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Episode 44: “Video Connections” with David Jay, Founder of Warm Welcome

In this Reimagining Communications episode, David Jay, founder of Warm Welcome, a company that develops personalized videos at scale, shares how companies can grow their business, retain customers, and infuse a human touch with “Video Connections.”

Matt: I'm Matt Swain. And you're listening to the "Reimagining Communications" podcast, where we discuss the opportunities and challenges facing companies on the road to optimizing their communications for the future. Today, I'm joined by David Jay, founder of Warm Welcome. David, thanks so much for joining today.

David: Thanks, Matt. It's great to be here.

Matt: David, tell me a little bit about Warm Welcome.

David: Well, what we're hoping to do is help businesses personalize their communication through video. And we think we're kind of on maybe even a 600-year shift on how humans communicate. So, it'll be fun to get into that.

Matt: It's interesting, when I was first thinking about this podcast, I had actually had somebody reach out to me with a video message. And so, it really spoke to me in what you're trying to do, create that connection. I'd love to hear a little bit more about the theme of why you built out the business.

David: Yeah. Well, the original idea actually came from a friend of mine. We were creating some other video technology, and he saw that, and said, "I wanna use that to send a personal onboarding video to every one of my customers, and essentially, walk them through the office, introduce them to their account manager," you know, things like that. And I said to him...his name's Eric Knopf, he runs a company called Webconnex, and I said, "Gosh, that is an amazing idea. I'm gonna scrap the other thing I was building and build that." And he's like, "That's cool and just give me the first copy." So, I did. But yeah, the hope is that we can just start off the relationships with customers better. And we find that by doing that in a personal, human way, it's better than an automated email or a robot, you know, or like a support chat. And so, every touchpoint in the customer journey, whether it's when you first meet someone, instead of giving them, you know, an old boring paper business card, you can send them a video business card. When they come to your website, instead of them just seeing, you know, graphics and text, they can see a little video bubble of you waving at them and talking to them. You know, as you chat with them in customer service or you send them emails about product updates, doing that through video is another way that you can use it. So, it does a lot. But what we wanna do is just take every touchpoint and make it personal.

Matt: For context, did you start this business pre-COVID?

David: Yeah. Yes. Started building it as kind of a beta test project to see, kind of, how cheaply we could get to MVP. One of my previous companies, I started back in 2014, cost a million dollars in a year just to get, kind of, the proof of concept built. That one's called agree.com. And so, today, there's a whole bunch of new tools available. So, we said, "Hey, let's take this, kind of, new fun idea, see how quickly we can do it." And in one month, in 10,000 bucks, we had a prototype MVP that we could show people in the market, get feedback on, and then iterate from there. So, then COVID hit, and everyone wanted a video communication service. And so, we added...because we originally just did video email, but then we added the video bubble for the website, video business cards, video email signatures, video everything, essentially.

Matt: Yeah, I ask obviously, because that has changed so much about how companies think about where their priorities are for communications. Certainly, there's this theme of increased video on Zoom calls or whatever your video platform is. But also, a lot of people that used to interact in person and thrived off of those in-person engagements, now are not having that and craving something more. And so, I think that the timeliness of your offering was quite interesting.

David: Yeah, that's the luck of it. I mean, any business or businessperson that's honest with you will tell you that luck was a huge part of the success of any product because timing plays such a huge role. And you don't know what's gonna happen in the market. So, yeah, we're both thankful for that time. And, you know, we hope we can get out of that, you know, COVID season that we're in as well.

Matt: I've seen you speak about that theme of how little of our conversation is based on the words we say or type. And I'd love to hear you expand on that a little bit for our listeners.

David: Sure. Yeah, I mean, we all know it. We've had a conversation with somebody. And, you know, as they're speaking, you know, their tone changes or their facial expression changes. Things like that give us a lot more information about what the person's saying often than the words they're saying. And we experienced that this last year on, you know, Facebook and Twitter, and other mostly text-based arenas, where they all turned into fights. Like, that's all everyone did last year on Facebook and Twitter was have one big old fight. Because when we read something, we kind of assume the person is being aggressive or they're saying it in a negative state, whereas when we hear something or we see somebody, the slant of the conversation goes much differently. We recognize them as a person, as a human, as somebody who's just trying to do the best that they can. And all those little nuances are what make video so powerful and what make text so terrible. What I would say is, like, text is a really poor way for humans to communicate. So now with the advent of cameras and the internet, we've got the opportunity to communicate in a much better way as humans and do it at a similar scale as, you know, the written communication does.

