Animoto: Customer Service 2.0 … The Way it Oughta Be

November 24, 2008

Turning Customers into Fanimoto’s

The perfect customer experience is said to be …

“one which results in customers becoming advocates for the company, creating referral, retention and profitable growth.” – The Perfect Customer Experience Blog

Sounds highfalutin to me, but it works. When your customers becomes advocates and spokespeople for your company, you’ve done something special.

Powerful special.

Animoto does that and more. Below is an example of a “Perfect Customer Experience.’

Animoto’s dedication and passion to customer service and its product has resulted in huge growth for its business.

I also include some real life examples below of how you can use Animoto in a wide varieties of situations for business, life … or fun.

What is Animoto?

It’s a web application that allows you to automatically generate professionally produced videos using pictures and music. Think movie trailer. Also, for you geeks out there, a great example of cloud computing. Maybe the best.

The Animoto Perfect Customer Experience

I was creating a video for the story “An Inconvenient Genius … The Timeless Legacy of an Untimely Man,” about Nikola Tesla and had some great photos courtesy of Marc Seifer, his biographer. Animoto is super-easy to use. You just choose your photos, music and  press the finalize button to let Animoto’s Cinematic Artificial Intelligence software do its magic. And it is magic.

My first mix turned out fine – ready to use. But, as these thing tend to go, I soon found five other images I wanted to add. So I uploaded them and remixed the video. In doing so I lost a special opening effect – a swirl. Now, important to note, each Animoto video is a totally unique mix. Different. None are the same. Nada. Well, I really wanted that opening swirl effect so I tried to recreate it by mixing 15 different other  versions -  with no luck. I was about to give up when I noticed one of the guys at Animoto was online. I instant messaged him, not really expecting anything to come of it … but in the past I’ve found their staff to be incredibly responsive and helpful. Below is a recap of the conversation via instant message.

Steve: (I explained briefly what I needed)

Tom (Animoto): Hey! How’s it going? That’s a tough one. You know each video is unique. Have you tried creating a few to see if you can eventually duplicate the effect?

Steve: Yes. No luck.

Tom: Oh, man, we’re slammed here. Working on new features roll-out for December. We’re totally hammered. I’d have to get an engineer to hack into the code to make it work.

Steve: (At this point I’d pretty much written it off)

Tom: I can’t promise anything. Give me at least an hour to see what I can do?

Steve: Great. (An hour – are you kidding me? I would’ve been thrilled with a couple days)

Tom: I’ll get back with you.

TEN MINUTES LATER

Tom: Have you tried it again yet? (remember – all this done via instant message)

Steve: Will do.

It worked. Perfect. I was amazed.

NOTICE

  • I did not call an 800 number with 900 options to frustrate me 1000 times into oblivion.
  • I did not fill out a form and get an automated response saying that I was “extremely important to them and they’d get back to me in 24-72 hours.”

This was all done via instant message. That’s a perfect customer experience – delivered at the speed of Animoto.

So … What Does That Mean for a Company?

I wrote about these guys last year when they were still pretty new to the market. I commented, even then, on their remarkable response time and stellar customer service. So how does delivering a great customer experience – along with an incredible product, help the bottom line?

Not Much Really

I mean sure, Animoto has been in the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, BusinessWeek, New York Times, CNN, BBC, Fox Business News, The Economist, Wired, PC Magazine, PBS and a few other pubs. I guess that counts a little. And sure, Animoto now has 250,000 registered users in 200+countries. Those user have produced 4 million videos that have been viewed 50 million times. That probably counts a little too. Then there’s that fellow named Bezos, who runs some company called Amazon.com, that invested in them a couple months ago. So … I don’t know. I guess all that  means a little something – how does that compare with what your company accomplished last year?

But They’ve Been Around So Long

True. Animoto celebrated their second birthday on August 26, 2008. Yes. You read it. They’ve been around  a long time.

Some Real-World Animoto Examples

Below are examples of some different ways you can use Animoto to communicate with your customers, prospects, friends, or anyone else. Animoto videos can be downloaded, embedded in websites, blogs, emailed, burned to DVD’s, and on and on and on. The creative ways to use Animoto are limited only by your mind.

First – An Inconvenient Genius

This is the story I was working on where I wanted a special effect at the start of the video. Yeah. It was a geeky request. No doubt. But it worked.

Animoto videos upload easily to other video-sharing sites. But what does it look like? Clear or crappy?

You decide.

