Customer service isn’t a race, but speed matters. Quick issue resolution defines good service, boosting customer satisfaction and sales. Regardless of your industry, there are universal strategies to expedite service. Jay Baer shares his well-researched tips for improving the speed of service and achieving greater customer satisfaction.
The Time to Win: Why Speed Matters Episode Summary
- Jay and Rich discuss the importance of responding to customer inquiries across various channels and the impact of speed and uncertainty on customer satisfaction. They also mentioned how technology, like Uber, has helped reduce uncertainty and improve customer experience.
- The importance of over-communicating with clients and implementing a “fast pass” approach in businesses to provide customers with the option to skip the line for an additional fee. As well as concerns about potential backlash and economic divide.
- The concept of offering fast passes or prioritized services to customers behind the scenes to improve responsiveness and customer satisfaction. Highlighting the importance of businesses knowing their average response times and prioritizing existing customers over prospects for faster service.
- The importance of customer retention over customer acquisition for business growth. They also talked about the preference for telephone conversations over other forms of technology, and how the rise of AI and automation may decrease customer patience levels in the future.
- Speed and responsiveness in business, emphasizing that customers prioritize these factors over price and that businesses need to adapt to meet these expectations. They also discussed strategies for getting clients to move faster and the potential consequences of not meeting deadlines.
The Time to Win: Why Speed Matters Episode Transcript
Rich: My guest today is back for his third rodeo on the Agents of Change podcast. He is a business growth and customer experience author, researcher, and advisor. A seventh-generation entrepreneur, he has written seven best-selling business books and created six multi-million dollar companies. He has consulted for more than 700 brands, including a few that you might have heard of like Nike, Oracle, IBM, and the United Nations. That’s true. World peace is all due to my next guest.
An inductee into the Professional Speakers Hall of Fame, he was named this year as one of the world’s top 30 global gurus in customer experience and in marketing. And in his spare time, he’s the second most popular tequila influencer and educator on the planet.
Today, we are going to be discussing the speed of business with none other than Jay Baer. Jay, welcome to the podcast.
Jay: Hello, my friend. Great to be back. I appreciate it. How are you doing?
Rich: I’m doing great. I am so excited to have you back on the show. And I have to know, who is the most popular tequila influencer and educator on the planet?
Jay: I should say that I am the second most popular tequila educator, non-celebrity division. So there are a number of celebrity tequila brand owners. So I do not want your audience to think it is Clooney and then me, or The Rock and then me, or Kendall Jenner and then me. It is not. Amongst mere mortals, it is some realtor in LA and me. So it’s not quite as impressive.
Rich: It’s still impressive. It’s still impressive because you came out of nowhere. You were a dark horse in this industry, and then all of a sudden, boom, you’re right at the top.
Jay: True. Yeah, it’s true. I just decided, I’ve always been interested in tequila and when I stopped doing my podcast about 18 months ago, I’m like what if I just try to teach people some stuff that I’ve learned about tequila? And that was the strategy, and it took off and became a whole thing.
Rich: That’s awesome. And I’ve learned a lot because I’ve watched some of your stuff on tequila. But let’s talk about business, because this is a digital marketing podcast.
You’ve long focused on the customer experience through one lens or another. What originally motivated you to do this latest large scale research study on consumer patience and business responsiveness?
Jay: I mean, all the books that I’ve written have had at least a chapter or a section on speed. Timeliness, responsiveness, has always been a key factor in business success. So the overarching premise was not new to me. But my observation was coming out of the pandemic, that people have now a different kind of relationship with their time. That we were reminded in the pandemic that tomorrow is not promised, that nothing is truly guaranteed to us.
And I think when everybody’s schedules got disrupted and everything, we were reminded that we’ve only got 1,440 minutes a day. And it doesn’t matter who you are, what you are, where you are, that’s all you’re going to get. You can’t buy more. You can’t make more time is literally, when you really think about it, literally the only resource on this planet that we actually share equally.
And I thought, how I make buying decisions today is different than it was pre-pandemic, and I bet I’m not the only one. I think we just care about our time and how we spend it more than we used to. But I’m like, as always, when I get ready to write a book or a speech or et cetera, I never just say, “here’s what I think”, and walk out on a stage and tell people that. I always want to validate it with real research.
