Episode guest Jay Baer delves into "Consumer Patience" and "Time to Win," detailing what those concepts mean for B2B marketers (hint: it has to do with a culture of responsiveness), what key elements they consist of, and how they can significantly influence your marketing strategy.
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Baer and Marketing Smarts podcast host George B. Thomas also bust common myths and share practical tips and tricks, helping you learn how to navigate the challenges associated with Consumer Patience and Time to Win.
Baer is a customer experience and digital marketing pioneer, expert, adviser, researcher, and analyst. He has spent nearly 30 years helping the world's most iconic brands gain and keep more customers.
This episode is packed with insights to help you understand and harness the power of those crucial concepts to propel your marketing.
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"Marketing Smarts" theme music composed by Juanito Pascual of Signature Tones.
George B. Thomas: Are you ready to be amazed, ready to be excited, ready to talk about patience and time? I hope so, because today we're talking about a B2B deep dive into consumer patience and time to win. That's you winning, your organization winning, and we're all winning because today we're here with none other than Jay Baer. Along the way, we're going to talk about hurdles, we're going to talk about success, we're going to talk about what keeps Jay at night pertaining to B2B marketers, patience, time, and winning. Of course, we're going to debunk a few myths along the way.
If you didn't know, Jay Baer is a customer experience and digital marketing pioneer, expert advisor, researcher, and analyst. He has spent nearly 30 years helping the world's most iconic brands gain and keep more customers. A seventh-generation entrepreneur, Jay has written six bestselling books and founded five multimillion-dollar companies. Jay is an inductee into the Hall of Fame for professional speaking and word of mouth marketing and is the creator of multiple award-winning podcasts.
He is also one of just two people in the world listed as one of the top 30 global gurus in two different knowledge categories, customer service and internet marketing. He founded the strategy and analysis firm Convince and Convert, and is a board member of Experience Dynamic, a full stack customer experience service collective. Media outlets like CNBC, NPR, Fox Business, and The Wall Street Journal frequently rely on Jay to comment and contextualize top trends.
He has a very popular twice monthly newsletter called The Baer Facts. Jay loves growing businesses, delivering presentations in person or virtual that audiences love, and plaid suits. That is a ton. Not to mention he's also a licensed tequila connoisseur and a certified barbecue judge.
Marketing Smarts listeners, I hope you're super excited, because I'm sitting here with Jay Baer himself and today we are talking about a deep dive into consumer patience and time.
Jay, I like to start to with some fun questions. I end with a fun question, too, but let's start with this. When you think about B2B marketers and you think about this concept of time or consumer patience, it could be a dream, it could be a nightmare, but what keeps you up at night?
Jay Baer:The fact is most companies, B2B or B2C, think they're fast enough, they think they're doing everything possible to be responsive. What I will tell you, and the data is very clear on this point, customers have already elevated responsiveness on their list of priorities and companies largely have not. That disconnect is what my book is about, what there's research about. The reason it's called The Time to Win is that this literally is your opportunity to use a culture of responsiveness as your distinct competitive business advantage and outperform your competition, both in customer acquisition and in customer retention.
George: I immediately want to go off the beaten path here for a second because it sounds like you're saying this is important for people to pay attention to. Historically, I know you've had talk triggers, you've talked about trust in marketing, there's been a lot of things that are important for marketers to pay attention to. On the scale of holy crap and you might want to pay attention to it, where does this land?
Jay: I would say, as an opportunity, holy crap. Everything that I talk about in this book, everything we'll talk about today, you're going to do. Every single thing we talk about, you're going to do. Your customers will simply demand it eventually.
What was fast five years ago is slow today. That's not going to change. If anything, with AI, the pace of adoption of rapid response is going to accelerate. It's not a question about whether you're going to do this. It's a question about when you get started. The businesses that build a culture of responsiveness now while their competition are bitching about it are going to have, I think based on my research, a 24 to 30 month head start where they can dominate the category until everybody catches up.
You mentioned that I've written a lot of books about a lot of things, and that's because I feel my job is to figure out what is the secret sauce that you can deploy for a two or three year period, and then eventually everybody figures it out, it's not secret anymore, and you have to find a different sauce. Which is why I've written books about social media, I've written books about content marketing, I've written books about customer service, I've written books about word of mouth. Now your best business opportunity is to simply be faster than your competitors.
George: It's interesting. When you go into that last thing there, my brain wanted to finish the sentence for you. It's not that you're not going to do it, it's like when you're going to do it, and those that can do it faster, and I was like it's about when you're going to start and how much money you're going to lose before you actually start would be a piece that I would add in there. Let's go ahead and dig in. I'm super excited.
