The Customer Experience Podcast
The Customer Experience Podcast

Episode · 3 months ago

163. Restoring the Balance: Human-Centered Communication w/Ethan Beute

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

A “paradigm shift” is a fundamental change in approach or assumptions. Modern communication is in the midst of one — a change from digital pollution to human-centered communication. 

I’m Ethan Beute, Chief Evangelist at BombBomb, host of The Customer Experience Podcast, and co-host of the CX Series on the B2B Growth Show. I co-wrote a book about this communication shift with my longtime friend and colleague Steve Pacinelli, CMO at BombBomb, called Human-Centered Communication. 

(P.S. It is publishing today! Find it here.)  

In this episode, I discuss:

  • What the implications of a mass mindset are
  • How Steve and I wrote our book around the insights of 11 experts
  • How to restore the balance of digital and human in communication
  • What human-centered communication means for organizations
  • Why you should read our book 

Subscribe, listen, and rate/review the Customer Experience Podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Play or Google Podcasts, and find more episodes on our blog. 

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The shift, ultimately, is fromdigital pollution to human centered communication. It's a shift from unwelcome digital distractions tothoughtful digital experiences. The single most important thing you can do today is tocreate and deliver a better experience for your customers. Learn how sales, marketingand customer success experts create internal alignment, achieved desired outcomes and exceed customer expectationsin a personal and human way. This is the customer experience podcast. Here'syour host, Ethan Butte. About two hundred years ago we experience the onsetof the industrial revolution. About one hundred years ago we experience the implementation ofHenry Ford's Assembly line. Uniformity, homogeneity, interchangeability, interchangeable parts, interchangeable people, interchangeable products, a high degree of efficiency, mass markets, massproduction, mass media, mass mindsets. And while one hundred years ago andtwo hundred years ago may seem like a long time, we're still wrestling withthe implications of the mass mindset in the way that we approach our work today, in the way that we approach our communication today, in the way thatwe go to market today, in the way that we see and treat peopletoday. Today is Tuesday, October twelve, twenty twenty one. Not only isit the release day of this podcast episode, it's the release day ofthe second book that I've coauthored with my longtime friend and my longtime team member, bombomb chief marketing officer, Steve Passanelli. You may know Steve for having hostedthe past several episodes over the course of the summer here on the customerexperience podcast with me. The book is titled Human Centered Communication, a businesscase against digital pollution. It comes to you from Fast Company press. Ofcourse, you can order it right now at Amazon or wherever you buy books. You just search human centered communication,...

...or you can learn more about itand get links to order it by visiting Bombombcomlash Book. And if you doit here in the next couple of days, you can still claim some of thepreorder bonuses that come with your order of the book. In this shortepisode I want to share with you the broader shift and the broader trend thatmakes this a timely and relevant message today. And before I get into that shift, I just want to share with you a little bit of insight asto how this was assembled. Of course, Steve and I write about digital pollution. What it is why it matters. We write about human centered communication andits roots and human centered design and design thinking, but we also engagednearly a dozen experts in sales, in marketing and emotional intelligence, in leadershipand management and a variety of other disciplines. Those people have guessed it on thepodcast over the past several weeks, the past couple of months, soyou can get to know them better. But what I want to share aboutthat is that, prior to interviewing each of these people for the book,Steve and I read their blog posts, we read their books, we watchtheir youtube channels, we listen to their podcasts, we scan their social feeds. We knew several of these people very well. Some of them we onlyknew of and we're lucky to be in conversation with them for the purposes ofthis book. And the way we started all of those interviews, some ofwhich were over two hours long, and certainly all of them involved pre interviewand Post interview conversation, back and forth, refinement, clarity, understanding, addition, etc. We started each interview the same way. What is yourguiding business or sales philosophy? What rolled is human connection and human relationships?Play in that philosophy. And third, how does video help you build humanconnection and human relationship in this context? The fact of the matter is we'regoing to be spending more time in the future and digital, virtual and onlinespaces, not less, that these spaces...