And I’ve actually scuppered projects in the past once I realized no, what I thought was true isn’t largely true. So I spent a whole bunch of time and a whole bunch of money to do comprehensive research on the relationship between responsiveness and revenue. And it turns out that in this case, I was right, that we do care about our time more than we used to. In fact, two thirds of customers will say that speed is now as important as price, which has a pretty significant implication for all businesses.
Rich: And I should have mentioned, so all this research has gone into your new book called, The Time to Win. Is this book currently available or about to launch?
Jay: It is. Yep. You can find it on Amazon. Just look for, The Time to Win. Or you can find it at jaybaer.com/books, where I’m selling personally limited edition three packs. You get three books in a little slip case, better price than Amazon as well. Why would you want three books? One for you, one for a colleague, and one to give to a business when they disappoint you because they are too slow. The book itself is very small. It is literally 3 x 5 inches. It is a very small book. You can read this whole book in under an hour.
Why? That’s why the book’s only $9 on Amazon. I started out to write a full-length business book, as I have always done in the past. And I got into it and I thought, wait a minute, I can’t ask my readers to spend 5 or 6 hours consuming a business book all about speed. It just didn’t make any sense. I’m like, I’m literally contradicting my own advice here.
So I said, wait a second. I’m a big enough person to admit that most people don’t read business books anyway. They skim them. And so why don’t we just cut out the middleman? Let’s write a really short book that has all the key information in it. And then they can read it quickly. And so far people really love it because they’re like, man, I wish every business book was like this and things like that. So it’s been a fun experiment if nothing else.
Rich: That’s very cool. And as you’re talking about the three books and who to give it to, I hope I never get an unsolicited copy of your book in your mail.
Jay: It shows up in the mail and you go, “Oh, no.”
Rich: It’s almost like the howler letters that they would get in a Harry Potter or something like that. You know troubles is coming.
Jay: Exactly. Good reference.
Rich: So I was surprised to hear that 75% of customers have contacted or mentioned a business or brand and never received a response. Although honestly, I cannot confirm that flyte new media nor The aAents of Change have responded to every single mention or question across every single channel.
And so that kind of got me wondering. With so many channels available to us as businesses and consumers, should businesses with limited resources – so basically everybody – shut off channels that they’re not monitoring actively? Like I just know it’s hard to keep up with communication if you’re on Twitter, Facebook, Messenger, Instagram, LinkedIn, TikTok, YouTube, and so many others. What’s your recommendation?
Jay: Yeah, it’s tricky. I talk about this a lot in my book, Hug Your Haters, which was a couple of books ago. This notion that if you can respond everywhere you will make more money, because customers don’t expect that of you. Here we are, that’s probably seven years ago or something, six years ago, and now still three quarters of the customers don’t get responses all the time.
Part of that is the proliferation of channels, as you said. But one of the things I talked about in the end of that Hug Your Haters book was, hey, there’s going to be more and more channels. It’s just the nature of technology. And every channel that your business exists is potentially a customer service channel. You may think of it as strictly a marketing channel, but that doesn’t matter what you think, because if your logo is there your customers will assume that you are listening, not just talking.
And yes, I think optimally you should be prepared to respond everywhere. Now, certainly depending on the type of business you are and the channel, there are some platforms where there just isn’t a lot of customer conversation or it’s more comments, not questions, et cetera. Ideally you answer everywhere, but I think you can probably be a little bit more selective in some cases.
Rich: All right. You had mentioned earlier the two-thirds of consumers say speed is at least as important, if not more important, than pricing. And it definitely got me thinking about speed and whether it was actually speed. Because I often use a metaphor with my own team about the frustrations of being stuck in traffic and being stuck behind a big truck and you can’t see in front of you. You have no idea if the delay is basically just a stoplight or a merging of lanes, or a 52-car pile-up that could keep you stuck for hours.
And so for me, and this is just me talking, it feels more like it’s the uncertainty more than the delay. How much of our addiction to a speedy response is about speed, in your opinion, and how much is about uncertainty of whether my message actually arrived where it was supposed to go?
Jay: It’s both, for sure. When we talk about speed, it’s not so much about speed to resolution as it is speed to response. And why that difference is important is that once somebody responds, even if you don’t have everything you need, once they respond, you at least can convince yourself that you’re on the path. But until you hear anything, you have this overwhelming anxiety that did they even get my message? Is this even going to happen at all?
