EE013 – Jay Baer – Talk Triggers


Episode 13 of Exceeding Expectations features Jay Baer who is billed as: 

The world’s most inspirational marketing and customer service keynote speaker

Jay shows you how to use technology as an unfair marketing and customer service advantage. Audiences will rethink their approach to marketing and customer service, helping them gain more customers and keep those they’ve already earned.

His recent book Talk Triggers is the perfect book for this podcast because essentially it is all about exceeding your customers expectations and is well worth asking Santa to deliver you a copy.

Note: some of the resources below are affiliate links, meaning I get paid a commission (at no extra cost to you) if you use that link to make a purchase. This all helps fund the show costs.



Some bonuses on Talk Triggers:


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Tony: Welcome to another edition of Exceeding Expectations, the show about creating exceptional experiences for your customers. The guests on this show, typically have the mindset of loving to over deliver, and really exceeding customers expectations. They’re always trying to think of new ways that they can do that for each customer they work with. It results in fantastic testimonials, lots of referrals and it’s just a better way of doing business. The guest on this week’s show is Jay Baer. I saw Jay recently speak at the Youpreneur Summit in London a couple of months ago, and he was absolutely superb. He’s written a few books. His latest book is called Talk Triggers, which was released about a month or so ago. He’s also got a book from a couple years ago called Hug Your Haters, which has some really interesting insights and some different ways about thinking of bad reviews. Often people think that you get a bad review and there’s not much you can do about it. Well listen in and Jay will may well change your mind on that viewpoint. Right now I’ve got a promo for a show called Hot Butter Business.

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Tony: In this week’s edition of Exceeding Expectations, I have a guest here called Jay Baer and I’m delighted to be speaking to Jay. So, how are you?

Jay: I am delighted to be here. Thank you very much. I’m going to try to exceed expectations. I guess we’ll find out.

Tony: I don’t think there will be much doubt that you will certainly exceed expectations.

Jay: We’ll see what we can do.

Tony: For the listeners, I saw Jay speak a couple of weeks ago at an event in London called the Youpreneur Summit. The talk he did was received so well by the audience. There was so much value he gave in that. So, that’s why I have the utmost confidence that this is going to be a great episode.

Jay: Thanks so much.

Tony: So, I was looking before, I’ve read a couple of your books. I’ve read the recent book you released, Talk Triggers and also one from, I think it was a couple of years ago; Hug Your Haters.

Jay: That’s right, about two years ago.

Tony: Both of them gave so many great ideas, some of which I’d certainly never considered before. How is it you got into this whole kind of area and talking about sort of customer experience, and so on?

Jay: I have been in the professional services, marketing consulting business now for 25 years or more. So, I’ve helped hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of businesses, get more customers or keep their customers. Even today while I spend a lot of my time travelling around giving presentations and writing books, I still run a fairly large consulting firm, and I’m still involved in that stuff a fair bit.

So I’m around customers and I’m around companies who are trying to solve customer problems all the time. So every time I write a book, it’s usually based on the same circumstances, which is when I hear my customers, my clients asking the same questions over and over, I think If these folks, some of whom are the most iconic brands in the world, if they don’t know the answer to this question, a lot of people don’t know the answer to this question, maybe that could be a book. So, I tend to explore it and if it makes sense, then we’ll turn it into a speech and then if the speech works, we turn it into a book.

Tony: Okay. So how many books have you done so far?

Jay: Talk Triggers, which is my newest one, is my sixth book.

Tony: Right. Okay and the first one was what?

Jay: The first one is called The Now Revolution and that book was published in 2011.

Tony: Okay, so you’ve done almost a book a year for the last few years?

Jay: I have. I’m doing them a little more slowly now just because it becomes, it’s such a lot of work to put them together and then promote them, etc. So now I tend to, I’m trying to settle in, almost like a musician would do with an album most cases. I try to do one every couple of years to two and a half years.

Tony: So, are you working on a new one now?

Jay: Not yet, and I don’t really have a plan for it. As always, I’m listening. I’m listening for the questions and trying to find the pattern of questions that will yield the next book, but not there yet. Since this one’s only been out for a month or two, I’m not quite ready to dive back in just yet.

