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Author Steven Van Belleghem on The Future of Customer Experience: The ROI Online Podcast Ep. 77

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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.

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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.

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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 relationships
  • Some of the things that help us create an experience that sparks emotion in our customers
  • Why showing your personality as a business owner is viewed as a weakness—but it’s actually a competitive advantage
  • Things you can do as an organization to add more value to your audience
  • How sharing your knowledge and research as a company helps build trust with your clients
  • How 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 business
  • Future trends coming in the digital world for businesses


Listen on your favorite podcast network:

Also available wherever else you get your podcasts.

You can learn more about Steven here:

https://www.stevenvanbelleghem.com/

Follow Steven on LinkedIn 

Read the books mentioned in this podcast:

The Golden Toilet by Steve Brown

The Offer You Can’t Refuse by Steven Van Belleghem

Eternal by Steven Van Belleghem

Customers the day after tomorrow by Steven Van Belleghem

When digital becomes human by Steven Van Belleghem

The Conversation Company by Steven Van Belleghem

The Conversation Manager by Steven Van Belleghem


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Topics: Marketing, Podcasts

Steven Van Belleghem: 

I think that 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 Instagram. And, you know, it doesn't always reflect in business for me. But at a certain moment, 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.

Steve Brown: 

Hi, everybody. Welcome to the ROI Online Podcast where we believe you, the courageous entrepreneurs of our day, are the invisible heroes of our economy. You not only improve our world with your ideas, your grit and your passion, but you make our world better. I'm Steve Brown. And this is a place where we have great conversations with winners just like you while we laugh and learn together. Steven Van Belleghem, welcome to the ROI Online Podcast.

Steven Van Belleghem: 

Thanks, Steve. Thanks for having me. It's pleasure to be here.

Steve Brown: 

I'm excited to have you here. You know, you're a customer experience expert, you do TED Talks, lots of keynotes. You're an author, your most recent book, The Offer You Can't Refuse, another one that seemed like really one I should read, When Digital Becomes Human, you got a couple, a handful of others. We'll cover those maybe later on. But here's the problem, the folks that listen to this podcast, they're entrepreneurs, they're small business owners, they're business leaders and marketing directors. But they're 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 to build relationships, and we interact with actual physical humans. But the other domain that we have to figure out and 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 better human in the digital world. And where does that come from? Why did you get excited about that? Why did you start writing about it?

Steven Van Belleghem: 

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 a 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. I mean, there's this old economic law that talks about scarcity, right? When something becomes scarce, it actually increases in value, that's how the law of scarcity works. Well, the human part has never been scarcer in a business relationship, 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's the difference between the man and the machine, and the machine is really good in the efficiency part, in 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, Steve, 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 strengths of digital interfaces combined with the strength of human interfaces.

Steve Brown: 

Yeah, you know, when I think about how our brains were designed a long time ago, we still have brain 1.0. right? And we're not on like iPhone, you know, 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 perusing your website or reading your email or experiencing your social media and all. What are some of the things that helps us create an experience that creates an emotion in folks that makes them feel safe and understood? Give us some insights on how to approach that from a very fundamental perspective.

Steven Van Belleghem: 

Yeah, very good point that 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, you know, show some interest. There are two ways how you can answer that email. And it's, in both scenarios, it's a human who's doing the job, right, we're still all of us, we're 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, you know, 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 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 do that in an email, the choice of words, the level of excitement, will define that. Same with social media, 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 podcasts, doesn't matter which channel it is, the challenge is 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 a 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 the only one who puts that barrier there is often the entrepreneur himself.

Steve Brown: 

Yes. And it comes from a stance of insecurity because you're like going, you look at others doing it. And that conveys that there's an expectation that you should be doing it. But your default perspective is you have to copy and be just like them. But if you think about, you know, while you're talking, I'm thinking about this guy that my dad hired to put this bumper on our Jeep when I was a kid. And I still remember his name. But he just had a personality. And so I was thinking, Why did my dad pick him? Because you related with him, he enjoyed his humor, and that guy did a good job. And that's still in play, even online. But we're scared to do it.

Steven Van Belleghem: 

Yeah, I fully agree. And, you know, if you look to the successful entrepreneurs online or the successful businesses, it's very often that exact thing that they're doing, so and if you're boring and artificial, then you do not get a lot of traction. And then sometimes you think, Oh, this doesn't work for my audience and to be honest, Steve, I hate that as an excuse. People that tell me Oh, my audience isn't ready for it, or my customers are not into digital channels. That's nonsense, I mean, everyone is into digital channels, if you don't get any traction, don't blame the customer. Just do some research on your own and on your own behavior, because very often, you are the cause of the problem and not the customer.

