The Human Element of Conversational Marketing

I am often asked by contact center groups why blood centers hire us. While there are usually several motivating factors for outsourcing, a common requirement that all clients make quite clear is that is that they want us to add the human element to their donor interactions.

If our clients didn’t think there was value in us adding that human element they’d just send a dog with a note, right? All kidding aside, they could use web chat, IVRs (those computerized systems that you key in or speak information to), direct mail and/or other communication mediums. They expect and even demand that we put our individual personalities into conversations, because being ourselves provides a better customer experience and enhances the relationship.

“Conversational” means sounding natural, not canned, not monotonous and not rehearsed. It also means sounding empathetic where empathy is needed and sounding appreciative for the donor support. We’ve all experienced those kinds of calls at home from ill-prepared telemarketers. They probably annoy us more than they inspire us. I don’t think that anyone would argue that a conversation, by definition, also means two-way dialog. That means not just telling prospects or customers what we want to say, but actually listening and responding to their wants, needs and concerns.

It’s probably just as important, though, to recognize what conversational marketing isn’t as it is to recognize what it is. Being conversational doesn’t mean that we can just say or not say anything that we want. Take, for example, legal disclosures. Are legally required disclosures and conversational marketing mutually exclusive? Of course not! Even if the conversation goes in a direction that makes it challenging to give all the required information, would our customers want us to put them at risk by not providing said disclosures simply because it was easier for us to ignore them? Absolutely not.

The same can be said about gathering emails. If our client really wants to collect email addresses for additional touch points with their donors, should we say, “No. We won’t ask for those because it hinders us from being conversational marketers?” That would be a silly position to take. If I were the client, I’d go to a partner who could gather email addresses AND hold a professional, two-way conversation.

When our call quality folks note that we have failed to spell back information or cover something that our client wanted us to, that doesn’t mean that we have to abandon conversational marketing to fulfill those client requirements. We can certainly be conversational without resorting to just saying anything we’d like. Being yourself, listening well, responding professionally, sounding appropriately appreciative or empathetic, and still covering what needs to be covered is part of the fun of this business and are the signs of a true professional in this channel.