Tony: What’s the reaction been like to Talk Triggers so far?

Jay: It’s been fantastic. I think it’s my best book. It’s a book about word of mouth marketing, and how the best way to grow any business is to have your customers grow it for you. It’s such a universally important premise. Every business, small, large, US, UK, B-B, B-C, it applies universally. We all know that word of mouth is important but yet we almost invariably take it for granted. We don’t actually do anything in our businesses to overtly or proactively create word of mouth. We just sort of assume that it will happen. This book gives you a framework for doing word of mouth on purpose, which can be quite useful.

Tony: So how did you go about…Yeah, I listened to the audiobook version of it, which was narrated by yourself, and I forget your partner’s name?

Jay: Daniel Lemin.

Tony: Daniel. That was it. So how do you go about collating all the great stories that you had in that book?

Jay: Oh, thanks. We do have a ton of case studies and stories. I think there’s 29 in the book itself, across different disciplines and circumstances. Then, we’ve subsequently collected another, I don’t know, 20 or 30, that we keep in a database and we and we swap them in and out for presentations and such. Some of the stories, we knew but a lot of the stories were fed to us. So, one of the things that I do differently than most people who speak and write is… usually, the way it works is people write a book, publish a book, and then create a speech based on the book.

I write a speech, make the speech good and if it’s good enough, then I will write a book based on the speech. So before this book, Talk Triggers was published, I had given some, I don’t know 40 keynote presentations on that topic. There are a couple of reasons why I like that approach. First, because you’ve told the stories several times, and you’ve kind of polished it and perfected it, it gives the book a little bit more of a narrative arc than a lot of business books have, because it’s sort of rooted in a speech, which has a beginning, a middle and an end.

Then to address your question specifically, what’s great about it, is every time you’re out there doing the speech, people come up to you and say, ‘Oh, hey, I’ve got an example of a company that has a talk trigger. Have you heard this one?’ So a lot of the examples in the book came from people who saw early versions of the speech before the speech was turned into a book. So it almost becomes sort of a crowdsourcing example circumstance, which is really great because the world knows a lot more examples that I can possibly uncover. So it was really terrific that way.

Tony: Do you tend to speak to a typical type of audience or is it pretty varied?

Jay: Pretty varied, which keeps it really fun and interesting for me. Sometimes, I will do a homogeneous audience, like my next event is in Boston in a week or so and it’s all people who work for one company. Sometimes, I’ll do one that everybody is in one particular industry, right? They’re all in mining or hospitals or what have you. Then, sometimes you’re at more of a conference type of a scenario where you’ve got people from a larger swath of different types of companies and organizations. So, you’ve got different versions of the talk based on the composition of that audience.

So Youpreneur Summit, for example, is an interesting sort of event, because it’s people who are trying to create or grow entrepreneurial businesses that are rooted in information and their own personalities and the things like that. So, lots and lots and lots of different types of expertise in that room, but more of a homogeneous kind of what are you? It’s not big companies. They don’t have tons of marketing departments or HR departments, things like that. So, in the Youpreneur Summit, we use smaller business examples that I would in a different setting.

Tony: Right. Okay. So you’ve also got the company that you’re still working for. What sort of things are you doing with that company?

Jay: So my firm is called Convince and Convert. We are a boutique strategy firm, that works with large companies on social media strategy. We do content marketing strategy, we do word of mouth strategy, of course, then we do customer service strategy. So, we’re not an agency in the sense that we will make your ads or write your emails or build your landing page, what have you. We really are a strategic consultancy. So we come in, we do an audit of what an organization is doing today. We spend a lot of time looking at what other folks are doing using our own expertise. So, we have a lot of software tools, a lot of analysis capabilities. We come back and say, ‘All right, here’s what you should do over the next 12 to 18 months. Here’s a roadmap for getting there.’ Then we typically depart. So we really come in, and we create strategic plans, give those strategic plans for our clients who then implement them.

Tony: What kind of problems do you typically find that companies are having?

Jay: It’s changed over time and continues to change, which is what makes it intellectually interesting. On the social media side, for example, it just doesn’t. Organic social media, free social media, in many cases, just doesn’t work as well as it used to. It’s not as easy as it once was. Competition has ratcheted up. Certainly, Facebook, Instagram, etc. would certainly prefer if you’re a business that you pay them to reach your audience on social media.

