How to Rewire Your Customer Experience (CX) with Jay Baer

If word of mouth is vital to successful marketing, how come businesses never have a word of mouth marketing plan?  How have customer expectations changed during this global pandemic?  In this episode, Chris Casale and Ryan Smith chat with Jay Baer about how to rewire your customer experience (CX) to exceed customer demands and generate more online reviews.

For a lot of marketers Jay Baer needs no introduction, but if you’re not familiar with Jay let’s bring you up to speed.

Jay Baer is an inspirational, plaid suit-wearing, hall of fame marketing and customer experience keynote speaker, emcee, and trusted advisor to the world’s most iconic brands. Jay is the author of 6 best-selling books, including Youtility: Why Smart Marketing is About Help, Not Hype; Hug Your Haters: How to Embrace Complaints and Keep Your Customers and his latest book Talk Triggers: The Complete Guide to Creating Customers with Word of Mouth

He is the founder of Convince & Convert, a consulting firm that works with the world’s most iconic brands to gain and keep more customers with social media and content marketing. He’s also the host of the long-running podcast, Social Pros.

Here are some podcast episode highlights:

How did wearing plaid suits become part of your brand?

Jay Baer: [00:05:00] Well, I mean, my most recent book is, as Chris so kindly mentioned, is Talk Triggers, which is all about how to create customers with word of mouth. Everybody in business knows that the best way to grow a business is for your customers to do it for you. 

Like, I’ve been doing this a long time. Right. And nobody ever says, you know what doesn’t matter to my business? Word of mouth. Like nobody ever says that. Right. And word of mouth that it’s all businesses. 

However, nobody, Ryan actually has a word of mouth strategy. You just sort of take it for granted. You just figure, well, if I run a decent business, people will notice that. They’ll talk about it, but they don’t. You have to actually give people a story to tell, which is the whole premise of the book. 

So in my case, on that side of the business, the speaking side of the business, my client, my customer is the meeting planner. Right. The meetings professional. And they decide who the speakers are. 

There’s lots and lots and lots and lots of speakers. And many of them are quite good. It’s very competitive. So how do you actually stand out? So so I thought. All right. There’s two angles here. 

One, I want to give the meeting planner something to talk about. So it’s not just that I wear plaid suits on stage, it’s that the meeting planner gets to pick out which suit I wear onstage. So there’s a whole website. You guys can go there right now or listeners can go to and you get to pick out what suit I wear. 

Dress Jay Baer

So, whether now it’s a virtual event or a live event. So I want Jay to wear green or raspberry or purple or gray or whatever color is that way. The meeting planner actually has buy-in. And they talk about it all the time. They tell me about it. They tell other meeting planners about it. 

But the original, original, original premise was this. So in a circumstance like Social Media Marketing World will be a very large audience. Some people will come up to the stage after you give a presentation and say, ‘oh, that was great’, or ‘here’s my card. Give me a call’. ‘I want you to maybe do a speech at my company’ or whatever. Right. 

But a lot of people will say, I do want to talk to Jay. But that’s a pretty long line. And I got to pee. And so I’ll talk to him later. So what I want to do in that situation is make that connection as easy as possible. You got 3,000-4,000 people at a conference. How do you make sure they can find you? 

Well, you wear something that nobody else is wearing. In my case, a very vibrant plaid suit. So first and foremost, became a connection mechanism so that I could have more conversations with people after I leave the stage. And then we turned it into an even more effective talk trigger for my business. Now that meeting planners actually get to be part of the experience. 

How has the pandemic affected your business at Convince and Convert, and how have you had to pivot? 

Jay Baer: [00:08:58] Yeah, we swung into it pretty hard. We first day created a ton of content assets from the Youtility perspective. Right. Make your marketing so useful that people would pay for it. We really tried to live that premise and have created one, two, three, four, five, six,…six different kinds of e-book white papers on helping customers through the pandemic

“Make your marketing so useful that people would pay for it.”

– Jay Baer

And we’ve created our sixth webinar as well. So we’re trying to take what we’ve learned and what we know and give it away. One bite at a time, as is the Youtility thesis. We also doubled the size of our sales and marketing operations instantaneously. We just wanted to have more conversations with clients on the consulting side. Were down a little for the year versus last year. But not appreciably. 

The speaking side is down as well. Big surprise because all the conferences have been canceled. However, it’s not down very much because I am very, very fortunate in that I have done a lot of virtual speaking for a decade. Right. So this idea of doing webinars and online keynotes is not foreign to me, and I’ve got a lot of AV equipment to make that happen. 

And so I’m doing 10 events a month right now online, which is terrific. So it’s got a nice I’d have to travel around and get to, you know, still wear the plaid suit, but sit in my own home and study. 

What is it about the pandemic, the economy shifting down that makes Youtility essential for businesses in 2020? 

