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Episode 99 of 133

Author Steven Van Belleghem on The Future of Customer Experience: The ROI Online Podcast Ep. 99

station description Steve Brown believes you, the entrepreneur, are the invisible hero of today’s econo... read more
The ROI Online Podcast
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Duration: 43:34
Now more than ever the question we should be asking ourselves as business owners is, how can we leverage our human strengths on digital channels? In this episode of the ROI Online Podcast, customer experience expert Steven Van Belleghem talks about the importance of combining the best of both the hu
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Now more than ever the question we should be asking ourselves as business owners is, how can we leverage our human strengths on digital channels? In this episode of the ROI Online Podcast, customer experience expert Steven Van Belleghem talks about the importance of combining the best of both the human and digital worlds to give our customers the greatest experience possible.Steven is a keynote speaker and author of multiple books. His passion is spreading ideas about the future of customer experience. He believes that the combination of common sense, new technologies, empathic human touch, and taking your social responsibility will win the hearts and business of customers over and over again.We are living in a world that requires our businesses to use the different technologies and digital channels available. This can sometimes get confusing and overwhelming, so the human touch often gets lost in translation. Thankfully Steven gives us some useful tips to avoid these hurdles. Among other things, both Steven and Steve discussed:Why we shouldn’t let digital replace the human part of relationshipsSome of the things that help us create an experience that sparks emotion in our customersWhy showing your personality as a business owner is viewed as a weakness—but it’s actually a competitive advantageThings you can do as an organization to add more value to your audienceHow sharing your knowledge and research as a company helps build trust with your clientsHow putting content out is not a magic wand but rather a process where you deliver value that eventually results in business Why people like being recognized and how that reflects in your businessFuture trends coming in the digital world for businessesYou can learn more about Steven here: Steven on LinkedIn Read the books mentioned in this podcast:The Golden Toilet by Steve BrownThe Offer You Can’t Refuse by Steven Van BelleghemEternal by Steven Van BelleghemCustomers the day after tomorrow by Steven Van BelleghemWhen digital becomes human by Steven Van BelleghemThe Conversation Company by Steven Van BelleghemThe Conversation Manager by Steven Van BelleghemThinking of starting your own podcast? Buzzsprout’s secure and reliable posting allows you to pubSupport the show ($stevemfbrown)
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them. The thing that artificial intelligence does or the machine learning is that helps take care of all the minutia that as a human, you you don't have them, Ben, with to do to work on all the details, to answer all the emails to follow up on all the little maybes that that software helps you sift to all that. Help us have a help us understand. Maybe what? The future of this technology that helps us meet people in different areas around the world have other little preliminary conversations before we actually have a 1 to 1 conversation. Yeah, well, it's I think the opportunities to to reach out to customers in an efficient way have never been higher than than today. Uh, if you know, I I like to turn the question around and not start with the technology part. But ask yourself this, Uh and this goes for every business, every business owner that is listening. Ask yourself what is the scarcest resource that your customers have time? Time is the scarcest resource that people have. I think that if you ask people how they're doing, the answer is Oh, I'm busy. We're all extremely busy time is a scarce resource. If you take that with you, that means that as a business owner, as an entrepreneur, there are two things that you can do with the time of your customers. You can help them to save our time, and you can help them to enhance their time to make it more relevant. And and both are truly important for your business. If you do your plumbing right, you do it in an efficient way. You don't want to go five times to those people's houses. That's not good for your own efficiency. And and they don't like that either. And if you talk to them, you have to show value, right? That's what you do in the real world. You try to be efficient and you try to bring value well. The same thing goes for for online. You can create interfaces where people may order your product or get information in a very time efficient way, and they will love you for it. And the moment that they grant you their time, you should try to make it as relevant as possible. And you know you can talk to a large audience on social media. But what is worse, we're investigating as well for many small business owners is to look for a way how you can engage, let's say, 50 to 100 people at a time in a closed environment. Why not invite your top clients in a zoom meeting where you share your knowledge or where you have a customer? Tell a story to to other customers where you do live? Q and A. Imagine that you are, uh, an expert in in solar panels and that you install solar panels on the roofs of your customers and that there's a new technology that comes out and it's been all over the news, like this technology. And and maybe it's something very negative about this new technology, and people are starting to to have a lot of questions. Why, at that moment, instead of just being angry at the journalist who brings all the bad news, why don't you do something about it? And why don't you bring together your top 100 clients and prospects and say, I'm gonna explain everything? Just give me your questions. We're gonna do live Q. And I'm going to give you all the information there is, and then you will have an objective view from the expert. I mean, the the investment for you as a small business owner is close to zero. You have to invest an hour to perform and maybe excuse me a couple of hours to invite people, but the the the effort is very low. But the impact that you have to those 100 people can be very high. So there, you know, we can talk about AI, and that sounds very complex. But I would recommend small business owners to look for off the shelf technology that is available almost for free, where you can reach out to a lot of people, share your expertise and bring value to them. Mhm.
