Customer Experience

Jay Baer: Be a customer conversation starter

Where do you start with Jay Baer? New York Times best-selling author of 6 books? 7th-generation entrepreneur? Founder of 5, multi-million dollar companies? Or how about the fact he’s advised over 700 companies in his time including Nike and The United Nations?

When it comes to CX, few people live and breathe it quite like Jay, and he’s not shy in sharing his views whether it’s in printed form or through his Talk Triggers show on YouTube or hosting the award-winning podcast, Social Pros.

His approach to his own brand is one that mirrors the advice he gives to his clients and followers — it’s all about creating conversations.

For Jay, CX is not about a list of competencies, or limiting customer complaints, but is instead about stepping up and creating ‘wow moments’ that become talking points for your customers.

“We specialize in CX that creates conversations,” he says. “It’s the type of CX that customers don’t expect and they notice, and they say ‘wow, I've never seen before — that's cool.’

“It’s a word-of-mouth generator and it creates new customers, it’s not all about using CX to retain the customers you currently have.”

It’s not that customer experiences rooted in competency is wrong — indeed, it’s the foundation for most CX programs in place today — but for Jay, it’s a defensive position that’s holding a lot of companies back when it comes to using experiences to fuel growth.

“It avoids defection,” he says. “Nobody's unhappy. Everybody's like, ‘Yeah, cool. This happened on time. It's what I expected. Sweet’ — I've got no complaints about that.

But it’s like a lot of these companies have taken a constitutional vow to be as boring and unknown as possible.

If you set that aside, you realize you could do something really interesting here - there’s so much opportunity out there, we just have to realize that competency doesn’t create conversation.

“It's okay to play offense, right? It's okay to use CX as an acquisition tool. Not just as a ‘let's make sure nobody's unhappy with us’ tool. It's okay, and now you're gonna have great results with it.”

Smaller, ‘boring’ companies have the biggest opportunity

Talk about ‘wow moments’ and names like Disney immediately come to mind - something that feels out of reach for smaller companies or those in the B2B space which have traditionally remained on the conservative side.

In fact, Jay believes it’s the smaller and more ‘boring’ companies that have the biggest opportunity rather than the oft-cited case studies from multi-billion dollar brands.

The smaller you are and the more pedestrian your products and services may be, the better your chance is of talkable CX, because customers don't expect anything of you

“If you go to Disney, you expect your socks to be knocked off, so the bar they have to leap over for you to proactively tell a story is really, really high. But if you’re a B2B organization, a small business, or in financial services or healthcare, or all of these businesses that would traditionally be considered to be unsexy, there’s an opportunity to do just one little thing.

It doesn't have to be moving mountains. Just do one little thing that people are like, ‘wow, that's really cool. I've never seen that before.’

The bar is so low that you can get customers talking without a dramatic shift in your operations.”

Conversational CX - more practical than you might think

Talk of creating ‘wow moments’ and ‘conversational CX’ is one thing, but beneath the surface there’s a practical and common sense approach to Jay’s advice that turns it from blue sky thinking to CX no-brainer.

A prime example is one of the main themes of Jay’s best-selling book on CX, ‘Hug Your Haters’ (complete with conversation-starting title, naturally) in which he quotes the stat that for every 100 dissatisfied customers, only 5 will complain.

That means that for everybody who says, ‘hey, I'm not happy,’ there's 19 other people on average who have the same problem, who just didn't say anything about it.

“We forget that anybody who raises their hand and says, ‘I'm not happy,’ they don't need to do that, right? They can just leave. They can just stop giving you money.

“But they're literally taking time out of their day to say, ‘Hey, I think you guys could be better at this’ and we don't treat that for the gift that it is.”

‘In a perfect world, there’s no CX team’

Where most businesses struggle, he says, is taking that customer feedback and turning it into actions that affect change.

“Companies are getting a lot better at hearing the customer and they're getting better at understanding maybe what the customers are actually saying, but they're missing the next piece, which is, ‘okay guys, you know what the problem is? So maybe let's just fix that thing.’

“And that's partially because in a lot of companies, CX, customer service, business intelligence, marketing - they’re all different departments, so you have a lot of people working under different managers who are incentivized differently.”

Breaking down silos and aligning every department and team around the same mission to deliver for customers is the only way to build the foundations to create conversational experiences.

“I hope that eventually CX becomes so important and so unquestioned in the enterprise that we don’t even have a department that thinks about customers,” he says.

We want to get to a point where everybody thinks about customers, so we don’t need a department to do just that.

The obvious place to start, he says, is in customer service where people are interacting with customers every day, hearing their feedback and using that to design experiences that make their jobs easier.

Next, it’s marketing’s turn to join the party and align the promises they’re making to customers to the actual experience being delivered on the service end.

“You want to make sure that the marketing team isn't writing checks that the business team can't cash operationally,” he says. “I see that all the time - they make some bold claims in the brochure and then the customer service guys are the ones holding the tail as everyone is tweeting them that they’re upset.”

Then there’s product development teams. Frontline employees in your stores. Back office staff supporting your website, app or other digital properties…. there’s no department that shouldn’t care about customers.

“It’s controversial, but we shouldn’t even have customer experience,” he says. “It’s simply how we should think about business. We aren’t there yet clearly, but I hope that's where we hit.”

Want to hear more from Jay on how to create conversations and great CX?