I often hate Jay Baer. Anyone who has met him, or knows that he and I are friends, is probably shocked by that. Jay is not a hate-able guy. He’s one of the more genuine, affable, generous people on the planet. He’s a true star in an industry of star wannabes and seems to have little to no ego about it. He’s built an incredibly successful consulting business and content marketing bonanza for our industry, and still manages to sit atop it, writing and speaking and taking just the plum assignments. He takes his staff to Mexico for “work-cations.” He invites me and my son up for Indiana University football and basketball games.
He has not donated one of his kidneys to save my life. But it’s probably coming.
How on earth, then, can I hate him?
Because he’s too goddamn perfect. He makes me feel like an impostor in my own industry. It’s frustrating as shit.
Now, I constructed that little lede for a couple of reasons. First, it got your attention. But second, Jay’s new book Hug Your Haters not only gives me one more reason to be jealous of this guy’s brilliance, but implies that because I started by saying I often hate him, he might just respond with what I really need: A hug.
Clever entrances aside, let me make two declarative statements about Hug Your Haters that are going to sound like hyperbole, but are anything but:
- Hug Your Haters completely reinvents modern customer service. If you are a 40-year customer service veteran, you are probably going to learn more about your industry by reading this book than you know to date. More on why in a moment.
- Hug Your Haters completely reinvents how business authors should approach writing a book. Jay has broken the mold. The reason is the same as the first.
Hug Your Haters is built around original research on the topic at hand: customer service. Jay partnered with Edison Research, partially led by our mutual friend and colleague Tom Webster, who authored the forward to the book. I have first-hand experience working with Edison on research projects and can vouch for their unparalleled excellence and respect for the craft and nuances of market research. The partnership produced real, defensible data that tells us:
- What types of haters (complainers) are out there
- What channels they use to complain
- Whether or not they complain directly or indirectly
- Whether or not they complain publicly
- Whether or not they expect a response
- How quickly they expect it when they do
- How likely are they to advocate for or against a company based on its response
- And more
And if you think you can just guess and get the answers right to all the above, consider yourself warned and remember that a real market research firm did this, so demographic breakdowns accompany all of that, making the data incredibly valuable.
As if that weren’t enough, there’s a detachable infographic inserted in each copy of the book to make the top-level data easily accessible without even reading it.
(Fucking Baer thinks of everything. I hate that guy.)
Why Hug Your Haters Changes Customer Service
This book might be the first to explore real consumer behavior and opinions about customer service, and it’s certainly the first to do so in the era of social media — The world of hateraide, thanks to everyone-can-publish technology. It contextualizes how and why companies respond and what benefits they get versus the risks of doing so or not.
Plenty of social media books before, including mine, said you are far better off engaging your customers than not when they have complaints. But they’ve all come with anecdotal reasoning. This book presents the factual, data-based reasons behind such recommendations. The good news is people like me were right all along. The bad news (for people like me) is that Jay is the first person to prove it.
I will guarantee you that veteran customer service managers will learn a lot from this book. It will change the way your company views customer service, especially from a social media perspective.
Why Hug Your Haters Changes Business Book Authorship
Let’s be honest: Anyone with a pulse and the ability to write somewhat coherently for a few weeks can publish a business book. You can self-publish or get a book deal with the churn and burn factories (like Wiley and Pearson — the latter of which was my publisher) if you know the right people. Speaking as one of those published authors, I can tell you: You don’t have to be an expert or a genius to write a book or be published. There are dozens out there who shouldn’t be trusted to give directions to the gas station, much less how to succeed in business. In some cases, that includes me.
What Hug Your Haters does is raise the bar for what substance must be present for the book to be worth a publisher’s investment, an author’s time and the public’s money. When you present original research (which requires a significant investment itself) that changes the overall value of the insights being asserted. You are now publishing more of a text book than a quick airplane read. This is a resource, not a how-to guide (though it has play books for handling the types of haters, too).
Yes, there have been business books that presented original research before. Several of my friends who used to work at Forrester, for instance, have done so with specific focal points on various verticals. But there have been none, to my knowledge, from a “personality” author writing broadly about a topic that touches all businesses.
So, if you’re going to a publisher with a book proposal and you don’t have original data to add to the argument, you’ll only be “almost” in comparison, though that doesn’t necessarily mean a publisher won’t run with your idea.
Go Buy This Book
You need to read Hug Your Haters. The data alone will give you new perspective on the world of customer service and how, where and whether to engage yours. (And yes, your business has them.) It will be money well spent.
And now, I shall await my Jay Baer hug. Because I hate that guy sometimes.