So, thinking through what the advertising strategy might be, and also really thinking through what is the storytelling online? So how do you convey what’s interesting and meritorious about your business in an online environment where people have very short attention spans? Is it a podcast like this? Is it a video show? Is it an Instagram Tip of the Week? So we do a lot of that kind of work, where we help businesses find their best stories, and then how to craft those stories in a repeatable compelling way across some sort of digital platform. Sometimes it’s YouTube, sometimes it’s Instagram, sometimes its a podcast, sometimes a blog and sometimes it’s Pinterest. It is what it needs to be. But it’s a real challenge for a lot of businesses now to figure out how to effectively communicate online.

Tony: Are the types of companies coming forward to you, are they typically from the same sort of industry or you just have a very diverse range of industries?

Jay: It’s really diverse. We are working on trying to be a little bit more narrow, just because it’s easier to have deeper expertise in an industry where you’ve worked over and over and over. It’s also easier in some cases to acquire new clients. But, generally speaking, we don’t specialize. So, some of our clients, currently we work with Oracle, a large software company; we work with Cisco, a large software and hardware company and we work with two different universities in the States. We work with some large travel and tourism organizations. We’ve done work for the United Nations. We’ve done work for Hilton Hotels.

So, it’s kind of all over the board, which is fun because every assignment brings new challenges and you have to learn a lot about a lot of different industries. I think that helps us see connections where other people might not see them. It certainly helps me writing books and giving speeches because you get exposed to so many different types of marketing and business challenges that you can kind of connect the dots in a way that maybe isn’t immediately obvious.

Tony: Are any of the companies ever resistant to some of the ideas that you give them?

Jay: Funny you say that. Yes. Yesterday, as a matter of fact, a few hours ago that happened. Look, I’ll tell you a story. When I was 18 years old, my very first job, I was an intern at a public relations firm in Phoenix, Arizona called Nelson, Ralston, Robb, and it was my first real job not selling hamburgers or what have you. I remember it so clearly. It was my very first week there and my boss who ran the firm, called me into his office. He said, ‘I want to tell you something about what we do here that you should always remember. I said ‘Oh, great.’ He said, ‘Our job is to give our clients our best professional advice. Their job is to decide whether or not to take It.’ He was very right about that. That lesson has served me really well now for almost 30 years since that conversation, more than 30 years since that conversation took place.

If you’re going to be in the strategy business, I believe you need to provide the best strategy. But sometimes people don’t actually want that. They want you to ratify their current strategy. But, what they want you to do is say, ‘Yep, you guys have it figured out. We agree.“ Sometimes, that’s the path that’s easier to take, because you know what they’re looking for, but I won’t do that. I don’t have to do that. We have enough business that I’m not going to tell somebody something that they want to hear just because they want to hear it. I don’t think that’s a good way to run a business. So, one of the things that I tell every client is we’re going to tell you the truth. You may not like the truth, but we’re going to tell you the truth. Then, you can decide how to handle that and we had one of those yesterday.

Tony: Right. What kind of thing was …are you able to talk about what happened yesterday?

Jay: Yeah, a little bit, not in great specifics. It’s an organization in higher education that has invested a tremendous amount of time and money in a mobile application based on one set of assumptions about audiences, and functionality. We’ve done some analysis that suggests that those assumptions were perhaps incorrect and that they need to be much more specific and focused around who this application is for and what it actually does. So ironically, what we’re suggesting is that they should do less, not more. But, they have proceeded for the last two years under a thesis, which is, we should do more. The problem with that is, it’s a bit of a strange bedfellows scenario.

One of the things that I’ve learned in my now long career is that if you try to be everything to everybody, you end up being nothing to nobody, because relevance is the only thing that matters. The broader you are, by definition, the less relevant you are. That’s why I always tell people about a podcast is ‘Look, if you want to have a podcast, the only way your podcast can succeed is if you are the favourite podcast in the world of some people. Until you can figure out who those people are, who are going to think, ‘This is the best podcast on the planet,’ the podcast will never truly succeed. You have to know who your tribe is. You have to give them what they need over and over and over. Sometimes, we sort of lose sight of that and we think that being broad actually is a better approach and it almost never is.

