Episode 90 | November 14, 2017

Hug Your Haters; Turn Customers Who “hate” You Into Raving Fans with Jay Baer

A Personal Note from Orion

Listening, understanding, and showing kindness are not only important for your personal relationships, but your business relationships as well. Building and maintaining a 5 star reputation for your business takes a lot of work, and a very special consideration to showing your customers that you care. As in any relationship, they want to be heard, they want to feel important, and whether they complain or give compliments, each one deserves to be acknowledged.

As my guest Jay Baer describes so clearly in his book by the same name, you have to “Hug Your Haters”. Jay is a brilliant, funny speaker who really knows how to inspire a crowd. He has been working in PR and communications for over 20 years, so he knows what your customers want to hear in order for them to be happy. And happy customers are great for business!



In this Episode

  • [01:56] – We learn that Jay had a microphone in his hand from a young age, which contributed to his comfort as a speaker. He then discusses two other pieces that contribute to being a great speaker.
  • [03:59] – Talks have to be fun, Jay points out, both for the audience and for his sake.
  • [05:21] – Jay discusses how he prepares for his presentations and adapts to the lifestyle necessary as a speaker. He then talks about using time on planes.
  • [08:52] – How did Jay choose his job, and what drives him?
  • [11:54] – Jay writes his books himself or with co-writers, but doesn’t use ghostwriters. It’s actually faster for him to write them himself. He then discusses his process for writing books.
  • [14:37] – What, in marketing, has changed in the last 25 years? And what do we still do the same way?
  • [16:27] – Jay discusses how he came up with the idea of hugging your haters.
  • [18:33] – One of the things that Jay discovered in his research is that a third of customer complaints are never answered.
  • [20:58] – How do you connect with and answer everyone across all your platforms when you’re already incredibly busy with running a business?
  • [23:43] – Jay talks about his tips for answering a review, exploring some major risks or traps that people tend to fall into.
  • [27:19] – Does Jay have examples of good and bad answers?
  • [31:11] – Orion talks about a recent Kabbalah class that she took addressing truth and mercy, and relates this to what Jay has been saying. Jay then talks about a trait that people who are great at customer service have in common.
  • [33:50] – We hear Orion’s thoughts on what people do in the name of “truth,” and the potential for role reversal between the oppressed and the oppressors.
  • [35:34] – Jay elaborates on the topic of mercy, explaining that companies need to have mercy for unhappy customers, but customers sometimes need to have a little bit of mercy for companies as well.
  • [38:41] – Jay discusses dealing with the extreme cases online, offering advice for how to deal with potential trolls online.
  • [40:44]– Orion ties what Jay has been saying to something that Gary Vaynerchuk credits with his success.
  • [41:21] – How do you create raving fans?
  • [43:05] – Jay offers advice on the process of doing things that surprise your customers, which he explained is the key to creating raving fans.
  • [45:21] – Does Jay have any brilliant ideas for Orion’s next business card? He suggests using lipstick.
  • [46:28] – What are Jay’s three top tips for living a stellar life? 1. Always surround yourself with people who are better than you. 2. Don’t be afraid to delegate. 3. Spend as much time as you can around young people.
  • [49:05] – Jay takes a moment to rave about his friend Daniel Lemin, who is a co-founder at Selectivor.
  • [50:28] – Where can people find Jay?

About Today’s Show

‏‏Hello and welcome to Stellar Life Podcast. I’m your host, Orion. How are you doing today? Today, you’re going to learn how to handle those online reviews that are not so great, that maybe are one star or a bit  mean. How do you deal with those people and how can you even transform them into raving fans? My guest today is Jay Baer, he’s a five-time author, he’s a renowned speaker, and he helps companies retain clients and get more clients. I was so excited to have him on the show that I forgot to hit record, bummer. First three minutes, gone. I’m really, really sorry. I’ve decided to keep the interview because it’s so good, we’re just gonna dive straight to the interview. The question that I asked him in the beginning was about his abilities as a speaker and how did he become such a great speaker. I watched him on YouTube and he was phenomenal. This is how it’s going to start, let’s go.

‏‏Even at 15, 16 years old, I had a microphone in my hands all the time. It never felt weird to me and I was never scared and still am not. That helps. The second thing is I’ve got amazing coaches and I spend a tremendous amount of time and a fair amount of money to coaching as do all speakers who do it for a living, almost all of them. Michael and Amy Port, I’ve worked with them a lot on performance. My friend Scott McKain and Mark Sanborn have helped me a ton with my work. My friend Tamsen Webster is a content coach, she helps speakers like me make sure that what they’re saying actually resonates and that it makes sense. Sometimes, you talk about things and it doesn’t quite come together for the audience. That’s her expertise, making sure that there is actually a thesis that is consistent throughout the presentation. Those things really, really make a difference. The third piece is you have to do a post-mortem after every presentation and say what actually happened during this presentation and what can I do different or better? One of the things that people don’t know very much about speakers is that every time you give a talk, you always try something different. You try a new example or you say a joke a different way, you’re always experimenting. The nice thing about speaking is you get almost instant feedback; they laughed or they didn’t laugh. You can tell whether something works. Once you have your talk down, you’re constantly testing it the same way you would test a headline in an ad or a subject line in an email, it’s the same kind of process. I think, as far as I know, standup comedians actually do the same thing.

