Marketing is like sex, writes Steve Tobak of CBS. He explains his analogy further, writing, “Everyone thinks they’re good at it.” The “cut-and-paste” style of marketing made possible by emails, recorded telephone calls and old-fashioned postal mail completely misses the point, he laments. Customers recall businesses that communicate with them on a personalized basis, and the businesses they remember are those they turn to when they need a particular service or product. Technology does not have to be the kiss of death to the establishment of personal or connected relationships with customers. Not every sale to every customer needs to be followed up with a handwritten note on bonded paper. Different aspects of technology used to personalize interaction with individual prospective customers can provide the same type of bond, or one that is even, if utilized appropriately.
“Frequently Asked Questions” (FAQ) sections come across as impersonal and rarely address specific issues; with live chat software, customers are able to engage in an instant message conversation with a customer service representative. In many instances, online representatives establish the first “personal connection” a potential customer has with the company. Friendliness, courtesy and the ability to collect contact information so that the appropriate party can contact the prospective customer during regular business hours can be a positive first step, especially when compared to another frequent interaction customers may be used to — a 40-minute journey through a telephone tree.
Use social media channels such as Twitter, Google+ or Facebook pages to communicate with customers about their wants and needs, rather than just to market services to them, writes Kaleef Lloyd on Social Media Today. According to a J.D. Power and Associates study, almost 90 percent of customers self-identified as highly-satisfied attributed positive online interactions to their likelihood to make a transition from interested party to customer.
Allow the expression of your company’s character at every opportunity, according to a Simple Zesty article on Business Insider. The zany online shoe retailer Zappos, for instance, doesn’t purchase TV time to explain to the public that it is a “fun” company to work for, with relaxed customer service representatives who wield a surprising degree of authority over the transaction process. This information is shared, rather, by word-of-mouth from satisfied or astounded customers.
Personalize an online or telephone interaction with a customer by personalizing your employees. Use candid photographs of employees at work or posed with signs or identified by first name and last initial in an online company directory. Putting a face with a name is one of the most powerful ways of solidifying a personal connection, since it instantly adds a human element
The more genuine the communication your company allows with customers, the greater the degree of personalization. There are books and Web sites galore instructing managers on the art of branding, but as Tobak emphasized at the beginning of this article, the interaction has to be real.