According to recent mobile and app usage studies, people spend the highest amount of time on messaging and social platforms, and it is growing. These studies indicate that Messaging is already bigger than the social networks and there is an exponential growth in usage. This is not completely unexpected as the generation which is fuelling its growth wants to communicate faster, in novel ways, remain anonymous, don’t want to leave trace, or other reasons. Whatever be the reasons, because of the time spent by people on messaging platforms, businesses are now paying attention to these platforms, as an effective channel for customer engagement.
Messaging is the new medium and you better be ready to start talking. Another important marketing platform in the making is that of voice assistants present on mobiles and in homes through smart speakers. By some estimates, more than 10% of US households already have Alexa powered devices like Echo, Tap or Dot. Customer relationship marketing is clearly, in a state of rapid transformation and growth.
Why Businesses Should Care?
Frictionless interfaces are the future: What is taking place is powerful and has far-reaching consequences for the business world. In the quest for better user experience and differentiation, individual pieces of software and hardware are coming together in different contexts and changing the way users interact. Voice assistants, which just existed as a mobile app, when moved to a speaker which is always on and listening, becomes a powerful way of interaction in context of smart home.
Echo or Google Home cuts short the steps of taking out your mobile/laptop, reaching out to app/website, searching for something you want (music/weather/product/status), and finally getting what you wanted to be done. Similarly, messaging platforms simplify the interface by relying more on language and providing visual support where needed.
It will be key to the relationship with the customer: Impact of communication & technology is better understood by studying the marketing function. One can look at the history of marketing over the centuries, decades or years but practically past 50-60 years sum it up well. Marketing has gone from “No Marketing” – “Mass Marketing” – “Personalized Marketing” to “Relationship Marketing”. Each doctrine is guided by competition, available technology, and consumer behaviour at that time, with the emergence of new marketing platforms.
Key themes of the evolving marketing philosophies are briefly described below:-
No Marketing: “Produce affordable product, distribute it well and consumer will buy it”
Mass Marketing: “Consumers will buy good products”. This is product-focused broadcasted communication broadcasted en masse.
Personalized Marketing: “Address needs and wants of customer and communicate it to them”. Technology emerged to support it by allowing marketers to personalize the communications and reach the customers individually through emails, messages, retargeting.
Relationship Marketing: “Long term relationship with customer is beneficial” is the theme of today. In simplistic terms, we are talking about lowering customer acquisition costs and retaining them for a longer period of time.
It will be quite myopic to simply view this as marketing. Relationship with the customer is built over a series of interactions, conversations and experiences. Today, customer engagement requires businesses to be present in the same medium and speak the same language as the customer. And, the conversation needs to be about them. The modern approach to customer relationship marketing is more human, hyper-connected and personalized.
Avoid Context Switching
Consumers familiar with their messaging platforms are already engaging with platforms for more than just messaging. Messaging platforms dominating Asian markets like WeChat and Line have evolved into a service via message platform supporting payments, ordering food, hailing taxies, etc. Engaging with customers on the platform of their choice involves no context switching, as they are used to the layout and interface and notifications, while, accessing these platforms on alternate channels like web involves picking up the thread from where you left it.
Just Enough UI With Rich Access to Profile, Extreme Personalization
The interaction has two key characteristics:-
a) It is bi-directional
b) It relies on basic forms of communication like voice and written text
The platforms have rich access to profile due to sheer long-term engagement, access to health and location data. Bi-directional and real-time nature of conversation with brand will feel natural to consumers, although we could be talking to a bot, human, or mix of both. Profile information and persistent interaction which can be relooked at any time will generate opportunity to be extremely personal and contextual.
It is beyond doubt that in a fast-evolving world, new tools and ideas will reimagine customer engagement. This will cause some organizations to win big, while others will play catch-up. It is therefore important to engage in this conversation as soon as possible. Luckily, due to many reasons, this will prove easier than the effort required to set up a store front or an app now. We will discuss about the “what” and “how” of this conversation in the next part of the blog.