Episode 17

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Jay Baer is known for many things. He’s the world’s most retweeted digital marketer. He is also a renowned business strategist, keynote speaker, and The New York Times bestselling author of five books.

He also travels the globe helping people get and keep more customers. He’s the founder of Convince & Convert, a strategy consulting firm that helps prominent companies gain and keep more customers through the smart intersection of technology, social media, and customer service. His company’s media division owns the world’s number one content marketing blog, the world’s top marketing podcast, and many other educational resources for business owners and executives.

Jay has created five multimillion-dollar companies and is an active venture capitalist and technology advisor as well as an avid tequila collector and certified barbeque judge. His new book, Hug Your Haters, is coming out on March 1st.

 

 

What you’ll learn about in this episode:

  • Jay’s new book “Hug Your Haters” and what you need to know about the people who complain on social media
  • How to use this information to increase your customer advocacy
  • Why complaints are going to continue to go more and more public
  • Defining customer experience in the modern age
  • Why this creates enormous opportunity for B2B buyers
  • Why haters are your most important customers
  • The problem with surveys
  • The Honest Audit: what this is and how to put it into place
  • Things that agencies have to be careful of when discussing these issues with clients
  • Software solutions that agencies of all size can leverage
  • How agencies should package and price this sort of work
  • What agencies can do right now to get started

 

The Golden Nugget:

“You can't really put up a hard wall between marketing and customer service.” – @jaybaer Click To Tweet

Click to tweet: Jay Baer shares the inside knowledge needed to run an agency on Build a Better Agency!

 

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Speaker 1:

If you’re going to take the risk of running an agency, shouldn’t you get the benefits to? Welcome to Build a Better Agency where we show you how to build an agency that can scale and grow with better clients, invested employees and best of all, more money to the bottom line. Bringing his 25 plus years of expertise as both an agency owner, an agency consultant to you, please welcome your host, Drew McLellan.

Drew McLellan:

Hey, everybody. Drew McLellan here. Thank you for joining us for another episode of Build a Better Agency. Really excited to be with you today, and really excited about the topic that we’re going to explore with our guest. You all know Jay Baer. Jay is the world’s most retweeted person amongst digital marketers. He’s also renowned business strategist, keynote speaker, and the New York Times bestselling author of five books who travels the globe helping business people get and keep more customers. He’s advised more than 700 companies since 1994, including companies like Caterpillar and Nike, and 32 of the fortune 500 companies.

Most of you probably know him as the founder of Convince & Convert, a strategy consulting firm that helps prominent companies gain and keep more customers through the smart intersection of technology, social media, and customer service. His company’s media division owns the world’s number one content marketing blog, the world’s top marketing podcast, and many other educational resources for business owners and executives that I know many of you tap into on a regular basis. Jay is the creator of five multimillion dollar companies, and he is an active venture capitalist and technology advisor, as well as an avid tequila collector and certified barbecue judge.

And also for your note, Jay’s got a new book coming out March 1st, called Hug Your Haters, and that’s going to be the topic of our conversation today, is Jay’s ideas about how companies and agencies can help companies attack social media and customer service in a whole new way. Jay, welcome to the podcast. Thanks for joining me.

Jay Baer:

Thanks so much, my friend. Great to be here. I thought we were going to talk about tequila and barbecue, but we can talk about customer service. That’s totally fine.

Drew McLellan:

Well, actually it might boost my listenership if we went by tequila and barbecue.

Jay Baer:

It makes for a hell of a good headline. I tell you that.

Drew McLellan:

That’s right. That’s right. So tell us a little bit about the book and your position of customer service and how it’s changing.

Jay Baer:

So, in our consulting practice, we work with lots of big organizations, as you mentioned on digital strategy, social media strategy, content marketing strategy, and related themes. And what I discovered over the last two or three years is that increasingly those conversations and those strategic plans also had a lot to do with customer experience and customer service, because especially in the online world, in the digital world and the places where customer service is a spectator sport, you can’t really put up a hard wall between marketing and customer service. We’re using Twitter for marketing and customer service. We’re using Facebook for marketing and customer service. We’re using email for marketing and customer service. And so it really is becoming much, much more blended together. And so decided to write a book about it and the book became Hug Your Haters, which will be out March 1st. Lots of pre-orders already at hugyourhaters.com and all kinds of special bonus offers.