the other day I'm on YouTube and I'm looking around and I like to cook and I was looking up some recipes and I run into this channel. Their channels called, uh, Amazon. I think they're in Serbia or somewhere. And so I watched these videos. I watched 10 or 15 of them, not all at the same time, but they go on for about 15 minutes and there's no talking whatsoever, and it's and you don't even see the faces of the guy. But he's cooking and they're putting the ingredients and you're getting to hear it cook. You're getting the they do it outside, there's a creek flowing by or then you can hear the fire burning. But they sell knives and they make these beautiful knives. And I'm just watching this and guess what I'm gonna buy. I'm gonna buy one of their knives, but they never told me. I don't know what they sound like when they talk. I've hardly seen their faces. I'm going to cook some of the recipes, but I'm going to buy one of their knives, and they never said by my knife. I kind of like Who is this guy and I wouldn't look for Oh, they make knives. That's why he has that knife that he keeps using over and over. I think it's a beautiful example of someone being creative and doing what they're good at. Yeah, yeah, I agree. And without being pushy, adding value, you get your recipes for free. If you don't buy a knife, that's fine for them. But eventually you see those knives so often and you see that they're probably of high quality and you as an as an amateur chef, you you enjoy that. And you think, Hey, this is cool. I want to I want to have it And I think the the important part is that you do something that brings value to the audience and that you don't have any short term expectations. It's not necessary that everyone who views your content will become a customer. That is not necessary. I put a lot of stuff online on my YouTube on my on my instagram, and you know it doesn't always reflect in business for me, but at a certain moment, I I really dove down in my own body to look what the core of my passion was and the core of my passion is not selling keynote presentations. It's not giving talks on a podium. I love to do that. But the core of my passion is creating and spreading ideas about the future of customer experience, and I do that through my books. I do that through my my lectures, but also through online channels. And the truth is, the largest audience that I reach is through my online channels. And if I can help someone in in their business and they and they never talk to me, I'm perfectly fine with that, Um, but I know that that person will be part of the network of people that received value thanks to me. And one day, sooner or later they will talk to someone about me because of the value that I brought and eventually that will result in business for me. And that's something that I strongly believe in. You don't have to have one on one effect, um, putting content out and instantly getting business out of it. It's about delivering value, and eventually that results in business for you. That's that's one of my core beliefs, and I think if you don't have that belief that very often you can be disappointed when you put content out. And you think Okay, now it's going to happen. We're gonna put stuff out there, and now I'm gonna become I'm going to see a peak in my revenues. That's of course not the case. Uh, it's like going it's like going to the gym. In my opinion, when you go to the gym after four weeks, you you have been working out like crazy, sweating like crazy. And then you look in the mirror and what do you see? Nothing. No impact whatsoever. But you say Okay, it's only been four weeks, so you do another four weeks and then after eight weeks, you look in the mirror and you think, What do I see? Nothing. So this whole working out thing, it's just it's just fake. It doesn't work. So I quit. And you know, that's exactly what people do with content marketing. They try it out for eight weeks, get truly excited, and and then nothing happens. And then they think Okay, this is just throwing money away, and then they quit. Whereas you and I know you need to build up that reputation, you need to build up an audience that you just told me. This is podcast number 100 or something that you just made. It's the consistency and just keep on going. Even if your first podcast maybe had only 100 listeners, you kept on going and you build your audience over time, and that's something that an entrepreneur also has to do.