Below is the same file uploaded to Veoh.com. I prefer Veoh over YouTube because of the clarity, quality and size of the display.

Here is the same video on:

Animoto ports over professionally with clarity and no degradation of image quality.

“About the Author”

This is an Animoto video from a story I did with Steven Pressfield, the bestselling author of “The Legend of Bagger Vance”, “Tides of War”, “The War of Art”, and many others. Most “about” sections are pretty lame and boring. Whether they’re “about the author” or “about the company.” This one is different. But then again … Steven Pressfield is different. He had plenty of images for me to use.

“Life … Pass It On.”

This was for a charity to help register people for organ donations. It’s particularly poignant. The young man featured in the video, Brandon, was a child of a woman I work with, Vickie Jackson. It was hard to do. Hard to look at now even.

One interesting note on this video. Brandon’s grandmother wanted to see this video but didn’t have a computer. You can create DVD file formats on Animoto. Did that and burned a DVD of this video for his grandmother. The quality and clarity was impeccably professional.

Artists – Photographers?

This is an Animotorized version of the Hal Sherman Blue Jacket collection. Hal’s a friend of mine and was game to experiment with Animoto ( that means he has guts to try new things). Interesting backstory about Hal. He was a banker, but his passion was always painting. So he quit banking. Started painting. Now his artwork can be seen in museums around the United States – including the Smithsonian. This is Animoto video of his artwork, includes paintings of Blue Jacket, Simon Kenton, Daniel Boone, Cornstalk, Moluntha, Simon Girty, William Henry Harrison, Half King, William Crawford, Captain John Perry and others. I screen-capped the images from museums on-line and a few he sent me.

Networking, Collaborative Groups, Associations

Belong to a group, association, or just have a bunch of friends you’d like to memorialize on video? Easy to do with Animoto. Skip Press, a prolific author and well-known screenwriting coach, has an online writing forum with a lot of passionate and dedicated members. We took mixed their photos with Animoto  and threw in a few cartoons. It’s a good way to let people know who you are, what you do, and if you have a sense of humor. Cheesy cartoons are courtesy of … hold your breath – me.

Speaking of Cartoons

This is an Animoto video of cartoons taken from my “Shoot the Donkey” column.

How About Sales Presentations?

What better way then to start a sales presentation – or presentation of any kind for that matter – with some bling and punch? A rocking video clip? The Animoto clip below is a satirical look at the current state of the “Sales Presentation”… from the victim’s view. The victim is that unfortunate person that has to watch the standard PowerPoint Gluteus Maximux Vomitus Eruptus because it’s their job. And yes, I know there are spelling mistakes in some of the slides and cartoons. I wanted it to be realistic.

Questions?

This last one is a collage of clashing images and concepts used for an article titled, “End with a Question … Questions with an End.”

So, there you go – Animoto.

The creative possibilities are limited … only by your mind.

End:

Post By Steve Kayser (162 Posts)

Steve Kayser is an experienced PR & Media Relations Director, radio host and an award-winning business writer. His unique (some say bizarre) approach to PR, Marketing and Media Relations has been documented in a marketing best practices case study by MarketingSherpa, profiled as a “Purple Cow,” by author Seth Godin, and featured in the best-selling books, The New Rules of Marketing and PR by David Meerman Scott and "Tuned In: Uncover the Extraordinary Opportunities That Lead to Business Breakthroughs" by Craig Stull, Phil Myers, and David Meerman Scott. Steve has also been featured in the following publications: A Marketer’s Guide to e-Newsletter Publishing, Credibility Branding, Innovation Quarterly, B2B Marketing Trends, PRWEEK, Faces of E-Content, and The Ragan Report. Steve's writings have appeared in Corporate Finance Magazine, CEO Refresher, Entrepreneur Magazine, Business 2.0, and Fast Company Magazine – among many others.. Google+

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What Others Are Saying

  1. Lee November 27, 2008 at 5:04 pm

    Really like the sense of urgency created by the story. I have used the product and it is superb for the price. The concept of chat based support real time certainly changes the support paradigm from what you see in the more “normal” economy. It will be interesting how we all try to adapt to this kind of delivery, It raises the bar a substantial amount.

  2. Steve K November 28, 2008 at 1:12 pm

    Thanks Lee for the comment. The companies that do respond like this – with the sense of urgency and professionalism – can only build their base by customers becoming advocates on their behalf – word of mouth on steroids.

    Thanks again.

    Steve

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