And we got socks. We got all kinds of crazy stuff, posters for people who ordered the book early. And it was a really, really fun and interesting project. I did a ton of research for the book. In fact, commissioned a huge research project with the guys at Edison Research, where we really examined the science of complaint. We interviewed thousands of Americans. This is no survey monkey off the shelf thing. This is a major research project. And we looked at who complains, where they complained, why they complain and how, and those findings colored the book and the recommendations inside the book.

Drew McLellan:

Sounds awesome. And one of the things that your bio didn’t mention, and I want to make sure the listeners understand is, while you work with a lot of companies, you also do a lot of work with agencies.

Jay Baer:

We do.

Drew McLellan:

And you are essence, an agency yourself. And so I think you’re going to be able to come at this in a way that our listeners can really connect with on a couple levels. But tell us a little bit about how you envision customer service changing based on what you learned.

Jay Baer:

So we found that there’s two main types of complainers, two types of haters in the parlance of the book. The first are offstage haters, and these are the people who complain in private. They complain on the telephone. They complain in email, primarily. They’re slightly older, they’re a little bit less technology savvy, a little bit less likely to use social media. And then there’s a whole different group called onstage haters. And these onstage haters complain in public where there are spectators and they complain in social media. They complain on review sites, Yelp, Tripadvisor, Angie’s List, et cetera. And they complain on discussion boards and forums. And those onstage haters are a little bit younger, a little bit more tech savvy, et cetera. But the demographic difference is really aren’t that significant. What’s significant, Drew, is the expectations of each of these groups.

The offstage haters, the people who complain and what we would consider to be legacy channels, what they really want is an answer approximately 90% of the time. If somebody complains on the phone or email, they anticipate a business to get back to them. And I’m sure that’s true in your own experience and the experience of the listeners. If you call a company, you expect to get a response. If you email a company, you expect to get a response. And most of the time businesses do respond in those channels. We have built businesses to do that. That’s why it’s called a call center in many cases. But conversely, the onstage haters, the digital complainers, if you will, they don’t necessarily want an answer. What they want is an audience. They want their friends in social media say, “That really sucks,” right? They want to have this group empathetic moment.

And in fact, less than 50%, less than half of everybody who complains in a digital environment wants or expects a company to respond, less than half. So here’s an amazing opportunity for businesses that agencies can really take to the table, which is when you do answer, when you answer somebody on Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, Tripadvisor, discussion boards, forums, all of that, you can blow those customers’ minds and steal their hearts. You can have up to a 30% increase in customer advocacy by answering a single customer complaint in an online venue.

Drew McLellan:

Fascinating. Well, and partially, because not only are you answering the customer, but you’re answering their entire audience by [crosstalk 00:06:28].

Jay Baer:

That’s right. You’re showing what you’re made of. You’re showing what you’re made of to everybody out there. And so the recommendations in the book, the hug your haters formulate, if you will, is to answer every complaint in every channel every time. But almost-

Drew McLellan:

Is that all?

Jay Baer:

That’s all. But almost no business does that, big, small, in between almost no business does it. What we actually do is we answer some complaints, some of the time in the channels that we prefer, and that’s no longer going to get it done.

Drew McLellan:

And did your search show, or do you think that over time the expectation will change and that people will expect an answer in all the channels?

Jay Baer:

100%, of course. Sure. Not only will they expect an answer because we… Well, let me tell you the three reasons why that’s true. Let me go at this a different way. One, you have demographics, right? I have two teenage children, 17 and 14. They have smart phones, but that is for them the worst name for a device ever, because of all the functions of that device the only one that they have no interest in is the telephone. I mean, you can’t get my 14-year-old son-

Drew McLellan:

It’s amazing [crosstalk 00:07:32].

Jay Baer:

Yeah. He won’t talk on the phone at bay net point. I mean, he has no interest. And I do not believe that these kids are going to one day wake when they’re out of college or 23 and have their first job and sit there in their cubicle and say, “You know, I’ve been missing out on the wonders of telephonic communication. I’ve missed the boat on this great invention.” I just don’t see that happening. So from a trend standpoint, we’re going to see legacy channels fall off. Then we also have the circumstance and I’m sure this has happened to you, Drew. And I bet you, almost everybody listening this has happened, where you have some complaint and you call or you email and you didn’t get a hold of anybody, or you didn’t like what they told you. So you went to social media, you took it public. You raised the stakes and then magically you got better help. This happened to me a few weeks ago.

