“There is a Japanese proverb that says: ‘Raise the sail with your stronger hand’. Meaning you must go after the opportunities that arise in life that you are best equipped to do”.

Soichiro Honda (founder of Honda)

Newsflash!

Effectively immediately I have joined a team of four developers, one designer, one trainee and one CEO/Founder in their mission to help small and medium sized e-commerce stores eliminate bad customer service. I have joined SaaS startup ROBIN – the intelligent Customer Service Assistant.

As ROBIN’s ‘Marketing Manager Content Marketing & Online PR’ I will (and I quote from the job description) ‘develop and execute a creative startup marketing strategy, editorial calendar and standards that deliver business results like share-of-voice, ecommerce customer service evangelism, branding & the most important thing: signups within the ecosystems of our partners.’

Why leave Storywise?

Over the past four years I successfully set-up, developed and managed Storywise, my own communication consultancy, together with my co-founder Steve Seager. Throughout this time we helped our clients answer the burning question: ‘What content should I publish to reach my business goals?’. And by content I mean the actual ‘contents’ of their marketing communications – the messaging; the thing you plan to say.

Thanks to Steve’s shit-hot strategic communications process we developed Editorial and Content Marketing strategies for clients in B2B and B2C, across ICT, Professional Services, Culture, Media and Not-for-profit. I’m happy to say Storywise’s client list is still growing.

I feel extremely privileged that I went through this process myself for various clients – and received such great coaching from Steve along the way. I could have never become the content marketer I am today without that experience.

However, even though working for clients can be fun, I most often felt like an outsider offering partial business solutions. I missed the ‘through-the-line’ involvement and relationships that come with working within a dedicated team. I missed having ownership of a single product or brand. I missed doing what I am best equipped to do: being a marketer.

Why join ROBIN?

At ROBIN I’m getting all the marketing opportunities I could wish for. First of all, ROBIN is a great product that solves a real problem for web store owners. ROBIN aggregates all the customer service client conversations – from e.g. email, web form, phone & Twitter – and consolidates these conversations in one smart and easy-to-use interface.

ROBIN also integrates seamlessly with major e-Commerce platforms such as SEOshop, Magento, Shopify, BigCommerce and others. This saves the customer service team loads of time and allows them to help their client better.

And to top things off, ROBIN learns from every question asked and every answer given. So the more you use ROBIN the smarter it gets. Pretty neat and a great USP!

But my main reason for joining ROBIN is my instant click with the people. They have a great team consistently focussed on getting it right. From the start ROBIN developed a clear strategy to match their solution to their target audience needs. This is the best foundation for content marketing I could possibly wish for!

Blogging & more blogging

I will continue blogging here on my personal blog about content marketing strategy, social media marketing and other Marketing 2.0 related topics. As ever: in plain English!

In addition, you will also see blog posts from me on the ROBIN blog which will be more oriented on e-Commerce, Customer Service and other topics that are of value to ROBIN clients, prospects & stakeholders.

Thank you, thank you, thank you

To close this blog post off, I would like to thank our Storywise clients for their trust and appreciation of our work.

Also, a huge thanks to my family for their patience, trust and undying support.

And last but not least, a massive thanks to Steve. It’s been a great ride and my life will never be the same. In a couple of years, I will be able to say that I worked closely with the guy who did to communications what Quentin Tarantino did to film. I am proud to have worked with you and am grateful to be your friend.

PS

That little ‘Contact Us’ button on the right side of this blog? That’s ROBIN! Feel free to drop me a line. I’ll get back to very quickly, definitely within’ 24 hours. Promise!

Joe PesciOne of my favourite marketing 2.0 quotes of all time comes from Gary Vaynerchuk, the video blogger, who so successfully built his wine business through social marketing. He says:

There is no substitute for caring for your audience, your customer and your clients. And… you need to have an actual business model to support and sustain it.

This really is the secret of successful marketing on the social web.

If you care for your customers, offer them great products and services, exceptional customer service and an overall satisfying experience – you create a happy customer. And happy customers create more customers.

Below is the video with Gary’s interview where he said what I just said he said ;-)

I’ve placed this clip on my blog before, and back then I received comments from people who said that they had a hard time making out exactly what Gary had to say.

That’s partly because the interview (by Monty Metzger) was conducted on a really busy street, and partly because Gary sounds like Joe Pesci on a marketing mission.

Since I placed this clip on my blog before, I felt obliged to add a little extra value. So you can download a PDF with an English transcript of the video, below; just in case you are having a hard time hearing exactly what Gary had to say. I had great fun puzzling it together.

Download video transcript: Gary Vaynerchuk on the secret of his success [PDF]

UPC customer telepathyHi y’all. I dropped off the blogosphere for a week to do some skiing in Austria. Major recharge! I recommend it! ;-)

Here’s a quick personal story about customer service to the max: when I returned to Amsterdam, I found a letter on my doorstep from UPC – my cable company. I am a customer for TV, telephone and broadband (fibre) internet.

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Companies that have bad customer service will never make it on the social web. Ehhrr… well actually – as you can see down at the bottom of this post – they can make it in reverse ;-)

Below you find a little clip of a great customer service prank in Belgium. The clip is in Dutch but has subtitles! (thanks for the tip Jeff)

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Image of race car Facebook Vs HamiltonI like Vodafone. I’ve been a customer for years. Mostly because their reception is good. And that’s the most important factor for a network operator.

But I don’t love Vodafone. I’m not a fan. And that’s a shame actually, because as a loyal customer, I think I am a prime target to become a fan. I don’t really get why Vodafone is not focusing more on improving customer loyalty: especially in a market where people easily switch providers. It simply doesn’t make sense.

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Recently my business partner Steve wrote a post about Zappos generating more than 1 billion USD in sales over 2009 with more than 75% being repeat business. They sell shoes and clothing online. But as he points out, they actually sell customer service. It truly is at the heart of their business model.

When you see their amazing level of customer service, it automatically makes me think of all the times I haven’t been treated well as a customer.

A recent personal experience

I’ve been a loyal Vodafone customer for years. When I wanted the new Google Nexus phone, I called them. They told me they didn’t stock it and suggested I go somewhere else. That’s it. Nothing else. They didn’t ask me why I wanted the Nexus, suggest an alternative, point me in the right direction. See if they could help. They just told me to go elsewhere. That’s definitely not what I call good customer service.

I ended up getting my free Google Nexus One phone through an online vendor. But guess what? I still prolonged my subscription with Vodafone.

Why?

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A personal little story about customer service…

I’m constantly amazed how many companies are still living in the old world.

A few days ago my HTC S740 phone broke down. Pretty good news, because I wasn’t happy with it at all. The thing is running on Windows Mobile 6 point something, and well… it just ain’t working.

Since I’ve been a client at Vodafone for many years, I called them up to renew my contract and get a new phone. I had my eye on the Google Nexus One with Android operating system. Unfortunately Vodafone couldn’t deliver that phone.

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To vaccinate or not to vaccinate?

Way back in early July the Dutch Ministry of Health started their campaign to inform the general public of the vaccination on the Mexican flu. It’s now November and the outbreak is classified as mild. But in the meantime, on the internet, the virus is even more potent than ever.

When the government announced their campaign, they didn’t properly anticipate, or cater for, the amount of questions people would have. And so, as you would expect, with no offical help coming forward, people flocked online to find out whether or not they should get themselves, or their children, vaccinated.

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