Tony: In Hug Your Haters, one of the things that I really liked in that book was where you kind of turn things on their head. You get people, well you certainly got me thinking in a different way about how you might have a bad situation but you can turn that into a great one, if you approach it in the right way. So, how did that come about?

Jay: Similarly, I had clients asking me a question over and over and over, which was, we feel like we kind of understand how to use technology for marketing. But, we’re really troubled by technology for customer service. We work with a lot of big companies and for decades, customer service for big companies was phone, letter, send a complaint letter in the post, face to face and then of course, email. Now, and in more recent years, customer service is entirely different because it’s public, right? You have Twitter, you’ve got Facebook, you have discussion boards and forums and ratings and review sites and TripAdvisor and all this other stuff.

The big change is that today, customer service is a spectator sport. It’s not just about the customer and the company, it’s the customer, the company, and a bunch of other people looking on from the sidelines. That changes not only how companies need to handle customer service, but it also dramatically changes the economic implications for customer service, which is why I say in that book, and other people have said it as well, that customer service in some ways is the new marketing. How you handle existing customers can actually acquire new customers, if you do it disproportionately well.

So operationally, it’s a lot harder to do customer service on all these new channels, WhatsApp, WeChat and all these other things that didn’t used to exist. You feel like you’ve got to spin a lot of plates. Then of course, the tone and tenor of Customer’s Feedback is sometimes a little rough these days, I think rougher than it used to be. There are more haters out there. Sometimes people have a real hard time figuring out what to do about that.

Tony: So, before you’re writing a book, when you’re going out and giving your speeches around to different audiences, and you are sort of collating the best stories that you would use for the book; was there, from your memory, any particular stories that always went down exceptionally well?

Jay: [inaudible 19:52] For the customer service side of it?

Tony: Yeah, for Hug Your Haters.

Jay: Let’s see. That’s a good question. I feel like the best way to illustrate those points in a presentation, a book is a little different, but in a presentation form, what I try to do is I find a company who’s in the room, right? Somebody who I know is going to be there. Then I show how they handled a customer very, very well on Facebook or in public somehow. Then I show examples of other companies not in the room, of course, doing it really poorly. Usually, that juxtaposition really helps people understand what we’re looking for, right? The key is our speed. Replying quickly is incredibly, incredibly important.

In fact, one of the examples that really resonates with people in that presentation is from Discover Card, which is a credit card company in the States. You are probably more familiar with Visa and MasterCard and American Express. Discover Card is the fourth largest credit card company in the US and they have made a massive, massive investment in customer service to the degree that their internal policies and procedures are such that they answer every customer in every channel within 10 minutes.

So if you tweet them within 10 minutes, call them within 10 minutes email within 10 minutes, which is very, very fast for a giant credit card company. They’ve had to spend a tremendous amount of time, money, personnel, software and training to make that happen. But, it has produced a tremendous amount of goodwill and growing the company successfully. So that’s an example of a big company doing it well. But usually, I try and use small company examples in presentations so it becomes more realistic and resonant for the people in the room who would go ‘but I’m not a giant corporation. I can’t invest 250 million dollars in this initiative.’ But I can encourage Julie, who answers the phone, to answer the phone more quickly.

Tony: Most of the people listening to this show are typically small businesses. What kind of advice would you give someone in a small business for turning around a situation where maybe they received a negative comment on social media?

Jay: Yeah. A couple of things; one, reply every time. Reply every time, because he even if it feels outlandish or it is untrue, if you don’t say anything, everybody thinks it’s true. So, you should reply to every complaint in every channel, every time. Now, what happens is small businesses is they think ‘Geez, I don’t have the time or resources to do that.’ Well, yeah you do. Of course you do. You just choose to not deploy your time and resources that way. Spend a little bit less money on marketing, and a little bit more money and customer service and you’ll probably end up better off financially out the back end, right?

