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Invaluable Customer Service Insights from Jay Baer

Invaluable Customer Service Insights from Jay Baer

Jay Baer shares what he’s learned about being a brand advocate, organizational procedures that capture the best of your customer service, and about how some companies dealt with the worst of times and turned them into the best of times.

Digital changed every aspect of business, especially customer service. But even as customer service changes and digital demands more attention, there’s also a balance that needs to happen—with resources, expertise, and staffing.

No one knows that better than Jay Baer, a marketing and customer experience expert and thought leader. In this episode of the Salesforce Marketing Cloudcast, Baer shares what he’s learned about being a brand advocate, organizational procedures that capture the best of your customer service, and about how some companies dealt with the worst of times and turned them into the best of times.

(Full Podcast Transcript)

Welcome to the Marketing Cloudcast. It’s the podcast where marketing leaders shoot straight about key trends, technologies, and topics in marketing today. And now, straight from the Salesforce marketing cloud, it’s your co-hosts Heike Young and Joel Book.

HY: Hey, everybody, welcome to another episode of the Marketing Cloudcast. It’s the marketing podcast from Salesforce. Joel and I are especially looking forward to sharing today’s guest with you. Joel, can you add a little bit of colour about why that is?

JB: Well, Heike, excited is probably not the best word. This episode is one I’ve been looking forward to for a long, long time. Because, folks, today our guest is a terrific friend of ours. Someone who I’ve known for, golly, the last 12 years—none other than Jay Baer. He is going to be our guest today. And it’s an episode that I’ve been looking forward to for a long time, because Jay is someone that not only I, but a number of individuals in our industry, consider one of the foremost experts on all facets of digital marketing. And if you have not had an opportunity to pick up a copy of Jay’s latest book, which we’ll be talking about here today, it’s called Hug Your Haters. And it’s all about how brands can really make brand advocates, by simply being much more proactive in responding to their customers. Jay will provide a lot of perspective around that.

The Digital Transformation

JB: For those of you who may not be familiar with Jay, Jay is founder of Convince & Convert. That organization is a strategy consulting firm that helps companies through all of the decisions that they are making as they approach digital transformation, and really leveraging data and content much, much more effectively—not just for marketing, but increasingly for customer service. In addition to his latest book Hug Your Haters, one of my favorite books which preceded that book is called Youtility. And it’s a book in every one of my keynotes, I recommend it. Because Youtility is focused on why smart marketing is all about helping, and less about hyping. And we’ll talk a little bit more about that. When he’s not keynoting conferences, when he’s not helping companies in digital transformation, Jay is one of the most re-tweeted individuals in the world of digital marketing. And it’s just a special pleasure for us to welcome in our good friend, Jay Baer. Jay, how are you?

Baer: My friend, I am fantastic. Thank you, good to talk to you as well. Joel, when we first met, I was just a boy, and now I am a man [chuckles].

JB: And when we first met, obviously you were running an agency in Tempe, Arizona, called Mighty Interactive, which was one of the very early agency partners with ExactTarget, which is of course is where we first met. And you’ve gone on to—as I said in the introduction—to become one of the more foremost authorities in digital marketing. When we talk about your newest book, which is just out. In fact, I just received my copy last evening Jay, and so I’ve just now cracked it and I’m into reading it. I think it’s probably, in my opinion, one of your best books. What was really the impetus for writing Hug Your Haters? Just to kind of frame it up for our listeners, as to why this is a book they really need to get their hands on.

Baer: What I discovered, Joel, in my consulting practice is that customer service is being disrupted in the same way and for the same reasons that marketing has been disrupted—social media, mobile, millennials, consumer behaviour. The same movie that we have watched as marketers, we are now watching in the customer service side of the business. But yet, there are some 500 books about marketing disruption. Until last week, when Hug Your Haters was published, there [were] a grand [total] of zero books about customer service disruption. And so in our consulting practice we had so many people saying, “We need help with social media, but how do we handle this customer complaint?” Or, “How do we balance resources between social media customer care and social media customer service?” Or, “How do we deal with social media customer service versus traditional customer service that we would deploy via phone and email?” All these types of questions and I thought, “My God, it’s 2015. It’s 2016. How are these questions still a thing?” When I dug a little deeper, I realized that most businesses are still using a 1995 playbook to handle 2016 customer service challenges. And unlike most business books, including the previous four books that I’ve written, most business books are, of course, collections of anecdotes and advice: “I’m an expert. I think you should do this. You’re going to trust me, you should go do this.” That’s essentially their business book formula, there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s just the way it is. But I felt like—look, if I’m going to write a book about modern customer service and how it interacts with marketing et cetera, I should probably make sure that these things that I’m going to recommend are true [chuckles].

