Back in 2011, Gartner predicted that “by 2020, customer will manage 85% of their relationship with the enterprise without interacting with a human.” While we’re not aware of efforts to track the accuracy of this prediction, it certainly feels like we, as consumers, are quicker these days to look for answers from our voice assistants, website chat bots or online search than from other people.
In fact, our comfort level with asking machines for personal recommendations is growing fast. According to Google, over the last few years, searches starting with “should I buy,” “do I need,” and “can I” have grown 65%-85%, replacing the keyword searches and basic queries we have relied on for years. Today, we increasingly use natural language and ask personal questions online and we expect relevant and accurate answers delivered by deeply informed and unfailingly polite algorithms in the form search results, chatbots and voice or email responses.
This trend is reinforced by the growing sophistication of conversational marketing technology, which is seeing quick adoption by both brands and consumers over the last year and half, according to a new study. As consumer expectations for personalization and always-on customer service continue to rise, the authors note that conversational marketing and direct customer engagements must be “an essential component to digital strategies today” for marketers who want to stay competitive.
The advantages of this more customer-centric form of marketing are many:
- Marketing messaging becomes more authentic and genuine when it is focused on solving customer problems instead of selling your products or services.
- Campaigns influenced by customer feedback resonate better with your audiences.
- Consumers are enabled to communicate with your brand using their preferred method (chat, voice, email, phone, etc.) and on their time.
- Brands, in turn, can understand the context in which consumers contact them and personalize the experiences for users.
- Marketers who focus on voice search have the opportunity to grab “position zero” – the featured snippet that is not only the most prominent spot on the SERP, but also what Alexa, Siri, Google or Cortana will likely read to your user.
Communicating with your customers in “their” language provides answers for them and value for marketers – a win-win. So, whether consumers are looking for advice in online search or coming to your site to check out a specific product or service, aim to create responses that meet nuanced customer needs in a personable, more informal and friendly language that mirrors natural speech. It’s what customers prefer and respond to today.