So what you’re talking about with regards to the semi-truck metaphor, which is a good one, I talk about this a lot on stage now. It’s this idea of the uncertainty gap. The uncertainty gap is the difference between what the business knows about what’s going on, and what the customer knows. And when we don’t have certainty, it creates increasing anxiety in the mind of the customer. And one thing I’ve learned in my 30-year career is that anxiety typically keeps people’s money in their pocket.
This is why call centers, smart ones, will say, “We answer calls in the order they were received. Estimated hold time is 11 minutes.” Once you hear “11 minutes”, you’re like, okay, that’s longer than I want to be here, but I know it’s 11 minutes. And then the subsequent 11 minutes of elapsed time go by at a normal pace.
If they just say, “Calls are answered in the order it was received”, and then you have no clue as to whether it’s 11 minutes or 1,000 minutes. Even if it’s actually 11 minutes, those 11 minutes will feel like 45 minutes. It’s excruciating. Because of the uncertainty gap, right? All it is is a psychological trick where your brain says, oh, okay, I have a sense of what the end is.
You’re exactly right, and we’re actually living in an era where technology, like the ability to use AI to determine how long calls are likely to take, we’re living in an era where technology is closing uncertainty gaps all around us.
You and I are old enough to remember a time before Uber and Lyft, right? When if you wanted to get transportation, you would have to call a taxi, like telephone a taxicab company. And you would just two, two, two, two, two, two. And then this is Lou. And you’re like yeah, I need to get to the Portland airport. He’ll be by to getcha. Click. That was like, when’s he coming? Don’t know. What’s it going to cost? Don’t know. Which cab will be mine. Don’t know. Will this guy murder me? Maybe. No information at all.
Right now Uber and Lyft, you’ve got like an ancestry.com printout, you’ve got a headshot, license plate, blood test, to a penny, what it’s going to cost, to the minute when he’s coming. So people hate to wait, clearly. But they hate almost as much an information asymmetry. When your business knows more than the customer knows, that is a recipe for customer dissatisfaction.
Rich: You stole my next question. Like literally almost word for word talking about Uber and how it solves all my anxieties around taxis. So I’ll skip over that part of it since you’ve already answered it.
But I wonder if you see an Uber-like solution that might reduce the need for speed for many companies. Because like you said, there’s the need for speed, but there’s also the uncertainty gap. What kind of advice might you give to another type of company to create something similar?
Jay: Look, I’ll tell you my own story, and I’m not embarrassed to admit it, as I used to run a large consulting firm that worked with big brands all around the world on social media strategy, digital marketing strategy, customer experience strategy, and so forth.
So companies would pay us to develop a strategic plan, and they’d write us a check, and we would go into our metaphorical workshop. It was a virtual company, had people all over the place, and we would build out a strategy. And it would take 75 to 90 days to do, and then we would deliver the strategy. And the work was great, clients were very happy, it was a very successful business. We had extremely detailed project plans inside the company. So we knew, okay, this is due on this day. This is due on this day. This is due on this day. Lots of internal deadlines to create a 100-page strategic plan. We knew exactly what was happening at every step of the process.
But I realized now after I sold the business that our customers were freaking out the entire time because we would just take their money, build the strategy, and then say, ta da, your strategy is done. And I realize now that the entire time they were thinking, “Did these guys steal our money? Did they move to Barbados? What is happening? Don’t they need something from us? Is this going to be on time?” There was a massive uncertainty gap. We knew exactly what we were doing. They knew only that they’d given away a bunch of money. And I was very guilty of this problem in my own business. And I would do it differently today.
Today, I would have certainly weekly and probably daily updates that would go to our clients and say, here’s what we’re doing today. Here’s what we’re doing tomorrow. We’re on track. We’re off track. Keeping people in the loop the whole time. I would definitely do it differently.
Rich: I agree that over communication, especially because I run an agency similar to your consulting business, is critical. And those weekly updates or however often you want to send them out, it just soothes the concerns once people have put down that down payment. It makes a huge difference.
Jay: Yeah, I tell you this. You said ‘over communication’, and I don’t know that there’s such a thing. The way I like to think about it now is that if it feels like over communication to you, it’s probably the perfect amount of communication to the customer, because they’re not reading every word, right? They’ve got other things. Your project is one of many projects they’re working on. So they’re not super duper careful reading everything you send out. And they’re just like, “Yep, they’re on top of it. Yep. They’re on top of it.” Sometimes it feels like we’re informing people too much, but I don’t think that’s actually the case. And if you are, they will tell you.