The nice thing about speaking is you get almost instant feedback; they laughed or they didn’t laugh. Click To Tweet

‏‏You have a lot of humor in your presentation. I would like to disagree with you because my husband does SEO and speaks in thousands of conferences. I’ve seen speakers that talk about marketing and most of them are very dry. You have this color about you, you’re very colorful, you’re funny, you’re engaging. I think it’s very unique, I think you’re unique.

‏‏Thank you, I appreciate that. The way I look at it is it has to be fun. It can’t be a lecture or a sermon. Also, look, if I’m going to do all this 60, 70 times a year, which certainly people do it a lot more than me, but 60 or 70 times a year is about what I try to do. If I’m going to do this 60 times a year, it has to be fun for me too. I want it to be light, enjoyable, interesting, and dynamic because otherwise I get bored. If I get bored, then people can tell that I’m bored and then the whole thing falls apart. I think one of the greatest test for speakers is that even though the audience knows that you’ve given some version of this presentation maybe dozens of time or more, if it feels like to them the first time you’ve given it, and that’s what I try to do every time. I want them to feel like I just made this up today. Sometimes, you do it better, sometimes you do it worse, but that’s what I’m shooting for.

‏‏How do you prepare yourself mentally, physically, emotionally; with all this travel, it can be really hard. I just came back from a long travel and whew, it took me about a week to recover. I went to India so it was harder.

‏‏Yeah, that is hard.

‏‏But still, I travel a lot myself. It can get very disorienting, especially you run a business.

‏‏It is challenging because I don’t just speak, I’ve got a consulting firm and a media company as well and there’s 16 people on my team. There’s a lot of things to do other than get speeches. You just adapt. It’s amazing how adaptable people are. Time change doesn’t really bother me that much, at least domestically, overseas a little bit. But going back and forth from Miami to San Francisco and back and forth to Vegas and Orlando, it doesn’t really bother me anymore. You get really, really good at working in small doses wherever they have internet connection. If it’s in the back of the car, you’re working. If it’s in the hotel lobby, you’re working. You’re just doing it in bits and pieces. You just train yourself to succeed in that environment. I’ll tell you, this is a very practical matter, but what has really changed my ability to manage my company from the road is WiFi on planes. In the previous years where they had no WiFi on planes, it was much more relaxing of course because you could watch a movie, or sleep, and those were your only options. Now, I’m always working on planes because WiFi is pretty standard now. While that provides you with less solace and rest, it’s amazing how much more you can get done.

‏‏Yeah. It sounds like my husband, he works all the time everywhere. I don’t know how he does that. You guys have a unique talent of focusing, having that sharp focus. When I’m on the plane, I won’t lie, I worked on the plane. I enjoy a movie every once in awhile and just sleeping.

‏‏Yeah, I understand. I occasionally get a little bit of sleep on planes too. I read something somewhere where, someone’s going to put this in the comments that this is crazy and Jay has no idea what he’s talking about, but I read something somewhere, I should look this up, that you know when you take off on the plane and everybody gets tired and nod off? It’s something like the angle of the plane. You’re pointed up because the nose is up, it forces your head back. The blood in your head pools to the back of your head, and that causes drowsiness. Then, when the plane levels off at cruise altitude, your blood kind of sloshes back forward and levels out inside your brain and that drowsiness goes away. That’s one of the reasons why you see so many people nod off when the plane takes off and then they wake up when the drinks come out on the beverage carts. I tend to do that as well. I’ll get 10 good minutes of rest when the plane takes off and then the ding goes off and they bring me a Coke Zero and it’s laptop time.

When the plane levels off at cruise altitude, your blood kind of sloshes back forward and levels out inside your brain and that drowsiness goes away.

‏‏Luxurious 10 minutes on the plane.

‏‏Well, it’s not for everybody. That’s it. I love it, I would do this job for free, I really would. I’m glad I don’t have to but I would. It’s not for everybody, for sure.

‏‏Let’s talk a little bit about your background, how did you choose your job? How did you become the marketer that you are today, writing your books, coming up with all this cool ideas? What drives you?

‏‏I don’t know if it makes sense or doesn’t, you’ll be a good test for this. I’ll tell you the story and you tell me whether you think that’s a logical and reasonable career path or just randomness. My background originally back when I was a kid is in politics, I was a political campaign consultant. As a very young person, I ran political campaigns for congress, for governor, even worked on some presidential campaigns. I realized relatively quickly that while that is a very interesting and exciting field, it is a really bad—it’s just not a great environment to work in for a lot of reasons. It’s highly negative, it’s highly pressurized, you work really, really long hours during the campaign. I don’t necessarily want to do this forever. I went from politics and political marketing, if you will, to traditional marketing. I worked in a corporation for a small number of years as a marketer, although I don’t have a marketing background of a political science degree. I worked for a corporation as a marketer and then I went to work for the government for a short time as a spokesperson, I was the public relations person for a government agency. I hated that job because it was so boring working for the government and writing press releases and things like that, I just didn’t like it. Right about that time, some friends of mine from university had started the very first internet company in Arizona which is where I used to live. They said this internet company is getting a little bit bigger and we don’t know anything about marketing. I said that’s okay, I don’t really know anything about the internet, because this was back in the early 1990s. I quit my job at the government and came to work for this internet company and I’ve been in internet marketing and digital ever since, 25 years now or 24 years. I’ve been in some form of an online business. Over time, I’ve had a number of consulting firms and agencies and things like that. Over time, I started to spend more of my own time as a speaker and a trainer and less as a consultant. Now, I have a whole consulting team that does most of the work with clients and I spend most of my time on the road giving speeches. That was a three to five year transformation. To put it cleanly, I went from a consultant who gives some speeches to a speaker who also consults. That took a long time because I had to have the right people around me in order to do that so that I didn’t have to do all the consulting work myself. It’s been a long haul. And then on the book side, I started a blog 10 or 9 years ago when I started my current firm Convince and Convert. I started a blog at convinceandconvert.com. It was just me, I was writing a blog post three or four times a week and people seemed to like it. It got very, very popular, it became one of the top marketing blogs in the world, and publishers started to call me and say, “Would you like to write a book?” I said sure. That’s a nice, easy way to get a book deal, when they call you. I wrote a book, and then another one, and another one, and another one. The one I’m working on right now will be my sixth book.

