Bryan Eisenberg is the author of one of the top best-selling books: Be Like Amazon. On the most recent episode of I’m That Geek Web-TV show, we talk about branding, customer experience, and what is like to Be Like Amazon. A lot of things are changing today in the marketplace. Technology is changing and shifting everything we're doing online such as: communication, sales, and marketing. There are some companies that have figured it out and they can actually stand the test of time.
We talk about customer experience and how customer experience is the new differentiator for branding, sales, loyalty, conversions and everything else. What does that mean to you as an entrepreneur, as a sole business owner, as a small company? What does it mean to you when the big brands are putting so much money into customer experience and how can you apply that to your business?
What does Bryan Eisenberg do that is so amazing?
Brian and his brother Jeffrey, figured out that companies have blind spots that costs them between 10 to 30% of their revenue. They figured out a framework that allows them to see these blind spots and actually recover that percentage of revenue and bring it back to the owners. Because it's your money. It's your revenue. You want to know how to grab it.
How did Bryan and Jeffry Eisenberg get involved with Customer Experience?
My brother and I started in sales and marketing consultancy in the early to mid-nineties. That brought us very quickly to the internet. By 1995, I was doing optimization as conversion work for clients. We were doing some SEO stuff as well, but mostly the focus was on, “Okay, we already have so many visitors... What can we do to get them to spend more money and to leave money here?”
Do you remember during the early days of e-commerce, you'd hit an add to cart button and nothing would happen? You'd get to the shopping cart and there was no way to continue shopping. That didn't exist either. Back then it was really simple to optimize things.
By 1998, we started the first conversion rate optimization agency to focus exclusively on using data to customize the experience and to improve it. In 2005, we published our first New York Times Bestseller: Call To Action, the first main book which focused on all the areas of conversion.
By then we realized that conversion rate optimization had its limitations. That’s where we went into this bigger category of customer experience, storytelling and narratives and aligning those to make sure that what you think you're doing internally is aligning with what customers expect when they interact with your brand.
How do you know what your customers like so you can deliver that type of an experience to them?
There are a lot of ways to figure out more about your customer, but I'll give you a simple story. My brother was sitting in the office of a jewelry client in the Bay area and at some point they're talking about how they handle leads when they come in and what the timetable is. They sell very expensive, very high end, watches and jewelry. They tried to get back to everybody within the same day. My brother is letting them go. He didn't want to harp on it at the moment. He gets on his phone during a break and jumps on Amazon Prime, orders a whole bunch of things to be delivered to the office and the package shows up in about 30 minutes.
He comes back to them and he says, “You know, your customers can get all of these things and more delivered to their house in less than 30 minutes to an hour.”
We made a very simple experiment where we had their salespeople start contacting people in less than 30 minutes, and that alone accounted for a huge increase in sales. Then we started tracking how many have responded to in less than five. How many were responded to less than 10 and how many were in less than 30 or greater than 30 minutes. Then they were to look at how the different response times resulted in the different amount of sales they made. No one's expecting you to be able to ship packages as fast as Amazon. They're doing things at a scale that's very hard to compete with, but if you're taking seven to 14 days to ship a package, you're not going to get the sale.
How can you respond that quickly as a sole proprietor or a small business owner?
It's about having systems in place. I think this is the biggest challenge. One of my good friends, he's a chiropractor here locally in town. He was very frustrated with the traditional systems that chiropractors use. He realized that if he was to use the systems they use, he would never succeed.
Building in different expectations and putting in different tools and different systems - that is one of the key revenue blind spots that we see with most organizations. It's what we call systemic growing pains. What worked for you yesterday (when you were a small business) might not work when you get to the next level. You need to find opportunities and have that agility to be able to put in new systems, new procedures, and optimize what you used to do in order to be able to keep up.
How do you make it so that the data stays human and we don’t miss this entire customer experience by just looking at the numbers?
There's a number of things that we do to make sure that happens. The first thing we focus on is making sure that the data the company is tracking is not the business data, such as their sales and their visitors and stuff like that. But have the data also reflect customer reality.
When we asked the jeweler to start tracking things, it wasn't about how many leads were responded to or how many leads came in. It was how many leads were responded to in under half an hour? That reflects their customer reality. When you start looking at customer reality data, it starts humanizing and you start realizing that you're looking at the data that's related to your customers.
What do you think of when you hear the name Amazon? What values do you get from Amazon?
