Will Corona encourage sustainable business?

Corona virus

The economic impact of the Corona (Covid-19) outbreak is unprecedented and dramatic. Ironically, the environmental impact of its resulting lockdowns is quite positive: lower carbon emissions, less smog, and more time for your kids and nature walks. In the longer run, however, the impact is likely to be the far opposite. With so many companies struggling to survive, all resources will be needed to repair or rebuild the business. No surplus left to spend on sustainability. Still, there is reason to be hopeful as well.

In times of crisis, the number one thing people are in need of is information. That is a golden rule in crisis communications. And regarding corona, there is a lot of uncertainty. So when information is scarce, vague or biased, rumors spread fast and people may fear for the worst. Fear, however, is a poor counselor. And that is what the financial markets are, once more, experiencing. When people are in panic, stock shares can collapse like a house of cards. Sentiment overtakes rationality, and gets companies in more trouble than they already are. As a result, both investors and businesses are probably taking a much harder beating than necessary.


Questions come to mind. Is our economic system too vulnerable, and have we become too dependent on it? Could a recession be prevented? Could a virus outbreak of this magnitude have been prevented? It is doubtful that Nostradamus predicted all this, but in 2015, Bill Gates did picture the possible impact of a pandemic. In a TED talk he stated:

“If anything kills over 10 million people in the next few decades, it’s most likely to be a highly infectious virus, rather than a war. (…) We’ve actually invested very little in a system to stop an epidemic. We’re not ready for the next epidemic. (…) Now I don’t have an exact budget for what this [preparation] would cost, but I’m quite sure it’s very modest compared to the potential harm.”

Although I don’t really believe Corona will kill so many in a short period, Bill Gates’ words are starting to become reality just five years later. We were indeed mostly unprepared. And now that Corona is here, it makes you think. What if we would have chosen different priorities? Are we doing the right thing in favor of the long run? Is Corona a wake-up call to rethink our approach to life and business?

Reflection and reconsideration

Crises can bring out both the best and the worst in us. Until now it seems to be mostly the good. The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovation (CEPI) is working very hard on developing a vaccine – not for profit. Political differences are temporarily set aside, and make way for compassion and togetherness (well, maybe not everywhere). Companies are launching one creative initiative after the other to stay in business. And volunteers disinterestedly offer support to those in need. On social media, people are sharing the funniest memes of how they make the best of the current situation.

These extraordinary times affect all of us, and it is not unlikely that they will lead to reflection and reconsideration. Corona may encourage to once more realize what matters to us most – things like well-being, social interaction, and solidarity. The value of these aspects may put things into perspective, and make us a bit less occupied with profit margins and personal gain. Plus, Corona comes at a time that the global awareness about climate change and loss of biodiversity is increasing.

Possible outcomes

I am hopeful that Corona will inspire us to consider alternative ways in how we do business. Here are some first thoughts:

Of course I am not the only person thinking about Corona’s possible impact on business. McKinsey, for instance, has been publishing a series of articles about how businesses can prepare for and respond to a pandemic. And Politico.com gathered over thirty interesting ideas from some bright minds. Dutch futurist Richard van Hooijdonk is keeping a list of technological developments related to the Corona outbreak. And an article in the Financial Times suggests“collaboration across supply chains and even between rivals could be one legacy of the outbreak”. Some day, when the world is evaluating the Corona pandemic, a lot more great and innovative ideas will have evolved. And although all these cannot prevent another virus outbreak, they hopefully can help reduce the negative impact, while bit by bit making the world a better place.

A copy of this article was posted on Medium .

In the Age of Trust, ‘trust score’ is the KPI you need

We seem to be in the Age of Everything: the Age of the Customer, the Age of Artificial Intelligence, the Age of Data, the Age of Digital Transformation, the Age of Disruption, and so on. If there is one thing these ages have in common, it is their focus on delivering memorable customer experiences. But with a lack of integrity, experiences are destined to vaporize. Welcome to the Age of Trust.

In the Age of Everything, data is a vital component. It helps brands to target and personalize their offerings to your liking. At the same time, however, this data causes friction. We all know that large tech companies like Google and Facebook seemingly offer their services for free, while in fact we pay for these with our privacy. Scandals and data breaches have resulted in a growing public awareness, and the need for stricter regulations like GDPR and PSD2 . Keep reading →

Social media strategy city of Rotterdam

In November 2015, the city of Rotterdam invited entrepreneurs, citizens and students for two co-creation sessions to help define its social media strategy.

