“Your call is important to us, please hold.”
Does this sound familiar to you? Hopefully, it’s not something you have had to endure recently, but up until just a couple of years ago, this was the norm. If you had a question about a product or service, you would call the company and (hopefully) speak to an agent who could assist you. If you didn’t have the time to hold, then you likely sent an email or completed an online form and waited for a response.
This dated and somewhat flawed customer experience worked because that was the only option we had.
However, the wheel turns, and businesses that have made the shift to conversational marketing are surging ahead of those stuck in “the way it’s always been done.”
Has your business implemented conversational marketing?
What Is Conversational Marketing?
Conversational marketing is less of a business strategy and more of a way of treating your most valuable asset: your customers. It removes obstacles between customer and business and replaces them with the power of real-time communication, minus hoop-jumping and unnecessary delays.
Conversational marketing elevates the person you’re engaging with from a lead to an individual, and this makes a world of difference to them and their subsequent buying decisions.
As a business, you’re still giving the same person the same information that you would otherwise have. Only now you’re doing it on their terms, in real-time, and developing an authentic relationship with an individual.
While the focus is certainly on building better relationships with your customers, there is definitely a need to strategise this process - but more on that later.
The Problem with Traditional Digital Customer Experience
The focus on customer-oriented service has forced companies to rethink their processes, as many of them no longer match how buyers want to engage.
Consider this: the sales manager has determined a process to ensure that no leads fall through the cracks and that all conversations are carefully logged and tracked. On the surface, this is a great strategy.
The problem arises when customers are forced into a rigid sales funnel and must fill out forms and reply to emails before they get their questions answered. The accuracy of your CRM data and the intricate system that you have in place doesn’t feature in your customer’s world. They don’t really care. And when they feel like there is little regard for their unique needs, they’ll throw in the towel.
Doing Business in 2021
Today’s reality is that instead of just one or two competitors in your business space, there are dozens. They may be a shop around the corner or an enterprising online entrepreneur from India. This means that your customers have options, loads of them.
And most importantly, they know it.
Add to this the fact that we are all busier than ever before, our time is valuable and we have no desire to wait while a business decides how to fairly distribute our call to their sales team. Attention spans are shrinking, and customers are more demanding than ever before.
The statistics agree.
A study from Harvard Business Review noted how companies that responded to an online query within an hour were seven times more likely to have a meaningful conversation with a decision-maker than those who called after an hour. Furthermore, these odds dipped significantly after 24 hours with the chances of engaging the right person becoming 60 times less likely.
The bottom line is that businesses are investing a lot of money into digital marketing, advertising, branding, and training their sales team, but much of this is wasted spend if they are ignoring what customers actually want.
And what customers want is simple: they want immediate responses and personalized service.
How Conversational Marketing Transforms Customer Experience
You probably already know that today’s customers are a savvy bunch, more educated and with far more access to information than ever. Most know what they want and where to get it.
Therefore, conversational marketing places control of the sales process squarely in the hands of the customer and gives them what they want, when they want it. The upshot of this is that the customer works through the sales process faster and they’re happier with the outcome.
The framework of the conversational marketing model looks like this:
Given how quickly an online lead turns cold, it makes sense to respond to all customer conversations at the speed of the internet. That means making use of WhatsApp, SMS, live chat, chatbots, and other instant messaging platforms.
The younger generation chooses to message before picking up the phone, so offer them this channel of communication and make sure it’s manned. The older generation may prefer to send an email, in which case there’s no excuse not to fire a reply straight back or call them directly.
Engaging your customer means meeting them where they are, and is the first critical step of conversational marketing.
Businesses must work harder than ever to differentiate themselves in a competitive climate. It makes sense, then, to maximise every opportunity to turn a lead into a sale. Conversational marketing does exactly this.
Personalised communication builds relationships between you and your customers. It closes the gap between ‘buyer and seller’ as your customers learn that they can trust you. Your team speaks to them as they rightfully are - individuals.
To move customers through your system (in minutes, and not hours or days) may start with a chatbot to qualify their needs, or a live chat function on your website that channels them to the right person to answer their query.
What we love about conversational marketing is that it removes the hard crust of sales resistance from our potential customers. Face it, it’s difficult talking to someone who you just know doesn’t really have the time to chat with you. It’s exhausting and disheartening for your sales team.
However, a well-paced conversation where the customer has been given the right information at the right time and has been dealt with timeously and effectively is an absolute pleasure.
Carefully designed chatbots, for example, can offer company collateral to people to answer commonly asked questions before they are ready to buy. Recommendations on the next course of action based on that particular customer’s needs are gently offered, allowing them to lead the conversation in their own time, and on their own terms.
Does Your Organisation Have the Tools for Conversational Marketing?
When we consider the overwhelming evidence that customers crave a more human experience, and that they are willing to give you the information that you want, provided you engage with them on their terms, we start to see the value of conversational marketing.
A shorter sales cycle, loyal customers, a happy and effective sales team, and a healthier bottom line are additional benefits of this communication model.
However, it’s also clear that we need to employ the proper tools if we’re going to get this right. That doesn’t mean starting your entire sales process from ground zero, but it will require that you do a little homework and discover what technology is available and what will work for you.
Chatbots, for instance, are a great way to engage with customers, whether they are implemented on your website or instant messaging channels like WhatsApp. Employing the magic of marketing clouds is another smart move to join the dots of the customer journey.
We understand that there is no one size fits all solution to your company’s conversational marketing system, and that’s why we have multiple options and integrations on offer. We invite you to call or message us on any one of our communication channels and allow us to show you how you can benefit from these incredible tools.
Contact us for more information on this increasingly important business system.