‏‏Oh my god, do you write it yourself or do you use ghost writers?

‏‏No, I write it myself. The first book, I co-wrote with my friend Amber Naslund. The second, third, fourth, and fifth I wrote myself. This most recent book that I’m working on right now, I’m co-writing with my good friend Daniel Lemon who was formerly the head of strategy at my company. He and I are going to do this one together. But no, I don’t use ghost writers. It’s faster for me to just write it myself.

‏‏I guess between flying and speaking and car rides, somehow you manage to write another book.

‏‏You just have to be really disciplined about it. Two things, one, when I write books, they’re based on speeches. The way most people do it is they write a book and then when the book comes out they create a speech around the book, that’s the very common way this works. I do it the exact opposite. I develop a speech and I take that speech on the road. I give that speech 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 100 times and I perfect it, polish it, craft it, and add new examples. Then, I take the speech and write a book around it. The speech becomes the core of the book and the book is essentially a longer version of the speech. That’s what I’m doing right now. The new book is called Talk Triggers, I’ve been working on The Talk Triggers speech now for a couple of months. By the time the book comes out, which won’t be for another year because of the way the publishing business works, I would have given some version of that presentation many, many times. That makes it a little bit easier to get a book out of it because you already have a clue in your head, you have the thesis, the narrative, and the examples in your head, you just have to put them into paper. But in terms of the actual process of writing books, some people will just say look, I’m going to take two, three weeks off, I’m just clearing my calendar, and I’m writing a book. I can’t do that because of the disruption it would cause in other parts of my business. I say alright, the reality is, sad to say, I steal that time from my family. That’s the truth, right? When I write a book, I go into book writing mode for 90 days or so and I’m working Saturdays and Sundays and nights. I’ll work my regular job, finish it whatever time, from say [7:00] to [10:00], I’ll write. I’ll do that everyday for a while and then I’ll write all day Sunday, that kind of thing. It’s unfortunate but that’s just the way I do it.

‏‏You don’t just transcribe your talk, you write from scratch?

‏‏Typically, what I’ll do is I’ll transcribe the talk so I have the structure in writing, but it’s different. The way you would present it in a book and the way you present it on stage is not necessarily the same, but I do transcribe it just so you’ve got something to go from, absolutely.

‏‏Wow. You have 25 years of experience in marketing, what changed in the last 25 years and what do we still do the same?

‏‏Everything has changed.

‏‏What changed in the pre-historical times?

‏‏Everything, because everything is so digital now. Everything is online, measurable, and fast. When I started at marketing, we still used fax to talk to clients. We didn’t even use email. Literally, I was in business before we used email. Everything has changed, everything has gotten faster, more immediate, and more data driven. What hasn’t changed is that customers want to be treated fairly, customers do not want their time to be wasted, customers want to interact with businesses who care about them, and customers will tell each other about businesses that perform well, and they’ll tell each other about businesses that perform poorly. What customers want, and how customers behave is largely the same, it’s just the way those things unfold has changed a lot. The details are 100% different, the game is 0% different.

‏‏Explain that.

‏‏You’re still trying to do the same things. You’re trying to get the customer to be aware of you, you’re trying to convince the customer that you’re worthy of their time, attention, and dollars. Once they give you dollars, you’re trying to take care of them and make sure they don’t leave. The mechanics of marketing and the mechanics of business and what it’s all about is exactly the same as it has been not even since I started but since caveman times, since the first caveman tried to market a rock to another caveman. It’s all the same, it’s the same thing. What changes are the tools and the tactics and how you reach customers. What people want from business is the same as it ever has been.

What changes are the tools and the tactics and how you reach customers. What people want from business is the same as it ever has been. Click To Tweet

‏‏How did you come up with the idea of hugging your haters?

‏‏My company does a lot of work with big brands on social media strategy. Starting about four years ago, a lot of our clients were asking us, we’ve got a better handle on social media marketing using Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc., to communicate to customers and prospective customers and try to sell things. Everybody felt like they had that figured out, but the part that was really challenging for them was the customer service part of it, using these same places to answer customer questions and field customer complaints. It is a little bit different and interesting because that only happens in social media. Social media is really the only place where you both sell things and do customer service. Imagine you wanted to buy a magazine ad to promote this podcast, you could do that but you wouldn’t also have listeners to the podcast complaining inside the magazine about the podcast. But in social, it works both ways. It’s about the customer acquisition venue and a customer retention venue, and that’s a little unusual. Email might be the only one that is similar in that regard. Customers are really challenged by how to do social media customer service well. I thought jeez, if my clients, who many are the biggest companies in the world, don’t have this figured out, there’s no way anybody has this figured out. I started to do some more examination that did a giant research project and realized that people don’t have it figured out, that people were using a 1995 playbook to solve 2017 customer service challenges. I wrote Hug Your Haters and did a tremendous amount of research on the science of complaint and the book has been really successful and a lot of companies are using the Hug Your Haters approach to deal with the customers more adeptly both in social media and even in conventional mechanisms like phone and email, etc. It’s been really gratifying and a really, really fun project. It’s amazing how the things that you figure are common sense and some of the things in customer service are definitely, you would think, common sense, but they’re just not that common. People still aren’t doing them.