Baer: So I actually conducted an enormous research project with our friends at Edison Research, and we looked at the science of complaint. We studied more than 2,000 Americans and looked at who complains and why they complain and where they complain and how. So the results of that research dictated the book. So the book was sort of written around the research, instead of the other way around. And in fact, an interesting story for you guys, the book was supposed to be totally different. So my original hypothesis was that speed is the most important thing in business now. That if you’re faster, you’re best. And if you’re faster, you’ll win. So the original working title of the book was Under an Hour. The idea being that you have to answer everybody under an hour. But when I did the research with Edison, I discovered that’s not actually true. That being fast is important—it’s very important, I talk about that in the book—but it’s not the most important thing. The most important thing is just showing up. Today, one-third of all customer complaints are never answered. And somewhat puzzlingly, almost all of those unanswered complaints are in public—social media, review sites, discussion boards, and forums—where everybody can see you ignoring them. So based on the research, I wrote a totally different book which is called Hug Your Haters.

What Does Customer Service Look Like Today?

JB: A couple of years ago Amdocs published an interesting study. And in that study, it revealed that 50 per cent of consumers now prefer social media to the telephone for customer service. Meaning that they’re much more comfortable—rather than just staying on hold, listening to music—much prefer to go on to that company’s Twitter page or their Facebook page and post their customer service complaint or question there.

Baer: Absolutely.

JB: Is that consistent with a lot of the research you did in preparation for the book?

Baer: Of course. Absolutely. Yeah, increasingly, you’re seeing this shift between what I call in the book, “the off-stage haters,” [who] are the people who complain in Legacy Channel’s phone and email. And then the newfangled, “on-stage haters,” people who complain in social media and beyond. When we did the research, two-thirds of all complaints were off-stage—phone and email. A third were on-stage, but that ratio’s changing very, very quickly for three reasons. One, it is physiologically easier to interact with a business with one hand on a smartphone mobile app, versus two hands writing an email or waiting on hold. Two, when you complain in social media, it is less conflict because it’s an asynchronous interaction. I leave a message, you answer me back. If I have to call, I have to deal with somebody in real time. Not only does that create scheduling issues for me, but it also makes me confront you and you have to confront me in a way that, frankly, some people are not as comfortable with. And the third thing is people just hate Kenny G, and nobody wants to listen to on-hold music [laughter]. The customer service world has actually literally kept that guy in royalties, right? Because when do you ever hear Kenny G except for when you’re on hold? He has dominated the on hold world. My goal is to put that guy out of business. Let’s work together [laughter].

JB: You talked earlier about simply showing up—I think that was the term used—being more important than speed. What do you mean by that?

Baer: Well, so many customers are never answered. And it’s not an accident, Joel. When I look at the case studies for the book, and the dozens and dozens—I did like 70 interviews for this book—it’s a strategy, right? Like, people sit in a conference room and say, “Okay, yeah, we’re not going to answer any customer complaints on Yelp, or Facebook, or Google, or TripAdvisor, or this discussion board. But we’ll answer every phone call and every email.” That doesn’t make any sense. Customer service is a spectator sport now. And so what the data showed from the book is that when you answer a customer complaint, in any channel, it increases customer advocacy by as much as 25 per cent.

JB: On the topic of customer advocacy or brand advocacy, I know you know quite well the folks at Zuberance. And of course, they have done some very compelling research about the power, the influence of brand advocates. Is a lot of their research consistent with what you’ve found? And that is when companies proactively engage somebody that has a complaint, that has a question, that they go a long way toward really building a brand advocate over time. Somebody that if they feel compelled, will then very openly share that positive experience with others and obviously—

Baer: 100 per cent. Yes.

JB: A lot of the work that Zuberance did on this showed that has a direct impact on brand value, brand reputation.

Baer: In revenue and profits, for that matter. I mean, it’s actually like a Stockholm syndrome kind of circumstance, right? The data shows that if you are a customer who had a problem and that problem is successfully addressed, you become more loyal to that business than the customers who never had a problem at all. That’s remarkable. To which I think, how can we create a low-level problem that we know we can solve, to trigger that psychological effect in all of our customers? We need a fake problem here. We need a fake crisis. But it really is quite remarkable how powerful that psychology is. So if you answer a customer complaint, you trigger that kind of opportunity. If you don’t answer a customer complaint, either you purposefully say we’re not going to participate in these venues or you don’t see it or whatever your excuse is, it decreases advocacy by as much as 50 per cent.

Ignore the Consumer, Suffer the Consequences

JB: I think that’s a huge business impact. You wrote something recently, Jay, that really stopped me in my tracks and I loved what you said. I believe—and I’m going to paraphrase what I believe you wrote—you said, “Consumers have become the most important broadcast network in the digital era,” or words to that effect. And I think the point that you were making was that brands who ignore consumers do so at their own peril. And I think the comments that you’ve just made and the metrics that you’ve just used to support that bare out the absolute necessity for brands to become much more proactive in this whole area. From a very practical standpoint, what should marketers really do to become much more attentive, much more proactive as it relates to customer service?

