign will not make Windows Phone succeed

At the end of March, Nokia will launch their new Nokia Ace in the US. And rumor has it that the launch will be accompanied by a great marketing campaign that will run in the neighborhood of $100 million. I just read this on BetaNews. An interesting article that goes on to state that Microsoft needs a hero in the Windows Phone stakes. However, the statement leaves me wondering what their campaign will be on.

I am a firm believer that people want to buy a mobile device that is easy to use and gives them the features they want, for the price they want it at. Almost every day I have people ask me what phone they should buy and how their phone can help them do what they want. And unanimously they ask whether to buy Android or iPhone. I never get asked the question for Windows Phone. Nobody asks me the same about Blackberry either, because you either want one for Blackberry messenger or you are stuck with one as your company phone.

Will a $100 million marketing campaign solve this problem? Hardly. Few people choose their phones on the commercials they have seen or the billboards they drove past. They do choose their phones on what their friends are using and the ease it seems to give them. I agree with Robert Scoble when he responds to Charlie Kindle’s post on why WP7 has not taken off. Through its users, Android and iOS both show they are safe choices. People around you use them. Of all the people I have met over the past three weeks, I have only met one with a Nokia Lumia. One. Hardly a match for the people that have told me about their new iPhone 4S or Android phone.

I am afraid the $100 million might just vaporize on the way to selling a phone. Back in 2007 the launch of the iPhone changed the mobile phone landscape. Back in 2009, carriers were still longing for a good iPhone competitor to offer their customers. Now, in 2012 we have it all. Back in 2007, developers were eager to jump the bandwagon to build their coolest ideas into iOS apps. Now, few startups even see Windows Phone or Blackberry as a viable market. So they develop for iOS and Android only.
I am assuming Microsoft is launching a ‘regular’ marketing campaign with Nokia and AT&T in which they will be targeting consumers to buy the Nokia Ace. What happens is that we get into a circle of people waiting for each other and no phones being sold. Because the consumers will only change to Windows Phone when their favorite apps are running on WP and developers will not be eager to do WP development unless WP reaches enough critical mass to make it worth their while.

Solution? Take a good chunk of that budget and target developers, startups and innovators. To port their existing apps to WP, but also to develop cool new apps that will be exclusive to WP for now. I firmly believe there is a market for WP. However, you need to know where it is to be able to benefit from it. For now, WP phones will mainly be bought by companies to replace their older Windows Mobile devices. A device management issue. But startups can make the most of this by launching themselves specifically geared to business development. There is enough to do in that market still and there is money to sell your apps. And making that work will show other developers that WP might be a financial goldmine waiting for them.

In essence? Spending $100 million on marketing is not going to cut it. It needs to be spent on the eco system that will allow your customer to do what they want with your product. Only then will you be making progress.

How to create and manage a Google+ Page

So Google has launched Google+ Pages. And you have read my earlier post and would like to have one. Great. But how do you do it? Read on, I will tell you how. (Click any image to see a larger version.)


First off, you need to find the “Create a page” button which Google cleverly hid on the right side of your screen. If you scroll down, you will find it below your hangouts button. Click that and you are on your way towards making your Google Plus Page.


As a start, you will see a familiar page setup. If you have ever made a Facebook page, you will recognize this. The page gives you five choices.

  • “Local business or Place” where you can register if you are a business with a local focus such as hotels, restaurants, places, stores, services etc.
  • “Product or Brand” where you can register if you have a clear brand like Coca Cola, or if you are are selling things like apparel, cars, electronics, financial services etc.
  • “Company, Institution or Organization” where you can register if you want to build a page for your company, organization, institution, non-profit or to promote your organization as a whole.
  • “Arts, Entertainment or Sports” where you can register if you are involved in or want to promote things like movies, TV, music, books, sports, shows and whatever else you can think of that falls into this category.
  • “Other” where you can register if your page doesn’t fit in another category.

After making that choice, your next step is to add some basic information. For this example, I will be making a page for my company Relationists. Some of the fields you will have to fill out might be different depending on the category you choose. When you do a local business you need to fill out your location first for example. Other categories follow more or less the same lines as this example will.


After you have made your choice for a category, you get to name the page and link it to a website if you have one. You can also pick the category the page will be active in and who is able to see it. Check the “I agree to” button after reading the Pages Terms and click create.


You will then be taken to a new screen to customize your public profile. Here you can write your tagline. This is the line that is put underneath the title of your page. You can also add a profile photo.


After you click the Change profile Photo button you will be taken to an upload screen. In true Google form you can drag a picture from you computer onto the screen to set it as your profile photo.


After you have added a picture, you will be able to do some basic editing. Make sure your photo is square or you might loose parts of it.


With the photo on the page, you now get the option to spread the word. You can skip this if you like. There are more possibilities to do this once the page is finished.


When you do want to share it now, you get a popup that you can put your message in. After sharing, click finished on the bottom of the page to continue.


