How to Build in Experiences That Will Earn Customers’ Raves: Introducing the “Talk Trigger” with Jay Baer

In this special video episode of “The Chief Customer Officer Human Duct Tape Show” podcast, I interview Jay Baer, founder of Convince & Convert, a digital strategy consulting firm that helps prominent companies with customer retention and acquisition, and author of the new book “Talk Triggers: The Complete Guide to Creating Customers With Word of Mouth,” on how to operationalize experiences that creates word-of-mouth marketing for your business.

*This episode is available on iTunes as well.

In this interview, Jay also shares examples from 3 companies (B2C and B2B) who’ve successfully operationalized talk triggers that keep their businesses booming and customers talking. The employment of these triggers means these companies don’t have to rely on paid advertising to grow and reach new customers. In these case studies, Jay explains why “advertising is a tax on the unremarkable.

Customer Experience Creates Conversations When You Do it Differently

HOW TO BUILD IN EXPERIENCES THAT WILL EARN CUSTOMERS’ RAVES: INTRODUCING THE “TALK TRIGGER” WITH JAY BAERJay, who has over 25 years of experience helping some of the world’s most prominent and iconic brands improve their CX and digital marketing strategies, shares with us that yes, customer experience can help you with customer acquisition and retention, but it’s the memorable moments that differentiate one brand from another.

The talk trigger moment that your organization operationalizes is what turns your customers into volunteer marketers; it works when you give them an interesting story to tell. A talk trigger is something you do differently, not say differently. It’s not marketing, it’s not a promotion, it’s not a product, price, coupon, or contest. It’s an operational CX choice that earns conversations.

Operationalize a Talk Trigger Using “the Four Rs”

Your talk trigger needs to be: remarkable, reasonable, relevant, and repeatable.

Jay emphasizes that though there’s a lot of marketing discussion around surprise and delight, this tactic is not a word of mouth strategy, it’s a lottery ticket, and the best way to upset customers is to treat them inequitably. Surprise and delight means that you purposely take one customer in one particular circumstance and you treat them differently in the hopes that they’ll talk about it and it will go viral. Your talk trigger has to be the same experience for everyone.

For example, Jay shares that the Doubletree by Hilton‘s talk trigger is a free warm cookie gifted to all guests during the check-in process. At Skip’s Kitchen, a counter service restaurant in Sacramento, before you pay for your order, the cashier pulls out a deck of cards and asks you to pick one. If you pick the joker, your entire meal is free – even if you’ve ordered for a whole baseball team. Skip’s has been in business for 10 years, with a line to get in almost everyday, and never spent money on advertising.

4 Steps to Creating A Talk Trigger

Jay tells us what not to do when operationalizing a talk trigger — don’t pull together a meeting to brainstorm and come up with one! You need to really understand your customers.

  1. Understand your customers. When Jay works with clients, he starts by documenting the customer journey. He needs to know all of the touch points and inflection points that a brand has with the customer. After understanding the customer journey, he interviews new, long-time, and lost customers and asks them what they expected to happen at each touch point. The difference between what you expect and what you don’t expect is where your talk trigger lives.
    The difference between what you expect and what you don't expect is where your talk trigger lives. - @jaybaer #TalkTriggers #CX #CustomerExperience Share on X
  2. Convene with your “triangle of awesome,” as Jay calls it. This is where marketing, sales, and service meets, with CX professionals sitting in the center space; these are the folks who know what the customer wants. All of these teams come together to research a handful of candidate triggers; these are the things you could potentially do to create a conversation that customers don’t expect. You need to know where you’d initiate this trigger in the customer journey. Jay’s team comes up with nine candidates that are talkable and doable, and presents six to the client.
  3. Test your trigger candidates. You segment your customer base and give them access to your talk trigger. Give yourself a set time to measure results (30, 45 days, etc.) and measure the talkability of the trigger for that test group. For instance, if you’re a consumer-based company, your trigger will often show up in consumer-generated content, reviews, social media, etc.
  4. Measure results. Jay and his team have set-up a survey with questions designed to guide customer responses in a way that determines if the talk trigger left an impression on the customer.

Ultimately, your talk trigger should be operationalized within your organization so it’s deliberately done for the good of the customers and wins their hearts and minds, then earns you their rave and social chatter.

Your talk trigger should be operationalized within your organization so it's deliberately done for the good of the customers and wins their hearts and minds, then earns you their rave and social chatter. #CX #TalkTriggers Share on X

What Do You Know Now That You Wish You Knew Then?

Jay says:

  • Almost all great CX comes from a position that the customer is smart enough to tell the difference. And I didn’t always know that.
  • My background is originally in politics, and I ran political campaigns and there the mantra is quite the opposite. Never overestimate the audience’s ability to pay attention and my time in politics helped me a lot, especially in social because it’s really similar psychology.

Jay and his co-author Daniel Lemin say “Talk Triggers” is satisfaction guaranteed! If you bought this book and didn’t like it, go to and send the authors a note. They will buy you any other book of your liking. You have no reason to not buy this book because you have absolutely zero risk!

About Jay Baer

Jay Baer, CSP, CPAE has spent 25 years in digital marketing and customer experience, consulting for more than 700 companies during that period, including 34 of the FORTUNE 500. His current firm – Convince & Convert – provides word of mouth, digital marketing, and customer experience advice and counsel to some of the world’s most important brands.

His new book, Talk Triggers, is the complete guide to creating customers using strategic, operational differentiators that compel word of mouth. In the best companies, the customers do the marketing. Talk Triggers is the instruction manual for making businesses grow with customer conversation.

The presenting sponsor of The Chief Customer Officer Human Duct Tape Show is Customerville. Customerville transforms customer experience surveys into rich, interactive experiences using its unique Design-driven Feedback™ platform.

This partnership ensures that I can continue these shows that you’ve shared such positive feedback on.  Thanks so much to Customervillle! Enjoy the show!

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