I'll tell you what I think the brand is. I think it's a marketplace. It's a place where I can go and buy stuff. Let's say it's for the lowest amount of money and fastest speed. There is an element of trust because I know if anything goes wrong I can return it and Amazon will have me covered, so I don't risk my money.
Speed is definitely one of them. One of the things they look at is how fast they can get the product to you. Marketplace, and this is what Cheryl said, it's about having the selection. Amazon’s category managers, one of their jobs is to make sure they have somewhere between 5 to 7% of the selection that their competitors have.
Then, of course, you have their price and so they try to be priced competitively with their top five to seven competitors in that category. They can change the price up to 6 million times a day. That’s all done automated today.
Then the third thing that Amazon category managers look at is customer experience. If there's a problem, you know they're going to take care of it. They've consistently scored higher on the American Customer Satisfaction Index than any of their competitors.
When you realize that as an internal person, when they have to worry about the same things that matter to the customer, everything becomes in alignment. They're not battling over each other. If they're looking at conversion rates, or revenue, it's almost in opposition to the customer. That goes up when you help the customer. But when they're in pure alignment, and this is what we find happens in a lot of organizations, there's a disconnect between what the internal story is and what the external story is and what the internal metrics are and what customers actually see. This is one of the reasons why Amazon is such an incredible growth machine.
What does Brian Eisenberg see is the future of the platforms that we're looking at right now in terms of trust and customer experience?
Having customer data is critical to your business success. Everything you do, every interaction you have with your customer needs to be about learning and developing a relationship with your customer. The same way you might do with your significant other or with your children. Every direction you have with them is giving you a new data point.
The problem is when you look at things from a very short-term lens, you end up making poor decisions. It comes down to a lot about the corporate beliefs. I think for example, Walmart is a tremendous company. But if you go back and you look at the tenants of retail that Sam Walton had, and you look at where Walmart is today, I think he'd be ashamed of where his family has made decisions, that has put so many people who work at Walmart and are still on welfare. They used to talk about them being their partners.
I think what we're seeing with some of those tech companies and companies like Google for example, Google, when they went public and Eric Schmidt was there, there was a very big push to “don't be evil”. You saw as soon as he left, and the way they've operated for the last few years, I think they've lost a lot of their direction.
I think Eric Schmidt understood and you hear him during speeches that he's given about the power of technology and where this is going in the future and that trust is the most important thing.
What does Bryan Eisenberg think will be the moment when people are finally fed up with Facebook violating their rights and no longer choose to be on the platform?
Everything seems to happen over a long time. Look how long it took Sears to die. By the time the internet came out in the 90s, it was already a pretty bad store. There are still stores open today. When you have that much cash and Facebook has a ton of it, they find ways to still remain somewhat relevant there. Obviously, people are afraid to disconnect from all the people they have there. I'm on there a fraction of what I used to be. It's sad because it was such a great place to be able to connect with family and friends and stuff like that, and I made friends through social media, but it's just not a platform that is trustworthy with my activity and with my data. So I post very little there because of that.
Eventually they will have enough, because they will lose trust and they will slowly stop interacting on there and go somewhere else where they feel more secure.
How can we stand out and position ourselves as a business where customers feel our values, and that we are as trustworthy as Amazon?
It's not through the use of technology. Technology can help you manage things, but trust is built on a face to face human basis. We're seeing that with companies who get on the phone with you, and who meet you in person. I think we're going to see a swing back to wanting to connect more in person. Trust is built from connecting with people.
I think the reason video is having such an impact… the same way we're seeing with things like TikTok, Instagram stories and Snapchat is because it's live, it's unscripted and it's us. It's a way to connect with people in a different way. Once you take that relationship and start building it there, then nurture it offline, it's incredibly powerful. That's how you build your business.
A business needs to find their own story to connect with people to show what their values are. How does Bryan Eisenberg help them do that?
We spend a lot of time interviewing them and their customers and understanding why their customers want to buy, why they started their business, why it was important to them. We've got some great stories. There's a little stat that I want to share with everybody, which really ties in.
There was a study done by Inc. magazine where they asked the executives, “What percent of your employees can name the company's top three priorities?” What percent do you think the executives said that their employees knew the top three priorities?
The actual number sadly was 2%. The executives believed it was 64%. There's a major disconnect between what we believe is important and what our team thinks is important and what we're communicating is important to our customers. When that narrative is broken, you've got a major misalignment. That's a revenue blind spot in the customer-centricity bucket, and that pillar, is so critical to today's success.