...are increasingly noisy and polluted and willget noisier and more polluted as we go forward. As a consequence, attentionis harder and more expensive to get. We need to value it more highly. Trust becomes more difficult to build and as a consequence, so does engagement, and trust is increasingly fragile given these dynamics. So we asked all ofthese people about these dynamics. So it's filled with their philosophy, their Strangrategy and the tactics that they use every day to connect and communicate more effectivelyin the face of ever increasing digital noise and pollution. And you may havealready identified the connection between the industrial revolution and environmental pollution and these trends andthe rise of digital pollution. Environmental pollution draws down our natural capital, digitalpollution draws down our social capital. Again, think trust as the key component there. Trust is the grease in the glue. Trust makes good things gomuch quicker and it makes good things stick, good people, good situations, goodrelationships, etc. So, as I move now into this broader shiftin trend that makes human center communication so timely, I just want to addressthe fact that some of these ideas may seem provocative, but there's nothing radicalabout them. It's more of a restoration. It's a rebalancing of how we approachour work as sales people and marketers, customer service and customer success professionals,leaders, managers and any of the other roles that we might find ourselvesin. This shift is a rebalancing of efficiency and effectiveness, not just biasingtoward efficiency and scale, but really considering again what is effective, what actuallyworks, how can we be more effective? This shift is from the industrial tothe personal, from mass markets through segments down to markets of one.A couple more truths here. We all know that the buyers journey is nonlinearand to say that is a gross understatement. So we're meeting people at different pointsalong the journey. Why would we...

...assume that we can set up someassembly line and just get people on and move them through right? And ifyou're a listener to this podcast, your approach probably isn't that crude, butthere's still an element of it in so many businesses today. In addition commoditization, it's in most markets today. For about the same cost you can getabout the same value. And so how do we differentiate? Certainly taking ahuman centered approach to our communication will help. Another truth. Customers have more controland a stronger voice than ever before. So when we high five each otherfor increasing conversion from two point four percent to three percent, we're justlike high fiving over the twenty five percent lift. Congratulations, we're not payingany attention to the ninety seven percent failure rate. What's going on out there? Are we killing our own addressable market? Are we generating negative word of mouth? Customers with more control and a stronger voice will make that problem amuch more interesting problem in the years to come. A final truth here.Customer experience is the differentiator and its essence is how we make people feel,the emotional resonance that we leave people with every time they interact with us orone of our people, or a digital touch point or a physical or analogtouch point, when they interact with our product or our service. All ofthese leave some form of emotional resonance and this feeling is a foundation for thoughtand a foundation for action. It's also a foundation for memory. So todouble back, what do customers talk about? Who to customers talk about? Thepeople that leave an emotional impression? That could be positive or it couldbe negative. So we need to keep that in mind. So this restoration, this shift here a few other themes and a few other ways to sayit. We need to move from treating people as numbers to people as people. Now it sounds obvious, it sounds intuitive, it might even sound trite, and yet in so many organizations we don't behave that way. We setup systems and processes and roles that dehumanize...

...our team members or that have ourteam members to humanize our customers. Treating people as people and making them feelthat way is a rehumanizing effort. We're moving from personas to people. Congratulationsto all of us. Were generally not approaching the market as a mass market. We're approaching it in a segmented way with ICPAS and personas, but thebest companies are treating that as the start of the process and use a blendof humans and machines to treat people as individual people. This is a shiftfrom homogeneity to diversity, from generic to specific, from mass markets to segmentsto markets of one. One of the themes that comes up a couple oftimes in the book is the Golden Rule, right treat others as you prefer tobe treated. Basically, every religion and philosophical system has some version ofthis rule in place, and it's great if more of US operated from thegold and rule throughout our day. It would be a better world to liveand work in. But what we should aspire to is the platinum rule,to treat each person as she or he prefers to be treated. This goesdown to the individual. Another shift from selling to helping. This came upso many times in the book. I'm thinking specifically of Dan Tire, who'sthe sixth employee and first salesperson at hub spot, as well as Mario MartinezJunior, the founder and CEO of Engresso. They both spoke at length and veryexplicitly about sales as the art of helping. Dance has always be.Closing is dead. Instead, it should be always be helping. The entireEmmo at Van Gresso is to treat sales as the art of helping, andwhen you think about that, it involves a shift. We're going to thinkabout the other person and how we can help them rather than approaching it aswhat can we sell them? Again, it seems intuitive, it seems likereally nice language and it becomes much more interesting and challenging to do not justdaytoday in our work, but to do...

...it day to day in our workas our organization scales. So we're shifting from people as numbers to people aspeople. Were shifting from personas to individual people. We're shifting from selling tohelping. Here's another one. We're shifting from focusing on the revenue goal tofocusing on the impact goal. Jacko Vanderkoi, founder of winning by design, reallyhits this one home in chapter three of the book. And this oneseems like it requires a leap of faith, even though it shouldn't. If wemake customer impact and customer value the goal, then the revenue will follow. And all of us are in recurring revenue businesses. Of course, adirect subscription model is one that more and more companies are adopting. But evenshort of a subscription model, we rely on repeat business, expanded business,referral business, so we should all seek to create recurring impact first, knowingthat when we do that, that's the foundation for recurring revenue. Recurring revenueis the outcome, it's a positive consequence and, of course, it's theprimary reason we undertake customer impact in the first place. The problem is ifwe lead with revenue as the primary goal, then we're chasing the number and wewind up dehumanizing people in the process. It can work, but I'm airquoting here because that two point four to three percent conversion example I offereddoesn't account for the ninety seven percent. What looks like it's working may notactually be working. We might possibly be doing more harm than good, butthe good is easy to see and measure and the harm is very difficult tosee and difficult to measure. So we're shifting our primary focus from revenue toimpact, knowing that revenue will come and come again and be retained and expandedand referred as a result of delivering that impact. Another one shifting from automaticto intentional. So often we approach our...

