The ART of CONVERSATION

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As a marketer and market researcher, I often wonder about the effectiveness of various communications techniques. Obviously, the marketing and advertising world is going through very rapid changes these days. Many of us are struggling with measuring the effectiveness of social media advertising, finding the correct messaging for online media and similar issues. My training was “in the good old days” of telephone, mail and face-to-face customer contact. Are any of those techniques as effective today as they once were?

My specialty is “Voice of the Customer” techniques and executive interviews. I often ask myself, what happened to the art of conversation? Very little emphasis is given to this topic in major universities these days (I teach at a couple of local universities in San Diego). Is this a lost art? Does anyone care? I think not.

One of the highly-touted benefits of Blogging and online conversations is the interactive nature of the discussion. There is an ebb and flow, point and counterpoint. However, I lot of what I see and read seems impersonal, sometimes aggressive and downright nasty. Does the level of animosity expressed online translate into interpersonal conversations face-to-face? Sometimes I think the anonymity of “talking” online creates distance that enables people to express some thoughts much stronger than they might in person.

So, what about the Art of Conversation? There was a television commercial for an airline a few years ago that said the message of this piece well. The brokerage was losing clients. The CEO called all his executives into the board room and talked about losing a client that had been a client and friend for over 20 years. He said he was not going to call the client, but get on a plane a visit them, face-to-face. He handed out plane tickets to everyone else in the room and asked them to visit lost clients. Basically, their job was to listen…and learn! They were to be humble, to appear humble in their dress and body language. They were not to be “experts,” but to listen to what the customers had to say about their dreams and how their expectations had not been met by the firm. I loved that commercial! Have we been teaching our market researchers how to listen well, with their whole bodies? Do marketers and ad men use customer language in their messaging, as if they were speaking to customers face-to-face?

Perhaps I am a bit old fashioned, but I strongly believe that face-to-face conversations will always have a valued place in the marketing world, despite the world of social media. What do you think?

1 COMMENT

  1. you are right Chris. There is a wealth of information in customer conversations that is not organized and mined to find our what custoemrs are relaly saying. While every company may or may not do what the CEO in the above example did, they can definitely listen into the Customer on the web, instead of just being driven by CSAT surveys. the reality is CSAT surveys touch less than 1.5% of the customer base and do not reflect the total reality.
    If companies can instead listen into the social conversations that are happening everyday the benefits can be tremendous.

    (you may find this blog relevant to this topic
    http://www.247customer.com/innovationlabs/blog/?cat=5)

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