Archive of ‘Blog’ category

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.

Praktisch LinkedIn gebruiken voor ondernemers

Gisteren mocht ik voor de Zeeuwse netwerkclub Fun In Business spreken over het praktisch inzetten van LinkedIn. Net als bij de meeste andere sociale netwerken leeft ook over LinkedIn vaak de vraag hoe het direct wat op kan leveren voor je bedrijf. De essentie van die vraag zit, zoals altijd, in het stellen van duidelijke doelen en het richten op een duidelijke doelgroep. Daarnaast heb je natuurlijk de technische mogelijkheden die LinkedIn je biedt om je te profileren en zakelijk te netwerken.

Hieronder staat de presentatie die ik gisteren gegeven heb. Allereerst ga ik in op het inrichten van een effectief profiel. Daarna kijken we naar de mogelijkheden om je te profileren door het gebruik van LinkedIn Answers, de bedrijfspagina en natuurlijk de groepen. Ook komen er een aantal handige tips voorbij voor het starten van je eigen groep. Na het profileren kijken we naar acquisitie via LinkedIn. Er zijn veel mogelijkheden, maar ook veel verkeerde benaderingen. Er komen weer een aantal nuttige tips voorbij. Uiteraard mag op een avond over LinkedIn het onderdeel werving en selectie niet ontbreken. Ook daarvoor heb ik 15 tips in de presentatie gezet. Afsluitend kijk ik dan nog even naar een paar tools die het gebruik van LinkedIn leuk maken. Daarvoor licht ik er twee functies uit LinkedInLabs uit, maar ook de nieuwe startup Vizualize.me. (Kijk naar mijn eigen Vizualize.me profiel.)

Natuurlijk is de presentatie maar de helft van het verhaal. Voel je vrij om de presentatie te bekijken en de delen met anderen. Wil je het geluid bij de presentatie hebben, neem dan contact met mij op. Ik kom graag eens bij je langs om te vertellen wat de impact van LinkedIn, maar ook van andere sociale netwerken kan zijn op jouw bedrijf.

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.

Customer happiness is in your attitude

How often do you check the satisfaction of your customers? Do you dare to offer them the guarantee that whatever their problem is, you will solve it? You should. And this is why.

The other day I ordered an arm strap for my Nexus S from eBay.com so I can take it along when running. As a European, ordering from an American site to take delivery from something from Hongkong might seem to be a potential nightmare for both seller as well as buyer. But then my strap included a message from my eBay seller. My seller requested that I would give him five stars. You might think that is a bit too much. But the lines after that were what made the message so important. Regardless of what my problems were, my seller promised me that he would solve any problems I would have with the item he had shipped to me. His attitude to get a five star rating was that he did not want my user experience to be anything but those five stars.

So, when was the last time you asked your customer whether they were satisfied with the product you provided them with? Make it a point of your business to ask that question. Make sure you ask that question to anyone and everyone. Because their feedback will make sure you achieve no less than five star experiences for every single client you have. Will there be problems to solve? Of course, but the right solution will win you ambassadors instead of clients. And they bring in new clients to become ambassadors.

Facebook Messenger for Android now available in Europe

Right before heading off to bed to leave for a conference early tomorrow morning, I decided to check the Android Market. I was sure Facebook was not going to be releasing its Messenger app so quickly in Europe, but I was proven wrong. I already had the iPhone app through my American iTunes account, but now the Android app is available for Europe in the Android market as well. A great step for what might just replace most of my other messaging apps.

Download Facebook Messenger from the Android Market.

Jux, the future of blogging?

A screenshot of my Jux pageYesterday Jux has launched something new. An addition to blogging? An alternative for blogging? I am not sure. I think that for now, I will call it a great tool for sharing. Because for me, that is what blogging and social networks are all about. Sharing with friends and meeting new people through the content that I share. For you? That might be different. For your business? Again. But for me, it is about sharing what I see, what I think about, sharing my thoughts and inspiring others.

So, Jux you said? Yes. Unlike current blogging systems (like this WordPress blog), Jux is not focusing on sharing text and then beautifying it with images. Jux aims for the experience. Images, video and text can all be mixed together to create more of an experience page than a blog in the traditional sense of the word. Do I like that? Yes. A picture says more than a thousand words, and I am a bit of a talker. But I like the way Jux presents the content I can create. I like what I write to be an experience. And Jux allows me to create that. More than WordPress, Tumblr or Posterous does.