HY: Joel, you know I’m just trying to help marketers wrap their minds around this here. So, Jay, you’re saying there [are] all these channels and places where people can share their complaints. And what you’re saying, according to the data—which makes a ton of sense—is that you have to answer all of them. You have to show up. So how can you really do that, and who really owns that? Because it sounds to me like you were suggesting a huge transformation in the way that service and marketing teams collaborate.

Baer: Yeah, exactly. This ain’t easy, right? This requires real resources, and a real resource reallocation in many cases. One of my favorite stats from the book is that globally each year we spend about $500 billion on marketing, and about $9 billion a year on service.

JB: That’s depressing.

Baer: Now that probably doesn’t actually make a lot of sense, when you understand the power and the importance of customer retention. Just a 5 per cent increase in retention can increase profits by 25 to 85 per cent, based on the multiplier effect that happens when you keep customers. And you have to reduce your marketing costs as a result, because you have more customers that stay around longer. So I think what I would tell people is—and I say this as a marketing consultant, which might be mysterious—but before you go spend a bunch more money on marketing, you probably ought to make sure you’re at least decent in your category of customer service. Because otherwise you’re just running in place. And so when people say to me, “Well, jeez, Jay, you’re talking about adding a bunch of customer service people to be able to answer every customer at every channel every time. We don’t have those kind of resources,” I say, “Well, of course, you do. Of course, you do. You just choose not to deploy them that way.” Because look, for generations, customer service has been a necessary evil in business, because there were no financial incentives to be great at it and no financial disincentives to be terrible at it. If you think about this from a free economics perspective, as long as customer service was done in private, as it has been for the majority of the time that business has been around until really five years ago, essentially. If you were great at customer service, who would know about that? When you answer somebody’s letter with a nice letter back, the person who complained and gets a nice letter back is going to tell five friends. But what’s the real revenue impact of that? None.

Baer: Conversely, if you treat[ed] somebody shabbily in the old days when all customer service is in private, what’s the negative revenue impact of that? Essentially, none. But now that customer service is increasingly a spectator sport, the revenue impact of being great at it is considerable, and the revenue impact of being terrible at it is considerable. The ramifications for this have changed a lot, and that’s why I say that customer service in many ways is the new marketing. And the reason I know that: I guess if I say to you, “Who’s really great at customer service?” You can come up with two or three companies right of the top of your head. Everybody can, everybody listening right now can come up with two or three names. Why? Because they’re so rare. They are exceptional in the true sense of that word, meaning they are exceptions. My vision, my hope for this book—for Hug Your Haters and the Hug Your Haters philosophy of putting more emphasis on social customer service and even traditional customer service—is that 18 months from now, enough people will have read this book that if I ask you, “Who’s great at customer service?” you can’t come up with an answer because so many companies are now good it, they no longer standout.

JB: Doesn’t that require a culture change?

Baer: 100 per cent, Joel. Because there’s no way you can do it without a culture change. You can play a shell game and you can say, “All right. Let’s do a little better at customer service, let’s try and work on our net promoter score, let’s improve our sentiment”—you can nod to it, right? You can get better, but you can’t be great unless you actually believe it. I talked about that in the book. There’s a chapter that you’ll get to called, “Big Buts: The Five Reasons Why You Aren’t Hugging Your Haters.” And it talks about ultimately it comes down to culturally, you either believe this at the very highest executive levels or you don’t. And if you don’t truly believe it, if you don’t truly believe that one of the ways you’re going to differentiate and stand out in your category is by being genuinely better at customer service and caring more about your customers than your competition, you’ll never be great at this. You’ll always be just mediocre. But it’s heartening to me how many examples we were able to surface and include in the book of companies that have done just that. And companies that are unexpected—like Discover Card is one of my favorite examples. Discover Card, a credit card company. But they’re competing against Visa and MasterCard and Amex, and all these other guys who totally outgun them on marketing resources. But they said, “Look, we can’t out-TV them, but we can outservice them. We can be the best, clearly the best at customer service. So let’s go do that, let’s make that our competitive edge.” And so they’ve added tons of people and tons of resources, and they answer every question and every channel, every time within 20 minutes. You call them, 20 minutes. You email them, 20 minutes. You Facebook them, 20 minutes. Smoke signal, 20 minutes. They’re way better than their competition at that and they believe that that is one of their keys to victory, and I don’t disagree.