In concert with HatRabbits, over a thousand ideas were produced and summarized in six main themes: listening, engaging, informing, connecting, responding and inspiring. The outcome of the sessions was shared with a number of experts in the field, who were asked to provide their view and help finetune the strategy. I was happy to be one of them. In 2016, Rotterdam and HatRabbits concluded the initiative by publishing an internal booklet with the city’s vision, titled ‘Social Media with Character’.

The future of social customer care at KLM

In a recent interview and keynote, my colleague Gert Wim ter Haar outlined where we’re headed with social media servicing at KLM.

Ever since I had the pleasure of posting the very first tweet for KLM back in 2009, we have been pioneering to deliver the best possible social media service and brand experience. The social landscape is constantly moving and innovations come fast. By anticipating and being eager to innovate, we have maintained our position as one of the world’s leading companies on social media.

Most important developments:

    • Social media have become a main entry point, next to company apps and .com.
    • A shift is taking place from public social platforms towards private messaging apps.
    • The majority of people only use a small number of apps on their mobile.
    • Third party bots and artificial intelligence (AI) will increasingly be embedded in messaging apps.
    • At KLM, we’re using smart bots to bring .com functionalities to social.
    • Big Data and AI support agents in providing timely, correct and personal answers.

Keep reading →

Digging into KLM’s Social Customer Service success story

Author: Paolo Fabrizio
Originally posted on LinkedIn.com

If I asked you ‘what’s the best-known Social Customer Service case study?’ I guess you’d answer ‘Sure, it’s KLM!’. In fact it’s no secret that this brand is often mentioned either online and also in Social Customer Service conventions, as one of the best-in-class examples of successful integration of social channels into the contact center. So, before you might think I’ll tell an old story I have an announcement for you: Today I’m NOT going to tell you about KLM.

Instead, I’ll let KLM talk about their own story thru the words of one their most important managers: Jochem Van Drimmelen, online reputation manager and social media advisor at KLM. So, without further ado, enjoy this special interview with Jochem.

8 Questions about KLM’s Social Customer Service

13 languages served, more than 200 social customer service agents, about 100.000 conversations every week, with an average of nearly 80% of customer satisfaction.

1. After almost six years, did you expect such impressive and amazing numbers?
Jochem: It has been quite an amazing journey indeed! I do recall a time in the early days where I said I could image that ‘one day’ we might have as many as 200 dedicated social media agents. But I don’t think I saw these volumes coming any time soon when I wrote a blog series about our strategy in 2012. Keep reading →

Social Media? Social Business!

I had the honor of contributing to a book (interview and some writing) by the Dutch Foundation for Management Studies (SMS). The book covers the phases that most companies go through in becoming socially mature, and comes with dozens of great case studies.

I provided input on how KLM transformed itself into the world’s most socially devoted brand (Social Bakers – 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014). This book (in Dutch only) is a must-read for all companies – big and small – anxious or eager to move forward in the social media landscape.

Working with co-authors Anne-Marie Delfgaauw and Arne Maas was really fun! SMS is affiliated with the Confederation of Netherlands Industry and Employers (VNO-NCW). Keep reading →

ORAM Schipholontbijt

ORAM, the greater Amsterdam metropolitan area’s largest business network, invited me to speak at a breakfast session for entrepreneurs in the region.


Marketing Rockstars Festival

With 2000 attendees, the second edition of the Marketing Rockstars Festival in Austria was fully sold out. I was invited to give a keynote during this very well organized and inspiring one-day event.

Zooming in on online reputation and issue management, I felt a bit like the odd man out between all those marketeers. But at the same time I think my talk added an interesting layer to the event’s program just as well.

Keep reading →

Giro555 relief campaign after Nepal earthquake

Giro555 Nepal

After Nepal was hit by a devastating earthquake on 25 April 2015, the KLM Social Media Hub played a key role in the Dutch national fundraising campaign.

Soon after the disaster, the SHO, a Dutch foundation of cooperative relief organizations including UNICEF and Red Cross, initiated a nationwide campaign to raise money for the victims. But rather than having the usual TV studio set-up with a celebrity call panel, they were aiming to focus on social media for the first time. I proposed to support them with KLM’s facilities, expertise, and experience on social media. Keep reading →

The ash cloud, five years later

Remember the massive Icelandic ash cloud that lead to the five day closure of the European air space in April 2010? Hundreds of thousands of passengers were stranded around the globe. It also marked the ultimate boost for KLM’s use of social media.

By now, over 150 dedicated native social media service agents deliver a 24/7 one-stop-shop in fourteen languages and on six different channels. KLM has the world’s largest social media organization and has been awarded ‘The World’s Most Socially Devoted Brand’ for four consecutive years since 2011 by Social Bakers. I’m proud as ever to be part of the team!

Read the blog on how we tackled the ash cloud back in 2010, living on pizza deliveries and takeaway Chinese.

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