In the past years, I have worked for a great number of companies; they all served a different purpose – while one was purely about content generation, another was producing software and yet another focused on the building of websites for corporate communication.
I have long been fascinated by what is called the “social web” and it is with great pleasure that I can finally announce what a handful of people have known for about a month now: I am the latest intern to join Dutch-American start-up xolo.tv.
I was in the fortunate position of being able to choose from a handful of different companies for my first internship, but in the end, the products that xolo.tv are developing are the ones that appeal to me the most.
xolo.tv’s platform was first introduced to me back during PICNIC’07, when Marc van Woudenberg gave an impromptu presentation to a number of people during an early dinner, after the conclusion of the European Bloggers Conference.
I seeded quite a bit at PICNIC with my custom-made moo.com LinkedIn cards and Marc was one of the lucky recipients but since I did not have enough time to actually get a good talk going, I figured that nothing much would come of it.
For one reason or another however, Marc got back to me and after studying my profile on LinkedIn and approached me to set up a meeting for November 2007. Hah, take that all you nay-sayers who think that LinkedIn cannot be used to get a job!
To be honest, I had no real clue as to what to expect from the talks up-front. Marc seemed to think highly enough of me to devote some of his valuable time to a meeting. I was impressed, plain and simple, but at the same time puzzled, so puzzled that I did not know how to prepare for the meeting and did all I could: learn about all past clients of xolo.tv, create a presentation (yes, just in case) on how they could expand their customer-base and
I had never had a formal interview, mostly because I always gained “access” to a job by sweet-talking my way in, not that there is anything wrong with it, but it is a totally different thing than what happened at xolo.tv.
What impressed, yet at the same time, scared me the most was the warm welcome I received. I burst in during lunch (which just so happened to be a tradition their other intern started) and was invited to join them and grab a bite to eat.
Soon thereafter, the talks started where I got a chance to showcase cuizine.tv and was then cross-examined by a number of xolo.tv employees and finally, after receiving a number of interesting and not that easy to answer questions, I was left with mixed feelings.
I knew one thing and that was that I wanted to work there. I also knew that the people working their all are specialists in one way or another and I somehow had to find a reason to convince them, because, frankly, I just had to do this, if not only for the reason that one of the clients was Bløf (yes, it’s true and yes, this was not my main motivation).
During the course of the meeting, Marc expressed his interest in setting up a follow-up meeting for December 2007 and it is safe to say that I was starting to get a good feeling about the whole deal.
The second meeting was much easier-going, basically all we did was sign a few papers and grab some drinks to celebrate, all the while discussing the secrets and intricacies of the female mind - go figure.
Yesterday evening, the guys from The Next Web, Fleck, Wakoopa and Twones invited a select audience to Feest.je in order to celebrate their recent successes with the respective companies and introduce a couple of new features.
Getting to know the right people is not impossible at such parties, but it certainly is harder if you do not own a company that is in the news every other day. Getting to know the people that matter is even harder, especially if you do not have some kind of (paper) business card.
While I do not like the idea of a (paper) business card on its own, simply for the fact that the information can not be updated easily nor can you decide who gets which information (it is: all or nothing), I do understand that even though it is called a Web 2.0 community, paper still sways its scepter over the way contact information is shared.
Since I do not own a fancy company or work for someone that plays in the Web 2.0 scene, I figure that there is little to no information I could put on a business card that would make it worth the paper.
Something I am happy with, however, is my LinkedIn profile, because it showcases some of the things I have done and I personally enjoy staying in contact with my contacts on a serious platform which just works a lot better for me than, say, Facebook.
With LinkedIn, if you want to connect with another person, you only really need two things: a name and an email address and that is exactly what I put on my hand-outs:
I do not have any stats yet, but I think the cards worked pretty well. Mostly because of their unusual format and because they are a no-nonsense way of communicating those bits of information that are important.
The product in itself, unfortunately, is no official LinkedIn item and not sanctioned by the powers that be, but I figure that this could be of interest to more people.
Naturally, “pimping” yourself is important, but one should never go to a party without bringing at least something, some kind of gift, for the host(s).
Truth be told, I
had have a gift for the hosts, the only problem is that it was delivered today, on the day that Feest.je was originally slated to happen and not yesterday, the revised date for the party.
That said, what do you give someone who has a beautiful
wife partner and kids and more web properties than you can shake a stick at? Exactly, something he does not have and the answer to what it actually is will follow soon.
Lately, namely, the last three years, it would seem that customer service is something out of the ordinary. Something you’re only entitled to if you have buckets full of cash. If you’re a normal customer, you shouldn’t even be thinking about getting to talk to a real person.
On blogs like the Consumerist, you can read about companies that eff up, businesses that treat their customers unfairly and the likes. Sure, there are situations when the customer is at fault, for example when yelling at a CS rep who didn’t even cause a problem. I totally understand (and agree) that such calls should be terminated as soon as possible, but there are also situations, where the customer didn’t do anything wrong and still doesn’t get what he is looking for.
A few days ago, I submitted a ticket to Flickr, in regards of a question I had. Basically, I wanted to switch the account name my Flickr account was tied to. My question to them was not if they could do it, but only if it was possible. All it would have taken is a simple “yes” or “no”. Now, I’m not the biggest Flickr user, because I have my own gallery and like it a lot better and in fact only bought the Flickr account so I could buy some MOO cards, but I am a paying customer nonetheless.
To date, I have not yet received any communication from them, other than the one their auto responder sends out telling me that my issue will be looked into as quickly as possible. Their site states that a human will be in contact with you, at some point. Really now?
Yesterday, I also came across an issue with YouTube. Basically, I was unable to update my channel info successfully. Whenever I entered my data in the fields, it would be saved but during the process, would also erase data I entered into other fields.
Since I thought this to be a general site issue, I fired off an email to YouTube support, letting them know of the issue. Naturally, I was sent a standard auto responder, telling me that the issue would be looked into, but that I shouldn’t expect any response. I’m fine with that. I’m not a paying customer, I know that YouTube is huge and if they would fix the problem, I’d be happy.
Google, apparently thinks otherwise. Less than twelve hours after submitting my original request, Elizabeth from the YouTube team told me the following:
Thanks for your email.
Thank you for your notification. It looks like the issue was the result of an issue with our website. It’s been reported to our engineers and should be fixed!
We apologize for the inconvenience, but you will have to try to make the changes to your channel again.
A simple mail, with an easy to understand answer. Sure, half of it may be text snippets, she just drags and drops into the response field, but at least they try - and to be honest, it’s working. I’m confident that the issue will be resolved in no time.
Google, while telling you not to expect an answer, actually always writes back (at least, they do in my case). I’ve had issues with AdSense, GMail and GTalk and I have always gotten answers out of them. All of these services are free to use and I’m not a paying customer. I’m no A - List blogger and I don’t have the power to kill their reputation, yet they treat me with the same kindness every time. Why they do it, I don’t know. I’m guessing it’s corporate culture and if it is, it’s a great one.
That same corporate culture is what makes people want to work at Google, it’s what makes those people proud. Now, I don’t agree with turning over all my data to Google and I only use my GMail accounts sparingly, but I gotta give it to them that they are doing (most of) the right things.
I think, if Yahoo! would take care of their customers a little more, they could actually gain back a nice piece of the market they lost to Google…