One of the things that I love to do on the Marketing Smarts Podcast is level set a little bit. When you say consumer patience, what the heck does that even mean?
Jay: One of the things that we looked at in the research is how long will B2B or B2C buyers give you before they start getting annoyed and frustrated. When you are slower, less responsive, than customers or prospective customers expect, how does that make them feel? It's feelings like disrespected, unhappy, sad, feelings that don't typically get associated with revenue creation. Conversely, when you are more responsive than customers or prospective customers expect and anticipate, how do they feel? They feel respected, they feel happy, they feel that they trust you, etcetera. A lot of this is a consumer psychology study masquerading as a speed and responsiveness study.
George: Interesting. The next place my brain wants to lean into, and this could be a good marketing it depends answer, but I still feel like I have to ask the question.
Jay: I'll try not to do that to you.
Geoge: I think it's the million dollar question for some organizations. How do I know how long consumers will wait? If I knew how long they'd wait, then I know if I'm fast or slow, and I would understand expectations. So, how long will they wait?
Jay: Here's what you want to try to do. In the book, we talk about this principle of the right now. The right now is the perfect amount of elapsed time in every interaction. The right now is defined as slightly faster than customers expect. If you're way slower than they expect, they're mad. If you're way faster than they expect, they're confused. The goldilocks zone for responsiveness throughout the entire customer journey is slightly faster than they expect. That's going to differ by business. The right now is different for a bank versus a cruise line versus a software company. One of your jobs as a business is to figure that out.
First of all, figure out how long does it take today. How long does it take you to set up an appointment? To get a quote? To deliver? To get a question answered for the customer? To pay a bill? All the things that customers need to do, how long does that take now? That sounds like a really obvious question, but it's not.
When I talk to business leaders about this, especially in B2B, here's what they tell me, "Usually it takes two days, but if it's over the weekend, it could be five. If Shirley is on vacation, it could be as many as six. If it goes perfectly, we might be able to do it the next day." I'm like wait a minute, that's not math, that's a collection of stories that you've told yourself. If you're going to use speed and responsiveness as a competitive advantage, you have to actually know the numbers, you have to know the median and the mean.
So, the first piece of the process that I recommend is called the got it audit. The got it audit just asks you to figure out how long does it take your customers to get all of the things they need from you, and put real numbers around it, and then you optimize off of that baseline.
George: I love that, got it audit. It's funny because it seems like it would be so simple. I hope listeners heard the golden nugget, know your numbers. That is probably one of the best business tips, know your numbers down to the micros of what we're talking about today.
Key findings, because it's a book, there's a lot of research. You've already talked about how it's kind of masquerading as. What are the key findings from your research study that we'll find in the book The Time to Win regarding consumer patience and its impact on this, the purchasing decision?
Jay: Two-thirds of customers say that speed is as important as price. Chew on that. Do you actually run your business as if that were true? Probably not.
Second crazy stat, half of all customers will hire whomever contacts them first, regardless of price. My friend Kelly runs a marketing services firm here in Indiana, and she needed to put together an outdoor advertising quote for a client. She gets a hold of the three main billboard companies in the region and leaves them voicemails saying, "I need an estimate for this kind of campaign, these run dates, this many broadsheets, this many shorties," etcetera.
The first billboard company gets back to her in a few hours and says, "We can't give you an exact estimate with locations, but here's basically what it's going to cost you." The second billboard company gets back to her in two days. The third billboard company gets back to her in 11 days, at which point she had already made the buy. She hired the first one, and they weren't the least expensive. They were the most expensive, but it doesn't matter. Here's why…
I want you all to really hear this. We live in an era where we interpret speed as caring and we interpret responsiveness as respect. We are willing to pay more for the respect than a company's responsiveness. It is true in every business and in every category, but most organizations do not see this as a truly defining customer experience or marketing differentiator. I'm here to tell you today that it is.
George: Marketing Smarts listeners, you can pick yourself up off the floor after that 2x4 across the forehead moment.
The next question I wanted to ask was how does the concept of speed and responsiveness influence consumers' behavior. You literally just said that, but it leads my brain into way off the beaten path. How do I take an organization that hasn't even been thinking about this and take those two words, speed and responsiveness, and respect and caring and that mindset, how in the world do I start to implement that or move a culture? There's a lot there.
Jay: Absolutely. Let me touch on other point quickly, just so that people don't think this is purely a customer acquisition opportunity. It is very much a churn reduction opportunity, which in an uncertain economy, which for a lot of B2B folks it is right now, keeping the customers you've already earned is really important. Responsiveness is a big part of that.
