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Attention brands: How to make friends and influence people

Steven Fitzjohn
19 June 2017 3 minute readShare
Paper people circle of friends

“Personalisation” is quite possibly the marketing buzzword of the decade. If brands get it right, there is a huge upside in the fostering of ongoing customer loyalty. But that’s often easier said than done.

Today, personalisation goes way beyond a happy birthday email or recommendations based on purchasing history. Consumers demand a relationship with brands that enables them to engage on their own terms and when it suits them best.

Say hello to messaging

Consider this: the likes of messaging platforms Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp now carry a whopping 22 trillion messages per year.

We are seeing a global move to messaging. Smartphones are being used less frequently for calls as messages become the communication method of choice. Why? It’s simply a more convenient way to communicate.

Not only is messaging quickly becoming the preferred form of communication between people, research conducted by LivePerson shows that it is also the preferred way of connecting with brands.

Personalising your customer communications

Brands that provide a messaging service give consumers the convenience of letting them communicate when it suits them best, but it also helps the brand by creating a continuous record of all customer interactions.

Messaging enables brands to create a customer profile and solve customer issues more effectively. Once brands can see who is interacting with them, when and why, they can look to improve and deepen the customer relationship. The crux of messaging adoption is that it creates more personalised interactions between brands and customers.

Generating loyalty (It’s just like making friends, but different)

While customers do want to communicate with brands in the same way they communicate with friends, the major difference is that it needs to happen on their terms. If brands fail to provide helpful and accurate personalised mobile experiences, they can drive customers away quickly. There is no room for mistakes, which is why it is vital that businesses get it right from the start.

If customers expect brands to communicate with them like they would a friend, then that’s what brands need to do. The question is, where to begin? Here are a few thought-starters:

1. Friends know where to communicate with each other

When you’re trying to get in touch with a friend to make plans, how do you do it? Email, text, Facebook? Brands need to be asking these same questions of their customers.

The first step in personalising the way your brand communicates with its customers is knowing where your customers talk to each other. Conducting research into which communication platforms are preferred by your customers is vital in setting off on the right foot.

While it may be obvious, using email to connect with customers simply because that is what your business uses to communicate is not necessarily the best strategy.

Brand-specific apps are gaining popularity with consumers, so consider incorporating messaging capabilities within an app. The benefits are clear – it’s an easily accessible gateway that enbles customers to be quickly connected to customer service staff with a simple click.

2. Friends understand each other

The primacy of the customer experience for brands has implications for not just the front end of communications (that is, the platform you use to communicate), but the back end too.

This means both the customer service representative and the customer having access to their historical conversation thread, allowing them to maintain a continuous dialogue and build a genuine understanding of who the customer is and what they want.

In the same way that friends get to know each other over time and understand each others’ wants and needs through positive interactions, brands need to know their customers. Always-on messaging enables this type of customer relationship, in contrast to time-based, transactional communication such as voice and chat.

Messaging platforms arm your customer service team with more background history on each customer, such as whether they’ve contacted the service team before, the issue theyve had and how it has been resolved. This enables your team to more effectively and efficiently solve customer issues.

On the flip side, the customers are also able to utilise their historical dialogue with the brand to develop their own personalised FAQ knowledgebase, often allowing them to answer their own questions based on past conversations. Ultimately, this understanding cultivated from both sides makes for a win-win situation.

3. Friends know how to help each other

Finally, friends help each other the way they want to be helped. This means using the right tools in the right way to deal with the issue at hand. When it comes to messaging, finding a balanced combination of bots and the human touch is crucial for properly addressing issues and developing a positive customer experience.

The customer experience is the most important aspect of any brand interaction and is vital to creating customer loyalty. This means that brands need to understand what it means to befriend their customers.

Knowing them, understanding what they need and how to solve their problems is the first step in personalising your customer communication.

Brand personalisation is a necessity and businesses big and small need to move now to reap the rewards of long-term customer loyalty.

Steven Fitzjohn is SVP APAC at mobile and online messaging business LivePerson.

Attention brands: How to make friends and influence people
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Steven Fitzjohn

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