Matt: Yeah. I think about how much we've regressed over the last 20 years from, like, more of a text-based or email-based approach to communications. And I think you're right, that conversations can go sideways when there wasn't mal intent.

David: Yeah. Well, I think there's definitely a time for text. Text is fine. There's nothing inherently wrong with it, other than how we have I think abused it. Right? And, you know, you take one text-based email and you send it to a thousand people. And we've kind of gotten burned out from that in the last 20 years, like you said. Remember 20 years ago, we were all excited to get an email. You know, it was like the little AOL thing and, "You've got mail." It was like, "Wow, this is so cool." And then, you know, 20 years later, we're like, "The last thing I wanna do is read another email." But when somebody sends you a video and it's personalized to you, it's a different sort of engagement. And you're like, "Oh, okay, this is someone that I'll give some of my time, some of my attention to." And there's just a social norm there Like, if you were walking down the street and somebody else is walking down the street and they stopped to ask you something, chances are, you'd stop and you'd talk to them for a little bit. You won't just walk by. But with the email, somebody sends you an email, a text email, you will probably ignore the majority of those that you get in a day. And when somebody sends you a video email, there's still kind of that, like, awkwardness of, like, oh, they're sending me, you know, this message. I should acknowledge them. I should respond to them. Whether you do that on LinkedIn, or through email, or through Facebook message, or something, you get a way higher response rate when you do it through video.

Matt: Yeah, there's definitely that personal aspect to it. I think about, like, looking in the eyes of the person that's reaching out to you when they're staring right into the camera back at you and they're trying to say, "You know, here's why I think this would be interesting for you," if they're selling me something, there's a lot of power in that. I do wanna go back to your comment about, 20 years ago, we were excited to get an email because I do think there is an aspect of the new channel is not abused, therefore, it's the channel that gets the most engagement. And then as that channel gets abused, then it's less valuable to the business. So, for instance, email gets abused. Now, people read email less often. Now, the physical mail document actually gets higher read rates because people don't get as much mail in their mailbox. Do you see this world where the video message becomes so prevalent that you don't want to watch yet another video message?

David: Well, I think if they're generic and they're mass-produced, I think that's what we were seeing people tune out of. And so, it's hard to differentiate that in a text email, right? You said, you can, you know, put the person's name in there, and then all the rest of the text is the same. And so, it just... That's the part of it that got abused. A personal message to you is something that is honest, and genuine, and authentic, and it's personal to you. And so, it's not...it's much less likely that that's gonna get abused and automated to the level of just a blast email that you send out a million of. I think you want to be genuine with it and you want to use it to build trust and build relationships. And like you said, looking in somebody's eyes is the number one way that you build trust with them. That's how we build trust forever. And when you take that out of your client communication, and all your client communication is with words and graphics, and there's no human behind it, there's no eyes behind it, you miss out on the most powerful way to build trust. And we all know you have to build trust before you're gonna do business with people.

Matt: Do you think that there's a world where I send a video message to my prospect and my prospect actually sends a video message back in response to that?

David: Yeah. You know, Warm Welcome is actually built that way, and I get them every single day. So, it's happening a lot nowadays. And when you send a video email on our website with a little video bubble, it invites a video response. Now people can choose audio or choose text if they're, you know, a little more shy. But the whole COVID thing really helped people move away from this awkwardness or fear of personal videos. In the past, the only time people got on videos is when it was, you know, professionally produced. Right? And they dialed it and they made it perfect. And with COVID, it was like everyone's just turning on their video camera for a Zoom call in their office, in their living room, the kid screaming in the background. And what we learned is that's actually more powerful. People don't want the professional produced video anymore. They want the personal relational video. And so, that's an exciting shift that you could never orchestrate. It would have taken 10 years to convince people of that. But the fact that the whole world got forced into it from the pandemic, really, I think it liberated people to just be themselves.