Steve Brown: 

Yeah, when you think about, so you're trying to differentiate yourself. Everything can be commoditized. And so let's say that you're in an industry, that's a 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 commoditized yourself. And there's a great example that you talk about in the shipping container industry. I was really interested in immersive example. Yeah. Would you tell us a little bit about this?

Steven Van Belleghem: 

Yeah, I love that example. Because, you know, you get the questions as well I assume, like, We're in b2b, we're 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 Maersk, 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. I mean, they're all over the place. They have likes, like, they're like beyond see 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 sea, 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 you know, giving scientists, weather scientists, all the information they need, they are a part of that network, they tell stories like that, they have beautiful videos, beautiful photos of their ships, 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, it all kind of storylines on a container ship, I think if you put some scenario riders together, you can have an awesome, you know, show that is being broadcasted on Netflix. And that's exactly what Maersk 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 a 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? 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, what are like the questions that people always ask me over and over and over again, during a sales process, or when they've become customers? And lists 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 two effects will happen. On the one hand, people will see that content and say, hey, that's a question I actually had and they will dive into it and 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 tend to call this the mother duck effect, than 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 going to talk to them because their best placed to help me out. And, you know, some organizations challenge me on that and say, Yeah, but if I put all my knowledge online, you know, won't my competitor steal it? Or 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, if you don't show your expertise online, people will think that you don't have that expertise. So you're like, ruining your image upfront. And it's like, if you think about the the movie, the music industry, think about the concerts that are sold out really quickly. Those are the concerts that people, you know, of the groups or 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.

Steve Brown: 

Yeah, so what you're talking about is that people have to buy you before they buy what you do. That's not my quote, I heard it somewhere so I don't know who to give credit for on that. But when you're talking about being more human in a digital world, that's what you're doing, you're presenting your unique perspective, your unique insight in your personality, in people are buying new first, before they buy what you do, or, yeah, before they buy what you do. But, but imagine what's going through the entrepreneurs mind or the business owner is, so you're telling me, I got to get a camera? And now instead of fixing plumbing, I need to become like a video producer? Is that what you're asking me to do, Steven?

Steven Van Belleghem: 

I'm asking you to bring out content online. And it's important that you find the, let's say the channel or the approach that is in line with what you feel okay with. And if you prefer to write things, then it's perfectly fine to write things and not everyone has to be a movie star, or has to be in video, some people just don't like that. And some people are not good at it, even it would hurt their, their brand. So you have to be really conscious about that and I think everyone has an approach that will be in line with their talents with with their resources, writing, pictures, videos, just looking at what works best for you, and then go for that. And, you know, if you don't have the capabilities to do that on your own, I'm sure there is someone in your team, if you have like 10 or 15 people working in your organization, there's a big chance that one or two of them are just into these things and would find it fantastic if you invite them to help them out or to share their ideas and to help you with your online content. And I wouldn't be surprised if you wouldn't find someone in the team that is actually really excited about this. So you don't have to do everything by yourself.

Steve Brown: 

I agree. So 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 there, the channel's called Amazan, 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 you don't even see the face of the guy. But he's cooking and they're putting the ingredients and you're getting the here at cook, they do it outside, there's a creek flowing by 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 want to 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 buy 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 and someone being creative and doing what they're good at.

Steven Van Belleghem: 

Yep. 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 amateur chef, you you enjoy that and you think hey, this is cool, I want to have it. And I think that 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 Instagram and, you know, it doesn't always reflect in business for me. But at a certain moment, 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 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 their business, and they never talked to me, I'm perfectly fine with that. 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 that 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 a one on one effect on 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 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 gonna happen, we're going to put stuff out there, and now I'm going to see a peak in my revenues, that's, of course not the case. It's like going to the gym, in my opinion that when you go to the gym, after four weeks, you're been working out like crazy sweating like crazy and now 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 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 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, and you just told me, this is podcast number 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 built your audience over time and that's something that an entrepreneur also has to do.