When you reply to a customer, and one of the mistakes we make is we try to argue the point ‘well, that’s not true. The soup wasn’t actually cold. We always serve our soup piping hot.’ The customers’ perception is their reality and after the fact, you’re not going to change that. They believe what they believe. Whether you think they should believe it or not is frankly immaterial; it doesn’t matter and you’re not going to change that point. So, you’re much better off saying ‘we’re sorry that you didn’t enjoy your experience with us. That’s certainly not how we typically operate our business. We would love to talk to you about this in more detail. Please feel free to reach out directly and email or call me and I hope you give us another chance.’

There’s so much oxygen on the high road, but people typically don’t take it because especially small business owners, when somebody complains, they feel like somebody is telling them that their baby’s ugly. So they react out of anger, or shame or embarrassment or something like that. They don’t think about it rationally which is ‘Yeah, so what? Maybe the customer is wrong. Who cares?’ Suck it up, tell them you’re sorry, and move on. You have to remember so many people could be watching this exchange. Everybody else sees how you handle it. When you fly off the handle, and yell at the customer or accuse them of lying or whatever, it’s so counterproductive. It really doesn’t make the situation better.

The other thing I will tell you, one of the key rules in that book is the rule of reply only twice, which says that you should never ever, ever, ever, under any circumstances reply to a customer more than twice in public. It doesn’t help. It doesn’t make anything better. Look, if a customer says ‘we hate you!’ and you answer back, ‘We’re terribly sorry. Tell me more.“ they say ‘I don’t want to tell you more. We just hate you. You’re the worst.’ You answer the second time, ‘Wow, we must have done something to upset you. We would love to talk about this in more detail so we can get some facts. Please call me on this number. Please email us here.’

Then they come back a third time and say ‘I don’t want to call you. I don’t want to email you. I just hate you.’ Then at that point, you just walk away. You just close the laptop, because they’ve already demonstrated that they don’t actually want to engage, they don’t want to help. You going back and forth is just giving them what they want, which was attention. You’ve already gone on record to show all the onlookers that you do care, that you do want to engage, that you do want to give them a chance to communicate with you. If they don’t take that chance, well then just leave.

One of the mistakes that people make is they try to go back and forth, back and forth, back and forth with every customer to bring it to a positive resolution. That’s not going to happen in many cases. So just say your piece and move on.

Tony: What would you suggest in a situation …I saw a conversation a couple of months ago where some people were talking about how they received a bad review on Google. The review, they were pretty sure, was from a competitor because the situation described had never actually happened, just a bad review. What would you suggest?

Jay: It happens. There’s no question, it happens. It would be ridiculous to suggest that that doesn’t occasionally occur. Now, does that mean that you should not pay attention to reviews and not answer anybody? No, of course not. You should absolutely do that, because that’s going to be a minority. If you actually think that a review is fraudulent, then all the platforms Google, Facebook, Yelp, TripAdvisor, blah, blah, blah, they all have mechanisms for reporting that, right.

So, we just report it. You say, here’s why I think is fraudulent and here’s why I think it should be taken down. They may or may not take it down but that’s the right way to handle it. What is the wrong way to handle it? It’s to answer back and say, ‘How dare you? You’re actually working for Larry, my competitor.’ That is not going to work because then everybody else is going to pile. It’s going to become this big public fight. You’re better off to either say, you know what, I think this is probably bogus, but I’m going to assume that it’s true and apologize or what have you accordingly and/or report it as possibly fraudulent to the website in question and see if they can sort it out. But, it’s hard to prove right? That’s the tricky part. It’s hard for anybody, you or Google or anybody else to say, yeah, we know this to be fraudulent because of XYZ. It’s just tricky.

Tony: Yeah. I know there have been quite a few cases where Google haven’t, for example, taken the review down so…

Jay: Yeah, because they cannot prove it. They’re not going to take it down unless they can prove that it is fraudulent because that opens them up to charges of censorship and other things. Amazon is the same way. Amazon has the verified purchase, but now so if you look in the account, and Amazon knows that this account has actually bought this thing, so looking at purchase history, then when you leave a review for that product, it will say ‘Verified purchase.’ So, you know this person bought this thing, and therefore their review of this thing, presumably, is their actual experience with this thing. But, there’s still tons and tons and tons and tons of reviews on Amazon that aren’t verified purchases. So you’re like ‘well, did this person even buy this product, or they work for the company who makes the product?’