Rich: So in your book you referenced Disney’s Fast Pass, which for an additional fee, park goers can basically skip the line. And that brings two questions to mind for me.
Jay: I think it’s now called Genie+, I believe, is their current.
Rich: Oh, Genie+, okay. Yes. That brings two questions to mind. The first one is this, what other businesses would you like to see add a Fast Pass approach to customers?
Jay: Every business in the world. The data show that one-fourth of customers, one in four, will pay as much as 50% more to not wait. You should give them that opportunity. Even in my own business, I wish we would’ve had a Fast Pass. Because we would have companies come in all the time and say, “Hey, we need a strategy.” And we’re like, “Okay, get in line. You’re fourth, you got three other people. So we’ll start in, February”, or whatever. And if the first three that you’re working on don’t need it instantly, they just happen to be next.
What we should have done is said, “Okay, for an extra 20%, you can be next”, and you just bump everybody back.
Now, the question becomes what happens to the people you bump back? Aren’t they all mad? Here’s how you handle it. You upcharge the fast pass 20%. Then you say to the person you bumped back, “Hey, we’re going to reshuffle the sequence here. We have an emergency project. It’s going to take an extra three weeks for yours, but we’re going to cut 5% off your bill. You’re okay with that?” Sure. That sounds great. Yeah. You’re keeping 15% percent float for doing this.
It happened to me. I was in Vegas doing a presentation. Now, it’s at Caesar’s Palace. And usually when you go to Vegas, they say, “Okay, Welcome. Check in time is at 4:00. It’s now 2:30, come back at 4:00 and we’ll try to give you keys to your room.” Usually they’re not even ready by then, but we’ll try to. Meanwhile, go to the casino, lose as much money as you can until your keys are ready. That’s the play. This last time they’re like, “Oh, Mr. Baer walking out of that’s 2:30, check-in time is at 4:00. You can come back at 4:00 to get your keys.” Or ,“Mr. Baer, if you’d like to give us an additional $30 right now, we can give you keys. Would you like to do that?” And I’m like, I’ll lose more than $30.” I’m like, “Sure.” Here’s my money. And boom. Fast pass. Super smart.
Any business can do this. It doesn’t matter if you’re a plumber. Plumbers already do it, right? They already have emergency service, right? You pay more they’ll come on nights and weekends if your house is flooding or whatever. But it doesn’t matter if you’re a chiropractor, or a preschool, or an agency, you’re a bank heist specialist. It doesn’t matter. You should offer a fast pass. I do it now. People are like, “Hey, I want you to review my tequila.” I’m like, “Okay. Do you want to be the next one we review? Here’s what it costs for fast pass.”
Rich: So it’s funny. So for years at flyte, we’ve had a rush job, but we actually never ever do it because I hate charging people time and a half for this work because it’s an emergency. But I realize now if I just call it a “fast pass” and give people that opportunity, that somehow just feels a lot better, both for me and probably for them, too. And again, if we do the rough job and then maybe we turn around to some other people who got pushed back and give them that discount, that could also be very beneficial to everybody. So I love that approach.
Getting back to the fast pass, here’s my only concern about this whole idea. Especially on the B2C side, more than the B2B side, isn’t this just one more type of economic divide where wealthier customers will come to expect to pay more to get in line ahead of those of more modest means, and less wealthy customers may just see a business giving rich people yet another perk? Is there a chance for backlash here? And you addressed it a little bit on the B2B side.
Jay: Yes, but I don’t think you typically make this public, right?
Rich: Because we all see PreCheck and we’re all like, damn, why didn’t I get PreCheck? Because look at those people getting right into line.
Jay: Yes, for sure. And that I have PreCheck and Clear and Global Entry and every other thing of flavor that they have because I travel so much. And yeah, sometimes people are a little bent, right? That now, Clear in particular, people would get bent about. But now, it’s so commonplace in so many airports, there’s a little less, ire from other travelers, they get it.
But yeah, you feel like, hey, what about… What about me? But, airlines work that same way, right? They board people in different groups and, the whole deal. But mostly when you’re offering a fast pass, it’s not a big public show. It’s, hey, by the way, would you like to do this?