Matt: Yeah, we've done some research on the impact of COVID on business in customer relationships. And for one, from a consumer perspective, there's this view, you know, 60% of consumers, 56% believe that COVID has fundamentally changed the way that they communicate with their providers, the companies they do business with. Through a professional lens, I don't get as upset if my kids wander into the back of my video, where that used to be a thing. And, you know, I wanted to have that professional separation. And now it becomes a new talking point, right? There's a human or humanity component to it as well.

David: Oh, it's the best thing that can happen? Right? You personalize that environment. You became human on the other side. And nothing builds trust better than that. So, it's funny, we'll often... Or I'll do that. I'll bring in, you know, one of my sons when I'm recording a video because the people that I do business with, I desire a relationship with, and I want them to know me and my family, and know that, like, we're not just some company out there. Like, companies are made up of humans, of people. And so, I think the more we embrace that and can treat each other in a way that recognizes that, the better our businesses will be, the more fulfilled we'll be.

Matt: So, when I think about some of the business-to-consumer applications, whether it's like a banker talking to an account holder or, you know, a financial advisor with an investor, insurance agent with a policyholder,  mortgage broker, physician, whatever that relationship is, and you're really curious to hear what your thoughts are around types of engagement or opportunities to engage for those people trying to build a deeper connection. And also, how you'd be able to scale something like that. So, you might not say my first name, but it would still be, like...we'll call it a segmented message, not fully personalized message. But thanks for becoming a new client. And going through that kind of approach. I'd love to hear any thoughts.

David: Yeah. So, when we first started Warm Welcome, again, it was just the video emails. So, you had to be very proactive with it and say, "Okay, I'm gonna sit down and I'm gonna send video emails to all these people." That's a big effort, right? So, it's kind of a heavy lift for people. And so, we said, we needed to create something where somebody could do it one time, record a video one time, and then have it...have that same personal touch, but not be personalized. And so, that's where our video bubble on the website has been a game-changer for businesses. The business name Warm Welcome came from a concept from a group called Young Life. Young Life does these camps for kids. And what they would do is when the kids get off the bus from camp, they would all be standing there clapping for them, right, and celebrating them saying, "Welcome to camp. You're gonna have the best week of your life," right? It's awesome. And kids remember that forever. Well, one day, an Apple executive went to one of these Young Life camps. And when they went there, they experienced that. And they went back and said, "We are gonna add this Warm Welcome to every single one of our stores." And so, when you walk into an Apple store, you get a warm welcome, with a greeter, standing there, waving at you saying, "Welcome to Apple. Is there anything that I can help with?" That person doesn't know the other person. They don't know their name. They're not personalizing the message every single time. They're just present. Well, when everyone in the last year now has to sell through their website, they need to adapt their website and add that personal touch to their website. Most businesses' websites are beautifully designed, lots of graphics and text, but they're void of people, right? So, they're really doing a poor job of building trust. By adding one of these little video bubbles, where you're just down there in the corner, saying, "Hey, welcome to my website. You know, I'm DJ. I'm the founder. We're here to do this, this, and this. I would be glad to help and answer any questions that you have." Right?

I can record that video, put that little bubble on the website in five minutes. And now, every single visitor of my website has somewhat of a personal experience, not personalized to them, but it's personal and it's relational. It's inviting them into a little bit deeper engagement. And so, doing things like that or adding a video to your contact page, right? A lot of businesses' contact pages are a form. They work so hard to get the person to the contact page. And then they say, "Take a number and I'll get back to you." And it's terrible. Why would you not have a video on your contact page? There's so many ways...low-hanging fruit that you can do in under five minutes that will dramatically change the customer experience by just introducing a human, you know, personal element to your website.

Matt: Have you been able to quantify the value that companies are getting out of including video or in terms of the response rates or the response times or any other ROI?