Steve Brown: 

Hey, I wanted to pause right here and tell you about a book that you need to get today. It's the funniest book on marketing. It's called The Golden Toilet, stop flushing your marketing budget into your website and build a system that grows your business. And guess who wrote it? That's right, I wrote it. And I wrote it just for you because I want to help you get past the last hurdles of setting up your business and getting it squared away. I wrote it so that you can avoid time, wasting time, wasting money, wasting frustration, get the book on Audible, you can get it on Kindle, you can get it on Amazon, but get the book, take advantage of the insights in there and let me know what you think. And now back to this excellent episode. Yeah, when you think about the time that it took you to start your business, you start your business, you're a little reticent, you're obviously not necessarily an expert, at least in what you're doing. And it takes you time to figure it out. So you make mistakes, you deliver bad customer service, but you get better at it over time. And then one day you wake up and you go, you know, we need to do, the status quo has changed, my customers, and my prospects expect me to be online and evaluate me. So now I have to embrace getting into that environment and I feel the same as I did when I started my business. And the thing that's really intimidating as all this technology, I don't know what technology to use. They're talking about artificial intelligence and machine learning and all these things. And what I like about what you're doing is, you're helping us see technology is just pure a plumber, that truck, all those tools, you invested in equipment, and tools that help you do your job better. And all that this software is or technology, is just a tool but still it's helping you be the human and connect and serve other humans. The thing that artificial intelligence does, or the machine learning is that helps take care of all the minutia, that as a human you don't have the bandwidth to do to work on all the details to answer all the emails to follow up on all the little maybes, that software helps you sift through all that. 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 conversation before we actually have a one to one conversation.

Steven Van Belleghem: 

Yeah, well, it's, I think the opportunities to reach out to customers in an efficient way have never been higher than today. If, you know, I like to turn the question around and not start with the technology part but ask yourself this, and this goes for every business, every business owner that is listening, ask yourself what is the scarcest resource that your customers have? 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 out time, and you can help them to enhance their time, to make it more relevant. 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 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 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 worth 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 other customers, where you do a live q&a, imagine that you are an expert 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 maybe it's something very negative about this new technology, and people are starting 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 going to explain everything, just give me your questions, we're gonna do live q&a, I'm gonna give you all the information there is. And then you will have an objective view from the expert. I mean, the investment for you, as a small business owner is close to zero, you have to invest an hour to perform and maybe, a couple of hours to invite people. But 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 it 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.

Steve Brown: 

You're listening to Steven Van Belleghem. He's the author of, The Offer You Can't Refuse. And we're talking about how to connect more as humans in a digital world. And so Steven, you're talking about an interesting thing I've been studying about, what you just described was community, creating a community around the expertise, the unique insights that you have. And I've always heard the word community, but actually, there are platforms that you can create your own community, where you're starting to deliver the kind of insights that you're describing, and what's happening in that, when you're answering all the questions you're taking someone from an area of maybe vague understanding of something they've been considering them, and you're transforming them and empowering them with insights, with information that helps them make better decisions, and then endears them to you. And I think it's really cool. So you know, people talk about face groups, but there are actual community platforms that you're able to start to deliver that experience that feels very human. What are some of the future things that you see coming down the pike for things like that, as far as a brand might consider?

Steven Van Belleghem: 

Yeah, well, I think as a brand, it's going to be important to have this mix of, let's say, transactional loyalty, and emotional loyalty. And transactional loyalty is often the result of convenience. It's very convenient to buy stuff from you so I'm going to keep on going and I'm not wasting any time, that's the transactional part. The emotional loyalty is more complex. And it's, I think that most companies have under invested in that, they've been focusing on optimizing transactions, not on optimizing emotions and that's where the value is. Now, and this is something that I discuss in my book, The Offer You Can't Refuse, how can you become a partner in life of your customers? How can you add value in their day to day life without being intrusive? I'm not talking about being around all the time trying to sell them stuff, no, I'm talking about, do you have the quality of understanding the human behind the customer? Because every human has like a movie of their life, in their mind, right? About things that they hope will happen, things they hope will not happen, dreams, fears, ambitions. And if you understand the human behind the customer, you can start to bring value. And you can start to bring people together and build a community of people that can help each other out. And you know, if you succeed in that, and if you can be like the organizer of that network, at that moment, you bring a tremendous amount of value that goes beyond just the transactional efficiency and the transactional convenience, then you're talking about an emotional relationship. And if you succeed in that, at that moment, people are like, let's say, emotionally locked into your business, and the chance that they will leave you for someone else that may have a sales promotion, or something like that, or a cheaper price, that chance has been decreased tremendously. And I think investing in that emotional relationship is something that we're going to see happening in the next couple of years, by many companies, because the truth is, convenience has become some sort of a commodity. If you have it, people think it's the most normal thing in the world. If you don't have it, you're in trouble. So the functional relationship is something that many organizations have done really well in the last couple of years. So now we're going to see the shift towards that emotional relationship, where you need to add value to the life of the customer, and not just in the business relationship.

