While Ernst-Jan took a flight to New York to cover the Web 2.0 Expo, today, I will cover an event that is much closer to the Next Web HQ. The whole day, Eday is offering 1500 seats to all the attendees who are interested in listening to some interesting speakers including Jeff Howe from Wired and Stanford Law School professor Lawrence Lessig. Brian Palmos, the Fake Steve Jobs and many others will do keynotes until the lights go out and the party starts at after-event, Enight.
Jeff Howe (Wired)
Crowd sourcing, a term first coined by Jeff Howe in a June 2006 article of Wired, has gotten a lot of interest ever since. Business authors, trend watchers and journalists are often referring to the therm when talking about the mass elaboration of the web since the 2.0 era. Both the term and its underlying business models have attracted controversy and criticism, about two years later Jeff Howe is kicking off Eday with a presentation about, guess what? Crowd Sourcing. After finally receiving some kind of intertube signal, here goes.
Introduced as the man who ‘lives up to his book’, Jeff Howe starts with an intro about how MySpace and other social media were the futile ground for Crowd Sourcing. Howe realized that it was more than just kids making funny videos — something more fundamental was at work here. One month later he published his article about the phenomena and came up with a new word for it. Diversity, open and subversive are the keywords for this new development he called Crowd Sourcing.
Howe does not really add anything new to his speech he has been doing for the last few years, I’d suggest you check out an earlier article written here on The Next Web blog. Howe ended his talk with a quote from the X-files:’The answers are out there’. With Crowd Sourcing thriving like today, Howe concludes: ‘Together we can solve problems that otherwise seemed impossible to solve’. I hope Howe will be writing a new book soon, living up to his book and living from his book is hopefully not the same thing…
Brian Kalma (Zappos)
Zappos, an online shoe company, has had a very fast growth in the last few years. A revenue of 1 billion dollars from shoes with 1600 employees proves that their approach to business works – the customer is king. Brian Kalma, who functions as a Creative Director, talks about Zappos and their unique way to serve their customers where retaining customers plays the most important role. Not ‘unlike many others’, as Kalma puts it, selling to the masses. As an online company, you want to add value to a product to make a customer come back to you. Kalma says customer touch points are the magic words for creating a succesfull online brand. Note that when you order something at Zappos, the product is shipped for free. You can even send your product back without any costs.
So what do users experience when they are buying things at Zappos.com?
Brian Kalma is visibly proud of the company and by this point, his enthusiasm spreads like a fever among the audience. Kalma explains that their commitment to customer service is their unique selling point. With an delivery accuracy rate of 99%, 1600 people employed, a revenue of over 1 billion dollars, and a few hours between your order and a UPS vehicle – Zappos proves to be a good example of how an online business can add a lot of value by always listening to customers.
The almighty pizza story
It’s the stories about Zappos that make the brand Zappos as strong as it is today. Creating as many customer touch points as possible gives a lot of room for these stories. Kalma recalls a story of a drunk night when he and some other employees were in need of pizza and they called Zappos customer care. You probably see this coming: the Zappos employee found five companies who could deliver the pizza’s that night.
The four things to make a brand that really matter according to Kalma:
- Vision: Making people smile and happy, making a difference in peoples life will add value to a brand.
- Repeat customers: Great product, great service, or low prices – pick two and you have a better chance to succeed. Research shows that low prices do not attract loyal customers so Zappos choose a great service with quality products.
- Transparency: Be real and you have nothing to fear, 1200 vendors that can help us run our business better.
- Culture: We build a core value structure that fosters evangelists, people who are becoming more loyal to the company every day. Every year every single employee submits a few lines and published in a book.
It’s the stories about Zappos that helps the company to foster and promote their wares, but it also creates a very valuable buzz. Word of mouth is the by-product of the service that Zappos employees offer to their customers. Blogs, Twitter and Zappos TV are all examples of touch points for the customers to interact. Social networks are not just a ‘Hey! Join us’, but they are new touch points for our customers to interact with the brand.