Real Relationships Lead To Valuable Customer Insight
by Julia Barrett, EffectiveUI / December 14, 2013
Note: This blog entry is available in English only.
We’ve all been there: you’re at a party, speaking to someone new. You ask their name, maybe what they do for work. They mumble a response, hesitate to make eye contact, constantly scanning the room for someone more important to speak to. Once found, they give you a comic-book smile, a perfunctory handshake, mumble something else, and walk away. It’s known as being superficial or being fake, and it’s insulting. In the realm of parties, it’s a terrible “user” experience.
Unfortunately, this is the exact feeling most brands are giving their customers. Their superficial attempts at customer engagement by delivering “branded content” reek of superficial falseness. Campaigns that start to smell like branded content risk both alienating and insulting customers who pick up on the lack of true care or personalization.
Customer relationships are real relationships, and as such they take work. The same kind of work it takes to relate to another human being, because that’s what customers are. Let me put it another way: no one wants to be a consumer of branded content any more than they want to be a consumer of your branded friendship. Attempts to develop surface-level customer relationships will make your customers feel cheap and expendable – probably not the message you want to send.
Some might disagree with this line of thinking. “Brands aren’t people,” you might think, “and customers shouldn’t expect a personal or meaningful relationship with one.” If you subscribe to this line of thinking then take your brand off of Facebook, Twitter, and every other social channel. Social networks are made for relationships, and if you’re brand isn’t ready for this type of serious commitment, that’s fine.
But if you’re brand is ready for real customer relationships, let’s make 2013 the year when we finally break free of traditional marketing thinking and focus on real customer engagement. Start by getting to know your customers with a renewed commitment tocustomer insight and ethnographic research. Leverage that research in a project that provides a good experience for your customers by solving a real problem for them instead of searching for another channel to serve your “branded content.”
One organization that consistently does this well is the Cancer Treatment Center of America (CTCA). In 2012, they began an initiative to create a powerful and personal first impression with patients, long before they ever set foot in a treatment center, by focusing on the experience provided by their website. CTCA recognized that its customers are in a particularly difficult and scary situation, and the organization wanted to provide a deep level of care for cancer patients. CTCA knows that this approach to customer relationships will drive deeper engagement with their customers, but more than that they know it’s better for people with cancer to feel they have a trusted, caring partner during their journey.
EffectiveUI helped CTCA conduct co-creation workshops focused on re-creating a day in the life of a CTCA patient, and then translating this experience to the company’s website. After better understanding the journey a patient takes when coming to CTCA, the organization refined their online experience to focus on the physical, mental, emotional and logistical needs of people diagnosed with cancer. The refined experience communicates an unprecedented level of care and understanding, treating visitors as respected guests.
Do your customers deserve less than that? Let your customers know you care by showing it. Forge real relationships – and you will make a lasting impact.