Steve Brown: 

That emotional transaction, that's where you feel safe and you feel understood. And I was just thinking, and I call it like, the cheers principle, do you remember that show Cheers? And every time Norm came in, the whole bar stopped and would say, Norm! Right? And I didn't really get it until one time, I had to spend a lot of time in another city. And I had a budget to go out to eat. And I found myself going to the same restaurant night after night, in that other city, because when I went in, there was this emotional transaction, they would say, Hi, Steve, they set me down, they kind of knew my preferences. And I felt safe and understood. But if I went to another restaurant, I felt more alone and more by myself, a little more awkward. And I think what you're illustrating there is super powerful.

Steven Van Belleghem: 

Yeah. And, you know, I like that example that you mentioned, it's being recognized as a customer, and in my opinion, one of the very valuable elements where artificial intelligence will add value is by providing the humans in the relationship with more accurate data about the customer, I call that intelligence augmented, how can we augment the intelligence of our teams, it's like going to a hotel. Before COVID, I had the pleasure of traveling around the world to give keynote presentations to people in different countries. And very often, I want like, 10 times a year to let's say, Oslo in Norway, and you have this conference hotel so you often come to the same place. Right? And then you walk in, and very often the first question that they ask you during check in is, oh, sir, good to see you. Is this your first time that you're staying with us? And I'm like, no, it's my 10th time. I don't say that, because I don't want to embarrass them and I want to be a nice person I like to be liked. But in the back of my mind is like, Come on, guys, you should know this, I was here two weeks ago. And you cannot blame that person. Right? Because that may be their first night or, I don't remember faces either so you cannot expect them to do that. But you can be very angry at that hotel chain, that they don't bring in the right data so that they could say, oh, Steven, good to have you back. And we know your favorite drink is my friend and it's waiting for you at the bar, I just gave a ring to my friend, the bartender and they're expecting to see you really, really soon. I mean, that's what you like to hear. You don't want to hear Is this your first time here? If you stayed somewhere for 10 times, and humans by himself cannot do it. So we're gonna need supportive technology to make that happen.

Steve Brown: 

Yeah, I think about why that upsets us, when we go in and we see that stupid little thing that's frustrating. But where's that coming from?

Steven Van Belleghem: 

I think it's the fact that if you give your business to a certain organization, you don't just expect them to perform and execute on that specific business side, but we like to be recognized by the business, we like to be recognized for our loyalty, we consider ourselves as a loyal client. That's the perception that we have, that's our self image, I'm a loyal client to this organization. And if they don't respond to that in an appropriate way, then that's like a disappointment in the relationship. And I think that's a very important one to understand, as a business owner, recognize your customer and they will love you for it.

Steve Brown: 

Yeah, is like, I put some effort in this relationship. I'm coming back as a loyal customer. And you're totally missing that fact and I feel like, you don't appreciate it. You're not thinking that out loud, necessarily. But that's what it feels like they don't appreciate my loyalty, I thought we were in this together.

Steven Van Belleghem: 

Yeah, yeah, it's like, I still remember I went to, I have this company called Next Works, where we organize inspiration tours around the world. So I've taken many European executives to San Francisco. And we always, in the first years, we always stayed in the same hotel. So I was there, like four or five times a year. And in the bar, they had a great ros champagne, one of my favorite brands, so we always had that me and my business partner, we always have two glasses of that champagne. And then we didn't go there for a year, and we went back and there was still the same lady in the bar that was serving drinks. And she said, Oh, you guys are the Ruinar guys! Can I give you two glasses? And we were like, of course, you can give two glasses. And you can imagine what happened when we had to give a tip we were just so happy, like two little boys that were recognized by a waiter. And it gave us just such a warm feeling. We love that as customers.

Steve Brown: 

Yeah, we do. And so figuring out a way to be just unique, be yourself, but be able to communicate that you're appreciating the relationship of the folks that are considering you without saying it necessarily just showing it through good information that I think the bonding thing happens when people learn something, and you help them have a little more insight on something and you empower them. I think there's an endearing thing that comes from that educational experience.

Steven Van Belleghem: 

Hmm, yeah, that's true. That's a great comparison. I agree.