No Response is the Worst Response

JB: So, Jay, one of my favorite places to check out reviews about companies and services is TripAdvisor, because they do a lot of traveling. And it’s really important to me if I only have one or two nights in a city, that I’m not going to stay some place that’s noisy or has terrible customer service, or what have you. So I read a lot of these reviews. And yeah, I totally agree. It’s so heartening when I’m on there and I see some kind of accusation from a customer, and the company goes on there. They reply, they understand the importance of that. I also see—which I’m sure you’ve seen as well—a lot of times, you see some of these comments from people and they’re just flat-out crazy people. These people, they seem insane. What would you say to marketers who are looking at some of these reviews, and they’re just like, “I don’t know how to reply to this person, I don’t know if this is a real customer.” How can they get through some of the fake accusations out there and some of the crazy stuff, and really still spend their time wisely but also hug their haters?

Baer: The good news is, it’s a minority. There are not that many people out there who—what we call in the book, the crazies. Some people would call them trolls, things like that. I think you should answer everybody, even those people. And that may sound bizarre, but let’s remember that ultimately you’re not really talking to that person, you’re talking to everybody. And if you go out and say, “Okay, we’re going to try apply to this, this, this, or this,” and pick or choose, how do you decide that? How do you decide who’s too angry, or too weird, or too off-topic? What is the guidance that you’re going to be able to give a front line responder to say, “If you think this person’s too crazy, don’t respond.” I think the best way to go is just to respond to everybody, at least once. And my advice to our clients is the crazier they are, the more rational you should be. Because it makes them seem even crazier in context, and then the whole community understands that you actually care. You will hug your haters, you will listen to everybody, and then you just walk away. It doesn’t mean you’ve got to get in to some kind of back-and-forth with somebody. You shouldn’t do that anyway, but at least you’re on record as saying, “Yeah, we care. We treat every customer the same, even the ones that are bizarro.”

JB: Jay, we focus a lot of time speaking with customers, as you well know, about customer experience. And my earlier question about culture change is really the impetus for this question. One of the things that I see from my vantage point is when we talk about customer experience today, we see more and more companies talking about wanting to get much better at delivering a consistent customer experience. Which means that they really need to affect some fundamental changes within the organization, because this whole thing of customer experience does not begin and end just with the buying process, the purchase cycle. It extends all the way through everything that we’ve been talking about, which is customer service. And so my question is when you talk about companies doubling down on customer service, creating a culture that is focused on delivering really great customer service, responding to every complaint, what do you recommend that marketers do when you look at those kinds of things that are really very practical tactics, practical solutions, to being able to do this well? Should they be increasing CSRs? Should they be investing in social listening technology? What are the things that you think are really fundamentally sound, that companies that are really committed to customer service in the new digital era should be doing?

Baer: It’s a great question, Joel, very perceptive. There are multiple pieces to that formula, and I actually go through sort of a process that guides those kind of conversations in the book, and so you’ll find that very useful. I think first, it’s culture as we talked about, right? First, you [have] got to commit to it. Second, you need to put measurement in place and say, “Okay, how are we going to know whether this works?” Because this is going to require some measure of investment. So somebody’s going to ask, “Well, does this investment pay off?” And you have to have an answer to that story. So as you and I have talked about in the past, you’ve got to figure out your measurement scheme beforehand, not after the fact. Because if you try to figure out whether something worked after it already happened, it’s like painting a car once it’s moving. You can’t really do that. It’s also statistical gerrymandering of the highest order. So you really need to figure out your measurement framework that everybody in the organization agrees to to begin with. Third thing is absolutely, at any level of scale, software is 100,000 per cent required here. Because if you’re going to answer all your customers, you have to listen harder. You really do have to listen harder, and that’s going to require some software. And one of the things that I found really fascinating in the research for the book, is that very few customers—especially in social—actually tag brands directly. Conversocial did some research on this and found that something like 3 per cent, 3 per cent of all customer complaints in brand mentions actually tagged the brand. So you’ve got to listen harder if you’re really going to find all the places that you can hug your haters, so software is required. Probably some additional people are required.

Baer: And then having within your organization a known set of procedures that says, “If this, then that.” If this is somebody’s complaint, this is how we handle it. Now, that’s not to say you need scripts. I’m not a big believer in scripts, but I am a huge believer in mileposts and sort of guard rails that say, “Here’s how we handle things, generally speaking. Here’s what our soul is, here’s what our heart is, here’s what the DNA is of this brand.” But I’m not a big believer in scripts. And what I see in practice all the time is when people say, “Okay, Jay, we’re going to hug our haters, we’re going to expand our program here. The only way we’re going to be able to do that with the resources that have been allocated, is that if we copy and paste. We’ve got these seven legally—

JB: Just stock replies.

Baer: Approved responses.” Yeah, and “Okay, sounds like number four fits this best.” Empathy is incredibly important in this world, especially in the fact that it’s public. And copy and paste, by definition, is not empathetic. So Joel, the process is culture first, metrics second, software third, personnel fourth, process fifth.

