Brands must engage in real-time, authentic conversations

Head of IBM commerce urges companies to move away from the hard corporate voice and engage in real-time conversations

Not enough is being done by organisations to have real-time, authentic conversations with customers that build deeper, long-lasting relationships, according to IBM’s GM of customer platforms.


Speaking at the IBM Customer Engagement Forum: Amplify Your Brand in Sydney, IBM Commerce general manager, Deepak Advani, said organisations need to leverage data, analytics and the cloud in order to build deeper, more valuable engagements with customers, partners and suppliers.

“We’re living in a world where consumers are in control, they’re mobile and they’re engaged on social,” he said. “If they have a great experience, they won’t be shy to tell all their friends. If they have a bad experience, they won’t be shy telling the world.

“The only thing that will matter for organisations is to turn their customers into fans, advocates and loyal spokespeople. In order to do that, you need to understand them.”

According to Advani, you can then not only engage in real conversations, but leverage digital to engineer those “moments of serendipity” that make the everyday magical or memorable. This, he said, is the key to build loyalty and an almost unbreakable bond with your customer.

But in order to engineer those moments, you need to time it right, understand the individuals and what they want, gain deep cognitive insights into human behaviour and have access to the wider data available about them, he said.

“The more different types of data you can integrate and the more algorithms you run, the more precise the science is going to be,” he said. “What’s really important is understanding behavioural data and what’s even more important, is attitudal data, which is not only what they did, but why they did it. And delivering the right message at the right time is critical. Ultimately, it’s about having message resonance.”

IBM’s platform response to this need is the ThinkLab customer analytics platform, which looks at customer behaviour at every touchpoint, as well as analyses complex data sets to offer real-time market feedback throughout the entire analytics journey.

For marketers, integrating ThinkLab’s technology means having the ability to create personalised, meaningful customer experiences infused with analytics, Advani claimed.

“It’s about having an intelligent conversation, instead of a scripted one. This is going to build enormous equity and advocacy,” he said.

According to Advani, marketers are spending $10 billion on technology, which is just 1 per cent of the marketing budget. This is projected to grow by over 10 per cent to a $120 billion opportunity in the next decade.

But despite the forecast, Advani said not enough is being done by companies to engage in authentic and intelligent, real-time conversations. He pointed to a recent IBM study that found four out of five consumers felt their brands didn’t know them that well.

“That’s reflective of the fact that either real-time personalisation isn’t being done, or isn’t being done enough,” he said. “This whole notion of having a relevant, personalised conversation outside the marketing context, like in a call centre, is equally important. Some companies are good at it, but most companies aren’t.”

Advani said conversations should not occur in silos, but be free-flowing across the entire digital and social ecosystem.

“A lot of companies will put together an email in this silo, or do that social campaign in isolation, which is fine, we do need to do that to some extent, but the real power is when you start co-ordinating and orchestrating all your marketing activities across these channels,” he continued.

“There’s push campaigns, mobile, email and social, you can walk into a retail store and have a conversation. So what we believe is journey analytics, that ties all marketing tactics together, is going to help clients be even more effective.”

Advani agreed challenges remains for brands to transition effectively from having the hard, traditional corporate voice to engaging in more real, authentic conversations.

“The world we’re moving to is a client-centric world, not a product-centric world, so in order to really be customer-centric, you need to see yourself not as a portfolio of offerings, but a portfolio of customers,” he said. “And to make that transition requires a change in corporate culture.

“The biggest issue companies are going to have to truly be customer-centric is to change the culture and engaging in an authentic way, which for many, can be a very drastic change.”

Facebook’s APAC head of marketing partnership, Kiran Raghavan, who also spoke at the IBM event, said brands need to not only have authentic conversations with their customers, but ultimately, be their friend.

The social media platform recently partnered with IBM’s ThinkLab as part of its global strategy to expand its personalised marketing capability to reach the right people at the right time, with the right message.

“We believe we’re at the stage in Facebook where we understand our community and constituents enough to create an enable personalised experiences at an unprecedented scale for marketers,” Raghavan claimed.

It is critical to think clearly about your business marketing objectives as well as how to truly manage your customer experience in a simple and effective way, he stressed.

“Once you have insights into your customer’s interests, you know how different segments think about and aspire for different things,” he said. “You can then create opportunities for marketers to tell stories, or convey stories to these constituents on Facebook in a very personal way. That’s how I think you can keep it authentic, simple and not very corporate.

“We’ve already seen so many marketers benefitting from telling really genuine and authentic stories, in a very creative way - that can allow us to find the message on Facebook that truly resonates.”

Follow CMO on Twitter: @CMOAustralia, take part in the CMO conversation on LinkedIn: CMO ANZ, join us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CMOAustralia, or check us out on Google+: google.com/+CmoAu

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments

Blog Posts

Cannes Part 2: How Adidas is maximising digital while articulating culture

“Retail is not dead”. This was the bold statement made by, Michael Treff, president of Adidas’ digital creative agency, Code and Theory, at this year’s Cannes Lion festival of creativity.

Nickie Scriven

CEO, Zenith

Cannes Part 1: Why brands must put human interactions at the heart of their business

As a Media Juror at this year’s Cannes Lions, I was fortunate enough to attend the world’s most influential festival of creativity and listen to thought-leading marketers from around the globe.

Nickie Scriven

CEO, Zenith

4 creative skills that will be useful forever

In recent times, the clarion call from futurists, economists, marketers, educators and leaders the world over is one of slight panic, “The world is changing and you’re not ready for it!” And of course, they make a very good point.

Kieran Flanagan and Dan Gregory

Speakers, trainers, co-authors

Being an investor who has an understanding of the finance industry, I would question the validity of this article, judging by the impairm...

Rowan

How a customer-led digital transformation has helped this CMO generate $6m in incremental business

Read more

An interesting update considering that today is the easiest way it has ever been to measure contribution to the business as well as the h...

Frederic

State of the CMO 2019: Tenure shortens, pressure is on as marketers strive to demonstrate impact

Read more

I thought this was what Salesforce Audience Studio (formerly Salesforce DMP) was supposed to do. How are a CDP and a DMP different? I'm c...

Tony Ahn

Salesforce announces customer data platform

Read more

Well written Vanessa!! Agreed with your view that human experience is marketing's next frontier. Those businesses who are focused on the ...

Clyde Griffith

Forget customer experience, human experience is marketing's next frontier

Read more

Great tips for tops skills need to develop and stay competitive

Nick

The top skills needed to stay competitive in a rapidly changing workforce

Read more

Latest Podcast

More podcasts

Sign in