David: We've had some businesses, like, for example, a real estate agent here in Bend, I talked to him and he had put up the video bubble on his site. And he's part of a brokerage. And so, everyone else at the brokerage has access to all the same marketing material. They all do the same process with their buyers and sellers. They all do the same thing. But he's 3 to 5-X-ing what everyone else is doing. He's the top agent in their group. And the only difference is he added one of these video bubbles to his website. And when you think about that, when you think about people doing a big transaction, buying or selling a house, trust, you have to build trust, and you have to do it quickly. And oftentimes now you have to do it with people that are out of town. Right? A lot of people are moving here from San Francisco, and Portland, or these other bigger cities. They don't come here. They hit you up online. They go to your website. And so, you go to all these real estate agents' websites, and it's like houses. It's a bunch of pictures of houses. It's like, I don't need houses. I wanna know if I trust you and that you're gonna go out and you're going to find me a good deal. And so, that was a pretty cool one because that's a relational industry and it's built off of people, but they're often selling the wrong thing. And I was reminded of a great quote from a master marketer named Harry Beckwith. He's written a whole bunch of books. You know him. And he said, “People don't pay you for how good you are at what you do, people pay you for how good you are at who you are." And we often forget that, and we put so much time, energy, and effort into what we create, and what we produce, that we forget that people aren't paying us for that. And they're certainly not engaging in the initial stages of the relationship because of that.

Matt: Well, yeah, and if I relate that to some of the worlds that I've been in that, you know, a technology solution could be about on par with the rest of the technology solutions in the market, right? If you're looking to solve a problem, there are 10 different ways that you can solve that problem. And to your point, it's not always the technology alone that the person is looking for. It's the technology plus the support, plus trusting the person that says, " You have our commitment to this relationship." There is so much about the relationship that helps sell the technology as well.

David: Absolutely. The companies that are doing that are now standing out, not because their product is different or even better. Sometimes the product is worse, but the people behind it are building trust and differentiating their business by putting themselves behind it.

Matt: So, David, I ask this of many, if not all of my guests, but how do you think the communications market, and this could be beyond video or within the video space, but how do you think it continues to evolve in the coming years?

David: Yeah, so on a tactical side, obviously, we're seeing video get introduced on every level, right? And that's a good tactical change. But I think what we're going to get to really quickly is people need to approach it much more strategically. And so, you know, obviously, you're doing that. You're providing strategic guidance towards this stuff and saying, "Hey, don't just grab the next, like, tactical solution." Like, "Oh, yeah, I'm gonna introduce video email, a video that's gonna..." Whatever. But why are you doing that? What are you trying to create? What are you actually trying to present from your company? And if you believe, if these are your values, you know, of authenticity, of trust, of building personal relationships with your clients, if those things are important for you, then how are you going to do that? How are you gonna solve that problem within a number of different solutions? And so, that's where I think communication is coming in a great direction because it's getting less produced, less perfect, less professional, and more personal, relational, focused on the customer's problem. Where we're talking about the customer's problem and how we're gonna help solve that, instead of, "Here's our product. Here's how great it is." And I think the more businesses shift their mindset from what I'm creating or what my product is to what the customer's problem is, that is a shift that goes way beyond business because now I'm others-focused, I'm thinking about the other person in this relationship, not me, myself, what I want, what I'm creating. I'm thinking about, how can I serve them? How can I help them? How can I add value to them? And I think that's what brings us happiness in our work. So, that's a big shift that communication is really leading. So, you're in an exciting space because it has a potential to do a lot of good as we move in that direction.

Matt: Well, thank you for being a part of that ecosystem. And certainly, thank you for the time today, David.

David: Thanks, Matt.

Matt: Absolutely. Well, I'm Matt Swain, and you've been listening to the "Reimagining Communications" podcast. If you liked this episode and think someone else would too, please share it, leave a review, and don't forget to subscribe. If you're ready to reimagine your customer experiences, consider the Broadridge Communications Cloud, an end-to-end platform for creating, delivering, and managing omnichannel communications and customer engagement. To learn more about Broadridge, our insights and our innovations, visit broadridge.com or find us on Twitter and LinkedIn.