JB: On number four, personnel. Based on everything you’ve talked about, what does this solution suggest for companies that are willing to say, “Okay, Jay, I agree. We really need to double down on our customer service representatives, we need to show empathy, we need to be much more proactive about this.” The question is this: Is this going to really require companies to kind of retool their training of their CSRs? Do they have to hire differently for this particular position, knowing how much more importance needs to be placed on this area, given what the financial impact can be?

Baer: Well, it’s a good question. I haven’t thought about it exactly like that. And it’s interesting because multiple people I interview for the book come out in different places on that question. So some people say that, “Look, your social media customer care people, for example, really have to be specifically social media customer care people.” That is a set of tasks, and responsibilities, and skills. “It’s a very specific set of skills,” in that Liam Neeson context. That has to be their job. That you couldn’t, for example, cross-train telephone reps to be Twitter reps, to put it in a granular example. I don’t know that I believe that. I think, ultimately, the technology and the platform is less important than the person and their spirit and their heart, and their understanding of the company and their ability to not take things personally and keep their cool. Because one of the byproducts of being fast is that you have to answer in the heat of the moment, and sometimes that makes you feel very, very uncomfortable. In fact, one of my favorite parts of the book is we actually interviewed psychiatrists and said, “Hey, what happens to your brain chemistry when you’re confronted by negativity?” And it’s amazing, you totally get a fight-or-flight response. And it explains why so many companies—especially small businesses—when they do respond, make it worse. They throw gas on their own fire, because they take it so personally and they freak out on the customer. And so keeping your cool is a really important piece of this. But I would say, in general, this: That [it] is way easier to teach somebody Twitter than it is to teach somebody your business. So this concept that we’ve got to get young people, for example, because they “grew up with this stuff.” To put them on the social media team, doesn’t really hold water with me.

The Face of Social Listening

JB: On the technology side of this. People listening to this episode of the Marketing Cloudcast—many of whom are users of Salesforce Marketing Cloud—will understand that through our Social Studio product, we offer social listening capability. Years ago, we acquired a company called Radian6, and then incorporated that into the entire Salesforce Marketing Cloud. I’d like your thoughts, Jay, on social listening and what its place is in this era of customer service in the digital age. Because I look at companies like Cisco and like CitiBank, for example, that are using social studio for very proactive monitoring of conversations that are taking place. Citi actually created a Twitter page called AskCiti and has Social Studio running in the background, but it is now proactively monitoring all of the posts on that particular page and then proactively responding to those individuals. Cisco does something in a very similar fashion, to identify business professionals that are looking for specific technology or telecommunication solutions. What are your thoughts about social listening? Because I think this is an area where there’s a lot of big opportunity, but maybe also a lot of misunderstanding around what social listening really is and could be.

Baer: The disconnect, Joel, in my experience is direct versus indirect listening. So I think people understand social listening, when you think of it as the Twitter and Facebook version of email. So if somebody calls you, you know they called, right? Your phone rings. If somebody emails you, it shows up in your inbox. If somebody sends you a letter, it shows up on your desk. If somebody mentions you on Twitter, it’s different if they actually reach out to your handle specifically, AskCiti, or if they tag you on Facebook. But my research shows—and multiple other studies have shown similar things—that the overwhelming majority of customers who communicate about brands in social media do not tag brands in that way. They just mention them, but they’re not actually going to their particular channel, et cetera. The biggest opportunity with social listening and why software is so critical—things like Social Studio—is the indirect listening, is to find all the mentions of the brand where people aren’t necessarily asking for help. What they really want is an audience, they’re just sort of grousing or mentioning or what have you. And we actually studied that very extensively in the research for Hug Your Haters, and we found that that’s the biggest opportunity for business is to answer those people in social media who do not expect to hear back from you. It blows their minds and steals their heart. If you call a company or you email a business and they get back to you, you’re like, “Well, okay.” I mean that’s the social contract, you expect that to happen. But if you mention a company on Facebook, for example, but you don’t put it on their wall, you put it somewhere else. And this company is smart enough to use advanced social listening software to find that mention, and then answers you even though you didn’t think they were going to even find it. The psychological impact of that is extraordinary, and very few companies are doing it yet and it’s a big, big, big, big opportunity. And I think from a financial perspective, it’s one of the main takeaways from the book—is to hug those onstage haters because they do not expect it of you yet.

JB: So it really becomes a very pleasant surprise when—

Baer: That’s right, it’s shock and awe. We talked about shock and awe in marketing now that, “Hey, let’s find somebody who said something on Twitter and let’s send them a sandwich or bring them a giraffe or whatever.” Kenny G plays in their birthday party or whatever outlandish stunt we want to pull. And that’s cool, there’s a place for that, right? Sometimes it triggers a viral effect and everybody feels good, and that’s fine. But you don’t have to do that. I’ve got the data and it’s in the book. You don’t have to send Kenny G out, all you’ve got to do is answer them and say, “Hey, we saw that you had a question. Can we help?” And they’re like, “Wow, I wasn’t even talking to you directly. I was just mentioning you. Thanks so much.” You don’t have to go to outlandish lengths. You just have to show up.