And all of a sudden now you’re like, “Wow, Twitter works.” So the next time you have an issue, what are you going to do first? Right. You’re going to just completely not bother with the call, email, letter, face-to-face meeting, because you know that you can cut out that middleman if you take it public. And so over time, we’re training our own customers to do that. And one of the reasons why that’s so is that ironically business is way too slow, not just in social media, that’s almost axiomatic, but we’re also way too slow on phone and email. The average email requires 44 hours to get a response now from business, almost two days. That’s too long.

So what happens all the time is that you send a business an email, they don’t get back to you right away. So you’re like, “Well, these guys aren’t going to get back to me.” And in that 44 hours, now you take it public. You put it on Twitter or Facebook. So what happens is we are taking private complaints and we’re making them public because business is too slow to respond to email and phone.

Drew McLellan:

Yeah. I actually had that exact experience. So, very quickly, I took my daughter and her boyfriend last year for spring break. We went to a sandals resort in Jamaica. And when we landed in Jamaica they told us that they had oversold our resort and had moved us to a couple’s only resort, which is a little weird to do that with your daughter and her boyfriend. So I-

Jay Baer:

They didn’t care about that. They’re like, “Sure you won’t mind.”

Drew McLellan:

No. Right. So I expressed my discontent, got nothing, started tweeting about it while we were on the shuttle to the resort. By the time we got to the resort, the manager met us at the shuttle and fixed it.

Jay Baer:

See. There you go. A living testimony. Now, next time you have a challenge, right, we’re just going to go right to Twitter. Of course.

Drew McLellan:

We’re just going to go right to Twitter. Right. Absolutely. Yeah.

Jay Baer:

We’re training our customers to do this, but yet what’s amazing to me, Drew is that businesses are not set up to do that. Right? They’re set up now to shock and awe customers in social media sometimes, but they’re not at all prepared for what the next wave is, which is, well, what if everybody just tweets first and doesn’t call. And that is, I think, a tremendous opportunity for agencies to go to their clients and say, “Look, what you think of as customer service is no longer true.” Right? That’s why I wrote this book. I tell people that Hug Your Haters is the first ever modern book about customer service, because it talks about this digital wave that’s going to transform customer service in ways that frankly we haven’t seen since the invention of email.

And I think agencies can walk into clients and say, “Look, let’s sit down. Let’s audit which channels you do respond on. Let’s audit how long it takes you to respond. Let’s audit the kind of responses that you’re putting out there in public forums. Let’s make sure you have the right number of resources assigned to online versus offstage haters.” And there’s a lot of potential work there for agencies.

Drew McLellan:

Yeah, that’s for sure. And one of the things I think agencies are looking for is they’re looking for ways to get higher in the food chain, that they’ve dropped down from the C-suite into the marketing manager or whatever. This is an opportunity to move up into the conversation around the C-suite, which is how do we keep the customers we have and keep them happy.

Jay Baer:

It’s amazing to me how much customer experience has become the new buzzword, right? It’s almost taken over from social media. But here’s the challenge with customers’ experience, nobody wants to do it poorly. Nobody says that they do it poorly, although most people do, but when you say, “Okay, well let’s get better at customer experience.” What does that really mean? It’s almost too vague to be defined. And so that’s where I think agencies can really help you say, “Okay, if we want to improve customer experience, what does that mean?” In my estimation, what I talk about in the book and what we talk about in our own consulting practice is, great customer experience means that you manifestly exceed customer expectations in one or more dimensions. You’re either faster than they expect, you’re more personal than they expect, you are more responsive than they expect, the product is better than they expect, et cetera.

There’s got to be some scenario where you’re just way beyond their current expectations. And I think agencies can figure out where that pressure point is, what we would call a talk trigger, that thing that creates word of mouth and say, “Let’s make that the tip of the spear for this particular company’s customer experience effort.”