Jay Baer: [00:13:02] That’s so crazy, man. I wish I would have written that book this year, because I think it’s actually more true than ever as. 

Yeah. I mean, look, 54% of customers have since the pandemic purchased one or more things from a business that they’ve never purchased from before. And 89% of those customers say that they are probably going to stay with this new provider. 

So what that means is that we’re seeing huge market share shifts. More than ever, quicker than ever, because market share tends to be stable in good times and tends to change in bad times, and certainly this qualifies as bad times for many people. 

And that’s why right now, because everybody is uncertain. Everybody is anxious. Brands are built in bad times. Brands are not built in good times. Right. You can sustain a brand in a good time, but you don’t build a brand at a good time because it’s all good. 

Brands are built in bad times. Brands are not built in good times. You can sustain a brand in a good time, but you don’t build a brand at a good time because it’s all good.

Jay Baer

Jay Baer: [00:16:09] I mean this sincerely. Nobody is pro pandemic, certainly. Right. But it is also probably the greatest opportunity you will have to build your business in your whole life because of these shifts in market share. 

And I firmly believe that how you handle your business for the next six months will have a material impact on your success over the next six years. And the Youtility philosophy of like, look, as long as you can afford to do it, I know some people are literally hand to mouth right now, but as long as you can afford to do it in your business…Giving away value right now will pay off huge down the road. I really, really believe that to be true.

Is there a need to rewire your customer relationships?

Jay Baer: [00:17:30] Look, nobody knows nothing about nothing right now. Right. What we have in every business is a Certainty Gap. Customers don’t even know how to buy from you anymore. In many cases, because your processes have changed, the circumstances have changed. 

One of the examples I use sometimes is I got my haircut. I guess it would have been for the first time, like two months ago now, I guess. And I was like, man, I got it. I’m doing virtual keynotes. I can’t go. I can’t go this shaggy. It’s not going to work. So I get my haircut and I had to get like 16 questions answered to get a haircut. 

And, you know, look, man, I’m a 50-year-old man. I figured I pretty (much) had a handle on how the haircut business works, but I realized, like, no, not anymore because I had to learn things like this: 

  • Is the haircut place still open? 
  • Is the woman who cut my hair still employed there? 
  • How do you make appointments now? 
  • Where do you park? 
  • Are the parking meters downtown still in operation? Because I don’t really know. I mean, I haven’t been downtown in forever. 
  • Do I wear a mask? 
  • Does she wear a mask? 
  • Do I come in with clean hair or do they still do shampoo in? 
  • Do they sell products? 
  • How do you pay if you want to buy a product? 
  • Do I just walk in? 
  • Do I have to text before I get there, like around the corner? 
  • Is there a waiting room? 
  • Are the appointments the same length or a different length now?
  • And on and on and on to get a haircut. 

So I had on my podcast on Social Pros, Laurie Meacham, a month or so ago. Laurie is the head of social media customer service for JetBlue Airlines. And she told me this story that on their digital team, they discovered in their analytics a trend of a search term that they’d never seen before. 

And that search term is ‘are airlines still in business’? Wow! Are airlines still in business? That is not a search term you would have likely seen in February, and now so much so, it popped up on their analytics. 

Nobody knows nothing about nothing. So we’re talking about rewiring. What you really have to do is retrain your team and then reeducate your customers. Right. Your best friend right now is an FAQ, like a giant, comprehensive, updated everyday FAQ because you cannot assume that customers know how to give you money anymore.  

Chris Casale: [00:20:02] Do you think that’s in the form of an FAQ? And let me give you a little context to this. The reason I ask it that way is, and maybe this is just my own personal thing, I hate FAQs because I feel that if you have to display a list of frequently asked questions, you’re not answering it in the content. And that’s why the questions are frequently asked. 

Jay Baer: [00:20:21] I totally hear what you’re saying, Chris, and I don’t disagree, although I think in this case, because people tend to have questions, as I did with my haircuts and I know in batches it is useful to batch them as opposed to make them spelunk through your content to find them in line. 

But I know what you’re saying. So I do recommend. I don’t think it’s an either or scenario. I think it’s answered the questions in the context that they should be answered. 

Also batch them together. But the third thing I think is actually just as if not more important, which is to push your FAQ out to the margins. Make FAQ push, not pull. 

This idea that if somebody wants to buy from us, they’ll come to our website, they’ll find where the questions are asked and answered, and then eventually, you know, satiate that information need and then transact. Yeah, maybe. 

I would rather say, okay, here’s 50 frequently asked questions, but we know these seven are basically dealbreakers. Right. They have to be confident in these seven. Take those seven and incorporate them in your e-mails, incorporate them in your social right. Build them in your radio campaigns, direct mail, bill stuffers, whatever. 

