It’s still about human connection

by Tony Fannin, president, BE Branded

Today, I’m going off the marketing path just a little to make a point I believe in. In today’s world, technology has made it possible to communicate across the world and connect with people whom you’ve never met before in person. We can woo customers whom we have no idea who they are and garner business from people we’ve only emailed. If we’re somewhat advanced, we actually get to see them through teleconferencing. All of this is fine and dandy, but I feel like it also makes us vulnerable with our customers.

You see, if there is no personal or human connection, your customers can, and will, easily replace you. You’re nothing more than just an email on the other end or just a voice on the cell phone. I have no personal buy-in to you or your company. Some may say that their superior product/service will be enough to capture and keep customers. I don’t buy that. There are too many “superior” products/services who lose out to others because the salesperson actually took the time to get to know the customer as a person and understood who they are and what they’re about. Remember, we humans tend to do business with friends over strangers any day.

The art of face-to-face is becoming lost. We use speed and convenience of technology to communicate with our customers at the sacrifice of becoming a real person to them by physically seeing them on a regular basis. At BE Branded, we make it a point to actually see our clients on a regular basis. We break bread with them. We become more than just a voice or email. And sometimes, we actually develop a true friendship. It’s amazing what you can learn about each other over lunch or dinner. You realize that each other are real people with real emotions, concerns, hopes, and dreams. By understanding this, you can actually better serve your client. And in some cases, keep them as clients. Because you’ve become more than just a “vendor”, you’re most likely to be given second chances for blowing it on those rare occasions. You’ve deposited “goodwill” in the bank.

Here’s an example of what can happen if companies depend too much on technology for their communications and connections with clients. Just recently, Heineken put their marketing account up for review. Their current advertising agency is in Portland. Heineken is in New York. It’s not that they were dissatisfied with their current agency, but they felt that because of the complexity of their marketing channels, they wanted an advertising agency who they could meet with face-to-face on a regular basis. Heineken executives stated that “Collaboration is essential for a successful partnership, and in-person meetings DO make a big difference.” The account is worth $110 million. Other companies also put their advertising account up for review because of wanting more face time with their agencies (ConocoPhillips and Liberty Mutual).

Technology is great at what it does best – quick, convenient, innovative. But when it comes to servicing clients on a real, human level, nothing replaces good, ol’ fashioned face-to-face discussions. Think back to even your own personal experiences with calling the customer service line of a company. It took three rounds of listening and talking with a computer before we reached a human. Now wasn’t that pleasant? Keep the art of seeing real people, having real conversations, solving real problems. Who knows, you might end up with a new friend. And when that client is now a friend, your chances of keeping their business just increased dramatically.


About Be Branded

Tony Fannin is of President of BE Branded, an integrated marketing firm who helps clients BE Somebody to their customers. If you aren't somebody, then you are commodity.

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