JB: Jay, I would love it if Kenny G came to my house and just played a concert. I think that would be awesome. I love Kenny G.

Baer: I know your neighbors, Joel, and I don’t think that’s going to work [laughter], but I appreciate the enthusiasm.

JB: A quick follow up question. As you did the research for the book, is there one brand, one company that stands out as an example of a company that through this strategy—through all of the different learnings and teachings that come out in Hug Your Haters—has really turned their brand reputation around?

Baer: In terms of sort of making a differentiation, I think Discover—that I mentioned earlier—has really gone a long way toward that finish line. I think they’re a great example. I talk about them in the book in multiple places. But I think the story I want to tell you briefly is for KLM Royal Dutch Airlines. KLM, based in Amsterdam, they’re a Delta partner, they fly all over continental Europe and beyond. They have a truly extraordinary social media customer care program. They have some 150 full-time CSRs just handling social. They staff 24 hours a day. They answer customers in 14 different languages, and they strive for a 20-minute SLA. Meaning if you tweet them at 3:00 in the morning in Turkish, they’ll be back to you by 3:20 in Turkish, which is pretty remarkable. Last year, they sold $25 million worth of airline tickets. Now, that was on accident. Right? They’re not a revenue-producing group. They’re not a sales group. They are a service group. But in the course of doing service like, “Oh, here’s a link,” they’re just sort of interacting with people and being useful and helpful, they sold $25 million for their tickets. This is a revenue positive customer service team, which I think is quite a compelling story. But what’s interesting about this is—we talked about culture being so important—KLM didn’t actually decide to do this because of a cultural epiphany. They decided to do it because of a volcano. You may remember a few years ago, the giant volcano in Iceland that created a huge, huge ash cloud. All flights were grounded throughout Europe. It was crazy. And so because KLM is such a big carrier in continental Europe, they had literally thousands and thousands and thousands of passengers stranded. And of course, every single one of them contacted them in every conceivable channel.

Baer: So they had this tsunami of complaints, and they had an emergency staff meeting and said, “Okay. We’ve got two choices. We can either try to triage this and answer people based on their number of miles or the acuteness of their issue, something like that, or we can just find a way to answer everybody. But let’s remember, that if we do the latter and we answer everybody, we can never go back. That genie can’t go back in the bottle. Because you can’t exactly say to your customers down the road, “Hey, here’s our policy, great customer service provided during times of volcano.” Like, that can’t be your philosophy, right? [chuckles] You can’t wait for a volcano to be great at this. And so they said, “No, let’s just do it. Answer everybody.” And so the nice thing is they had labor, because pilots couldn’t fly, and flight attendants couldn’t attend, and baggage handlers couldn’t handle. So they just got a bunch of card tables and extra laptops and said, “Go.” And so they just answered everybody, and that was the impetus for this program that is now world-class and revenue positive.

JB: Jay, one of my top takeaways from this episode is that it sounds like you have some hate for Kenny G. So I hope he reaches out to you to complain about it [chuckles].

Baer: It’s not hate so much, I would love to hug him. It’s not hate so much, I just feel like he’s made a career based on hold music and I think that seems unnecessary [chuckles].

JB: All right. Well, I hope he reaches out to you to complain about how you’ve hated upon him and his music, with an empathetic reply. I want to switch gears here for one quick second, and ask you something that I’ve always wondered. You give the world’s best marketing presentations. Are there any tips there, and how can we all implement maybe one Jay Baer-esk presentation tactic into our own work slides or pitches?

Baer: That was very kind of you. Thank you very much. And I assure you, the Hug Your Haters presentation is the best thing I’ve ever done. So if you get the chance to catch it live, please do so.

HY: Yeah, I haven’t seen it live yet. Have you, Joel?

JB: I have not seen the Hug Your Haters presentation, and I’m very much looking forward to that.

Baer: I think I’m bringing it to Connections in Atlanta. And if you haven’t gotten your ticket for Connections, listeners, then get on it.

JB: I will be there, Heike will be there. It’s going to be extraordinary in Atlanta. Connections, the marketing conference you do not want to miss. And I will bring Hug Your Haters to your person. Heike, I think the thing that—there are two things, actually. One, Joel knew me when I wasn’t nearly as good at this as people say that I am now. And the one thing that I discovered through a lot of my mentors in the speaking business is that the more you say, the worse your speech. So what I tell people is take what you think you want to include in that speech, throw away half of it, and you might be pretty close to as much content as you need. The tendency especially in marketing is to try and stuff everything you know into the one hour that you have, and it’s just too much content. It’s just you can’t fire-hose people like that. So say one thing three times instead of saying three things, is a much better speech. The second thing is I really try to structure all my presentations around the tweets. So at this point, I’m going to say a thing that I want you to tweet and I’m going to build stories around that thing. So in multiple places in the presentation, I essentially write the tweet for you, and then build the story around it that compels you to want to tell other people what I just said, and I’ve trained myself to speak in tweets from the stage.