I was doing a presentation in New Jersey. And an attendee came up to me afterwards and said, “Oh we run a fancy pen store.” Lots of really high-end pens. And people primarily buy them as gifts, either for your spouse, or maybe for your boss. And he said, invariably people get ahold of us, a lot of e-commerce and say, “Oh, it’s my boss’s birthday on Thursday and I forgot. And I thought pen’s a good idea. We’re going to have to FedEx it to get it there in time. Can you do that for me?” And I said, how often does that happen? Either five or six times a week. And I said, “Are you charging for that?” And he said, we pass along the FedEx fees, but we don’t charge extra to do it. I’m like, that should be a fast pass, right? You should say, “Oh yeah, we can FedEx it, but it’s going to be a surcharge to do it.” And if you’re already late for your boss’s birthday, you’re like okay, got to do it.
And the thing about a fast pass that’s so attractive financially, it doesn’t cost your business anything. There’s no additional overhead to you to do this. It’s like free money on a tree. So yes, I totally understand that people can get a little like, hey, this is inequitable. But that’s why it’s typically done behind the scenes, not out in front of everyone.
You know, it’s not like at Arby’s you’re like. “Who’s got $100 and wants a beef and cheddar right now?” Some guy in the back. I’ll take it. I’ll take it. I’m starving. I must have a beef and cheddar.
Rich: Wasn’t there a Seinfeld once where Elaine was like, people should be seated by not when they arrive but by how hungry they are
Jay: Was that the Chinese restaurant episode? It may have been, which is a classic. Yeah.
Rich: So for companies looking to improve responsiveness, where would you advise them to start based on the findings from your research? What are some simple first steps that any business could take?
Jay: The first piece, and there’s a six-piece time to win framework in the book that is very implementable, very doable. The first piece of the framework is to conduct a ‘got it audit’. A ‘got it audit’ asks you to figure out how long does it take your customers to get whatever it is that they need from you. So how long does it take them to get a quote or to get an invoice or to get a delivery or to get a question answer, whatever it is that they need from you, there are probably 10 or 12 key things that happen in your business. How long does that take? What does it take? And that sounds like a really obvious question.
But it’s not, Rich, because when I ask businesspeople to tell me how long it takes to do these common things, here’s what they tell me. “Jay, usually it takes two days, but if it’s over a weekend, of course it’d be as many as five.” “If Larry’s out of town, it could take a little longer, but if it comes in before noon on that day, sometimes we can get the next day. So it could be maybe a day and a half.” I’m like, whoa, wait a second. Stop talking. That is not data. That is a collection of stories that you tell yourself. That is anecdotes about how long it takes. You can’t be great at speed and responsiveness unless you actually know the numbers in your business. Like how long does it actually take?
So this is going to require you to do some backwards looking analysis to figure out your averages so that you can optimize it into the future, right? Because what you want to deliver in every customer interaction is the perfect amount of elapsed time. Which we call ‘the right now’. ‘The right now’ is the perfect amount of time. It’s not too slow, certainly, but it’s also not too fast.
And so for everything, making an order, getting a refund, getting a delivery for all the things that you do in whatever business you’re in, there is a right now for every one of those interactions. And one of your assignments is to figure out what that is.
Rich: All right. Your research shows that customers are even less patient, established customers, than prospects are when it comes to speed. Should we as businesses be putting customers ahead of prospects when it comes to speed and responsiveness? What recommendations do you have there?
Jay: Yeah, it’s interesting. And that finding came out, right? That people who are already customers have less patience than people who aren’t customers yet. And I think the motivation there is you’re like, look, I’ve already given you my money. So shouldn’t we have some kind of relationship that allows me to have a degree of line skipping or attention. Which in some businesses, is a reasonable assumption. But only if in fact, as you said, the business is structured like that.
And the reality is, despite the fact that for every business in the history of business, retaining customers has a geometric impact on sustainable growth. Despite the fact that churn is death to all businesses, we still mostly run businesses at the feet of net new customer acquisition. And it’s because business leaders typically have some kind of training or degree in sales, marketing, and revenue generation. They very rarely have a degree or training in customer retention. People don’t get bonused on customer retention the same way they get bonused on customer acquisition. It’s just true.
