29 April 2016

Where Emotional Intelligence and Customer Intelligence Intersect

Emotional Intelligence (EI) is all the rage these days in the upper echelons of customer engagement strategy discussions. If you can tap into the heart of EI, which is the ability to identify and manage your own emotions and the emotions of others, you can architect engagement solutions that simply perform better. Understanding your individual customer’s contextual situation and persona archetype can provide service reps and sales people with strategic advantages when engaging with customers and prospects.

In the business development arena though, where successes have been defined by the colloquial reference of “it’s a numbers game,” EI is simply not enough to get the job done for the sales team. While EI helps you engage on the individual level, from a macroeconomic sense, it does not help you reach the audience segments you need to engage. The forensic question that emerges when dissecting a business development strategy is “how do I find groups of customers with similar personas and engage them?”

How EI Impacts Employee Hiring & Customer Engagement

In my professional role as a Digital Marketing Quarterback for my company, I often have to gather different human resources to build the online marketing team that services each of our clients. Each of our staff members has his or her own territory of value and experience, which they bring to the company. In the same way I have to craft individualized messages to each staff member to bring them onto the team, I realized that this technique can be applied to personalizing the engagement of customers – both for business development of new business and referrals from existing clients.

Emotional IntelligenceWhen my partner and I started LA DEZIGN almost a decade ago, we used to talk about search engine optimization (SEO) all the time. For years, we got fooled into thinking that our own customers wanted to talk about SEO. We would describe how our team was going to use different types of strategies to build quality backlinks to their websites. We would talk about launching an ongoing content publishing and syndication strategy that would project Authority, Thought Leadership and Substance to Google and Bing search engines. We would talk about the ubiquitous “meta-tags” and other technical assessments we had to perform to ensure their websites were optimized as per the latest guidelines.

You know what we found out though? The clients were not interested in all these tactical conversations. In fact, they didn’t want to know what we were going to be doing for them – on a technical level. They often felt that those conversations were not personal to their needs and to their situation. Unless they were being asked to participate and do something like produce new content, we learned over time that they really didn’t want to be involved.

You know what they wanted to talk about though? They wanted to discuss their ranking goals under the larger corporate initiatives of both lead generation and a meaningful ROI (return on investment). What kind of rankings would they get if we were successful? What kind of leads would they receive if rankings started appearing in Google and Bing?

As we came to realize that our mission was really about finding and engaging customers for our clients, it literally transformed our understanding of our own business. And this has had tangible impacts, which I hope to share in this blog post.

EI is inherent in Persona Development

personas-articon_Persona DevelopmentFirst, we learned that we had to work with our clients to create different landing pages on their websites for the same products and services that served different audiences. Some marketing firms call this PERSONA development. The idea is to identify client types and then present each “type” with an engagement funnel that uses EI tactics to provide messaging that talks to them in a way that appears less generic and more personal.

Now, these customized landing pages are only effective if people see them.

web_icons_final_Persona DevelopmentAnd that’s where the second part of our new mission identity has been realized. Instead of just relying on rankings to reach people, we realized that only a portion of the Audience Segments our clients were targeting were using search engines to search. There were significant numbers of people that were good candidates for our clients’ businesses that we had to reach through different engagement channels.

Thus was born the term omni-channel marketing. Now, we are actively reaching targeted prospects via multiple engagement channels such as Facebook advertising, social media content sharing, Google AdWords, and the relative newcomer to the block: “programmatic” advertising. Programmatic advertising is a way of reaching people through banner and text ads on other websites based on their browsing habits and demographic characteristics. Because we have total control over each acquisition channel, we can send visitors to customized engagement experiences that speak to them.

Using EI in natural language programs to create the right tone

These marketing lessons can be adapted from our omni-channel marketing business and applied to the IVR world. Here’s where I think there is an intersection point that brings these worlds together.

In the IVR space, one of the Holy Grails of an engagement experience is the ability to provide an intuitive journey through each stage of the IVR process. There are studies underway that are trying to measure the sounds in people’s voices at a decibel level not heard by humans. And with an almost instantaneous response, the IVR system can switch between a passive and active voice. This is almost like using EI in a live conversation because contact center agents must adjust their tone and language based on the customer’s level of emotion.

As an action item, I leave you with two next steps to ensure that you reach your customers and that your marketing efforts don’t fall on deaf ears.

First, read the article on EI by Mike Mendelson or the article on Implementing EI at your Organization by John Podlipnik.

And separately, commission a Targeted Audience Segmentation review that can be applied to your business development efforts just as much as to customer service inquiries (where IVR systems shine). Then, develop engagement experiences that speak to each audience. Finally, deploy an inbound marketing strategy that can send targeted people to the initiation points of your engagement experiences and move them into your sales funnel.

Stay tuned for a future piece on lead nurturing, which will offer up insight on how to engage prospects once they are on your website.

Authored bY

Jason Ciment

A former attorney and CPA, Jason Ciment founded LA Dezign in 1997. As Chief Executive Officer of the company, Jason Ciment oversees all of LA Dezign’s business and works to ensure consistent and high-quality work on every LA Dezign project.

Jason makes it his goal to stay at the forefront of web design and Internet marketing technology.

His blog www.jasonciment.com is a testament to his interest in ecommerce and web design and his extensive knowledge of Internet marketing tactics. On his blog and in his newsletter, Jason offers insight regarding the ins and outs of creating a successful website. Although he is personally involved in every project and in direct communication with every client, Jason focuses on the marketing aspect of LA Dezign.

Outside of the office, he enjoys keeping up his involvement in communal and charitable projects and spending time with his wife and four children.

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