Yeah, when you think about so you're trying to differentiate yourself. Everything can be commoditized. And so let's say that year in the industry, that's commodity industry or people say it is like insurance or whatever. But if you come out and just be boring like everyone else, then you're a commodity. But if you start to show your personality, you just d commoditize yourself. And there is a great example that you talk about in the shipping container industry. I was really interested in Amherst. Example? Yeah. Would you tell us a little bit about this? Yeah, I I love that example because, you know, you get the questions as well as to like, we're in B two b. Uh, we were selling commodities. People are just interested in price in our market, All the other things don't matter. All those excuses and then you have a company like Merced, one of the biggest container shipping companies in the world. And if you check out their social media, you will see that these guys have millions of followers on their Facebook on their instagram. Uh, I mean, they're all over the place. They have likes like they're they're like Beyonce themselves almost. And then I looked into it. And, you know, the thing is, they never talk about containers. They talk about the magic of being on C, and they let their captain speak. And then they tell us they give us these insights like, Okay, Did you know that the weather reports the weather forecasts that we get all over the world that the network of their captains of their ships is actually involved in in, you know, giving scientists whether scientists all the information they need, they are part of that network. They tell stories like that they have beautiful videos, beautiful photos of their ships and and people love those stories about you know, what's happening on a big container ship. And, you know, I could imagine a Netflix show that, you know, all kind of story lines on a container ship. I think if you put some scenario writers together, you can have an awesome, you know, show that that is being broadcasted on Netflix. And that's exactly what mercy is doing. They're creating their own Netflix show. So I think a lot of these entrepreneurs should also think Okay, how would Netflix tell my story. And of course, you don't have the billions of dollars of budget, but just to think differently about your content. I think that's an important one. And the second important one is. Don't always think about what should I tell about myself. But ask yourself the question. How can I bring value to my audience? Uh, and and a tip that I would give all the small business owners is Just think about the conversations that you had with customers in the past year or years and ask yourself whether, like the questions that people always ask me over and over and over again during the sales process or when they have become customers and list like 100 questions that people have. And I'm serious about the number. Take 100 questions and then try to answer all those with videos with pictures with infographics with articles that you write videos and and two effects will will happen. On the one hand, people will see that content and say, Hey, that's the question I actually had and they will dive into it and they will. They will learn from you. But the second thing is people that don't know your business have the same kind of questions, and they go to Google or they go to YouTube and they type in that question. They don't type in the name of your business. They type in the question they have. And if you are the only one in the industry that's actually answering the most common questions, they end up on your website or they end up on your YouTube channel and I I tend to call this the mother duck effect. Then you give them so much content that after a while they start to trust you. And then they say, Okay, these guys, they seem like the experts in the field. I'm gonna talk to them because they're they're best placed to help me out. And, you know, some some organizations challenge me on that and say, Yeah, but if I put all my knowledge online, you know, won't my competitor's steal it or doesn't then doesn't that mean that I give everything away for free? But you know, you and I, we know that it's the opposite effect, of course, that if you don't show your expertise online, people will think that you don't have that expertise. So you're like ruining your your your image upfront. And it's like it's like if you think about the movie, the music industry, think about the concerts that are sold out really quickly. Those are the concerts that people, you know, that that of the groups and the bands that have YouTube views that go through the roof. And the more views you have on YouTube, the sooner your concert is sold out, and the same thing can be applied to any kind of business, in my opinion.