‏‏Like what? What did you discover?

‏‏For example, one of the things that I discovered in the research is that one third of all customer complaints are never answered, never. You would expect that business of all sizes and types and shapes and descriptions would know that if a customer complains, you should probably answer that complaint. That doesn’t sound outlandish, does it? That doesn’t sound like too much to ask, but yet one out of three customers complain and they hear nothing back. Of course, that customer is then likely to leave because no response is a response that says we care so little about your dissatisfaction that we refuse to even acknowledge it. As my friend Shep Hyken, who’s a fantastic speaker and customer service expert always says, a customer you ignore is a customer you should be prepared to lose. When you talk to companies about that and say are you answering everybody, they say oh sure, we answer every phone call and we answer every email. The question is how long does it take you to answer those things, and also are you answering every tweet, are you answering every Facebook post, are you answering every Instagram message, are you answering reviews on Yelp, Tripadvisor, or whatever? Are you answering comments in discussion boards and forums? They say oh no, we didn’t think about that. Well, those are the places that your customers are choosing to communicate about you. No customer sits around and says okay, I’ve got a roulette wheel here, I’m going to spin this wheel. Wherever the ball lands, that’s what I’m going to use to contact the business. Oh, it landed on phones, I’ll call them. People use the mechanism that they personally prefer and businesses still feel like we are set up as a business to handle phone calls and emails, therefore, we expect our customers to also use the phone and email. We have to stop thinking like that. We have to answer customers in the places that the customers prefer, not the places that the business prefers.

‏‏How can someone take charge over all the tweets, the emails? If somebody is just a small business, like me, I have a couple of VAs and that’s about it. The workload is big. How do you connect and answer every one? Do you just not sleep?

‏‏It’s got to be somebody’s job. Not a full time job necessarily, but somebody has to be responsible for aggregating all those things together and saying okay, let’s make sure we know when somebody is talking about us on Facebook or Twitter or iTunes or wherever else so that you, as a leader of the organization, knows everything that’s being said about you. And then yeah, it just takes time. People say I don’t have the time, yeah you do. Of course you have the time, you’re just choosing not to spend it that way. What I always say is okay, spend less time on marketing. “Why would we do that?” Because customer service is marketing. If somebody complains, or even if somebody says something nice about you and you don’t respond, you’re wasting an opportunity for other people to interact with you. So much of customer service now is a spectator sport. Other people can see how you interact with other people, good or bad. Customer service really is a form of marketing now in many ways. So many business, especially large companies, say to me, “We don’t have the resources to answer every tweet.” I’m like sure you do, of course you do, you just don’t use your resources that way. Why don’t you spend a little less money on logo golf balls or whatever other stupid crap you’re spending time and money on and put some more time and money on answering your customers who are reaching out to you?

‏‏I feel so bad, I’m so bad at Twitter. What I do—I answer a lot of people on Facebook but I never had this mindset of yeah, go everywhere and answer people everywhere. I actually just hired somebody to help me with the social media communication. I hope that’s going to work out well. It’s so important to just talk to everybody. Where I’ve seen it really helpful is with my private group, I have a group of women that I took through a love challenge and keep talking to them, communicating to them, and answering everyone like I was very dedicated, especially at first when they had so many questions. I remember working nights and answering everyone, giving everyone advice. I think that what made the group so special and so connected. I got some true friends, I got some clients, I got some true friends from this group. I think it’s because of the empathy and attention. Let’s talk about empathy. I know that you’re big on empathy. When you answer a review, you don’t just give them a cookie cutter answer, you actually answer them. How would you approach answering a review? Good one or bad one.

‏‏One of the things that’s key is to make sure that you don’t information somebody to death. There’s two risks when you’re answering a review for example, really anything, two risks. One is that if somebody leaves you something negative, that you’ll respond negatively. It’s easy to fall into that trap, especially for business owners, and even in particular for small business owners. If somebody complains, it makes you feel like somebody is telling you that your baby is ugly, you’ve got a lot of yourself in this business. It’s part of you. It’s easy to take that personally and then respond out of anger and frustration and that never works. It may feel satisfying psychologically for the moment to say somebody complains and you lash back out at them, of course we’ve all seen examples of that play out on Yelp and other places, but it never has a good [00:24:14] back. That’s the first one. The second challenge that I see is people respond with too much information, they try to information the customer to death. The reality is that every customer interaction has to be emotion first and information second. Most of the time, people don’t even care about the information, they just want to feel heard, they want to feel listened to, they want to feel nurtured, they want to feel cared about. The information part of it is secondary. Don’t make it too factual and too static and too much let me respond from the company, it doesn’t work that way. Empathy goes a long, long, long way. But people can tell if you’re faking it.

