The role of communication in a digital world
The traditional vision of the communication process between customers and organizations is based on a relation in that the customer receives information through media, advertising, direct marketing communication or phone calls to the customer, usually in a very straightforward and one-direction way – from the company to the customer. The same process is still seen in the selection and strategy development with potential Customers – identify Customers, send information and provide relevant contacts to propose meetings using the phone, after which there are meetings to understand the customer’s needs and develop proposals accordingly.
This relationship paradigm has suffered a dramatic change with the rise of digital communications. Customers are now reachable through a number of channels, in presence, over the phone and digital including, increasingly, in the mobile media. In each of these media, it is important to keep in mind that the distinctive factors in the relationship change – the type of information required changes according to the channel used, the media’s ability to convey information is not the same in each given case, as well as the span of attention, making mandatory to create a communication adapted to each channel. In fact, a common mistake of many companies that want to increase their reach to customers through digital channels is exactly not taking that fact into consideration. The customer is the same, but the interaction changes according to the channel or social media that is being used.
But also the contact process has become more complex, and that poses a challenge to organizations in the way they manage the interaction with their potential Customers. This is a fact because Customers can easily find information about the company online on the company’s website, but also, and increasingly, in the different foruns and online properties they visit, allowing them not only to know the way the company presents itself to the market, but also the way it is perceived by its customers, as well as allowing for an easy comparison with other suppliers. One positive example is Vorwerk, the maker of the well-known kitchen robot appliance Bimby which, beyond the usual sales teams, has created a Community (Bimby Forum and World of Recipes), that is even made bigger through the informal network of users of their products that exchange experiences, information and recipes amongst them, generating a flow of information about the company and its products that expands their reach and allows them to extend their commercial process.
This change creates a disruption in the communication process with the customers, since these become necessarily more active and demanding, requiring of the organization’s communication side, beyond the adequate and up-to-date information on their products and services, the ability to present information relevant to the different customer profiles, in a timing that is adequate to them, providing a clear added value, instead of plain information. Information value for the recipient is key. Communication has changed.