Companies are spending more time and money than ever before trying to understand their customers – often with the goal of finding the “Key” to knowing what customers want before the customer even knows themselves.
The days when you bought some data from a source like Claritas or First Data and then designed a media campaign that would reach your perfect audience through well defined and controlled channels is quickly evaporating.
Prior to the Internet becoming available, many ad firms used the emerging power of computers and early data science to try to understand and predict the yield of ad campaigns. The results improved in some cases, but there wasn’t a lot of repeatability in the methods and reference cases were rare and not talked about with clients. After all, being held accountable in an unpredictable area can be very difficult.
This lack of effective and repeatable processes frustrated marketers for decades, and they were fooled by the same “actor” that lead economists to so many flawed ideas over the last century: homo economicus.
The core economic concept of the time was based on the existence of homo economicus, or economic man – an economic belief that portrayed humans as always rational and operating in a fully aware environment, in which they always spend and behave in their best self-interest.
Behavioral Economics disproved the existence of homo economicus, and we now know that there are cognitive flaws in our thinking that lead us to buy and do things for reasons that aren’t in our self-interest – at times even against it. For example, we eat too much food that is bad for us, spend more to buy cars that go way faster than we are allowed to drive, and purchase rarely used exercise equipment that we soon forget under a pile of clothes we don’t wear much anymore.
Researchers in Cognitive Psychology and Neuroscience discovered that our thinking can be distorted due to Cognitive Biases – small flaws in our perception and processing that are similar to optical illusions. And the trickiest part about these biases, just like illusions, is that being aware of and understanding them doesn’t always prevent us from falling victim to them.
People can’t be re-engineered to remove these biases, as they are not the result of a lack of intelligence or learned knowledge. And although they are small influences, over time they can have a major impacts in our lives.
So how do we relate to our customers in a manner that reflects this new balance of power? Customers not only have access to your product’s offerings compared to other options, they also have endless reviews by people who already bought the variety of offerings.
The most influential people are no longer in your company, and they can no longer be filtered by J.D. Power and other “consumer advocacy” groups. They are now “peers” that can help you through advocacy, or hurt you with just a short blurb about how your promises fell short.
The answer is to start treating your customers as peers, respectfully and openly engaging them in an ongoing conversation that removes the need for surveys, focus groups and desperate offers as they head for the door.
THRIVE’s Conversational Learning platform is unique in the way it provides “learning” both on the customer side and the seller side, as each becomes better informed about the issues and considerations of a transaction between them.
You must have a relationship before you can manage it, and it is foolish to believe that a customer views themselves in a relationship with a vendor who never provides anything beyond a discount.
And while each buyer is unique, THRIVE Conversations adjust to the individual’s needs over time, matching the now known changing tastes driven by context, environments and situations. We’ll never be able to predict these, but we can detect them and make sure what we are saying will have relevance and contain interesting, useful information for our customers.
Thanks for reading!
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