Drew McLellan:

So you’re saying that the goal would be to Excel at one of those and really knock it out of the park every time and make that your lead offering?

Jay Baer:

That’s right. So for Hug Your Haters, Hug Your Haters says that being more responsive, answering every complaint in every channel every time as I mentioned, being more responsive will exceed customer expectations and can be your lead sled dog in a customer experience initiative.

Drew McLellan:

And do you think after you did your research, do you think that all of your findings are as true for B2B buyers as B2C buyers?

Jay Baer:

If not more so. There’s a huge impact of ratings and reviews and customer conversations in B2B. If you think about sites like Spiceworks and G2 Crowd and all the different forums and discussion boards, it’s such a considered purchase in most cases that people are going to spend more time researching and talking to current customers, and ratifying their own decision making process. So I think there’s an enormous opportunity for B2B there. In fact, we’ve got lots of case studies to that effect in the book from companies like HP and others.

Drew McLellan:

And so from the agency’s perspective, how would you suggest… Let me me back up. What does an agency have to know or be good at before they walk in the door and have this conversation with their client? How do they have to ready themselves? Because-

Jay Baer:

That’s a great question.

Drew McLellan:

… [crosstalk 00:14:04] talked about offline before we started the recording, this is new territory for agencies. This is a part of the client’s business that in many cases, agencies have been kept out of in the past. So how do agencies prepare themselves to jump into this foray?

Jay Baer:

Yeah, it’s a great question. I think it would really help if somebody in the agency has some customer experience, customer service background. We’ve actually brought some people like that onto our own team to be able to backstop some of our recommendations with people who have been in the trenches. It really helps to understand the realities. I think it’s also really important for agencies to understand and be able to make the case that customer service is the new marketing, that this is how customers are making decisions. And that is very much true. And we showed that in the book in a bunch of different ways. And I think it’s also important for agencies to have some measure of research capabilities. And that’s probably true for almost every agency, but you think about things like secret shopper programs or customer surveys to get a handle on a baseline level of support for customer service in the organization. There’s probably in all of these cases, some research piece to it that the agency can and should tackle on behalf of the client.

Drew McLellan:

Okay. And in some cases that would be having a great research partner. It doesn’t necessarily mean they have to have it in house. Right?

Jay Baer:

Of course, that’s right. Just research availability. And some of it is just understanding how customer feedback translates into operations improvements. Right? And say, look… Let me give you an example of story from the book. So there’s a company called Le Pain Quotidien, which is a chain of bakeries. There’s about 220 of them. They’re based in Brussels, Belgium. They have lots of locations in the US, mostly in the northeast. And about 18 months ago or so they hired a woman by the name of Erin Pepper to be their director of customer experience for the brand. And her goal when she was hired was to triple the amount of complaints. Now, think about that. It wasn’t to minimize complaints, it was to get more complaints.

Drew McLellan:

Interesting.

Jay Baer:

Why? Because every time you get a complaint, it tells you something that you don’t know, it tells you something you’re doing poor. Companies don’t need anyone much less an agency to tell them what they’re doing well. They already know that, that’s how they became successful. What they need is somebody to tell them what they’re doing wrong. And that’s why haters are your most important customers. So she finds ways as often as possible to solicit negative feedback from customers. In the in-store experience, there’s lots of different nudges and touch points where it says, “Please leave us a review, go here. Anything we’re doing wrong, let us know.” Very aggressive about soliciting feedback. But it’s what she does when she gets a negative feedback that I think is even more remarkable. So when they get negative reviews on a Yelp or Tripadvisor, Urbanspoon, those kind of sites, she answers them back in public, as you should do, as I recommend in the book. And she does the usual, really sorry, and we’re taking into advisement and thanks so much, and all that.

But then what she does is she waits a couple of hours and then she contacts the hater using some private messaging system and, and all of those sites, including Facebook, et cetera, have some sort of private messaging capabilities. And so she answers them the second time in private and says, “You know, I’ve been thinking, and you are a very perceptive customer. You see things that other people simply do not see. You have a gift for this. And so what I’d like to do with your permission, I’d like to send you two gift cards a month. And with each of those gift cards, I’d like you to visit a different Le Pain Quotidien location. And after you have your breakfast or lunch or dinner, I’d like you to click on this link and fill out this detailed survey of your experiences, because you understand what we’re trying to do here. Your feedback is going to make us better.” And she now has more than 150 of these secret shoppers filling out detailed surveys every month, total cost of this program, gift cards

Drew McLellan:

Right.