If you accept the premise that we interpret responsiveness as respect, and I think when you put your own customer hat, you're like, "I do feel that," every customer you have in your B2B business, it doesn't matter whether it's a day later, a week later, a month later, a quarter later, a year later, a decade later, at some point, every single customer has to decide whether they want to buy from you again. The research shows that 85% of customers say that speed is a critical factor in their loyalty because if you respect their time, they want to keep working for you. They don't want to keep working alongside you if you don't respect their time, because they feel like you don't care about them and their business. Makes perfect sense. Right?
One of the things that is so exciting about this principle for me, why I think it really is a holy crap moment, is that a culture of responsiveness in your organization not only will allow you to gain more customers and win more in your category, but it also will help with churn. It's pretty rare that you get something in business that actually works on both sides. That's why I think it's such a big financial opportunity.
But you're right, you can't just call a staff meeting and be like, "Everybody, from now on, culture of responsiveness. Get out there and get 'em." It doesn't work like that. I wish it did. So, the first piece, as I mentioned, is the got it audit. That's literally the foundational piece is to figure out how long things take today. Then there are a few other tactics and opportunities that I'd love to share with you, but I'll let you react to that.
George: I want the other tactics and strategies, and the Marketing Smarts listeners want those, so let's dive into that. I do have a question that I'm going to ask after you share some of those, because I'm super curious. Something is happening in my mind, a way that life used to be, and what you're talking about now, the way life is, but I'll get to that. Go ahead and give us some other tactics and strategies after the got it audit.
Jay: One of the things is to make it easier for customers and prospective customers to get the information that they need. The fastest you can possibly be is to be predictive. Give a customer what they want before they have to ask for it.
I was in Scottsdale doing an event recently. I was at the pool, I didn't have to speak until night, and I was on my Kindle. It was kind of a fancy resort. The pool attendant person walks over to me with a strawberry daiquiri and says, "Mr. Baer, you were giving off strawberry daiquiri vibes." I'm like, "I was giving off strawberry daiquiri vibes, you're totally right. It's like a magic trick." That kind of predictive fulfillment is as fast as you can possibly be, literally.
When it comes to B2B in particular, we're not very good at this in many cases. One of the exercises I have people do in my live programs often is I'll say you have paper and a pen in front of you, write down the 25 questions that your customers have most often about your business. Everybody can do it, they can just start writing. Then I say look at your list, how many of those can a customer or prospect get answered without interacting with somebody in your business, they don't have to email, they don't have to call, they don't have to use a chatbot? The average is six out of 25. To which I say what about the other 19, why are we making people work so hard to get the information that you just told me you know they need?
This is very similar to our mutual friend Marcus Sheridan's they ask, you answer principle, which he contextualizes through the prism of overall customer satisfaction, but I contextualize through the prism of speed. If I can just get what I need without having to ask you, not only does that literally save me time, but because a lot of this is consumer psychology, how responsive you feel to me changes quite a bit. Making all of the key information self-serve is part of this time to win approach.
George: I love that you're bringing up the psychology side of this. I remember a day when if I would have gotten a phone call within the first five minutes, it would have equaled desperation, I would have wondered don't they have any other clients or customers. Dare I say the pandemic, but there might be other stuff, but what changed to make consumer behavior and expectations around time, it's a different world?
Jay: That's it. I've written seven books now, and every book I've ever written has at least a chapter on speed. The idea that being responsive in your business is part of the success equation is not new information. What is new is that now it is truly not only an imperative, but a huge business opportunity. It's because all of us, at least in the west, value our time more than ever.
The pandemic is partially responsible for this. We learned a lot of lessons, but one of the lessons we were taught is that tomorrow is not guaranteed, nothing is promised to us. A lot of the trends that we've talked about post-pandemic, like quiet quitting and great resignation, and people wanting to work from home because they don't want to commute, and bringing your kids to the conference, leisure travel, that's a big thing now, Major League Baseball games are 26 minutes shorter, it's all the same trend, which is that people care about their time and how they use it more than they use to.
Simultaneously, we're continuing along this pathway where I can get pretty much anything I want with one click. I can buy a sofa, I can buy a hamburger, I can buy a girlfriend, I can get a car, whatever I need, click and it's here. People call it the Amazonization or the Uberization, but that's a real thing. All of those things together bring us where we are here, which is a circumstance where if you give your customers time, they will give you money, and if you cost your customers time, it will cost you money.
