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Hello? Is there a human inside?

July 11th, 2012 · 14 Comments · Branding, Customers/Clients, Voice

Honestly — haven’t you felt that way more than once when you’ve dealt with a business?

Either their marketing materials are so full of corporate speak that you can’t figure out what the heck they’re talking about or the service you get is lackluster at best and that’s being kind.

As consumers continue to get more jaded coupled with the fact that every business has plenty of competition out there — what consumers want and need from us is to know that we’re human.  They don’t expect perfection.  They just want to know that you’re real, that you care and that you’re not blowing smoke up their skirt.  That’s how they are going to choose.  They’re going to pick the company they like the best and they can’t like you if you are invisible to them.

So the question becomes — how do you show your human side?  How do you give your customers and prospects a sense of who you are and what matters to you?  If you and your brand are playful — how do you reveal that?  If you have a deep passion for what you do, where does that show up?

I don’t think too many businesses ask themselves those kinds of questions.  But we need to.  We need to actually make a connection long before the cash register rings.  Depending on your business — you might be able to do that in a one-to-one way.  But for most organizations, that won’t cover it.  They need to find a mass produced way of being real.

Yup — a mass produced way of being real.  How?

Here are two great examples.  One is the note from the company CEO that comes inside every package of Cold-EEZE.  The second is a grocery bag from Capital Market. (Hat tip to Tom Narak for sharing the grocery bag photo with me)

 

Can’t you just hear their voices?  Can’t you feel their spirit and don’t you have a sense of what it would be like to interact with them?  I don’t know about you, but I want go to that grocery store.  I’d expect to be completely delighted by the experience.

I can hear you now.  “But Drew, those are consumer products.  In the B-to-B world, we can’t do things like that.”  I call bull on that.  Yes, you can.  Every company has a spirit.  We can call it your brand or your true north or your core reason for being.  But it’s there.  And it’s your job, no… your responsibility to show it to us.

All of us, every consumer on the planet, desperately wants to know if there’s a human inside.

Show us.

 

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14 Comments so far ↓

  • John@PGISelfDirected

    This is such a wonderful reminder to business players that seem to forget that their clients-consumers-patrons have feelings. Keep the superb stuff coming!

  • Holly

    Squishable.com is another example of a company that is authentic and human. I wrote about the experience at my agency’s blog: link to bit.ly

    Squishable faced a pretty huge logistics crisis a few weeks back when an anniversary coupon went viral. Many more orders came in than they had predicted, and shipping would be delayed by days. The retailer immediately reached out to customers to apologize and to thank them for their business. The email was positive, upbeat and (maybe most importantly) grateful.

    • Drew McLellan

      Holly,

      Great post, thanks for sharing it. I always appreciate companies who handle the bad days well. I think it speaks to their outlook on business and the relationship they want to have with their customers.

      Drew

  • Claudia

    I shopped at Central Market in Austin TX when it was a new concept; they had fabulous customer service and worked to exceed expectations-especially for a grocery store. It’s been over 10 years now, so I can’t comment on their current status. But the bag does say a lot. Maybe more CEO’s need to experience their own business from the outside in; call the front desk, try to schedule an appointment, shop in the store farthest away from your home, stay on hold and listen to the music/message. Experience the real company.

    • Drew McLellan

      Claudia,

      There’s a lot to be said about walking in someone else’s shoes. For most CEOs (unlike Undercover Boss) it’s a tough thing to pull off. Which is why secret shopping and customer interviews/reviews are so important. Sounds like I’m going to have to take a field trip to Central Market when I’m in Austin next!

      Drew

  • Adrian Swinscoe

    Hi Drew,
    Thanks for pouring cold water on much of the ego that exists in B2B and B2C business and sales. Time we took a good look at how we each other and our customers and get out of our own way.

    Adrian
    Adrian Swinscoe recently posted..The customer service revolution is here and now – Interview with Mikkel Svane CEO of ZendeskMy Profile

  • Scott Heitland

    Drew,

    Bravo for calling “bull” on claims that it’s not feasible to focus on the human side in the B2B environment.

    There is ALWAYS a human element somewhere underlying every B2B experience. Why? Because behind the screen of every business customer are humans … humans who happen to be decision-makers and influencers. Companies that take action to connect on an emotional level with those people behind the screen will naturally have a competitive advantage. Companies that fail or refuse to understand this I believe do themselves a great disservice.

    Thanks for sharing this post with us!

    Scott Heitland

    • Drew McLellan

      Scott,

      I think many companies are looking for the quick fix, fast marketing solution. And the reality is — it doesn’t exist. Even for companies like Apple, who enjoy incredible market share — it was a long haul.

      We need to stop looking for shortcuts and just do the heavy lifting.

      Drew

  • Glenn Murray

    Yes, yes, yes! Couldn’t agree more. Nice one. Trying to convince clients, though? That’s a whole ‘nother story’! ;-)
    Glenn Murray recently posted..Your property descriptions are boring. And no-one cares but you!My Profile

  • John

    Drew,

    Yeah, I have encountered a lot of marketing presentations which are too corporate to understand by common people so I was not interested with the offer at all. I like your last example there. Even if it’s just a thing you can feel that it’s appealing to you like a real human being.

    -Jack
    John recently posted..info on fractionationMy Profile

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