So would I run a business that way so that your current customers get helped first and your new customers get helped last? Yes, I would. I think it’s by far a better way to run a business. Do most companies run that way? No, but some do. Like I have Infinity Miles on Delta now. And yeah, I’ve got a special hotline, right? Like I can get ahold of somebody at Delta in 30 seconds, and if I was new to Delta, that would not be the case. So there are some businesses that are set up like that, but most aren’t.
Rich: I’m just thinking about my own business. And it took me years to realize that customer retention far outstripped customer acquisition when it comes to a steady, positive growth for my company. And I think part of the reason is like you said, business leaders often have more experience in sales and marketing than customer experience, customer retention. The other thing is it’s just more fun to close a sale than to keep a customer.
Jay: And I think there’s that. You bang a gong. Nobody bangs a gong when the customer renews.
Rich: Maybe that’s what we should be doing. We need to rethink the gong in the office.
Jay: We need to buy renewal gongs. That’s what we need. That’s much louder.
Rich: Like a little tiny bell for a new customer and a big, old gong for a retention.
All right. Here’s something I found really interesting. Your study showed that 74% of customers prefer to use the telephone. The telephone – and I’m thinking of the old princess models as I say that word out loud – when trying to get in touch with your company. I was really surprised to hear this.
Last week I was down in Kentucky. I stayed at the Omni. I got a text message welcoming me and asking if there was anything I needed. And that was it. I was all in on text messages. I’m sitting there texting them like we’re BFFs. I’m sitting like, “Oh, I need more towels.” I loved not having to talk to them directly. So I guess I’m just surprised.
And the other thing is, I know all the younger members of my team are literally afraid of the telephone. So why do you think that people still want to have that telephone conversation with businesses rather than some of these other forms of technology that we learned to use so well during COVID?
Jay: First of all, business texting had a huge rise during COVID, right? So your point is absolutely right that you should not sleep on that. And I’ve been advising every business. If you’re not using texting in your business, you should. Because many customers will appreciate it.
I don’t have the report in front of me, but I’m pretty sure the way we asked that question is that people prefer the phone when they actually need like an answer to something. And it’s because it’s typically quicker to get the problem solved when you’re having a synchronous conversation. Especially for something complex, right? It’s the whole idea of chatbots, right? Chatbots are amazing for basic stuff. Chatbots suck for complicated stuff. And I think everybody knows that intuitively.
If you’re like, “Okay, this is a weird one. They’ve probably never heard this question before.” You shipped me a live raccoon in my box. What do I do with a raccoon? You’re not going to chatbot that, because there’s no pre-programmed raccoon answer. You’re like, you know what? I’m just going to get on the phone. And if I have to wait a while to talk to a human being, I’m going to do that. Because this is going to be easier to actually hash it out with a person.
So I think that’s where that finding comes from. That for basic stuff, people are much more likely, if they’re comfortable with the technology, to use chatbots or text or whatever. But when you get into more nuanced stuff, people still choose phone, still choose a human to talk to.
Rich: Still choose the phone, still choose a human being to talk to. So that raises the question, how might the rise of AI and automated chatbots and other automation impact customer patience levels in the future? Do you think that will increase or decrease the amount of patience we show towards businesses?
Jay: It will decrease patience, because that’s just the nature of technology. What’s interesting about this book and this whole thesis is that things I talk about in the book, which today are commonplace or even slow, would have been massively fast five years ago.
Of all the dimensions of the customer experience, speed is the one that in particular never moves backward. I’ve been doing this for 30 years and nobody ever, I’ve never heard a customer say ever, “’ve been thinking and next time, why don’t you guys just do that more slowly?” Nobody ever says that, right? So speed expectations are gone.
Rich: I might say that to my massage therapist. That would be about it.
Jay: Yes, that would be the one place. The one place. Speed expectations constantly ratchet up. And in an AI world where everything can be delivered, made, whatever, quicker, it’s just going to foreshorten our time expectations even more.
When Amazon first started doing next day delivery, people thought it was unbelievable, right? This is a magic trick. And now people are like, wait a second, it’s going to be an extra day, what’s wrong? They’re getting pitchforks and torches.
What’s going to happen on the AI side though, in the context of humans versus bots, is as AI gets better and companies start to train large language models in their own parlance, a larger percentage of those interactions will be bots. It depends on the company, but today chat bots often will scrape the top 25% of customer queries, and 75% will go to a live agent.