George: We could just let that sit for a hot second for a lot of companies out there. Let's dig into the treasure trove of information that you guys went through. What is the most surprising or unexpected finding that emerged from all of the quantitative study where you were like I didn't think that would have anything to do with consumer patience or time related factors of purchasing decisions? What shocked the crap out of Jay Baer?
Jay: There were a few things. One that didn't happen. It turns out there is very little gender difference in the outcomes. This is going to be a big surprise; men are slightly less patient and slightly less tolerant of delay than women. I know it's hard to believe, but it actually wasn't statistically meaningful, and I thought it would be.
The one thing that surprised me the most is the most patient generation willing to give businesses a little extra grace when things are delayed is Gen Z, young kids.
Jay: That's exactly what I said. Wow. I have two Gen Zs in my family, and I'm not like they're so patient. Those aren't the words I'd use, typically.
The least patient generation was Boomers. That kind of surprised me because I've been in a lot of conference rooms as a consultant in my life where somebody, including maybe me, said something like this, "Most of our customers or stakeholders, and therefore they're likely to be retired, so they're not that busy, so we don't have to be that fast when we get whatever it is that they need." Turns out the exact opposite is true. Because they're retired, they don't have anything else to do other than freak out about how come their sofa hasn't been delivered yet or whatever. It was very surprising to me that the youngest are most patient and the oldest are least patient.
George: You learn something new every day. That's crazy. We talked a little bit about culture shift, changing, and the got it audit. My brain goes to strategies, tactics, the down and dirty that we have to do day in and day out. What should B2B marketers be thinking of in terms of adapting their strategies for these evolving demands that are happening now to the consumers that they're serving?
Jay: Here's one that I want everybody to try. I've been doing this now for two-and-a-half years myself. It totally changed my relationships, not only with my clients, but also with my friends, with my wife, with my kids, with my mailman. I'm telling you, you're going to love it. We call it respond without answers.
Today, if somebody asks you a question or needs something from you, and you can't immediately provide it, what do you do? Typically, we go conjure the necessary information. You ask Google, you ask accounting, you ask your mom, you do whatever is necessary to get the information, and then you say, "Here is what you needed."
Stop doing that. The entire time that you are procuring the necessary knowledge, the person who asked the question is slowly freaking out. Here's how I know this to be true. If I send George an email and I don't hear back for two days, I start playing this mental game, and you all do it, "Do I have George's email wrong? Is there a chance that went to spam? Did I have a weird attachment on that? Is he on vacation, but didn't set out-of-office? Is he mad at me? Should I follow up that email with a phone call, or does that make me seem sad and desperate?" We go down this whole same spiral. Meanwhile, you're just getting what I needed.
Here is what you do. Not just in business, certainly teach your teams this, but do it in your life. If somebody needs something from you, asks you a question, you get an email, a voicemail, whatever, you answer immediately and say, "Good question. So good in fact, I have to figure it out. I'm going to go do that and get back to you when I have the answer."
Two important things will happen. First, the second that you say, "I got it," it goes off of that person's to-do list and they mentally put it on your to-do list, which dramatically changes how responsive they believe you to be. Second, it actually buys you more time to get what they actually need. Here's why. Listen closely. Time to response is way more important psychologically than time to resolution. As soon as you respond, it goes off of their to-do list. They know that you're on it. It's like turning a dial.
Try that, respond without answers.
George: I love that so much. Marketing Smarts listeners, that's a rewind point right there. Get the notepad and pen out, hit the rewind, and just jot that down. It's funny that you mentioned mailman, wife, kids. That bit of knowledge will change lives right there if they can implement it.
Jay: Totally. I'm living proof. It really will work. The other one that is really important for marketers to understand is, yes, customers and prospective customers hate to wait more than ever, that's why I'm here, but the thing they hate second-most is to be underinformed. Information asymmetry is an anxiety-producing scenario.
We live in a world where we are used to being fully informed. It's not like the old days. I was watching a commercial with my wife, and I was like, "How old is Cher?" Of course, we just said, "Siri, how old is Cher?" But back in the day, you'd have to go to the library, you'd have to go ask a reference librarian or look it up in a book. What we would do in those days is we'd just say, "This information is unknowable. It's okay, we don't have to know." We don't live in that world anymore. We know everything.
So, when customers are underinformed, it creates a lot of anxiety. One of the best things you can do as a marketer is close the uncertainty gap. The uncertainty gap is the difference between what you know inside the organization about what's going on and what the customer knows. I'll give you an example.