Is there a downside? Obviously. You have to have that visual content. And not everyone always has visual content that supports the point they are trying to get across. There also is a distinct lack of lenght. I wouldn’t know how I could share the post on recommending your favorite bloggers for LeWeb’11 in Jux. And that makes it less of a real blogging platform to me.

Is there room for improvement? Absolutely. There is no way to save a post as a draft. Or at least not that I could find. Then there is no way to connect it to your personal URL, which is incredibly important if it is your personal expression space. By my standards anyway. And I would like to have more freedom in moving text blocks around and playing with more fonts and styling elements. But I am sure that will grow in the future. So, Juxers, if you are reading this, this is my wish list:

  • Saving a post as a draft
  • Scheduling a post
  • A creative all text format that I can use to post text only posts
  • Keeping me signed in with Facebook and Twitter
  • Moving text blocks around and resizing them to fit text and images
  • More fonts
  • More styling elements
  • Allow me to change the color of my JUX title
  • Running it on a personal domain or a personal subdomain

But in general, I am going to play with this for a while. Check out my playground.

Send your favorite blogger to LeWeb11 in December

This year, I will be part of the team that is overseeing blogger accreditations for LeWeb. Together with Stephanie Booth and Frédéric de Villamil we will be making a selection of the best international bloggers (and podcasters) who will be invited to be official LeWeb’11 bloggers. However, we need your help to find the best bloggers for the job.

This year LeWeb’11 will be a three day conference. That is an extra day over last year, which means there will be 33% more great content. That alone is a reason to be there. The theme this year is SOLOMO, social-local-mobile. If you are not eligible for a blogger accreditation, you can get a ticket at €800 off until September 30th! If you are a student, freelance developer or a startup, there are different offers for you which you can find at the bottom of the registration page.

Right now, you can help a blogger go for free and be an official LeWeb’11 blogger. How? Just by filling out a simple form. Just tell us which bloggers you like and why you think they should be invited to LeWeb’11.

What do we expect of official bloggers? We are looking for people that:
Have a passion for content and reporting;
Commit to attending and covering the conference (it’s in English) on their blog;
Have significant reach and influence inside their community.
And naturally, they have to have a proper, publicly accessible and established blog or postcast. And by the way, having huge numbers of followers on whatever social network does not make you a blogger. Blogging does.
(An official blogger will receive tickets to LeWeb’11 for free. Every blogger will need to cover their own expenses for visiting the conference.)

We will be going over all submissions as they come in. This takes time. Please allow us to take that time. Each blogger we select to become an official LeWeb’11 blogger, will be contacted by us personally and directly.

Please keep in mind that being recommended is not part of a popularity contest. There have been some people that had that thought last year. Every blogger will be looked at and selected based on our own criteria. The number of recommendations that they have had is of no importance to us.

The main reason for us to work with recommendations, is that we want to discover important bloggers and podcasters that we might not have known of. And to make sure that we do not miss anybody we absolutely should be inviting.

So, here is the form. We are looking forward to your recommendations.

Where do I want to go? – About individual transportation

This morning, I am typing this on a bench at a train station while I am waiting for my connection. I have a place where I want to go, but there are no straight trains to get there, nor has getting there been fundamentally changed over the past fifty years. Or even longer. Let’s face it, the last great boost in technology for public transport came when we traded steam for electricity or diesel for areas where they couldn’t be bothered to put the wiring in. And in the meantime, we are sitting in traffic jams with all their negative side effects. Something is wrong here.

I know I am probably not the first one to say this, but where are the personal transportation pods? The Netherlands is reasonably covered in rails. Trains go to most of the country, and there are many well situated stations. But very often our train journey takes us along the route of the majority rather than suiting our personal needs. A transportation pod could solve a problem here. Today I am traveling from my home to a city about an hour and fifteen minutes away by car. The journey will take two hours by train. Most of that extra time is taken up by waiting to change trains. So what if we would change all of that?

Imagine I wake up in the morning and I decide where I need to go. The new train system allows me new choices. I choose to travel to my destination in a standard transportation pod. It is a small unit that can hold four people and their luggage that can be pre-reserved or taken from a station based on availability. The fare you pay depends on the way you book your pod. If you pre-reserve, you get immediate availability in a timeframe of 15 minutes around your chosen departure time. And you get a small discount on your trip. You also pay a pod price, that can be shared with your passengers by swiping a card or NFC enabled device within the pod. That way it will become cheaper and easier to provide group transportation for companies or for a day out with the family. The pod then runs along the rails of the train network at high speeds, being constantly guided by a local and central computer system. This takes you to your destination in almost the time as it takes to take your car. A good start.

