Relationship Counseling for Websites: Five Digital Languages of Love

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:: By Peggy Chen, SDL ::


February is the month of love, and there are quite a few comparisons to be made on the Web.

For instance, creating a great connection between a brand and a customer online is not all that different from building a relationship. If a website went to relationship counseling, what would their nearest and dearest – their customers – have to say?

“We have nothing in common.” “We don’t spend time together.” “It doesn’t listen to me.” Or how about, “Long-distance relationships just don’t work.”

If the conversation turned to, “They really get me," however, the relationship would be in a much different and much better place.

1. Listen to learn: build a relationship

Many brands spend an inordinate amount of time telling the customer about themselves: about what is important to them and about what they think should matter to the customer.

Like a bad date, when these customers spend time on a website, they essentially sit on the sidelines listening to the industry-centric jargon of a brand that really does not care about who they are talking to.

The relationship-building brand, on the other hand, gets to know their online customers so it can better meet their needs. It relates what the customer is looking for to its own knowledge, products and services.

It also provides practical solutions that address real-world problems. While it can’t take out the garbage for you, it can put the customer first.

On a B2B website, this can mean anything from a solution wizard, to information about best practices. For B2C, it can be practical suggestions for how to take a better photograph or gift suggestions for that hard-to-buy for uncle.

It combines product offering and resources that center on the customer first.

2. Give real gifts: personalized offers and rewards

Everyone has received them in an inbox or as a loud banner on a website. Unfortunately, that ‘special offer’ can be a little bit like receiving tube socks for an anniversary. It’s not really personal or what you wanted.

If a brand is going to make a special offer, it should be more than an email with a customer’s name on it. It should take into account their behavior, interests, local trends, seasonality and purchase patterns. Like any good gift, it is given with the customer at heart.

Benefits like exclusive deals, loyalty points and credits, discounts and truly special offers should reflect who the customer is and what they are likely to appreciate, rather than what the brand thinks the customer should want.

3. Spend time together: multi-channel experiences

There’s nothing more disheartening than spending time with someone who would like to be anywhere else in that moment. Some websites, that simply publish their generic website to mobile channels, provide a similarly disheartening experience.

The needs of a customer vary between channels. The way a customer chooses to spend ‘quality time’ with a brand varies between tablet, mobile and laptop. This includes how they consume content and the actual content they are looking for.

For a brand, the multi-channel world provides a unique opportunity to meet with customers in the moment by providing a contextually appropriate interaction.

4. Language is the key to the heart: translations at every touchpoint

While a romance with someone who doesn’t speak the same language seems dreamy in the moment, the real-world reality is that to build a relationship you must speak the same language.

According to Common Sense Advisory, in 2015 no less than 63 percent of global brands increased the number of translations offered on their websites to improve their customer reach. Interbrand 100 Best Brands research indicates a direct correlation between brand value and the number of languages offered indicating a clear relationship between customer reach and translation.

English only represents one-third of online content. With the growth of cross-border shopping, the growing strength of emerging markets and the preference of online shoppers to purchase in their own language, translation is a basic requirement for global brands.

5. Show your devotion in times of trouble: customer support

When things are great they’re… well, great. But the good times are not the test of a relationship. It is when everything – or at least some things – goes wrong that a relationship is truly tested.

For digital self-service and customer support, the ease with which a customer can resolve issues in in times of trouble have a direct bearing on whether or not they will remain a customer.

Like being there for a loved one, excellence in digital customer self-service is shown by being available through easy access to help, by providing clear paths to make it simple for the visitor to resolve their problem and by understanding the issues that customers most often face.

Create a relationship that lasts

What does applying this digital language of love mean?

- It’s not about you, it’s about your customer

- Know who your customer is and what they need

- Understand how they feel about you by understanding where they are at in their customer journey

- Be practical and smart about your investments in this crucial relationship

Don’t be coy. Let your customers know you care by putting them at the center of brand.


Peggy Chen is the vice President of marketing at SDL, the leader in global customer experience solutions. You can follow Peggy on Twitter at @pbc88.

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