Intelligence pulls data together. In the realm of consumer intelligence, Talkwalker Middle East and Africa marketing executive Rami Deeb believes in putting that data to work one conversation at a time.
He has created digital marketing campaigns for high-profile clients with various regional organizations. During an Africa Tweet Chat, Deeb shared thoughts and insights into the latest trends in conversational intelligence.
“With conversational intelligence, you establish a shared sense of reality with your client base,” he said. “You want to create a consistent and relevant narrative within all members of the value chain to connect, engage and navigate with others.
“Conversational intelligence lies at the foundation of enhanced relationships with customers and partnerships with investors,” Deeb said. “That ultimately leads to becoming more agile and aware of trends. You gain an objective view of the state of your customers and community.”
A Talkwalker blog post looks at how to drive growth with conversational intelligence, which shares qualities with empathy.
“This is especially true in the last year when most brands have broken down the fourth wall in terms of tone of voice and overall communication strategy,” Deeb said. “People want to hear from brands that listen with purpose and show genuine compassion.
“Acknowledging that other people might have different points of view is half the battle,” he said. “Gaining influence goes deep into the human psyche, something we have yet to learn to do over Twitter.”
Equity Versus Affinity
An overall business strategy relies heavily on measuring brand affinity.
“First, we must distinguish between brand equity versus brand affinity,” Deeb said. “The former is the overall value a brand adds to the product—the reason why you choose to pay a premium price for a product, just because a celebrity posted it on TiKTok.
“Brand affinity is mostly an individual consumer-specific concept where you have to know your community,” he said. “That way you could relate to them and turn them into your No. 1 fans who are able to identify and defend your brand.”
Many tools give metrics that feed into marketing, sales and business development strategies.
“To create long-term impact, these metrics need to be tied to meaningful key performance indicators that are set alongside all your team members,” Deeb said.
“Nowadays, consumers are a brand’s best friends—and worst enemies in cases,” he said. “The brands that succeed to turn them into best friends forever are the same ones capable of establishing trust, likeability and a sense of common purpose.”
Conversational intelligence empowers a brand to establish the element of trust and empathy, yet avoid potential pitfalls.
“It begins—and ends—with trust,” Deeb said. “When your brand focuses on relationships rather than tasks, you’re capable of bridging realities amid a highly digital world.
“For example, when a company establishes an unwritten social contract with its client base that they will be transparent, genuine and honest, the clients will eventually trust and protect that brand,” he said.
Seeking General Trends
Conversational intelligence enables you to review your customer communication for common trends and patterns around frequent questions, pain points and desires.
“It’s a goldmine,” Deeb said. “The thing is, you as a brand don’t need to always ‘be right’ or be defensive about feedback. You must take it as an opportunity to engage and befriend.”
This is also where chatbots are problematic. They have zero empathy.
“Precisely,” Deeb said. “That’s until Generative Pre-trained Transformer 3 becomes publicly available. Then it’s difficult to differentiate. It’s time to end those tone-deaf automated emails and instead engage with our customers on a human level. Who doesn’t like a good meme?
“Transparency is a crucial element in any business aiming to attract millennials and Gen Xers,” he said.
A successful brand should leverage conversational intelligence to engage consumers emotionally, and ultimately sell more to them. In short, be truthful. People are not dumb. An authentic brand goes a long way.
“I’ll add that listening ‘with purpose’ is even more important these days,” Deeb said. “Everyone is using a social listening tool. Knowing the purpose of this data is going to differentiate you.
“Listening helps give your brand personality and even anticipate any sudden trends or opportunities,” he said.
Conversations build trust, offer support and add value. Doing so consistently will generate interest.
“Conversational intelligence lets marketing, sales, customer experience and e-commerce teams understand the motivation of each individual call,” Deeb said. “That helps to turn sentiments and triggers into real-time data and therefore personalize each touch point.”
Lessons from Listening
Active listening and active talking are important with perhaps a tilt toward listening. You get to know what your customers want when you pay attention to them. Then you get them to know you can solve their problems by talking.
“Brands are increasingly aware of the listening-talking dichotomy but remain at a distance from their community,” Deeb said.
A smart brand is flexible, sensitive and generous with the attention it gives customers.
“Brands need to realize that customers nowadays have higher expectations than ever,” Deeb said. “It’s not just about instantaneous responses or ‘Thank you for your purchase’ emails. Customers want to be heard, nurtured and included.”
Although listening should be tops, it has to be an active cycle of listen, talk, listen. If you don’t know what your customers are talking about, you won’t know what they want to hear from you.
“It’s like I always say, ‘Put yourself in their shoes,’” Deeb said. “Try to learn more about their background and why they’re purchasing your product or service. Don’t yell at your customers, and don’t ignore their perspective.
“Beyond active listening and talking, brands must be able to establish long-term engagement strategies with all stakeholders—employees, clients, partners and beyond—to make sure they’re truly connecting, sharing and learning.”
As sometimes happens on Facebook, consumers complain. Brands delete.
“To make things worse, there are now filters that automatically scrape off any negative comments or feedback,” Deeb said.
He noted several tips and tricks to increase a brand’s conversational intelligence:
- Maximize the use of social listening tools such as Talkwalker.
- Create a narrative—a story—that matches your value proposition.
- Give each client their time.
Instead of standard call center replies, train representatives to freestyle in ways that are genuine.
“Indeed,” Deeb said. “Call center staff are re-learning how to communicate and truly provide value to reflect their company culture.”
In a sense, real-time reputation risk management has reached a crossroad.
“Mitigating reputation risk is a top priority for most brands,” Deeb said. “The future lies in leveraging artificial intelligence and machine learning tools to streamline public and stakeholder relations, and reputation risk management. Knowing what to do in a crisis could save you millions.”
Companies that use consumer data could predict problems better.
“The thing with public relations crises is that they happen on a whim,” Deeb said. “It only takes one tweet to become viral. But I agree, consumer sentiment trends help give you a macro vision on the situation and therefore can predict problems.”