How to have better conversations with your customers
Q: For a consumer, what is more frustrating than talking to a machine?
A: Talking to a human who responds like a machine!
Brands today aspire to be considered like a human. At the same time, they are investing on machines to make them sound more human. That is because, in the 2020s, customers have raised their expectations from brands and have been demanding more personalized conversations. Indeed, everyone knows the fact that it is important to have conversations with customers. But do brands really understand it? When brands are targeting to execute conversations on scale, they figure out that standardization is the best course.
Before we figure out whether this is indeed the best course, we must first take a step back to understand what exactly is a ‘customer conversation’.
Customer Conversation has two characteristics:
Most marketers tend to confuse between standardization and consistency. Consistency is required in the style of conversation, in the approach to solving customer’s problems and in maintaining the brand’s ethos. Digital engagement provides that flexibility and yet, ironically, we find that this is where brands tend to use boiler plates when scripting conversations.
A Dun & Bradstreet study last year found that around 77% of the CMOs agreed that there has been an increase in digital engagement, which means more conversations are happening in a non-personal environment. Therefore, brands should be building not just customer journeys but should also create ‘conversation journeys’, not just on WhatsApp channel or your own mobile app or email/sms marketing. Conversation Journeys are as important in 1:1 communication with your prospects, your WIP clients and customers who are looking for service support.
How to have a good conversation
There is no doubt about whether to have a conversation with customers or not. The moot questions is what should be the conversation about? The answer lies in database management.
According to IDC, the amount of data created over the next three years will be more than the data created over the past 30 years. The volume, complexity, and the speed at which data is generated is forcing organisations to deploy intelligent tools to interpret the data and improve its quality, and most importantly address data security issues.
The same Dun & Bradstreet study also found that CMOs consider that managing their database would help them in various ways. The top three areas where it would benefit them are Creating Targeted Communication (34%), Personalizing Communication Through Customer Segmentation (30%) and Getting Real-Time Customer Feedback (29%). STP, that is, Segmentation, Targeting and Positioning is one of the basic marketing strategies. Your customer base is made of various segments, each with its own different reason to buy your product. The bigger question is that whichever segment you target, whether it is demanding a frivolous benefit or is deriving self-actualization from your product, is it profitable in the long run? These answers are not easy to get or interpret. What CMOs need are automation tools and use of data analytics to effectively interpret quality data to determine preferences of customers, segment customers according to their need and design effective marketing campaigns.
Customer Conversations for B2B companies
Technology is changing lives in every sphere; customer conversations are no different. Primarily due to the situation created by the Covid19 pandemic and the consequent lockdowns, organisations are deploying technology on a scale never seen before. Customers are now preferring to converse through digital channels and to utilize the physical distribution or service channels only when necessary.
In B2B scenario, conversational marketing or messaging is important not just to engage with prospects. The gestation period from visitor to lead can be anything between 15 days and 6 months, and a B2B brand needs to keep the prospect engaged to lower the chances of drop-off. The problem though is that brands make prospects jump through hoop after hoop.
Conversational marketing enables a quick journey through the sales funnel. So, instead of dragging the lead qualifying process over a period of days or weeks, which might lead to drop offs, marketers should use keep the conversation going through chat bots, or email or events or knowledge reports. The objective should be to stay connected through relevant conversations.
Ultimately, it all boils down to understanding your customer better. The more data points you can get about your B2B client, the better will be your understanding about the prospect.