Steve Brown: 

So you're listening to us talk with Steven Van Belleghem. He's the author of, The Offer You Can't Refuse. Steven, what's one question you wish you can answer, but no one ever asks you?

Steven Van Belleghem: 

That's the most difficult question I ever had Steve, what's the question? I don't know, do you have a tip, where in which direction do other people think? Because I'm searching my brain and I kind of find something right away.

Steve Brown: 

Well, it couldn't be something about you personally, it could be about, maybe there's this expertise that you, this area that you really love to do that no one's aware, because we're focusing on your books and things.

Steven Van Belleghem: 

Yeah, well. Can I share an anecdote? I don't know if it's, I don't know the question for it. But um, sometimes people tell me that if you work hard enough, no matter what you will be successful. And I disagree. I think it's the combination of having the right talent and working hard. I think working hard and being talented, that's the right ingredient. And I'm so frustrated with myself because I bounced into the limits, like I'm an amateur piano player. I started playing piano when I was the age of 12, I think. And since then, I almost played every day, almost sometimes five minutes, just one song. And I sometimes think if someone with a little bit of talents for piano would play as many hours as I've been playing, they would probably be world famous in piano playing. And I still have to fall classes on Saturday morning, I still take classes piano playing. And I sometimes suffer with just a basic rhythm and then I'm like, I love to play the piano, but I have no talent at all. And then you bounce into the limits, even if you work hard. So I don't believe in working hard is the solution for everything anymore. I think it's about finding your core passion, your core talent, and then adding all the creativity and work to it, and then you can make a difference. But you can be really frustrated if you're not working hard in an area where you do have a little bit of talent and that's what I bumped into in my piano playing.

Steve Brown: 

I love that. It's like, I always say there's no silver bullet, it's you have to do these different things, but that's really true. A lot of the folks are, I've noticed They're really struggling to find what's their unique value they can bring, but you have to explore. So you have to do those piano lessons. And at some point, you go, Okay, this is not, I'm not going to play in some concert hall or whatever. But you don't know to you make efforts, right?

Steven Van Belleghem: 

Yeah, it's true, and it's fine, you can still enjoy it, you can still have a hobby where you have no talent at all. I like to play. And I mean, my family just bought me a set of headphones. And now they're completely fine with it.

Steve Brown: 

I run into that same lesson, when I cook every once a while I go, oh, that wasn't that good. So we'll just continue to do what I do. So your books, The Offer You Can't Refuse, When Digital Becomes Human, The Conversation Company, The Conversation Manager. What's the common theme and all four books?

Steven Van Belleghem: 

The common theme is the future of customer experience, and how expectations of customers are changing, and how you can get ready for that as an organization. That's the common theme and I think they build up and they're always written around a certain theme, like when digital becomes human was really about how to create this perfect relationship between digital and human strengths. Customers, the day after tomorrow was about how artificial intelligence can help you to create, to have new benefits for customers. And now The Offer You Can't Refuse, is about, Okay, we have transactional convenience and that's a commodity, how can you differentiate your relationship by becoming a partner in life? What I just talked about, but also about how can you add emotional power to the relationship by adding value to society? How can you change your world? How can use the strengths of your organization to make a difference in a way that it's related back to the customer? So they each have their different angle, but all of them talk about the future of customer experience.

Steve Brown: 

So Steven, what's the best way that people can engage with you? And where should they find you?

Steven Van Belleghem: 

I'm active on all social media, so they can connect with me, follow me on LinkedIn, Instagram, YouTube, I share a lot of content on each of these platforms. If they want to find out more about my books, they can either go to Amazon, or they can check my own website out. So it's my name dot com. stevenvanbelleghem.com. And there they can find my background. But most interesting stuff that I do is found on my social channels, I think.

Steve Brown: 

Excellent. That's Steven with a V as in Victor, the same way I spell my name. Steven, you've been an excellent guest on the ROI Online Podcast.

Steven Van Belleghem: 

Thank you. Thank you. It was fun talking with you. I think we share a lot of ideas. I think we have some common beliefs. And it was really fun that I could share them here with your audience. Thanks for having me.

Steve Brown: 

Agreed. All right and that's a wrap. Thanks for listening to another fun episode of the ROI Online Podcast. For more, be sure to check out the show notes of this episode and feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn where we can chat, and I can help direct you to the resources you're searching for. To learn more about how you can grow your business better be sure to pick up your copy of my book, The Golden Toilet at surprise, thegoldentoilet.com I'm Steve Brown, and we'll see you next week on another fun episode of the ROI Online Podcast.