So don’t rely on the customer to come and find answers. You send them the answers and that reduces friction for them and allows them to make a buying decision easier.  

How frequently do people need to produce content on it on a daily basis? Is there any sort of general rule that businesses should follow? 

Jay Baer: [00:22:22] I don’t think of it so much, Ryan, as a cadence, but more as a bingo card. And let me tell what I mean by that. We have a principle that we use at Convince & Convert for client work called the 5 x 5 x 5. 

And the 5 x 5 x 5 works like this, you take your key customer personas. Let’s say there are five and then you look at sort of the classic purchase funnel: awareness, interest, consideration, purchase, advocacy, etc. 

What we do is we create a grid with our clients and say for each of these personas and each of these funnel steps, what are the five questions that must successfully be answered for the customer to move to the next level? Like Chutes and Ladders informationally. 

No one’s going to buy unless they know what it costs. No one’s going to buy unless they know what happens if they don’t like it. And so you document all these questions. 

5 x 5 x 5 = 125. 125 pieces of content that you theoretically need. Now, in reality, you don’t actually need 125 for two reasons. One, the five different personas don’t have fully distinct question sets and you probably have some content already created. So what we find generally in this is, even for big companies, we end up when we do a gap analysis of, you know, 50 or 60 questions that are pretty important to answer that are not really answered easily by the company. And then you just go out and you methodically create content to address those. 

Might be a video, might be a podcast, might be a blog post, might be an e-book, might be a webinar or whatever. You answer those questions methodically. And then how and when you roll those out, it kind of depends on your own cadence. 

But I guess I would say a very complicated answer to a very simple question, Ryan, would be if you’re not making content, at least weekly, I guess the question I would ask is why? 

Jay Baer: [00:27:02] One of the things that we do with our strategy team, and there are six people on our strategy team in addition to myself, who work with big clients on content strategy, social strategy, digital strategy and CX strategy. One of the things we do, because we’re all virtual, we have a lot of meetings and stuff. Each strategist has to fill a little form every Friday that kind of talks about how it’s going with the accounts they’re working on, et cetera. 

But one of the things they have to provide myself and our COO is what questions did you hear from clients this week? So we make them document the questions. Right. And then when we see a pattern of questions, we say, oh, we should turn that into a webinar or an e-book or blog post or a podcast episode. And then if we get enough questions, there’s like, oh, maybe Jay should turn that into a keynote or a book or whatever. 

So it’s really, really fortunate that I have either directly or indirectly exposure to a lot of really great brands and what is on their mind. And one of the things that I am good at is sort of pattern recognition, and in taking a trend and synthesizing it so that everybody can see it and understand it. 

What advice do you give to businesses that are trying to really craft that customer journey to make it as seamless and positive as possible? 

Jay Baer: [00:31:05] There was definitely a period of time at the beginning of the pandemic where customers were giving businesses a pass. And saying, look, this in everything’s all screwed up. So I understand why. You know, you forgot my fries or whatever. Those days are over. 

More than 80% of the numbers, 82% of customers now expect businesses, you’ll love this, now expect businesses to provide more responsive communication than they did before the pandemic. So customer expectations are even higher than they were pre-pandemic. 

Meanwhile, the business is trying to operate in a pandemic, might have entirely new employees. And that is a real challenge. The problem with customer experience and this Ryan gets into what I was talking about with the new keynote says some of the coveted customer experience stuff. 

The problem with customer experience is that it doesn’t actually exist. Not a real thing, right, when we say customer experience. That sounds like it’s a light switch or a holistic kind of thing that you can just, like, fiddle a dial. 

The reality is that the customer experience, and I’m throwing up my air quotes for those of you listening, customer experience is actually dozens or hundreds of individual touchpoints and interactions that together we have decided to nickname the customer experience, just like the brand comprises dozens or hundreds of elements, not just a logo. 

So when I say to a business, you should improve the customer experience. They always nod. But what does that mean? What specifically should you do? Because there isn’t a customer experience knob, doesn’t work like that. So the team and I at C&C have analyzed this a lot. Tons of research on this point. 

What are the things that matter most to your customers?

Jay Baer: [00:32:58] What we discovered is that there are really three things that matter most. Three things that your customers really and truly care about. So if you’re going to improve the customer experience, and you need to because they demand more, the three things you should focus on are how to be:

  1. Quick
  2. Clear  
  3. Kind.  

If you can be disproportionately responsive, if you can be disproportionately informational and reduce sort of confusion; and if you can be disproportionately empathetic…if you can just focus on those three things. 

And the recommendation I make in that keynote is if you can be 15% faster, 15% more understandable or less confusing, and 50% more empathetic, within 90 days, you will be well on your way to delivering that coveted customer experience, which inoculates you against low price and operational deficiencies. 

Quick, clear and kind. 

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