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Listen, Learn and Love: A Formula for Remaking the Customer Experience

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Marketing isn’t about broadcasting anymore, and Sprinklr’s Grad Conn is helping brands navigate that shift with heart.

Sprinklr’s Chief Experience and Marketing Officer Grad Conn asked his audience to sit and ponder two questions before he began his presentation in earnest: when was the last time we’d emailed a friend just to chat, and when was the last time we’d called someone without a warning text first. The room was fairly quiet, which worked beautifully to illustrate his point: these are not the ways we interact with people we want to talk to warmly, in a friendly way. But it is the way many marketing departments still count on being able to reach leads. And given the significant shift that’s happening in our media ecosystem, this quietly-met strategy won’t cut it any longer.

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In Conn’s mind, we’re moving from a 20th-century broadcast model of communication, into a 21st-century conversation model of communication. For brands, it means that our overtures for business should be less about telling you who we are, and more about showing you who’s behind what we do. And for that, three new verbs need to take firm hold.

Here are the primary insights and takeaways:

  • Listen For Opportunities
  • Learn How Your Organization Can Worry Less
  • Interact In Kind

Listen For Opportunities

Do we enjoy and recommend the comedian who tells us they’re funny, or do we enjoy and recommend the one who makes us laugh by showing it? In an extended analogy from Conn, we learned that we respond far more favorably to the latter. And for marketers, the task at hand isn’t altogether different: to acknowledge that espousing our strengths simply doesn’t get the job done the way it used to. “If you tell me how to think about you, I’m not likely to think about you that way,” he said. “In fact, the more you tell me to, the less likely it is.”

What’s the alternative? In a conversational world, it’s about listening for opportunities to be someone’s favorite brand, knowing full well you won’t catch everyone that way. An example with Microsoft customer service and an XBOX user that culminated in a subtle “burn” on the user, won’t win brands all the fans in the world. But, for brands that listen and know their core audience, it’ll win them the right ones.

Learn How Your Organization Can Worry Less

“We didn’t say ‘download my whitepaper!’ once!” Conn said, as he detailed the long-term Twitter exchange his team had with the CMO of Burger King. Instead, he chose to reach out on the platform in response to a tweet about a new product, with a Boomerang of team members trying it at a location near their office. For months, organic tweets flowed back and forth between the account’s custodians and the Burger King exec…with no mention of meetings, resources, or product demos. In that time they learned more about how he operated, where his priorities lay, and the power of a relationship evolving into a genuine human connection.

Marketers who operate in social spaces have ample opportunity to use these platforms in a human way. Learning not just about the people who interact with your accounts, but also about how your organization can worry less about message control, is vital to creating educational and effective relationships between consumer and brand. And that’s how, sometime after the first purchase of Crispy Pretzel Chicken Fries, Burger King reciprocated by becoming a Sprinklr client.

Interact In Kind

It’s incredibly rare to create advertorial content that causes its recipient to say, “this is the best thing I’ve ever gotten!” But by paying attention to the humans in our orbit, learning from what they share, and interacting in kind, Conn believes that brands have an opportunity to delight and impress the people whose approval and appreciation they most want. This can include custom-created ads, as Sprinklr client Microsoft has done with considerable success, or it can be as simple as responding to a customer complaint in a timely fashion.

Conn closed his talk with a discussion about airline complaint messages, and how response times can literally impact the bottom line. Customers who had grievances addressed over social media addressed within five minutes, were willing to pay up to $20 more for their next ticket with the airline. Those numbers decreased as wait times hit twenty minutes, and then an hour. The major takeaway? “If you can help people to do more with their time, they will reward you with their money.” And what does it ultimately take to handle these issues in a timely manner?

The willingness and accompanying infrastructure to hear them, openness to listen with an ear toward helping, and the love to do so in a friendly and human way. When companies are willing to take the risk that this requires—abandoning their beloved emails and phone calls to do so—the industry will lean into this massive shift that promises to change everything.

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