Thomas Knoll, Revelry Workshop Coach and Tribecon Speaker.

Thomas Knoll is the co-founder and CEO of Clipppr.com.  He has been a community architect, community cultivator, product designer, social marketer, customer developer, and startup advisor for companies including 500StartupsLaunchRockZapposUserVoice, and Seesmic.

He was studying to become a missionary, but left that path because he grew tired of the business of religion. Now, he helps businesses convert customers into communities of evangelists.

He falls in love with almost everyone he meets.

Thomas Knoll

Why do you do what you do?

I do what I do, because I want to live in the world I’m trying to create. I am building clippPR because I want all brands and organizations to actually listen to their customers and to the public, and to value building those relationships.

Tell us about a day in the life of Thomas Knoll?

Haha… which day?

I’m usually up between 5 and 6 AM each morning and spend a few minutes just breathing. I pop open my lift.do app and start working through some of my morning goals: 2 minute mind sweep, touch base with 10 people via contactually.com, review my calendar for the day, get to inbox 0, process my evernote inbox, and queue up my trello board.

A couple days a week I have early morning mentoring calls with companies in the 500Startups portfolio.

Most days I am either meeting with our existing customers or our potential customers and partners. And, when I’m not meeting with them, I’m scheduling upcoming meetings and calls.

Based on what I’m learning outside the office, I’ll spec out new features and products for the team, and check in with them about our progress. (I have an amazing team of self-starters who have a solid product sense on top of their technical chops.)

In the afternoon/evening I try to clear out the backlog emails with next actions, finish off any outstanding goals in lift.do, and “park downhill”. Meaning, rather than finish off the easy stuff, and leave myself a list of difficult work to start the next day, I try to have some easy work to start off the next day to get me in the flow.

Then it’s cuddle time with my wife and puppy.

Can you tell us a bit about how clipppr came to be?

I actually built the first version of clippPR at a startup weekend in Las Vegas back in June, 2011 because I needed it for myself. We had an awesome team and ended up winning first place from judges including Kevin Rose (Google Ventures), Tom Anderson (your first friend on MySpace), Tony Hsieh (zappos.com), Ryan Carson (teamtreehouse.com), and Josh Reich (simple.com).

I was busy growing my previous startup, so it sat on the shelf until I switched into an advisor role there and moved back to Las Vegas. Over the next year I focused on finding the right team for clippPR, which finally came together this past April. We launched the paid product at the end of June with some great early customers, and have learned a TON from them over the past several months.

I love how you made the “let’s do it” decision to hit the road with Voice of the Customer. We can’t wait to host you and Shervin in New Orleans for the workshops and Tribecon. How is the tour going? Any fun stories to tell yet? What would define the tour as a success?

Thank you! It has been a fun ride so far, and it has really only just begun.

A month or so ago, I spent a week in Los Angeles meeting up with some potential customers, and getting local intros to more. Since Shervin has been a friend for a long time I setup shop at the Drumbi office in Orange County. Half-way through the week, he finally asked me, “What are you doing here anyway?!”. We talked about the always-surprising value of meeting potential customers face-to-face, and spending time in their worlds. He brought up doing more of this together. We sent out a few emails and tweets (and medium posts and quora posts), and the next thing we know we had 5 or 6 states scheduled.

So, now it is officially voiceofcustomer.co and we’re speaking at events, doing tech-meetups, leading round-table discussions, and doing in-house corporate training… all around the topic of the business value of embracing the voice of the customer. I’ve got fun facts and stories from my time at Zappos and other startups. Shervin has fun facts and stories from his time at Accenture and research into building a phone-and-data support platform for the new mobile-first world.

It would take forever to tell all the fun stories, so just come ask me. =)

For us, success is measured primarily in feeling a sense of accomplishment when we are able to educate businesses on the value of listening and engaging with people… with putting the customer front-and-center. And, we simply assume that by being helpful, good things will happen for our businesses. So far it has been a safe assumption.

Customers are talking across quite a few mediums today. Phone, email, twitter, facebook, blogs, live chat, etc … What do you feel are the best tools available to us for managing the conversations businesses should be having with each and every customer?

The tools come second. The first thing that is needed is to “Start with Why”.

Once a business decides that building relationships with their customers is important, it becomes easier to make the tools work for those values. And, it is easier for a business to embrace these values when they understand the bottom-line-impact of listening and connecting.

If you haven’t already, start measuring things like lifetime value, customer referral channels, and net-promoter scores. At Zappos, the customers we built personal emotional connections with—over the phone, email, chat, twitter and facebook—had bigger carts, ordered more times per year, referred more customers, and had significantly longer lifetime value. But, DO NOT take my word for it, run your own numbers.

The next step is to start listening and engaging. Do whatever you can. Do whatever it takes. Just remember, the goal is connect with the people, not just change the charts and graphs. We aren’t just trying to get more likes, we’re trying to get more people to like us.

I know you like getting your hands dirty in quite a few projects. Do you have any passion projects going on that you would like to share?

I’ve always got some stuff going on. But, these days I’m really starting to direct everything towards the bigger vision of clippPR. For example, I’m working on some content for http://luxr.co around acquiring customers and growing your business. And, I have a slowly growing rough draft of a book on Community Architecture. Finally, I have a project that helps people who want to move into the online community building profession develop skills and get jobs. But, as you can probably tell, these all ultimately help build my vision for clippPR.

Thank you so much for the awesome questions, and I can’t wait to see you in NOLA!

Right back at you Thomas! Thanks so much for the insights.  Can’t wait for the workshop and Tribecon!

*UPDATE, Jan 2016 Thomas joined the Revelry Team. Read more here and check out Revelry’s new Executive Advising services. Sign up for our next workshop today!

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