Yeah. You know, when I think about how our brains were designed a long time ago, we still have brain One point. Oh, right. We're not on, like iPhone where we're at, you know, 12 version, 12 point pro or whatever. But yet we have to operate in whatever environments we find ourselves in. The brain is still in play when people are interacting with your brand online and they prefer to first have their first experience and evaluate you from a distance of safety. And that's that's perusing your website or reading your email or experiencing your social media and all where what are some of the things that helps us create an experience that creates an emotion and folks that makes them feel safe and understood? Give us some. Give us some insights on how to approach that from a very fundamental perspective. Yeah, very good point. Let's take a very practical example. I think many of the listeners will get emails with questions about their business and maybe some prospects that show some interest. There are two ways how you can answer that email, and it's it's in both scenarios. It's a human who's doing the job right, we're still all of us were still replying to emails like Crazy. You can reply to that email in a very factual way. Say okay, dear customer, this is what you asked for. ABC. There you go. Or you can really show human emotion in that email and show excitement and show the gratitude that you have that they are considering to do business with you. And you can feel that through an email, and you have to make sure that people feel that through an email they have to feel your happiness because that's something that a customer really appreciates. When when you show that you care about, you know, winning the business or having the business, people enjoy that. People like to feel that recognition and you can. You can do that in an email. The choice of words. The level of excitement will define that same with social media. You can you can write a blog or an article in a very dry kind of way, if you know what I mean. Just just the facts just put some facts next to each other, and it's like a machine could have written that. But the goal is to make sure that your personality that you can feel that in your social media content, whether it's written or it's video or it's in podcast doesn't matter which channel it is. The challenges make sure that your personality gets to the other side. And I think this is a mental barrier for many entrepreneurs is that it feels scary to be yourself on social media or through digital channels. If you meet them in real life, they're like, Hey, hi and they're excited and all that because they're in the comfort of their own environment. When you put that on the Internet, you become more vulnerable because other people see it and a lot of people see it as a weakness to show your identity and to build some sort of facade around them. I believe the contrary. I think if you share your personality and if people feel your personality, it becomes a strength and they will, you know, relate and connect faster with you if it's done in a human way than when it's done in an artificial kind of way. But you need to get beyond that, you know that that barrier and and the only one who puts that barrier there is often the entrepreneur himself,
Here's the problem. The folks who listen to this podcast, they're entrepreneurs. They're small business owners. Their business leaders are marketing directors, but they are expected to be an expert in two different domains. One as a leader. They need to be an expert in the personal world. In the physical world where we have, we build relationships and we interact with actual physical humans. But the other domain that we have to figure out and be excel at is in the virtual domain in the digital domain. And yet being a human in that domain is where a lot of people struggle. But yet those that get it right, they excel. It's a big competitive advantage. And so you're coming at it and helping us understand how to be a better human in the digital world. Where did where does that come from? Why did you get excited about that? Why did you start writing about it? Well, the last 10 years, we've seen a lot of progress in terms of digital, and especially in the year 2020 we've seen the big digital jump forward, and every time when we have this acceleration in digital, many people believe that digital is replacing the human part of the relationship, and I totally disagree. There's this old economic law that talks about scarcity, right? When when something becomes scarce, it actually increases in value that that's how the law of scarcity works. Well, the human part has never been scarcer in a business relationship than than right now, and because of that, it has become more valuable. But what we've learned, I think, in the last couple of months and year, is that playing your role as a human in the customer relationship doesn't mean you have to be physically sitting next to each other. I think it's about human qualities. It's about what, what was the difference between a man and the machine? And the machine is really good in the efficiency part and rationalizing things. Whereas humans are really good in the more emotional part. Empathy, passion, creativity. The positive energy transfer between humans is extremely strong, and of course you can do that in a physical world. But as you mentioned in your introduction state, I think the challenge for many small business owners is how can we leverage that human strength on digital channels and if you can do that, then you can combine the best of both worlds. And I'm a very strong believer in that combination of using the strength of digital interfaces combined with the strength of human interfaces.
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