You’ll start to see those numbers reverse over the next three, five years, because the AI will be good enough that it can handle a larger share of overall… they can handle the raccoon question because they just have been trained on, okay, if raccoon, then this.
Rich: Makes sense. One last question. And I was going to ask one of those “what does the future bring”, but I think we’ve already. You said that the future is only going to bring more speed and more higher expectations from consumers. Is there anything that you see that would slow that, or any opportunity businesses have other than throwing resources at being faster? Are there things that we can be doing to improve that customer experience, that aren’t just about hiring new people or adding new technologies, that would provide for an excellent customer experience? Or is it literally all going to be about speed for the next few years?
Jay: I would say one of the best ways to be fast is to be predictive, which doesn’t really require resources. I talk about this in the book as this notion of answering before they ask. If I asked you right now, everybody listening, to grab a piece of paper and write down the 25 questions that your customers have most often about your business, everybody could do it. You could do it right now. And then I would say, cool. Now, look at your list. How many of those questions can your customers get answered without interacting with anybody? They don’t have to talk to a chat bot, a person, they don’t have to call you, email you, anything. And you’d look at that list and you’d say, six. And so what about the other 19?
Increasingly, customers prefer self-service. And if you have a FAQ on your website or some such, I would argue that you don’t have enough cues. You should push out resources to customers wherever possible so that they can inform themselves, help themselves without getting ahold of you. Because that’s actually the fastest you can possibly be is if they don’t need to interact with you at all. And that’s something that requires effort just once, and maybe a little bit to keep it up to date. But it doesn’t require more staff, it doesn’t require more technology, it just requires you to understand what your customers need and to make it readily available.
So that’s one thing I would absolutely work on that will help the perception of how fast you are. But I will say, I don’t want people to think that this is a burden. This is in my estimation, the single greatest business opportunity you will have for the next 30 months, because the data is very clear on this. People care about time and speed more than ever. The data is very clear on this. That half of all customers will hire whomever contacts them first, regardless of price. The data is very clear on this. That 85% of customers say that speed is an important factor in their brand loyalty.
You’ve heard the saying, “time is money”. It’s been around a long time. I don’t know why though, because it wasn’t true, but it’s true now. It is literally true now. If you give your customers time, they will give you money. If you cost your customers time, it will cost you money. And to your point, Rich, is it easy for you to put resources and time and attention around getting faster in your business? No. If it was easy, you’d already do it. If it was easy, your competition would already do it.
I’m not suggesting this is easy. I’m suggesting this is worth it. You’ve got 30 months until every business does this. Every single thing we talked about today, you’re going to do. It’s all going to happen, whether you want to do it or not, because your customers will simply demand it of you.
Speed expectations do not go backwards. So the reason the book is called, The time to Win, is that this is your time to win. This is an opportunity to adopt speed and responsiveness as a key business construct before your competitors. And if you do that, you’ve got this meaningful window where customers will spend more money with you than they will with them because today we live in an era where we interpret responsiveness as respect.
So you’ve got a head start, but you’ve got to get started now. I’m telling you, if you do the things I talk about in this book, it will make you a ton of money. And then it won’t because three years from now, this will be a stupid conversation. Everything we’ve talked about will be table stakes. But you got a chance right now.
Rich: Awesome. Jay, that was inspirational, slightly frightening, but all around awesome. If people want to learn more about you, whether it’s your speaking gigs, your new book, any of your amazing other books that you published, where can we send them?
Jay: Best places, go to jaybaer.com. J. A. Y. B. A. E. R. dot com. More information on the book, including the research report that powers the book. You can just have it. Don’t even ask for your email address. Go to thetimetowin.com.
Rich: Thanks so much, Jay. Always a pleasure catching up with you.
Jay: Thanks, buddy. Appreciate you. All right. That was awesome.
Jay Baer is the trusted advisor that can help solve all your business growth issues, whether on stage as a keynote speaker, or as the author of 7 best-selling business books. Grab his latest book (or any of his past books), and sign up for his newsletter.
Rich Brooks is the President of flyte new media, a web design & digital marketing agency in Portland, Maine, and founder of the Agents of Change. He’s passionate about helping small businesses grow online and has put his 25+ years of experience into the book, The Lead Machine: The Small Business Guide to Digital Marketing.