‏‏Yeah, for sure.

‏‏If somebody’s trying to placate them with false empathy, you can tell. Whether it’s oral or written. You have to understand that people in almost no cases are complaining just because. There’s a few trolls out there who complain for their own entertainment, but that’s a very, very small percentage. Pretty much everybody else who takes the time to complain is doing it because they are unhappy in some way, they are pained in some way. You’ve got to take that to heart and be like look, here’s somebody who was disappointed in me or our company. They took their time to let me know that. They didn’t have to do that, they could’ve just disappeared and called their friends and talked about me behind my back. The people who actually complain are doing us a real favor because most unhappy customers don’t. You might be surprised about how mathematically true that is. The statistic is for every 100 dissatisfied customers, only 5 will actually complain. 5 out of 100. What that means is that for every person who complains, there is on average 19 other people with the same problem and they said nothing. The people who raised their hand and said, “Hey, this is not right,” or, “I’m unhappy about this,” or, “This is not perfect.” Those people are the early warning detection system for you. Either take that seriously and treat them with empathy and respect and say, “Hey, you’re actually doing me a favor.”

‏‏Do you have some example of people that gave good answers that are empathetic where the person felt [00:27:04] to people that gave them horrendous…

‏‏I don’t know about horrendous. I think we all know a horrendous one, I don’t need to kin to that necessarily, everybody can find those online. Some good ones, my friend Debbie Goldstein owns a pizza restaurant in California, it’s called Fresh Brothers Pizza. They have I think 15 locations now, some are regional chain. She’s so good at this. If somebody complains about them, and it will typically be in her case be social media, but on a review site it would be Yelp or Tripadvisor, places like that. If somebody complains, she answers them back and says, “Hi, I’m Debbie, I’m the owner. Terribly sorry for the experience that you had, it’s not how we like to do business. We’re going to fix the things that you brought to our attention. Hey, by the way, if I sent you a gift card, would you be willing to give us another chance? That would mean a lot to me personally.”

‏‏Aww, that’s so nice.

‏‏If somebody leaves a positive review, “I loved it, it was great.” She answers back, “Hi, I’m Debbie, I’m the owner. Thank you so much for taking the time to leave a review. We loved having you at Fresh Brothers. By the way, if I sent you a gift card, would you bring somebody with you next time who’s never been here before?”

‏‏Wow, that’s brilliant.

‏‏Isn’t that smart? She gets people coming in the door everyday who says, “Oh, I saw your response on Yelp. I saw your response on Tripadvisor. That was so great, that’s why I came in.”

‏‏Oh my god that’s beautiful.

‏‏That’s smart. It doesn’t cost that much, it’s a few gift cards. Okay, that’s a very inexpensive way to generate great customer loyalty.

‏‏How do you take this idea of gift cards and you do it with an online business?

‏‏Same thing. You could do a discount for your products or services, you could do an Amazon gift card, there’s lots of things that you could do.

‏‏Wow. What are some of the lessons, the answers to reviews that people should never give, except from the obvious ones.

‏‏I actually wrote a little ebook about this, it’s not in the Hug Your Haters book, I wrote it afterwards. It’s called The 13 Words You Should Never Say To A Customer. I’ll send you a copy of it so you can add a link to it in the show notes.

‏‏Yeah, that would be lovely.

‏‏People can download it for free. I don’t have all 13 in front of me, but for example, one of them is policy. You should never use the word ‘policy’ when talking to a customer because they don’t care about your policy. You should never use the word ‘per,’ per is legal language, you don’t use that unless you’re trying to point to our contract or something like that. You should never use the word ‘misunderstanding’ because when you say misunderstanding, what you are actually saying is Mr. or Ms. Customer, you may not actually know what has happened here but I do, because it’s my business.

‏‏I hate it when somebody says that, “I’m sorry for the misunderstanding.” No!

‏‏Right, it drives people crazy. That’s a terrible one. Another one that I see a lot, more so in larger businesses, is people will mention things like customer service or division or department. For example, somebody might complain on Facebook and the social media team will respond and say, “We’re terribly sorry, please contact our customer service department at…” Now, here we have a customer who has taken the time to complain on Facebook, they have chosen Facebook, you get somebody responding to them who evidently is not empowered to make any decisions, is not in customer service, and the first thing that person says is you have to talk to somebody else and you have to do it in a different way. You have to now go off of Facebook and call them because that’s how we prefer to interact with you, that kind of things drives people crazy. That kind of channel shifting is a really bad idea.

‏‏It sounds like a very good ebook. Thank you for sharing that with us.

‏‏Of course, I’ll send you the link.

‏‏That’s amazing. It’s going to be in the show notes. I took a Kabbalah class a few days ago and the topic was about truth and mercy and how when we just come from the truth, like these are the facts, this is the truth, we create separation. When we come from the truth but combine it with mercy, it creates oneness, it unifies instead of separates.


‏‏In the beginning of the show, somewhere I read that you’re a spiritual marketer and you told me no, I’m an inspirational marketer. It seems to me that you are using, you can call it inspiration or whatever we call it, those are some almost spiritual practices when you’re dealing with customers.

‏‏Absolutely, I completely agree.

‏‏Yeah. Be a good person, be kind to others, be more inclusive instead of pushing them back.

