Creating satisfying interaction experiences for buyers today is proving to be more complex than most organizations had guessed. Various surveys and reports continue to put satisfaction with content and information at or below 35% range. The translation for me, when factoring in the qualitative interviews conducted with buyers over the past year, is not only is there a lack of satisfying content, but also a lack of meaningful experiences.
Value The Human Experience
A lesson learned over the past few years is there is a risk of making content and the digital experience too self-referential. Meaning we create content and digital interaction based on our own ideas of what is “cool” – not based on insights into buyers and buying behaviors. Many “I think it is great” strategies and programs have ended up on the heap pile due to the lack of insights into what customers and buyers are wanting to accomplish.
In the past five-years, we have seen an amazing adoption to a digital world. We are a multi-synched society linked to multi-devices 24/7. Our professional and personal lives internetworked by multiple devices. Impacting buying behaviors where immediacy and relevancy are determined in split seconds.
Yet despite this evolution, we are seeing the desire for the human element to either not be lost or to be put back into the equation for digital interactions. Buyers today are seeking what we all seek – the human experience.
Human-Centered Marketing Approach
Developing a human-centered approach towards designing the interaction and buying experience involves looking at this approach through three (3) human lenses:
- Knowing your customer and buyer. Designing the buying experience – and to design it as a human experience – requires us to know our customers and buyers deeply. By this, I refer to knowing them not in a Big Data way – but in a qualitative human way.
- Know the goals of your customers and buyers. Understanding the goals of customers and buyers, in human terms, gives us the knowledge of what they truly want to accomplish. In the world of marketing today, we see plenty of mistaking business-oriented objectives for goals.
- Know how your customers and buyers can accomplish their goals. This is the greatest need organizations have today. Which is, figuring out how customers and buyers can accomplish their goals. It requires us to have deep knowledge of human behaviors related to activities and interactions customers and buyers are likely to engage in.
How To Know Your Customers
How do you get to know your customers and buyers through these three human lenses? The simple answer is – as humanly as possible. It involves human interaction to know customers on this level. Four steps companies can take to know their customers and buyers on a human level are:
- Interview real customers and buyers. There are no shortcutting understanding people than through first-hand direct qualitative interviews. What you seek is clear understanding of the goals and motivations of the people you will communicate with.
- Create in-depth personas. The purpose of personas, in this case, is to guide and inform decisions related to digital and human interactions. Personas are a translation of the robust insights gathered from first-hand qualitative interviews. They help marketing and sales teams to have a common understanding of their real customers and buyers. In today’s digital climate, companies must gain in-depth persona understanding at the customer, buyer, and user levels and how each influence purchase decisions.
- Focus in on the goals customers and buyers pursue. We seek to understand the true motivations of people when it comes to buying. Far too often, particularly with the rise in popularity of buyer personas, we see companies incorrectly perceive business objectives as goals. Knowing business-speak priorities, for example, are intended for sales-oriented buyer profiling and stop far short of understanding true goals of customers. And – stop far short of a human-centered approach.
- Employ the use of scenario analysis and design. To understand how customers and buyers set out to accomplish their goals, uncovering their goal-oriented behavior towards this end is essential to a human-centered approach to marketing. For instance, a recent decision management software company I helped uncovered five (5) specific scenarios customers and buyers engaged in to accomplish their goals. These led to a very targeted and specific content, sales enablement, and conversation plan on how they could help accomplish goals in each of these scenario settings.
Human Experience Is Everything
Where is business going in 2014 and beyond? As we look towards the future, we are seeing more intersections of business, professional, and personal lives. Which will increase the desire to have very real humanized experiences. The human experience will become everything because as the digitization of every aspect of life continues to evolve – the fear of losing the human touch increases.
Businesses looking ahead will need to adopt a human-centered approach to conducting business. Utilizing the important analysis tools of understanding goal-oriented behaviors and learning new practices such as scenario analysis and design. The intent is to distinguish themselves by not only understanding their customers deeply, but also by understanding how they can help accomplish their goals.