The Final Five

HY: I can dig it. So, folks, if you want to see Jay on the stage at Connections, I do want to remind you that registration is now open. It’s the digital marketing event of the year. We’ll all be there, Joel Book and I will be there. You can see Jay speak, you can see so many other innovative digital marketers speak on the stage. It’s May 10th through 12th, and we would love to see you there. So if you head to, that will take you to a page with all the info you need on travel, agenda, sessions, networking, and parties, all that good stuff. So with that, I think we are ready to head into our final segment here on the Marketing Cloudcast. Jay, these are our final five questions that we ask every guest on the show, starting with this guy. Who’s your biggest influence professionally, would you say?

Baer: My biggest influence professionally, it depends on what part of my business that I’m thinking about. I really try to create—I’m not anywhere close to that—but I try to create books and concepts that resonate with people across multiple different things, the way Seth Godin does. One of the things I like best about Seth’s career is that he says different things every time. It’s not the same book with a different title over and over, it’s a totally different topic and so that’s been a real influence on me.

HY: That’s a great answer. And as you know, Jay, Seth’s book Permission Marketing really was one of the catalysts that influenced the co-founders of ExactTarget, Chris Baggot, Scott McCorkle, Peter McCormick. It was absolutely catalytic in really kind of crystallizing a lot of the vision for that company which became ExactTarget. So I could not agree with you more.

Baer: People ask me, “Joel, you’re a marketing guy, why’d you write a book about customer service?” I said, “Well, one, customer service is the new marketing. And two, why would I want to write another marketing book?” From Seth’s perspective, same thing. Like okay, I mean it’s still marketing, but why would I want to write another book that’s about something I’ve already written a book about. That doesn’t help me and it doesn’t really help you. So I’m much more content to write books on broader and broader and broader topics over time, I just think it’s more interesting for me personally and I think it’s better for the audience.

HY: Before I get to the next question, a quick comment about that. I think one of the trends that we see from our vantage point here is many of our customers that are now currently using Salesforce Marketing Cloud—which was formerly ExactTarget—are now, I think, taking a drink out of your cup and they’re saying, “Why couldn’t we be applying a lot of the same kind of technologies—email, mobile push alerts, journey management—why could we not be applying those things to customer service?” Which is leading a lot of customers to now add Service Cloud to the mix of technologies that they’re using. And we see the same kind of migration from users of Sales Cloud, which is obviously our flagship CRM product. And now adding Service Cloud to that, and many of which are now adding Community Cloud to that. So that there is a gathering point for their customers, where they can then proactively provide access to resources. So I think so much of this—like you’ve talked about today—is really wrapped in the fabric being passionate, being absolutely committed to helping your customers. And that extends through the whole buying process, right on through the product usage and customer service space. Question two, Jay, we talked with you today about a lot of brands that you admire. You mentioned KLM, Discover Card, and several others. This question is this: Is there one company that you have had experience with, either directly or from a consulting standpoint, that you would say you have a true brand crush on because their marketing is so innovative and insightful?

Baer: A brand crush. There are lots of brands that I admire. One that I think is consistently innovative and interesting and forward thinking is Warby Parker. You know those guys as well—the eyeglass manufacturing company based in New York. One of the things that they do that I actually talk about, both in Hug Your Haters and I also talked about it in Youtility—one of the only case studies in companies that were mentioned in both of my recent books is how they handle, sometimes people ask questions and complain on Twitter, and they’ll answer them back with videos on YouTube. And so they do that channel shift in a way that is additive, not reductive. A lot of people when they do channel shift, it’s terrible. So somebody calls and they have to wait on hold too long, so they hang up and hit you on Facebook. And the Facebook response they get is, “Please call us at …” You’re like, “Dude, I just tried to call you,” and that causes people to go like supernova upset, of course. But Warby Parker does the opposite, so they shift channels and make it a better experience, “Well, we could have just tweeted you back, but instead we made you a custom video.” That’s awesome.

HY: Great answer.

JB: Jay, if you had 10 per cent more marketing budget this year—maybe for Convince & Convert, maybe for a company you’re advising—but you could only invest it in one strategy or channel, what would you pick?

Baer: I would get better social listening software and answer more customer complaints.

JB: That’s truly direct, very succinct.

Baer: I really generally would. I had a conversation with one of our former colleagues earlier today Joel, and he asked me a question. He said, “If you could only hire one person tomorrow, and you were a company—you could either hire an amazing vice president of marketing or you could hire an amazing vice president of customer care, who would you hire first?” And I said, “I would hire the customer care guy.” If you don’t have the customer care guy protecting the customers you’ve already earned, the marketing guy is just on a treadmill. So I think you’ve got to shore up service first.