‏‏You know what I’ve discovered? When writing the book and being a consultant and talking a lot about customer service over the last few years, I have gotten to meet a lot of customer service professionals, people who either manage customer service teams or front lines, customer service people who are answering phone calls and email and Facebook and all that. I’ll tell you what’s really interesting, I’ve never talked about this before, ever, until right this second. I have come to the conclusion that people who are good at customer service are good people. You can train them as I do, you can train them on do this and don’t do that, use these words, don’t use those words. But the people who are really good at customer service are just good people, they are naturally empathetic. They deeply care that customers are unhappy and they have a burning desire, a passion, a need to fix a wrong. That’s not an accident, those people gravitate towards customer service because of the magic word in that job title which is service.


‏‏It just happens to be customer service, but it could be the ministry, it could be yoga, it could be chiropractic, it could be social worker. All of those jobs and dozens of others are rooted in service and empathy. Great customer service professionals are in that same camp, they unfortunately are not treated with the same kind of respect but my experience has been, and I don’t have research on this, it’s just anecdotal from all the people I’ve met that the people who are great at customer service are all about service, and it’s not an accident that they’re in that profession.

‏‏Yeah, because the truth is the truth. People can do a lot of bad things in the name of truth. Sometimes, people go and they riot. Let’s say somebody is oppressed, by the name of the truth they create a revolution. Eventually, the people who are the one who are oppressed become the oppressors. I might get some heat for that, but let’s say in the women’s march which I thought was very important for women to speak up and get our equal rights and be there and go and do great things, I’m all about that. When I watched some of the speeches on TV, it was just as worse as the other party. It was just hate speeches and it made my skin crawl, it was hate and I did not like that. We can do a lot of things in the name of truth, we can say well, this is our policy, this is how we handle things, etc. You want to come from truth and mercy and you know, this is something that I have something that I wrote in the class a few days ago where they say you know when you’re coming from a place of truth and mercy when you come with the intention to create oneness, unity, and a win win situation. When you are willing to let go of your pride, ego, possession, money, and energy in order to create a state of unity, love, and oneness. When you look at the bigger picture and how you can help each person achieve his or her higher state. It sounds pretty similar to what you’re doing and what you’re teaching.

‏‏Yeah, the win win situation there is such the key part of that, and then the customer service context, I couldn’t agree more. Mercy goes both ways, too. We need to have mercy for unhappy customers, but I also feel like customers and consumers need to have a little bit of mercy for companies too in certain circumstances. I have discovered that there are very few, if any, companies that are providing intentionally poor service. They want to keep customers happy because they want to keep customers. Some companies are better than others are operations and customer service, but I find very few are intentionally bad. What really bothers me is when you see customers having no mercy for people at companies who really are not to be blamed. You see this all the time, I travel all the time as you know. You see it in airports constantly. You’re going to have a flight that’s delayed and it’s delayed because of weather, it’s obvious that it’s delayed because of weather because there’s a storm outside. That’s clearly the situation. You have somebody who is a very important business person or whatever they think they are and they come up to the counter there and they just unload on this poor gate agent working for whatever airlines because they’re going to miss their flight and they got to make this meeting and blah, blah, blah. It’s like look, that person doesn’t fly the plane, that person doesn’t set the schedule, that person doesn’t control the weather. There’s literally nothing that person can do. Their whole job is just making sure that the people’s names on the tickets match up to the list and scan the barcodes, they’re not a miracle worker. That kind of thing really bothers me. When people don’t understand that there’s a right and wrong way to interact with companies and the personnel at companies. One of the things I was going to put into the book but we ran out of space, and maybe I’ll write another book about it someday, is how to complain. As a customer, if you have a complaint, how should you complain? What should you say, where should you make that complaint, what should you not say? Almost the flip side of the book. The book is about what companies should do when somebody complains, the other part was going to be what customers should do when they’re unhappy; maybe I’ll write that one someday.

Mercy goes both ways, too. We need to have mercy for unhappy customers, but I also feel like customers and consumers need to have a little bit of mercy for companies too in certain circumstances.

‏‏Yeah, and I absolutely agree with you. The idea of combining the two with mercy is on both sides, it’s just a practice that we need to have as human beings. Yes, the truth is you’re going to be late, the truth is the airline maybe made a mistake, but you have to combine it with mercy. You want to think about what’s the bigger picture here, how can I come, like you said, from a place of win win where I don’t just trash that poor airline employee that is in front of me and try to create a scenario where I might not get exactly what I want but I’m not going to trash somebody while doing that. In life and especially online, there’s a lot of cyber bullying. How do you see bullying online and dealing with the extreme cases?

‏‏I think you’d deal with the extreme cases the same way at least initially. You respond with empathy, you respond rationally. People are always talking about this individual’s a troll; you don’t really know somebody’s a troll until their second reply. The first one could just be a very sharply written message, you don’t really know until you give them the benefit of the doubt. I always give people the benefit of the doubt and respond rationally. But after that, I have a rule. There’s a whole bit in the book about this called the rule of reply only twice. It says that you never, ever, ever, ever, ever respond to somebody more than twice online.


‏‏If they’re happy, you respond twice and never a third time. If they’re unhappy, you say I’m sorry you’re unhappy. If they yell at you again, you say hey I’m really sorry. If you want to call me some time, here’s my number. And then if they come back a third time, whatever, you just ignore them. Ignore them or delete them. Two chances then out, reply only twice. It’s been very, very good for me when people complain about my stuff and very, very good for my clients. It’s a lesson that I’ve taught a lot of people and it really works.

