Welcome to Experience TV, a LIVE show on social channels about the economic revolution we’re living through, the Experience Economy, where brands compete on the quality of their customer experiences.
Episode 7 looked at the state of small businesses, how some are pivoting to accommodate COVID restrictions and consumer behavior, and how customer experience (CX) expert Jay Baer recommends driving growth in a time of yurt dining. Watch below, and read on for a full recap.
Is deepfake video in your future?
Now, it could be part of your CX strategy.
Newer deepfake technology uses AI to create videos showing people saying or doing things they never said or did. They are highly convincing and can look just like the real thing.
Today, some organizations explore this technology’s use across the customer experience, mimicking the 1-to-1 personalized videos that sales teams may record for prospects or which customer success teams may create for users.
Instead of filming individual videos, deepfake technology allows the recipient’s name to be customized automatically in the speaker’s voice.
I asked my social followers what they thought about this new technology. Most responses focused on the inauthenticity of these auto-generated videos. Others saw no difference between this and modern marketing tools like marketing automation, which have given us the power to personalize messages for years.
Michael Levy, principal of market research firm GZ Consulting, called this “very dangerous technology,” as it puts into question objective reality. “Instead of videos being a harbinger of authenticity,” he said, “and an indicator that the rep has invested time in creating a short video, they would become emblems of deception.”
He also advises that we look at the long-term implications, predicting that deceptive practices may reduce Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC) but cause Lifetime Value (LTV) to plummet if the deception is discovered.
In my opinion, it was only a matter of time before we’d see technology like this. As for the sales process, I think it will trick many recipients into responding, providing efficiency to firms who use it.
But, given the dire state of trust between businesses and consumers, this may not be a helpful way to re-establish that relationship. If you try it, would you reach out on LinkedIn and let me know how it goes?
Quote of the week
“The hardest part as an owner was the decision to close. I didn’t know if I was doing the right thing. I still don’t know if we did the right thing. But I just couldn’t keep on.”
– Jayme Valdez, co-owner of The Kitchen Cafe to WBUR
The Kitchen Cafe in Boston’s financial district was a favored breakfast and lunch spot for myself and many colleagues in the area. Like many business owners, Valdez and his co-owner made the difficult choice to close their doors and cut losses due to the pandemic’s impact.
His experience illustrates a much broader trend—the troubling state of small business due to COVID-19.
Small businesses face enormous challenges
Small businesses constitute more than 99% of US businesses and employ 60 million people. Yet, troubling data from Yelp finds that nearly 100,000 establishments that temporarily shut down due to the pandemic are now out of business (like The Kitchen Cafe).
Further research from McKinsey shows that a third of small businesses were operating at a loss or just breaking even before the pandemic crisis began.
That number is more significant for restaurants, 40% of which operate at a loss or just break even. For them, changing expectations due to COVID come with a financial cost on already slim operating margins.
These organizations find themselves uniquely vulnerable to the COVID-19 pandemic while playing a critical role in the US economy.
Despite the dire state of many restaurants and small businesses, some are adapting and demonstrating remarkable resilience.
Experience of the week: Yurt, party of two?
To adapt to COVID-cautious consumers’ needs, some restaurants have gotten wildly creative in ensuring an outdoor dining experience that’s safe and memorable.
1. You can get a great view of the Boston harbor and skyline in your own igloo at the Envoy Hotel’s Lookout Rooftop restaurant.
2. Perhaps your apres ski is better enjoyed in an “alpenglobe.”
3. Some are turning to a comfortable Yurt Village dining experience featuring portable, round tents.
4. In Manhattan, the restaurant Marea is now a cozy outdoor spot with fuzzy blankets and plenty of heaters.
These inventive experiences beg the question: What’s the appropriate attire for dining in a yurt?
You could consider a wearable sleeping bag:
A recent article, “Dressing for Dinner When Dinner Is in a Frigid Curbside Yurt,” described these outfits as “wearable bedrolls, which make you feel like a boil-in-bag vegetable.” They have armholes and hoods to help you weather the cold no matter where you decide to eat dinner.
As restaurant-goers and business owners alike find new ways to adapt, I had the opportunity to interview a leading expert in transformation.
Jay Baer’s advice on driving growth in 2021
Jay Baer is a marketing and customer experience expert advising some of the world’s most iconic brands. He’s a six-time author of titles such as Talk Triggers, Hug Your Haters, and Youtility, a Hall of Fame speaker and host, the founder of the consultancy Convince & Convert, and the best-dressed man in the business.
Here’s what Jay recommends for businesses in 2021:
- Don’t shy away from new technology like deepfake. Jay has done many asynchronous videos for campaigns, such as book launches, and sees great value in personalized video, even if it uses AI.
- Create experiences that generate word-of-mouth buzz and differentiate your brand. Jay calls these “talk triggers.” For example, meeting planners who book Jay Baer to speak can choose which suit he wears on stage. With options like “knockout navy and red plaid” and “outstanding orange and purple plaid,” Jay gives the client ownership through an unforgettable experience.
- Recognize that COVID-19 has changed customer expectations, and in many ways, could enhance the CX of your business even post-pandemic. Jay shared these table talkers from a local brewery that minimize unnecessary contact from waitstaff as a great example of meeting guest expectations now and in the future.
- Customers have a wandering eye. They’re looking at you and your competition in a way that they hadn’t previously. What will differentiate the winners and losers isn’t the price but the experience.
- For small businesses to shorten the time-to-recovery, focus on reviews, as consumers are doing their research during the pandemic. According to Podium research, 71% of consumers say reviews matter more to them now than at any time in their lives.
- Word-of-mouth marketing should also be a priority for business leaders. Allow your customers’ experience to create conversations like “you can’t believe how clean it was” or “you won’t believe how safe I felt.” Execute the experience well and provide your customers with a story to tell each other.
Jay imparted this final bit of advice for us as we navigate 2021:
“People spend a lot of brain cycles thinking about the next normal, or what’s going to happen after this is all over. Let’s deal with this right now. Focus on the customer experience and focus on word of mouth. Those are two things you can do right now.”