So to some degree, we probably as consumers, put a little bit more trust in reviews than we probably should, frankly. But, the reality is that more than 80% of consumers trust reviews, and they in most cases trust reviews, as much as they trust recommendations from people they actually know. Consequently, as business owners, we’re not going to be able to fight that fight. You sort of have to understand how important consumer feedback is to how people choose to spend their money and you have to play that game. That’s why we wrote the book.

Tony: Yeah. I asked you about stories for small businesses on the Hug Your Haters. On the same thing on Talk Triggers, what suggestions would you give for small businesses for Talk Triggers?

Jay: Yeah, I don’t think I fully answered your question about small business for Hug Your Haters so I’m going to give you one. There’s a really interesting business, I’ll give you two stories.

Tony: Okay.

Jay: There is a restaurant chain that not that small, but they operate small called Le Pain Quotidien. They’re based in Belgium. They’ve got locations throughout continental Europe and also some in the US. They have an amazing program where if somebody leaves them a negative review, like a one-star review on a website, they respond in public, as you should always do, and say ‘we’re sorry we disappointed you,’ all the things I’ve mentioned.

But then, what they do is they contact that person in private using a private message. All the different platforms have private message functions, typically. They say, ‘We responded in public and we are sorry about your experience. But, we’ve been thinking, you’re really perceptive customer. You notice things that other customers don’t notice. Would it be okay if we asked you to come back to one of our restaurants say once a month, and we’ll pay you for it. We will give you a gift card every time. What we’d like you to do is fill out this detailed profile of your experience each time. Tell us all the things that you liked and didn’t like about your experience because you really get it. We really appreciate your feedback.’

Unbelievable! So they’re doing this now. They have like 100 of these people, secret shoppers that they started off as haters, and are now working for the company to improve their operations and all it costs them is a gift card every time. Super smart, right? You’re taking the people who didn’t like you, and you’re making them part of the effort to be as good as you can. I love that. I love that example.

Tony: What results do they get from that?

Jay: So, they’ve built a bunch of different changes and improvements in the operations of the business that were suggested by these people who originally gave them one-star reviews. It’s amazing. So my other example from a business is just a pizza restaurant. It’s a small pizza chain, family owned in California, in the US, called Fresh Brothers and Debbie is the owner of Fresh Brothers. She wants to read all the reviews herself, which is really a best practice, right? It’s better to have it come from ownership, if you can do it.

So she answers every review. When somebody leaves a positive review, she answers back and says ‘Hi, I am Debbie. I own Fresh Brothers. Thanks so much for taking the time to leave us a review. I’m so delighted you had a good experience. Hey, if I sent you a gift card for $10, would you come back and bring somebody with you who’s never been here before?’ Smart.

So, now they get all these gift cards, they spend a lot more than $10. Then, if somebody leaves a negative review, one-star review, she answers back and says ‘Hi, I’m Debbie. I’m the owner of Fresh Brothers. We are terribly sorry about your experience at our restaurant. We were super busy that night, somebody called in sick. We were really short-handed, but that’s no excuse. That’s my problem, not your problem. We’re really sorry about how long it took you to get your pizza. I tell you what, if we sent you a $10 gift card, would you give us another try?’

Now, she [inaudible 32:47] in public, on a public website. So now, not only do the people who are unhappy or happy get a chance to come back and get a gift card, all other people looking on are like ‘wow, these guys really stand behind the product. Debbie is really something else.’ So, she told me that people come into the restaurant all the time and say, ‘There’s a bunch of other pizza restaurants around here, but I’ll come in here because I saw how you handled that guy on Yelp or I saw how you handled that guy on Facebook or Google.’

After I interviewed her for the book, I said, ‘Debbie, this seems great but man, how much money do you spend on gift cards?’ She said, ‘Well, here’s the thing Jay. We keep a list of them. So it’s not like somebody who’s getting 15 gift cards from us. We hand out maybe a dozen a week or something one way or the other. So it’s a $100 a week. She said ‘it’s the best marketing we could ever do.’

Tony: Absolutely.

Jay: So, a $10 acquisition cost is nothing, generally speaking, and it pays dividends beyond just that one customer because again, it’s in public, and people see it. So she was like, ‘we don’t think of it as an expense. We think of it as an investment,’ which is a really illuminating way to think about customer service, that customer service is an investment, not a cost.

