To win a sale a product must be at the top of the consumer’s mind at the time of consumption; the consumer needs to be thinking of the product when making his purchasing decision to consider it and then pull the trigger. So, the question for marketers then is, how do you get to be top-of-mind at the right time? The answer is simple, but the execution is not. For products to be, or to rise, to top-of-mind at the time of consumption, products must be (i) recently seen; (ii) the brand must be intimately connected to the need in the consumer’s mind; or (iii) the consumer must have a strong emotional connection to the brand.

Points (i) and (ii) involve marketing strategy and advertising volume and quality, while point (iii) involves creating marketing experiences for audiences. Creating experiences is more than just marketing, but also involves product or service delivery and customer operations, which means a higher level of corporate strategizing and coordination among multiple corporate departments. The definition, creation, and execution of the customer experience is difficult to implement because of its complexity and explains why most companies get it wrong, especially the big ones.

Our new digitized world has warped corporate marketing strategies, growing larger digital branding and advertising budgets at the expense of the digital customer experience, where the focus has been on using technology to reduce expenses; these companies are taking money out of strategy (iii) to reduce overall expenses, but adding some back into strategies (i) and (ii) to compensate. This expense reduction has largely been done by removing the human interaction from the customer experience and replacing them with bots, AI, and self-help tools, at the expense of the customer’s time and service quality. Customers are frustrated with convoluted or non-existent support processes, and companies continue to frustrate their customers because they believe that pricing and better social media are the only ways to compete in today’s world. However, Starbucks would have ceased to exist if that were true; people are willing to purchase a $5 coffee to get the total Starbucks experience, and our new digitized world has not changed that. Exchanging the baristas and comfortable couches for automated kiosks would destroy the experience and the brand.

At WebToq we believe the real value of AI is not to remove the human experience, but to focus and enhance it; to use AI to make the sales and support process faster and more effective via data sharing, processing, and delivery to both the support agent and the customer. Think of how Starbucks uses a mobile app to share their menu and allow people to pre-order their drinks before going into the store, mixing technology with human delivery for a more effective solution; WebToq is busy inventing similar tactics online. The customer experience is the last interaction a customer will have with a brand, and if it involves a human interaction, it will be the most emotional, and thus the most memorable because of both the recency and strength of the memory.

We believe the companies of the future will use focused human interaction as the primary way to differentiate their brand, rather than relying only on marketing. After all, when all other companies have forced their customers to IVR bots and self-help wikis, it’s the company with the warm and personalized delivery that will stand out.

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