86% of companies don't deliver good customer service. They think they do, but they don't. Then 1% of customers think that they're getting a good experience from their vendors, which means the other 99% is out there for people to grab.
There's a tremendous gap in there, but it all comes back to the same thing. We start the book with the early story about Kodak. Why was Kodak invented? Kodak believed they were in the film business, but it's not the business they were in. That was not the reason they got started. Kodak was invented by the founder in order to capture memories. They forgot that they were in the memory business.
When Kodak went downhill over a period of time, it failed because it was as though they no longer cared about their own clients.
How can the solo entrepreneur other than remaining focused on quality as a key issue, implement some of the values that Bryan has talked about?
I'll start with Matt, the chiropractor because he started with renting someone else's office and grew it to where he opened up his own office. Now he has another associate in there and he's hiring more people. But he started as the main guy. He came to Austin with, I think it was $2,000 in his pocket and now has a thriving practice.
How many of you have been to the doctor where the doctor spends no time listening to you? We all have. Matt is someone who truly cares about his customers. That became a cornerstone of him growing his practice. He used to spend way more time listening to people and every review that was written about him stated, “He listened to figure out what was going on with me.”
We started using that as a big part of his storytelling. We also realized that one of the things that he does more than most of the other chiropractors is he adjusts extremities and he started showing those stories on Instagram and now they do a whole thing about it on YouTube as well. That helped grow his practice.
His whole audience is a lot of trainers, athletes and young people who care about these things and it's growing tremendously.
On the other side, it really depends on the business. Every business has different aspects to it. I had a friend of mine who was selling an ebook in the sports arena and one of the things he did, he did the exact same thing after every single purchase. He called the person who bought the product to connect with them and he now has a better brand than just about everybody else out there, since he got to know these people as humans by spending a few minutes connecting with them. So it's a question about having the systems in order to be able to do this, to find the time, not from doing other things because unfortunately most solopreneurs spend time on things that don't bring any value to their customers or to their business.
Is having a story to tell key to your customer relationship goals for your business?
Absolutely. I promise if you spend a week paying attention to Dr. Matt’s Instagram stories and posts, you'll feel like you know him. And there's similar stories. There's always stories. The problem is we forget to tell people we have a bunch of knowledge about our own business and our own values and why did we get into the business we got into. What problem were we trying to solve? I see this especially as companies grow, so solopreneurs, you have to stay true to yourself. But it's once you start putting in some of the systems of growth, when you start getting managers in, that’s where everything starts breaking apart. It’s important for you to have a plan in place and a way to make sure that things continue to run smoothly.
What does Bryan Eisenberg think of using independent contractors?
Sometimes it's a good thing. Sometimes it's not. If you can find a way to deliver your product consistently, that’s how it should be. If you have different freelancers all the time doing different things, then you're not going to deliver a consistent product and the customer experience will suffer.
What are some of the valuable lessons learned and how do you apply them in your business?
We heard two important messages today: One - customer experience matters a lot and it's one of the values that Amazon is using and it will help you to Be like Amazon, if you really, truly live by your values. And Two - storytelling. There's a reason why you're doing what you're doing... Tell that story, share it with the world. A Great example of this is Dr. Matt, a chiropractor in Austin, it’s amazing that he's growing his business using Instagram.
Use technology to build trust, to get to know people, but then move off of technology and actually meet people face to face or if you can’t meet face to face, pick up the phone. There is a way to humanize the entire experience and really build truly meaningful relationships that will set you apart.
How do you get the customers you love that keep coming back? How do you get them to start sharing and talking about you so that the burden of promoting yourself is not only on your shoulders?
Do something remarkable, be remarkable. The whole concept of word of mouth is about being remarkable, being something that people can remark about. It's always in taking the ordinary and making it extraordinary. So just finding the little details. It could be in the packaging, it could be in all the little things you do to create something that people want to share.
How do we bring all the good stuff back into our businesses?
You can get started with listening to Brian's book: Be like Amazon.
It's written as a story, not as a traditional business book. It's a conversation between two people and learning how to do good and how to apply those principles into your own business in a very short time. Be remarkable. Be like Amazon. Take the values learned here and share them with the world because we need that. We have so many fake things going on, we need real relationships.
Where's the best place to find and connect with Bryan Eisenberg?
Pretty much anywhere. He’s not hard to find. You can connect with him on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. So if you want to engage with him, he's very engaging, really nice and available to connect with you.