‏‏How could people complain about your stuff?

‏‏Like anybody else, there’s people who don’t like what I’m doing or don’t like something I’ve said. I wouldn’t say I get tons of complaints, but of course I do. I’ve got a lot of things going on out there and not everybody interprets everything the same way. It is what it is.

‏‏How do you manage your own reputation?

‏‏I try to reply to pretty much everybody who has a direct question or a complaint, obviously, since I wrote a book about it. I’m lucky that I’ve got a couple people on my team who are always out there scanning social media and email and things like that. If I had to do it myself, only myself from a plane, it would be very, very difficult. Luckily, we’ve got an amazing team at Convince and Convert. They definitely have the antenna up out there to find things. I get little messages that say, “Hey, you should respond to this one.” And then I do. It’s nice to have that help, for sure.

‏‏Yeah. It reminds me of Gary Vaynerchuk where he contributes his success to answering everyone’s questions and talking to everyone.


‏‏Do you know him personally?

‏‏I do, I know him pretty well. He’s right. Before he became well known, he was already doing that. He was already interacting with everybody, and he’s one of the busiest people I’ve ever met. He’s always in between meetings, or on the way to the car, or on the way to the bathroom. He’s always got the phone open, he’s always interacting with people on social media. It’s a good lesson for us all.

‏‏Right. How do you create raving fans?

‏‏A couple ways. Not disappointing them, but the way to create raving fans is to do something they don’t expect. Being good and delivering what they expect is going to create fans, but to create raving fans, you have to do something they don’t expect [00:42:49] differently about your business and about your own operations and what people think is going to happen and do something different. I’ll give you an example. This is going to be in the book, the new book. There are dozens, at least dozens of hotel chains in the US. There’s only one hotel chain that does something different as soon as you walk in the door. It’s so different that you remember it, it’s so different that you tell your friends about it, it’s so different that there’s tons and tons of tweets and Instagram posts and blogposts about it, it’s Double Tree. When you walk into a Double Tree, they give you a cookie.

‏‏Yeah, I know.

‏‏They’re the only ones who do that.

‏‏I love those cookies.

‏‏Of course.

‏‏They’re warm, too.

‏‏Yes, they’re the only ones who do it, that’s their thing. If you want to create raving fans, you have to give them something to talk about, you have to give them a story to tell. Just being good at your business doesn’t create stories, it creates satisfaction. It doesn’t necessarily create stories.

‏‏Okay. What I do is—and I’m just going to dig in—you coach me. I do love coaching and confidence coaching for women. I work mostly one on one, and I have a group online. What can I do different that can shock them, surprise them, besides being really sweet and sometimes helping people for free?

‏‏We have a whole process for how to uncover that that we’re going to write up for the book, it’s a six step process, to figure out what to do different. Essentially, the way the process works is that you first have to understand what your customers expect from you today. That requires you to probably interview them and say okay, we have this relationship where I’m coaching you, what do you think is going to happen? Really be good about understanding the baseline expectations for responsiveness, for outcomes, for humanity, for empathy. Once you understand what they expect today, then you can say alright, what can I do consistently that they don’t expect? Can you be faster than they expect, can you be more generous than they expect, can you be more relevant than they expect? What can you do that they don’t see coming? That’s where you start to create stories. I’ll tell you one of the things that I do. I have a business card like everybody in business, but for the last nine years, my business card has been a metal bottle opener. It’s a business card that you can open beers with. That’s a small thing, it’s not anything major. I’ve given out thousands and thousands and thousands of those business cards. People come to me all the time, at least once a week, and say, “Jay, I saw you at an event six years ago and I got your card, I still have it, it’s in my golf bag,” Or it’s in my boat, or it’s in my desk drawer. I always say the same thing. If amongst all of your worldly possessions you know up on sight where my business card is, that is something that you tell stories about. Just little things like that make a big difference. You just have to understand what people think is normal and then do something abnormal. You have to have the courage to be different because same is lame. Doing something the same as everybody else, nobody ever talks about that. You could run a very good business, a very profitable business being similar to everybody else, but nobody talks ab it. You’re always going to have a cap on your own growth because it doesn’t create conversations.

‏‏Do you have any brilliant idea for my next business card?

‏‏Oh, jeez, okay, let’s think about this. Alright, what if—this is probably a terrible idea, maybe it’s even offensive and if so I apologize in advance, but it’s the first thing that came to my mind. What if your business card was lipstick?

‏‏That’s not offensive.

‏‏And that’s what you give people? It actually has—not everybody thinks of lipstick as something that’s required in a love circumstance, I just don’t want to overplay the hand. If you had cool lipstick, cool red lipstick, and the actual lipstick container had your information on it. Instead of a card, you give them a lipstick, I would remember that, I would tell that story.

‏‏A lipstick.

‏‏How about that?

‏‏It’s good. Maybe not a lipstick, because when I look at the bottle opener, it’s something that can stay forever. A lipstick is something that can smear—

‏‏You’re not going to have it forever, yes. You’re going to use it for a while and then you’ll run out of lipstick, for sure. That’s probably doable too, I’m sure you can get custom lipsticks made, probably.

‏‏Organic ones, probably.

‏‏Yeah, there you go.

‏‏Yes. Before we finish, what are your three quick tips to living a stellar life?