Tony: That story was in Hug Your Haters and there were so many other great stories along those lines. On that same tip, I’d love to give you a couple of stories, maybe from Talk Triggers, because I know that people listening to this would get so much value out of some of the great stories in there.

Jay: Let me define a talk trigger so it is sort of easier to understand where we’re coming from here. So a talk trigger is a strategic operational difference, a choice that you make in your business, to compare conversation. It’s something that you do that your customers don’t necessarily expect and so when they encounter it, they tell that story to their friends. Those friends, some of those people become customers of yours. You’re essentially doing something on purpose that turns your customers into volunteer marketers.

That’s the idea. But it has to be something that they don’t necessarily expect. I don’t know everybody listening. I may know some of you, but I know this for sure. Nobody ever says, ‘Hey, let me tell you, about this perfectly adequate experience I just had,’ because that’s a terrible story, right? That’s not worth listening to. So, what we’re trying to do with a talk trigger, is give your customers a consistent story to tell their friends. That story has to be interesting enough for them to spend time to tell it.

So it can’t be something that is mundane or perfunctory or boring. It has to be something, and that doesn’t mean we’re talking about let’s be wacky, and we should rent an elephant or whatever. That’s not what I’m saying here. In fact, many of the best Talk Triggers are not outlandish in any way. Some are, but most are not. It’s just about doing something that they do not expect.

So a good small business example is, there is a locksmith in New York City. His name is Jay Sofer. Jay runs a company called Lockbusters, just him and another couple of guys. They are the highest rated locksmith in New York City and one of the highest rated businesses in all of New York City, regardless of business type, which is a very high bar to clear. That is an extraordinary accomplishment.

Their talk trigger looks like this. When Jay finishes changing the locks on your flat, or what have you, before he departs, he does a security audit of all the door and window locks in your home. Then, he also oils all the door and window locks in your home. He does those things entirely for free. That is extraordinary. You do not expect that to happen from a locksmith. Most locksmiths are a little shady to begin with, frankly. He is definitely not and does all this free stuff and is super kind and really a great guy. It has propelled his business forward. That is what we would call a generosity talk trigger. He is giving customers more than they expect and that’s the story that they tell about him. That is an operational choice that Jay has made to incorporate into his business. It’s not marketing, not in the classic sense. It’s not an ad. It’s on a campaign. It isn’t a contest. It’s an operational decision. That’s just how they do business. But, they’ve made that decision because it then gives his customers a story to tell. ‘Hey man. I had this great experience with my locksmith. It was crazy. Not only did he give me my locks, but then he did a security audit of my whole house and oil all of the locks. That was amazing, right? It’s a story that people will tell. That’s what’s so great about Talk Triggers. Every business, every single business in the world can, and in my estimation, should have a talk trigger. Like why wouldn’t you? Why wouldn’t you want your customers to tell a consistent story about you?

Tony: I love the thing in that particular story you just mentioned in the book. You said, I think it was one of a girl responding by saying ‘I think I might lose my keys more often’ or something?

Jay: The actual reviews on Yelp reviews, is ‘I almost want to get locked out of my house again. My experience was that great.“ That’s a pretty strong review, a positive testimonial for a locksmith for sure. Yeah, it’s great, just terrific.

Tony: Yeah. Well,I would urge anyone listening to get hold of Hug Your Haters and even, sorry, Talk Triggers and Hug Your Haters, because they’re both excellent books. I want to be respectful of your time. We haven’t got a lot of time left. Before we finish, what would you say about the whole area of exceeding expectations and over delivering to customers. Do you have any thoughts about that?

Jay: Absolutely. Talk Triggers is essentially the playbook for doing just that. The whole idea of a talk trigger, the whole idea of word of mouth, the whole idea of your customers telling your story over and over, only works, it literally only works if you exceed expectations. If you meet expectations, nobody tells that story. If I go over to the corner right now, and I flip the switch on my wall, and the lights come on, the electric company has met my expectations but I’m not telling that story to anybody.