Congratulations, you have just made a page. But it is not finished yet. Amongst other things, there is nothing to see there. So, it is time for a first post.


The first posts works like any other post in Google Plus. You can type, add links etc. and choose the circles to share it with. Please keep in mind that circles for pages work slightly differently. You can only add people to the circle of your page after they have added your page to their circles. A good thing is the flawless switch between using Google Plus as a person or as a page.


Now you are ready to edit your profile. Make sure you are using Google Plus as your page and you will see a new button appear on the right side of the screen. It says edit profile and that is what it does. Here you can edit the About, Photos and Videos pages.


Adding an introduction to your page is easy enough. Just a text field with limited layout options, but enough to make a nice introduction. After adding the introduction, make sure that you add ways for people to reach you. Your page is only as good as the options are for people to get in touch with you.


At the top of the edit profile page you can also add a photo bar. A nice feature which we have seen at Facebook before. Here you can add five photos that will be shown as 125×125 pixel squares. Just click the photo bar to enter edit mode and you will be able to add individual pictures. Creating a continuous bar is easy when you know that the width of the whole area is 685×125 and that every picture is separated by 17 pixels. You can use my example cutout to create your own bar in your own image editor.


Click ok, stop editing and your page is ready to go. Enjoy. But do not leave it at this. Your page should be personal and active. Add to your stream and get people involved in hangouts etc. Only then will your page reach its maximum benefit.

Google launches Google Plus Pages to beat Facebook

Yes, Google has added pages to Google Plus. And even though you might think that this is not that big a deal, I think it could have a lot more impact than you think.

Google has launched pages that are not that different from what we are used to in Google+. That means that, unlike Facebook, a Google+ page is just a single page. No extra fuss. No extra pages. They might come in the future, but for now your page only has a block of five pictures on the top, a timeline and three links to a limited About page and photo’s and video’s that you have uploaded. The good thing is that Google has incorporated the regular Google+ features. Obviously you can add pages to your circles keeping their communications where you would want it. However, what is much more interesting is the option to create a hangout on your page. So, if you run a celebrity page, you can now do an online meet and greet as easy as planning a time to open up the hangout. The Muppets did exactly that yesterday when you could chat with Kermit and Miss Piggy. And yes, this is to promote their new show.

Google+ Pages put the focus on people even more than Facebook does. Their point is that their pages are a great way to connect to the team behind the brand, the organization or the name. A valid point. And one that could explain the lack of extra pages. Though they might add the option to create extra tabs and create pages in the future.

So, with the parts they are missing, why would Google Plus Pages be even a remote threat to Facebook? Search, that is why. Even though more and more people use social search -asking friends a question- Google still holds all the cards in search. We have seen the impact of that with the +1 button which puts pages your friends have liked on top of your search results. And it won’t be long until Google Plus Pages will be doing the same. Their pages will turn up before the Facebook version will. And that will happen across the board. Whether on the computer, tablet or mobile, Google Plus Pages might become one of the most natural entrances to your brand from the search results. After all the effort you have put into your Facebook page, you might not like the idea. But it might all be for the best if you are a company that takes its customers seriously. Because the entrance through your Google page might become your key to individual success with your customers. Hangouts with key representatives will get potential customers to connect to your products and services much more than Facebook will ever allow you to. And purchasing stays at your own doorstep instead of Facebook’s.

Do I think Google Plus Pages will be a success? Yes. By the sheer size of the Google Plus network? No. But by the integration that Google is rolling out into every single one of its products. And by the personal nature in which you can start interacting with your audience.

How Facebook killed the “like” button and introduces a new marketing challenge

The like button has only been around for about a year. Just a year. And look what it has done. It has brought over us a storm of people asking us to click that button for their sake. It has brought us services that have included their own version of the like button like G+, +K etc. It has brought us endless buttons that are published for the sole reason of sharing a story somewhere on a timeline in your social universe. And now Facebook has come and taken it all away again. And that is a good thing.

To be honest, if you are a marketeer and your metrics consist of measuring your Twitter followers and your Facebook likes, you might as well use the weather report to assess your business success on social media. Though this might sound a bit strong, that is the truth. Neither of these figures tell you anything about your position in social media. The trouble is that neither of these figures shows whether there is a relationship. You can have a million followers on twitter and nobody who is actively engaged with you. The same goes for your Facebook likes. They might not have anything to do with the engagement of your customers. One of the reasons people would have to like you, would be to be able to post to your wall. Facebook has announced that this will change and that non-fans will be able to post to your wall soon.

Recent surveys show that people only “like” about 10 brands on Facebook. This means that not even all of your fans will be liking your page. As a matter of fact, I own and use a number of Apple products but I have never liked Apple on Facebook. And I bet you can look around your house and say the same thing about a lot of brands you use daily. On the other hand, liking has never been and never will be the basis of conversion. Your competitor with less than 1% of your likes might have built a very engaged community which might quadruple his conversion rate over yours.