Now look at it from a business perspective. It offers traditional train travellers the experience they are used to, but without the smelly neighbour. It also offers drivers the individual transport that they claim is their main reason to stand in traffic jams. You can offer multiple sized pods with four seats being the standard and other sizes designed to suit needs. A two seater pod for romantic outings or a twelve seater pod with alternative seating arrangements for meetings on the road. Hooligan pods that have nothing destructable in them, or festival pods that offer a place to pre-party with groups. And all these pods can be priced differently based on the needs of the client, subscriptions, time of day, distance and many other factors. And you can even decide on running very large pods, just like a current train, on busy routes at busy times offering travellers a significant discount for traveling in a group.

Are there no challenges? Yes, there are. Pod availability at stations will be a problem. However, travellers often wait fifteen minutes to get on their train now. Central storage locations at a maximum of fifteen minutes from a station could solve the availability problem for travellers that did not register a pod. However, special pods can only be reserved beforehand. A technical problem is the issue of passing at stations. At smaller stations there might only be two rails available allowing two way traffic. Another ‘parking rail’ ought to be installed so that passengers can easily get in and out of pods without stopping other traffic. And then there is the issue of level crossings. Personal transportation pods might be keeping the booms of the level crossing closed all the time due to their number and irregular schedules. From a business point of view, the biggest trouble lies in the investment. Individual transportation pods need to be built, old trains need to be scrapped and contracts to build new trains need to be cancelled. But the transition does not need to take much time. You can even allow for a bathroom or coffee break button in a pod, allowing new business at stations. And you could think of a million things you can do with a pod on the road when connected to wifi and social networks.

I honestly believe the individual transportation pod on rails has a future. But it’s main advantage is it’s main disadvantage. It is new and disrupts a business model public transportation firms have been using for decades. And obviously there will be problems I haven’t even considered. But I am sure there are ways to solve them without breaking the bank.

Facebook launches Messenger App; the end for Blackberry?

Last night Facebook launched their new Messenger App. The app is a stand separate app that allows you to quickly exchange messages with your friends. It has notifications and it allows you to send out group messages. These features make it an instant competitor for SMS and other messaging apps that try to provide an alternative to SMS. However, it comes from Facebook, instantly taking along its 750 million active users. These users need to decide whether they want to keep all their communications in one place -Facebook- or whether they are going to spread it over several different services. And I bet you can guess what the answer will be.

Not only will Facebook’s Messenger app be annoying to the telecom providers that see yet more SMS income seep away through its data services, but it might also mean the end to Blackberry. Over the past years Blackberry has been building its userbase more and more on their Blackberry messaging app. And that has gone great so far. Well, except for the occasional London riot. Many people have taken the plunge and spent a good amount of cash on getting a blackberry, because you don’t need much money to have a data connection and sending your text messages is then free. So you are just as connected, only cheaper. The Facebook Messenger app is going to change the reasoning. Now you can grab a cheap Android phone, which are priced below the Blackberry. You can run a Facebook messaging app on, which will do the same as the Blackberry messenger app. But now you can continue your conversation on your computer. Or any other online device. And with the full Facebook app added, you have all the access to your friends online as well. Great for users on a tight budget. And great for Facebook as well, as you only need to connect to be able to message. That makes you want to be friends.

A great step by Facebook. And it leaves me to wonder what will be their next. Though I have a thought or two. For now the Facebook Messenger app will only be available in the US, but it will become more widely available in the future. You can check it out now at the American iTunes store and Android Market.

Apple’s App Store; a briliant way to get nothing?

Ok, I admit, this is a personal frustration. But personal is the way of the web these days. And in fact, I know there are many more that have faced the same problems. Just browsing Twitter on #Lion and #Lionfail show enough of that.

So, what am I talking about? It is about buying a larger software package through the App Store. To be honest, I I haven’t used the App Store much to buy software. However, I did buy a couple of apps for Mac. None of them were very big, but functional enough. However, yesterday I decided to take the plunge and purchase Lion. The first time ever for me to purchase an operating system that did not come with DVD’s. Yes, I even bought Snow Leopard on DVD.