...work in an automated way. Wehave our to do list. Some of the tasks are repetitive. We're focusedon banging out the tasks and reaching the activity goal, or we have awhole bunch of things in front of us. We need to reply to a bunchof emails, and so what do I need to say? What doI need to say? And I just type it out and I say itand not enough intentional thought or care. What's in it for the other person? Why would someone pick up the phone? Why should someone play this video?Why would someone reply to this email? What's in it for the other person? Just a small degree of intentionality can dramatically improve our results. Thenext shift is one that's been going on for some time now, when weall know that it's true, the shift from the corporate voice to the humanvoice. What do people prefer to hear? What do people believe as real?Do I believe the television ad where a corporate voice is telling me something, or do I believe my three friends who say this product or service isawesome or terrible or absolutely worth it or not worth it at any price?We believe more in the human voice. We connect more to the human voice. It's not as stilted, it's not as contrived, it's not as selfmotivated. It sounds like real people because it is real people. So howdo we inject that into more of our work every day? Yes, wemay need marketing to provide us some useful language, but is that language beinglived in a stilted corporate voice or is it coming into more of a naturalhuman voice? Does it sound like something you would say? If it's goingto be in your voice mail or it's going to be in your email orit's going to be in your video, it sure ought to sound a lotlike something you would say, and about the way that you would say it. Ideal you'd even have the creative freedom to make sure that it does.And if it's your responsibility to manage those people in processes, you might thinkabout giving people the creative freedom to do that. And if any of thisstarts to sound like moralizing, do know that you can undertake these efforts andmake these shifts on moral grounds alone.

It's just the right thing to do. But, more importantly, as we move forward, this is the mosteffective thing we can do if we want access to people, if we wantthem to trust us and engage with us, if we want to build a reputationwith people and with the machines that increasingly control what they see and hearand have available to interact with. Then we need to shift more toward whatpeople need and want. The shift, ultimately, is from digital pollution tohuman centered communication. It's a shift from unwelcome digital distractions to thoughtful digital experiencesso that people say things like I love hearing from your name or your companyname, or your name or your company name is always so helpful. Whenwe can start a fly wheel like that, attention becomes much easier and less expectpensive to get. Trust grows and grows. Engagement is a natural consequencethat no one needs to think twice about. In this is where relationships, reputationand revenue are built. If you want to meet those eleven people thatI mentioned, feel free to visit bombombcom book or go to Bombombcom podcast.When you go to bombombcom slash podcast, you'll see a post for every singleepisode. In it I include video clips, a short write up and links tothe people and things that come up during those conversations. In the postfor this episode I'll embed a video where I give this presentation a little bitmore formally, with some stories and some examples, a call back to howcommerce was done just a few centuries ago, truly sensational sites, sounds, smells, human voices, a high degree of transparency and authenticity, and abilityto compare products and services and ability to interact with the people behind the productor the service. Again, that's at Bombombcom podcast. My name is Ethanbut co, author of Human Centered Communication,...

...a business case against digital pollution.I welcome your direct feedback. Hit me up on Linkedin. My lastname is spelled bee ute. That's Ethan Butte, or you can email medirectly, Ethan etch an at bombombcom. I would be happy to hear fromyou. I welcome your thoughts, your feedback, your questions, your objections. My goal here is to slowly shift business culture in the direction that it'salready moving, toward better relationships, towards stronger reputations and toward more revenue.I appreciate you listening. I hope you've enjoyed these ideas. I do hopeyou order the book and let me know you did so I'd be happy tosend you the bonus material. Have a great rest of the month, havea great rest of the quarter, have a great rest of the year,and thanks again for listening to the customer experience podcast. Clear Communication, humanconnection, higher conversion. These are just some of the benefits of adding videoto the messages you're sending every day. It's easy to do with just alittle guidance, so pick up the official book rehumanize Your Business. How personalvideos accelerate sales and improve customer experience. Learn more in order today at BombombcomBook. That's bomb bombcom book. Thanks for listening to the customer experience podcast. Remember the single most important thing you can do today is to create anddeliver a better experience for your customers. Continue Learning the latest strategies and tacticsby subscribing right now in your favorite podcast player, or visit Bombombcom podcast.

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