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Illustration of a brand representative talking to customers to give them a personalised approach

The impact of a global pandemic has taught us many things, but most of all it has taught us about the importance of meaningful and real contact with the people around us. In a digitalized and automated world, we often replaced personal contact with a chatbot, an automatic e-mail or a call center. In this article we answer the “Why as a brand should I shift my automated customer journey towards a personalized approach and how do I do this?”. We'll give you a head start with some concrete examples as well. Happy reading.

Brand perception versus brand experience

The way people perceive a brand is mainly thanks to marketing efforts, Public Relations and influencers. But when people start to buy from a brand, that’s when perception versus experience come into play. Most customer dissatisfaction stems from the difference in these two factors.

During the outbreak of the pandemic, we all saw brands either communicating in a transparent and honest way, and thriving via the core values they believe, or brands that remained silent, by putting up walls and not being easy to get in touch with. You can guess which ones received a better perception and experience.

Whatever the global crisis or brand crisis, we strongly believe in these 2 insights:

Insight #1
Insight #2

Where to start with your online brand experience

Personalization is key, it’s everywhere in every digital marketing blog article that you read (including this one ). But it’s not just about mentioning your customer’s first name when they visit your website again or adding that name to the intro line of your automated mails. It’s knowing:

  • Who are my customers? Do they fit into the standard persona’s I created for them?
  • What moves them to keep on buying from my brand?
  • What are they not getting from me as a brand?
  • Are my core values clear? Is this a main USP to make customers loyal?

How can you get the answers? Check your demographics data from your social media channels and website metrics. Test with multiple ads and communications where you show your main USPs and see which gives the best results. Or simply by just asking them via a questionnaire or via your customer service (make.it.personal)

The moment you have clear eyes on the above questions. You can start building or upgrading your online experience.

How-to build your online brand experience

Whether your customers visit you offline or online, it’s all about the experience and the positive (or negative) vibes that last. How to create these vibes:

  • A frictionless environment (no bugs, short loading times, fast checkout, …)
  • Clear and transparent communication: what you see is what you should get
  • No unexpected extra costs during checkout or during delivery
  • Show your phone number, e-mail address or contact form. Don’t hide it or make it a mission impossible to get someone on the phone for help
  • Fast response times: don’t let your potential customer wait for a week
  • Stick to your true core values. Never “borrow” popular core values which you can’t make true in reality and make sure you live by them in your online environment as well
Example of a Live chat message telling customers that due to the Corona crisis the live chat availability is increased
Illustration showing a chatbot interacting with a customer

Chatbots

Let‘s say you are preaching closeness and personal contact, but the chatbot on your website clearly is a programmed machine with some standard replies. How can you still automate the process but make it more human?

Start by giving the bot a name, preferably someone from customer service and use a real-life picture. Then create an introduction and let the conversation be natural. Most bot technologies rely on Natural Language Processing (NLP) to make fluent conversations without using standard replies or a “I don’t understand your question”, it’s the backbone of your conversation. You can use this technology to give your chatbot a personality and a specific tone-of-voice. He or she can be funny, make some small talk first or just check in on how you are feeling today. A bonus is when you store previous conversations, and your bot takes this into account the next time there’s a new question from the same user.

You can even use this on your Facebook page, with standard replies when you are out of reach at that moment. Golden tip: link your WhatsApp to your Facebook business account to always keep a finger on the pulse when customers need you urgently.

Conversational marketing campaigns

Most of your Paid media campaigns will be one-sided push communication where it’s the brand talking and the customer viewing. With conversational banners you can upgrade your campaigns and make it a two-sided conversation where you get to know your customer and ask them what they are looking for. Just like a chatbot, you can program the questions and answers in advance, fully adjusted to your own tone-of-voice and core values.

It’s a fun new way to engage with your target audience and to start a conversation without first asking your viewers to “click here”, “like this” and “buy that”. Not only do these banners drive high quality traffic to your website, but it also uplifts the online perception and experience of your brand.

Instagram live shopping events

One of the key take-aways from this pandemic is that you always need to be able to shift fast towards an online environment. Brands look for many ways to present their products online, but it just simply does not replace any offline engagement. Luckily there’s an in between state thanks to Instagram, Facebook or YouTube live streaming.

Via Instagram it’s even possible to link your product feed to your livestream and showcase your products while answering questions from customers and engaging with them. A great way to show the face of your brand in a personal way, or even include your ambassadors or biggest fans, is via an online event (such as Urban Decay did on their website). In addition to boosting engagement, it also instantly increases sales online as customers can view and shop for the product directly on Instagram.

Instagram live shopping events

Our predictions for the future

Don’t get us wrong, we still highly recommend investing in marketing automation, but it only works if you invest an equal amount in personal contact with your customers. As global pandemics can come back at any time, you should always be prepared as a brand. Coming up with new ideas on how you can keep on servicing your customers both online and offline and how to streamline the experience should be continuous.

We believe people have now learned that choosing brands with the right values and the right approach actually bring value to all of us. So, keep on investing in your values, your communication, your transparency and your trustworthiness.

The talents behind this project

Because teamwork makes the dream work. 

Lissa Simons

Lissa Simons

Strategist

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+32 9 329 83 80 

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