If you want your customers to recruit new customers on your behalf, if you want to grow your business, by having more customers grow it for you, you can only do that, if you exceed expectations. It is literally a requirement for word of mouth. You have to exceed expectations. In fact, one of the main ways that people decide whether or not to leave a review is whether you have manifestly exceeded expectations, or dramatically fallen short of expectations.

Tony: Yeah.

Jay: That’s why if you look at the bell curve of reviews, there are almost no three-star reviews. There are very, very few three-star reviews mathematically. Why? Because there’s no story there. There’s not a story of failure, and there’s not a story of triumph. So, it’s not a story worth telling, which is why we don’t see a lot of three-star reviews. People leave a review when they want to warn their friends, or give their friends a tip. Those things only happen if you’ve either exceeded expectations or fallen short of expectations. But my advice is this, you have to actually know what those expectations are. We all think we do and we’re almost always wrong. So the first step in creating a talk trigger, the first step and really turning word of mouth into a growth engine for your business, is to interview a bunch of your customers. The way we do it, I talk about this in the book, is you come up with a customer journey map. So you document all the different ways that you interact with your customers. Then we recommend that you interview 18 customers, six new customers, six longtime customers and six lost customers, 18 customers which is a real investment in time, but it’s worth it. In each of those conversations, in each of those interviews, you’re asking them, ‘hey, when we sent you a proposal, or whatever the inflexion point is in question, what did you expect would happen?’ When you called and left us a message and we called you back, what did you expect would happen? See, what you’re trying to do is create an expectations map. When we have an actual map, and a real map, and not just in your head, but a real map of what your customers expect, you then know what they do not expect. What your customers don’t expect, when you exceed expectations, that’s the gold in the river. That’s where everything good happens.

Tony: That’s fantastic advice. Jay, I really appreciate your time. If people want to find out more about you, where should they go?

Jay: A couple of different things. The new book is at, all kinds of free resources there, discussion guides, videos, research, infographics, case studies, ‘downloadable’ configurators, all kinds of free stuff at and obviously links to buy the book itself. You can find me on my main site is That is our information hub. We have almost 5000 free articles for business owners and managers on marketing and customer service, a whole network of podcasts, videos, webinars, all kinds of stuff.

Tony: Do you have a weekly podcast?

Jay: I do. I do a weekly show called Social Pros, that I’ve been hosting for almost nine years. Each week, my co-host and I interview somebody who is a Social Media Manager for usually a medium-sized or large company. So we talk to the person who runs social media for automobiles or what have you. It’s really, it’s a fun show.

Tony: So well, it makes sense for people to go and check out Jay’s show and definitely get hold of his books as well. All of the things you just mentioned. I’ll put all those in the show notes. It’s been a real pleasure speaking to you Jay.

Jay: It was a blast. Thank you so much. Great questions and a terrific conversation. I really appreciate it. I cannot wait to see everybody out there exceeding expectations.

Tony: Thank you very much Jay.

Jay: You bet.

Tony: A massive thank you to Jay Baer for that excellent episode. Next week, episode 14 is released on Christmas Day. My guest is John DiJulius. He wrote a book called Welcome to the Customer Service Revolution which has some really good ideas on ways you can over deliver to your customers as you might expect from this show. So, please do subscribe. It would be great if you can leave a review. Right now, I’m going to leave you with someone who’s going to tell you all about another podcast called the Hot Butter Business Show.  

Speaker 1: Entrepreneurship is a fun word, but a tough journey. If you are on an entrepreneurial path and need some help along the way, tune into Hot Butter Business podcast where four entrepreneurs who met through a program called Co-starters, decided after the program to start a podcast that each use their unique skills, talents and businesses to unite in this podcast, in order to give the audience a look into the mind of an entrepreneur. So subscribe to Hot Butter Business podcast and walk with these four aspiring entrepreneurs on their journey.

Tony: Welcome back. It’d be great if you can join our Facebook group. Just search for Exceeding Expectations and start a conversation about some points you’ve heard on this episode or one of the other episodes. Maybe tell a story about a time when you received an amazing experience that you didn’t expect. You could also nominate a person that you would like to hear interviewed on the show and maybe even leave a book review on a book you’ve read about customer service, over delivering and so on. So, if you do have suggestions, we’d love to hear about those. Thank you very much for listening to the show. I will see you next week and have a great Christmas.

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