Jay Baer:

Now, every agency listening should write that up as a service and go pitch it to all of their clients who have actual public facing customer locations next week.

Drew McLellan:

Yeah, that’s brilliant. It’s an army of secret shoppers, but also an army of people who were saying bad things that are sooner or later are going to turn into advocates probably.

Jay Baer:

She turned hate into help, right?

Drew McLellan:

Yeah.

Jay Baer:

And how much better can you get?

Drew McLellan:

Yeah. Wow. And does she give back to them afterwards and report on things that they’re doing to change what they experienced or?

Jay Baer:

Absolutely. No, that’s a great point. She does do that. That’s a really good point, not just for her program, but I think in general. A lot of agencies and a lot of companies direct feel like, well, we’ve got all this covered because we do surveys. Well, here’s the problem with surveys. A, usually they’re not well designed. B, where does that information go internally? Usually one person or a small group in the business intelligence unit or something else gets access to the data. And it’s not socialized across the whole organization, which really minimizes its impact and its usefulness. And C is that it never comes back to the customer, right? The customer gives feedback into the black hole and they’re like, “Well, I guess they’re listening.”

But really what you want to do is find a way to then answer those customers back via email in most cases, or it could be other forms and say, “Look, hey, thanks very much. This was great. And here’s some things that we’re doing well because of customer feedback.” Again, that’s another service an agency could provide, which is, let’s figure out how to get more customer feedback and then let’s figure out a way to make sure that customers are informed about what that feedback means.

Drew McLellan:

Yeah. At AMI we do client satisfaction surveys for agencies, but one of my deals is I won’t do it unless they agree that they will send a letter to all the participants after the survey is done saying, “Here’s what we learned and here’s what we’re changing or what we’re doing different,” blah, blah, blah, blah, that they don’t close the circle because otherwise people feel like, okay, I just took all this time to tell you all this stuff, and it feels like, as you said, it goes into a black hole.

Jay Baer:

Yeah, yeah. The other service that I think agencies can really perform well in this Hug Your Haters environment is what we call in my company, the honesty audit. An honesty audit is where you take a cross section of actual responses across all channels. So you might take 50 or 100 phone call transcripts, you might take 50 or 100 email responses, social media responses, review site responses if they’re answering there. All the places that the company is active and you actually grab a cross section of what the company says and really look at it and say, okay, is this the right way to handle this customer in this scenario? Is what we’re saying factual? Is what we’re saying comprehensive? Are we actually answering customers problems or are we just kicking the can down the curb? For example, in many cases you see in social media, “We’re really sorry. Please call us to solve this.”

Well, they probably already called. They called first and they didn’t like the answer, went to Twitter. And now you’re saying call us, which is a maddening set of circumstances for the customers. So that kind of honesty audit can be really, really illustrative because almost nobody, unless you have a director of customer experience, almost nobody in any client does that. Says, “Look, let me look at all of the customer interactions across all channels and then categorize it and sort it and look at it and make sure we’re as good as we can be.” And this is most egregious in social media. How many times have you heard this, Drew, or seen this where companies and some agencies, if not most agencies, what they do is they take the youngest least experienced people in the entire company and say, “Guess what? You’re in charge of social media because you “grew up with this stuff.”

So now you have somebody in a real time public environment being the face of your brand, who has the least amount of experience in business, in life and in your company. And I got to tell you, it is way easier to teach somebody Twitter than it is to teach them entire company. So agencies can also help in right sizing the staffing pattern, and the triage and handoff and how do customer questions actually get answered.

Drew McLellan:

Well, and that leads me to a question. A lot of agencies rustle back when social was hot and new and clients didn’t know how to do social, a lot of agencies instead of teaching clients how to do social were doing social for them.

Jay Baer:

True. “We’ll tweet 10 times a week for 5,000 bucks.” Yeah.

Drew McLellan:

Right. Right. So in terms of this new wave of the combination of digital and customer service, where should the agency draw the line in terms of their role? So is it in your opinion ever app