The new social graph approach with frictionless sharing (automatic sharing of your ativities) and a redesigned timeline will make sure that your community will not be seeing as much of you as you might have wanted. And their network might not come across you at all. With the recent addition of the ticker for less important and quicker news, we see that most branded content ends up in the ticker and scrolls off the screen within seconds for more active users. There goes your like-button strategy.

Marketeers, just like anyone else on social networks, need to go back to the basics. What is the best way to engage with my audience? How can I connect to them on a personal and relevant level. How can I make sure that I help my target audience reach their goals. And how and when can I communicate with them on a personal level, so I do not interfere with, but add to their experience. If you are a marketeer for a company, whether you are small business or working for a multinational corporation, you need to let go of everything that you have learned about mass communication. You need to look at your target audience and just ask yourself one simple question; How can I relate to all these people in the most personal and relevant manner? If you can answer that question right, you are on your way to social media success. Especially on the new Facebook.

Can you tell us why you are leaving?

What could we have done to keep you as a customerA couple of weeks ago, I decided to say goodbye to Vodafone and switch to Dutch mobile provider Telfort. And with good reason. Or at least, that is my opinion. This week I got a questionnaire from Vodafone asking me why I was leaving them.

In essence that is a great move. Someone leaves you as a customer and you want to know why, so you ask them. However, what is my trigger to fill out the questionnaire? In this case, the only thing mentioned in the email announcing the questionnaire, was that all the answers will be kept confidential. As if that is of any concern to me. In fact, I am telling everyone who wants to know that I am leaving Vodafone and why. And the interesting part of this is that it is not even about the price. It is about my customer experience.

So, yes, my new Telfort subscription is cheaper and has the same network quality. But what triggered me to change providers is the way Vodafone treated me over the past months. In the past I have had my trouble with Vodafone, but usually their customer service solved the problems. Until now. A couple of months ago the Dutch providers have jumped the data train. Whatever was possible before isn’t anymore. Unlimited internet subscriptions are turned into limited versions while prices are multiplied. And if it remains unlimited, the speed drops down after a set amount of traffic. Annoying to say the least. So, I approached Vodafone Special Services (yes, a couple of years ago they told me I was a valued customer) to ask them whether they could give me my average data usage over the past couple of months. And then it went silent. I asked again and it stayed silent. I the end, I got an offer from another party to switch to their network. So, I called regular customer service and during our conversation on the length of my subscription, they told me that they could just give me the figure for the last three months. Apparently Special Services no longer thought I was a valued customer as nobody responded even though every customer service employee can see the answer to my question with a single click.

Was I unhappy with Vodafone in general? No. Over the past seven years I have been very happy about their services. However, if I spend around €1200 with you every year, I would at least expect the courtesy of answering a simple question. In the questionnaire they also asked me whether I was approached personally with an offer and whether that would have changed my choice. That is hardly a question. Of course it would have helped if someone would have contacted me and talked with me about my personal needs in mobile communications and how they could match that. And a good offer could have kept me with Vodafone. That call would at least have shown me that my relationship with Vodafone was a two way street. Now the feeling remained that my relationship with Vodafone depended on me. My money, my effort, my enthusiasm.

If a client leaves you, it is great to ask them why they are leaving. You can learn from it. However, it is much better to keep your customer from leaving you. Talk to them before they leave. Answer their questions. Show them that you value the relationship with them as well. That is not hard to do. Most people are quite happy with a call or a personal message. If you run a subscription service, make sure you contact your customers in time, to see whether there are better solutions you can offer. Your relationship with your customer is much more important to them than the actual price of the subscription. Because the perceived value is different.

Got a startup? Be on stage at LeWeb’11!

Yes, LeWeb will have a startup competition again. This year LeWeb is looking for the three best startups for the Social/Local/Mobile (SoLoMo – yes, the theme) marketplace. Is that you? Well, it might be if you have got anything to do with any of these. And the best way to find out is to enter the competition.

Something that I personally love in the approach to the competition this year is that they will be including a video element in their competition. And they have already said that creativity and originality will be the key to success. So, bring out the video equipment, the pizza, drinks and snacks and do an all night brainstorm with your crew how you are going to storm this competition. Read more on the LeWeb’11 agenda.

Btw. why do I love that video element that much? Because I know it will be fun to do, but also because I know it can pull your team together more. Hanging out and trying to get the weirdest ideas going to present your startup will get the most out of your team and bring you closer together after the stress of regular business. How do I know? In 2008 I ran a video competition with Erwin Blom and Lucien Burm. Soocial did a great movie that took the complete Next Web conference by storm. (They were not actually in the end results for the competition as they also won The Next Web’s own startup competition.) Take a look at it below and then get to work!

Hassle Free from Soocial on Vimeo.