JB: You think companies know how to hire for that kind of individual?

Baer: Not at all.

JB: What advice would you give companies to put themselves in the position to be able to attract and hire that kind of customer care, customer support, customer service individual that really is able to retool and rethink the way in which that brand approaches customer service?

Baer: Well, what’s interesting is I’m actually finding more examples now of people taking on that role. So that director of customer experience, director of care, who actually come from the marketing side. And I think it’s a really interesting phenomenon because a lot of people who grew up in customer service are so beholden by the 1995 customer service playbook that it’s really hard for them to see the horizon. I know there are exceptions. People like Frank, Elias, and other great leaders who came out of traditional service who are now incredible leaders at what you would call modern service, but I think they’re the exception that proves the rule. So I think you’re starting to see more of a marketing bent to some of these customer service leaders, and I think it’s really fascinating.

JB: I like your philosophy on that a lot. I could not agree more. Question number four. You’re an author—a very successful author—I think our listeners would really be interested in your recommendations as to one book. If you had to just pick one book that you would recommend our listeners read, what would it be?

Baer: Well, I continue to be an enormous fan of our former colleague Jeff Rohrs’s book, Audience, which is—

JB: That’s a wonderful book.

Baer: It is such a great book. Because it really does some extraordinarily important truth telling about how customers are valued, and how to acquire customer attention now. It’s really great. I’d say another one that I think—I just saw this gentleman yesterday at an event, and I hadn’t seen him for a while. It’s reminded me just how smart he is and how good his books are. It’s not even his most recent book, but it’s one that I think is actually more true and more valuable today than it’s ever been. And that’s Joe Jaffe’s book, Flip the Funnel, which I think in some ways really influenced what I did with Hug Your Haters and said, “Look, we kind of have this upside down. Let’s take care of the customer we’ve already paid to get.”

JB: Love it. So, Jay, this is our last question that we’ll pose to you in this episode of the Marketing Cloudcast. Thank you so much for joining us. What one word to you sums up the state of marketing today as an industry, as a whole?

Baer: Confusion and opportunity, which is three words. We have opportunities in marketing that were literally unthinkable five to ten years ago—unfathomable. The power that we have at our disposal with tools like Marketing Cloud, Service Cloud, and beyond is stuff that we could only dream of a short time ago and I’m old enough to remember those days. But it’s not about the wand, it’s about the wizard. The technology is outpacing the marketer’s ability to understand how to use it. And the confusion about what’s out there, how do I deploy it, how does it work with customers is a real problem. We have more power than we have knowledge, and that’s why what you’re doing with a podcast like this, what you both do all the time with marketing education on behalf of Salesforce is so incredibly important. Because unless we can keep marketers and customer service professionals really understanding what is possible, all the software in the world’s not going to save them.

JB: Could not agree more. And I’ve said this time and again, when it comes to education focused on marketing and customer service in the digital age, I don’t see any finish line. I really don’t. I think it’s a continuing challenge, and really a continuing passion of ours. Folks, our guest today has been the amazing Jay Baer. And I know I say this a lot, Heike, but I wish we had more time because there are so many more avenues that I’d like to go down with Jay on this whole topic. But, Jay, it’s just been such a pleasure having you on the show today. For our listeners that are interested in learning more about the philosophy behind Hug Your Haters and also about your company, Convince & Convert, what’s the best way for them to access a lot of what you have written and basically kind of get on board?

Baer: Thanks so much. It was great to be with you. The book is available any ways that books can be procured in this day and age. Your local bookstore, airport, Amazon, Audible, Kindle, et cetera. If you go to, which is the official site for the book, you’ll see there’s all kinds of special offers there. So if you buy a handful of books, send me your receipt, I’ll send you all kinds of awesome stuff including—potentially—the limited edition I Love Haters socks, which are truly spectacular. I Love Haters socks, ladies and gentleman. And for more about me and the six weekly podcasts that we produce and the 12 blog posts we write every week now, and daily email, all kinds of other stuff that we produce, go to, please.

JB: He is the hardest working man in digital marketing today, folks. Our guest today has been Jay Baer. Jay, it’s been great having you with us. Folks, I hope you’ve enjoyed this edition of The Marketing Cloudcast. And in addition to saying thank you for listening today, Heike and I also want to ask if you if you have not subscribed yet to The Marketing Cloudcast, please do. It’s easy to do. All you have to do is go to And as always, greatly appreciate your evaluation, your review of The Marketing Cloudcast by posting that at iTunes. So on behalf of Heike Young and all of us at Salesforce, I’m Joel Brooks saying thank you and we look forward to having you alongside for another great episode of The Marketing Cloudcast coming up real soon. Thanks again, folks.

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