‏‏One is to always surround yourself with people who are better than you. I’m sure you’ve heard this saying. “If you show me your friends, I’ll show you your future.” That is very, very, very true. The people you spend time with have such a massive role in what your life is like and what your life becomes. Don’t overlook how important your friends and colleagues are to everything in life, that’s the first thing I would tell you. Second thing, do not be afraid to delegate, especially as people start to get busier in whatever, even in their own life. There’s this fear like hey, if I ask somebody else to do that then I’m somehow either a, shirking a duty, or b, spending money frivolously. For example, I’m sure you come into contact with this in your business, sometimes people will have a [00:49:16] to hire help at home, they don’t want to pay somebody to maybe mow their yard or clean their house or whatever, right? That is crazy to me. Obviously, some people don’t have the means at all, I understand it’s easier for me to say that as white man privilege. Freeing up your time to enjoy other things in life is an extremely good investment not just for you but for everybody around you. I would say the third thing is spend as much time as you can around young people. I’m so fortunate to have teenagers at home because it really keeps me vibrant and on top of things, not only just in life but professionally as well. Being somebody who’s a marketing consultant, having kids at home is really, really useful. It actually scares me because I’ve got two years till my son goes to college, I’m like uh oh, I won’t have a research and development lab at home anymore on how young people are using technology. My mom and my stepdad were high school teachers for 30 years and it’s amazing how young and vibrant they always have been partially because they were around kids forever. It just makes a huge difference. Whether it’s volunteering or babysitting or coaching, find a way to stay around young people. Their energy is really powerful.

Whether it’s volunteering or babysitting or coaching, find a way to stay around young people. Their energy is really powerful. Click To Tweet

‏‏That’s beautiful. Such good tips, very unique tips.

‏‏Thank you. I just made all those up right now.

‏‏Yes, you’re very brilliant. If you’re in LA, come, I want to hang out with cool people like you. If you’re in LA ever.

‏‏Alright, thanks very much. My friend Daniel Lemon who’s co-writing the book with me and is a fantastic author actually lives in LA. You should have him on the show. He has an amazing new business called Selectivore, here’s how it works, I’m just going to give you a quick pitch for it. It’s a mobile app called Selectivore. What you do is you download the app and then you say I’m vegan or I’m gluten free or I can’t have shell fhsh or I’m allergic to peanuts or whatever your deal is. Then when friends go out together, they all use the app and then it says here’s the combination. If we’re going to have a dinner party, we can do this, this, or this. Or if we go to a restaurant, it says these are the restaurants where everybody can be happy. It solves such a massive problem in society right now with how the food allergies and food preferences. It’s a brand new company, it’s amazing, and he’s a fantastic and brilliant man and a dear friend. He’d be a great guest on the show.

‏‏Is he that somebody that comes from a place of truth and mercy? The truth is we are divided in our preferences. The mercy part is how can we get everybody to have a good time and be inclusive and have the best dinner party ever? It’s just so brilliant because when you look at the big picture, he solves, like you said, a problem that is big and it’s such a fantastic, beautiful way.

‏‏It’s such a common issue. I’m really, really happy for him and the whole idea is going great. I will pass along his information later.

‏‏Yeah. Thank you so much for this interview. Where can people find you?

‏‏You can find me at convinceandconvert.com, that’s our main site. We’ve got dozens of blog posts every week, multiple podcasts about marketing, ebooks, webinars, videos, and then my personal site for speaking and those kinds of things is at jaybaer.com.

‏‏Yes, and I recommend everybody to watch at least one of your talks because they are so brilliant. We’re going to have the link to your ebook in the show notes. I appreciate you, thank you so much for taking the time from your busy, busy life to honor us with your presence, thank you so much and I wish you a wonderful, wonderful day.

‏‏My pleasure, thanks so much.

Your Checklist Actions to Take

✓ Determine what your customers or clients want then come up with ways to surprise them or make them feel extra special. 

✓ Always respond to your customers’ positive or negative feedback no matter the medium. Feedback can appear on email, social media, Yelp and other directories. Make sure you address them properly and that no stone is left unturned. 

✓ Never argue with customers who leave negative comments. Instead, respond rationally and apologize for the bad experience. Offer something like a gift card as compensation for the incident. 

✓ Thank your customers who rave about your product or service. If possible, offer them something such as a gift card or discount in exchange for referrals.

✓ Create a memorable gimmick that will make your clients likely to recommend you. Use Double Tree as inspiration. They’re the only hotel that gives customers cookies when they check in. 

✓ Avoid words such as “policy”, “per” or “sorry for the misunderstanding”. These are phrases that start negative conversations. 

✓ Be extra kind to clients who give you a low rating. There’s a reason why they took the time to let you know about a bad experience. Take the feedback as constructive criticism and motivation to become better. 

✓ Make it a habit to only reply to individual feedback twice. If it’s negative, make sure that problems are addressed in two responses. Long back and forths are counterproductive. 

✓ Create a customer service team to help you monitor and respond to feedback. 

✓ Grab a copy of Jay Baer’s book, Hug Your Haters: How to Embrace Complaints and Keep Your Customers, for tips on getting positive feedback. 

Links and Resources:

About Jay Baer

Jay Baer, CSP, CPAE has spent 25 years in digital marketing and customer experience, consulting for more than 700 companies during that period, including 34 of the FORTUNE 500. His current firm – Convince &Convert – provides word of mouth, digital marketing, and customer experience advice and counsel to some of the world’s most important brands.


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