Apple’s idea is that everything can be updated through a simple process of downloading. But at 3,5 Gb there are risks. In the good old days of the internet downloading had its risks. You would avoid bigger http downloads choosing other alternatives. A little later we got downloaders that could resume the download. You would expect Apple to at least incorporate some of that technology. However, after my seventh attempt at downloading Lion, I long back to the days of booklets and DVD’s. Yesterday I tried it five times and every time the download got stuck on ‘waiting’. This mornings’ three attempts all stranded in ‘unable to reach the server’.

Offering a new cloud based service is great. Honest. But as one of the worlds’ leading technology companies Apple might have been able to create a better experience. Or not? Is this the new Apple strategy? Is the waiting and the failing downloads Apple’s online equivalent of newly released products being out of stock after lining up at the store for hours? Either way, as a customer I feel insulted. I get pulled in to make an effort to purchase a product and then I get nothing. Well, I get the bill. Because that part is sorted by Apple. As soon as I click the “buy now” button, it charges my credit card. And the rest is up to my own patience. Apparently.

Google+ might be heading where we want to go

It has been a week and a half since Google launched Google+. As soon as they launched, the discussion started on what Google was trying to achieve. Are they trying to migrate everyone from Facebook to Google through their circular approach? Are they trying to force other networks to be more open for data portability? Or is there something else?
In my personal opinion, Google+ might just be heading where we want to go.

Ok, enough with the cryptic nonsense. What am I trying to say there? Google is aiming at the complete integration of everything. Yes, everything. Once they were just your search engine. Then they became your main source for internet information. Whenever you had a question you turned to them. You asked and they answered with a multitude of possible answers. Then they started to help you out trying to find that obscure email from your mailbox. And you started to trust them with your correspondence, your collaboration documents and your contacts. Google+ only builds on the trend that has already been started. The trend that is called integration.

People like their friends. Fact. We like to spend time with our friends. Fact. We love to share things with our friends. Fact. And when our friends say something is good, we believe them. Fact. In my opinion Google+ is the next step in friend integration. Now Google+ and my friends turn up everywhere. In Gmail, in my calendar and even between my search results telling me who recommended any of those sites. That means that I am being more and more connected. Combine this with Google’s Android phones and Google’s Chrome laptops and we are looking at a fully integrated approach to geo-sensitive inter-friend communication. The future? Probably. By Google? Perhaps, but the race has not been run just yet. We will just have to see.

The Friday Five – Five iPad apps to stay in touch with what is happening

The coming weeks I have decided to have one day with a theme. The Friday Five. On the coming Fridays, I will be posting short lists of things. Things to do, things not to do. Things to change or things you should not be without. The Friday Five will reflect my personal view on many things. And as it is Friday, it is not always going to be very serious.

This week I want to share my five favorite apps on the iPad that I use to stay in touch with what is happening:

Boxcar

This has been on top of my list on both the iPad as well as the iPad ever since it was released. I never access the actual app, but its ability to give me push notifications on many services has helped me stay in touch realtime. One of my latest additions is a combination of a filter on my Google Apps account which forwards to Boxcar when mails with certain words or from certain people arrive. That enables me to quickly respond to current projects or special clients.

Twitter for iPad

One of the best Twitter clients around. The joy of browsing through tweets, hashtags, people’s conversations is huge. Twitter for Mac is getting close, but is not as much fun as Twitter for iPad is.

Zite

Just in and already on place three. Flipboard used to live here, but Zite is just so much nicer. Granted, it can do with some improvement, but the basis is great. It enables me to catch up with what has been happening in a comfortable manner. However, I would like it to be more clear in the way it uses my RSS feeds from Google Reader. Besides that, I would love an option to add my own Bit.ly account and a list of articles I want to save for later use, perhaps through Instapaper.

Friendly Facebook for iPad

Catching up with friends on Facebook is great to do, but I am not much of a fan of the Facebook site on the iPad. The official Facebook app is great on the iPhone, but doesn’t scale to the iPad, so I looked at Friendly. And I think it is pretty good. Does it enhance your life incredibly? No, but it is easy to use and nice to look at, so a definite must have if you want to do Facebook on the iPad.

Tweetradar

Just for the fun of it really. Tweetradar does what its name implies. It shows you a google maps background on which it projects the tweets for that area. Great to spot what is happening in your backyard, your city, another city or just for an event.

There you go, the Friday Five for this week. If you have an app you would want me to try, just let me know. If you have something that you would like to get my opinion on, let me know, I’ll do a Friday Five on it.