I bought some leather sneakers online a few months ago. Because I am now the number two tequila influencer in the world, I was drinking tequila while online shopping, which I do not recommend. In this case, I don't recommend it because after purchasing the shoes, I got a quick email confirmation saying, "We'll have your shoes to you in approximately 10 weeks." I thought, "Wait. What?" I went back to the website, and I'm like they're making these from scratch in Ecuador, I guess I missed that part. Now I'm like, "I don't know. Two-and-a-half months is a long time to wait for shoes." I thought about canceling it, but I thought let's just play this out, I don't want to back out of this deal. But they did such an incredible job of closing the uncertainty gap. Every Wednesday for 10 weeks, I got an email from my own personal consultant at the shoe company saying, "I want to introduce you to Pedro. Pedro is in charge of making the last for the shoes. Here's a video of Pedro making a last in the factory. Those aren't your shoes, but they're basically the same shoes." The next week, "I want to introduce you to Julietta. Julietta is in charge of tanning the leather for the shoes."
It was literally a documentary film about how they made my shoes step by step. At the end, I felt like I could open a cobbler, I could open a shoe store, there was no uncertainty gap. I was so sucked into the process that now I'm a superfan. Beckett Simonon is the company, and they did an incredible job. All it was, was a weekly email.
George: I love that so much. As you were telling that story, it was like extrapolating the Domino's Pizza Tracker, but at a way higher level.
Jay: Exactly the same. The Pizza Tracker may be closing the uncertainty gap too much. I don't need a push notification that they're putting mushrooms on my pizza, but I love where they're headed. It might be too much.
The last one I have for you isn't so much a marketing tip, but this one is going to pay for everything else that I've told you. Offer a fast pass. In the research, we discovered that one in four customers will pay as much as 50% more to not wait, and you should give them that chance. TSA Pre is a fast pass, you pay more, you wait less. Disney has one, it's called Genie Plus now, you pay more, you don't wait in line for the rides.
The reason I figured this out as a trend and opportunity is I was in Vegas doing a presentation. I got there at 2:30, they said, "Mr. Baer, check-in time is at 4:00. Go lose money, come back and 4:00, and we'll give you keys to your room, or if you'd like to give us $30 additional, we can give you keys to your room right now. Would you like to do that?" I was like yes, I would like to do that.
Offer a fast pass. Every business can do this. Consulting, easy. Chiropractor, easy. Preschool, easy. Podcast host, "You want to be the next guest on the show? Great." It doesn't matter what business you're in. You want to be onboarded by the software company next, you just reshuffle your customer sequencing, and you make money for doing so. It doesn't cost you anything.
Now, one tip. It is true that in some cases you might have to call the customer who was going to be next and explain to them that they're now not next, they're now second next. Here's how you do that. "George, there's been an emergency, and I'm sorry to tell you that we have to put a different client next and it's going to bump your project back a week. I know that's bad timing, I know it's inconvenient for you. I'm going to take 5% off of your bill for the inconvenience. We appreciate your patience." Meanwhile, you've charged the one who has jumped the line 20% more and you're keeping 15% for doing nothing other than changing your sequencing, and everybody is stoked.
Offer a fast pass. If I would have figured this out when I owned a consulting firm… I sold my firm and then figured it out, which is not the right way to do it.
George: I love it. Jay, this has been absolutely amazing. We're going to go ahead and land the plane with the last question here. Like I said at the beginning, I love to have these fun little moments. I've actually been waiting all week to hear the answer to this question because I knew it was you, I know what you've written and what you've done, what you've learned, who you are.
You're talking to the Marketing Smarts listeners, B2B marketers here, what are some words of wisdom that you want to leave them with? It could be about time, responsiveness, marketing, or life itself. What are your words of wisdom?
Jay: If you're not differentiating as a person and as a business, you will never achieve your goals. You have to identify what your unique point of difference is, amplify that point of difference, and double down on it wherever possible. If that point of difference is you're a keynote speaker and a tequila influencer, if that point of difference is you're a B2B marketing genius and also an incredible podcast host like in George's case, if that difference is you sell great software but you also have a culture of responsiveness, it doesn't matter what the differentiator is, but you need to have it. You will drown in a sea of sameness.
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Published on January 11, 2024
Jay Baer, a 7th-generation entrepreneur. Jay has written six best-selling books and founded five multimillion-dollar companies. He is an inductee into the halls of fame for professional speaking and word-of-mouth marketing, and he is the creator of multiple award-winning podcasts. Jay is the founder of Convince & Convert, a strategy and analysis firm, and he is a board member of Experience Dynamic, a full-stack customer experience services collective. His popular twice-monthly newsletter is at TheBaerFacts.com.
LinkedIn: Jay Baer
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