Customers today want to be heard. The onus is on the businesses to create mechanisms to listen without making them work for it. That’s the challenge we are out to solve, says Saxena
Companies don’t build products for customers anymore. They build them for customer segments. With better marketing tools and stronger distribution channels, these segments are becoming sharper. The distance, geographic or demographic, is no longer a barrier. But has market research fully capitalized on social communication to drive data, leverage metrics and innovate solutions?
There is often a stark difference between what consumers really want versus what they need. This pulse varies with the demographic, access to which remains limited in India. Last mile consumers lack the liberty to communicate their preferences due to access and language barriers. We confronted this on a recent research we were doing for a leading FMCG brand. Trying to capture consumer response to pricing in Tier-2 cities, at grassroots, we were reminded that online surveys had not yet penetrated the strata. We endeavor to bridge this gap by engaging in conversation-styled questions in local lingo, that will ease out the process of feedback.
Technology Uncomplicates Communication With Customers
Social communication has been made quite comfortable with messaging apps. The proof lies in statistics. India has 530 million WhatsApp users, the highest in the world. According to App Annie, a mobile insight firm, more than 95 percent of WhatsApp’s monthly active users in India use the app every day. Average Indian user spends 38 minutes per day on WhatsApp. This beckons the question of the competitive advantage that this platform offers to the field of customer engagement. With smart devices and internet penetration increasing in the country, more people are becoming familiar with otherwise complex actions like recording and sharing audio and video. This can foster engagement with the target audience directly, in a simplified way.
Palpable Need For Democratizing Customer Engagement
Customer relationships are at the heart of marketing strategies. While more than half of India now has access to the internet, there are prevailing gender gaps in accessibility due to economic, gender and socio-cultural barriers. The median age of usage is still skewed towards the young and the elderly population remains an outlier. These factors assume immense significance in the field of research to ensure representation. As brands look to create deeper dents in the market, there is a need for customer engagement tools that are inclusive and can reach the last mile, by communicating in a way that people are comfortable with.
Building For Bharat Needs Listening To Bharat
From effectively elevating customer service, retention, and brand recall, optimizing customer feedback mechanisms can render many profitable strokes for companies. It has the potential to open avenues to a whole new level of focused listening to create an authentic link with the Bharat that remains largely excluded but wants to be heard more. Information collected from the grassroots can isolate benchmarks for marketing campaigns, uncomplicate pain-points and
improve customer experience. Assessment of these sentiments can reveal local issues, which might otherwise be difficult to identify.
Bridge Across The Language Barrier
The pre-independence era of Indian history is full of anecdotes that show how language plays a critical part in understanding the pulse of the people, building a rapport and engaging effectively. There is a lesson for businesses in this - if you want customers to adapt to you, learn their language.
People are not hesitant to voice their opinions. As businesses increase listening meaningfully to what they are saying, real conversations will lead to data that can provide deep insight and a true representation. Tools we design are customized to facilitate this - enable businesses to engage the customer, not just talk to them. Knowing ‘where’ people are talking is important if the brands want to reduce barriers to engagement. Similarly, ‘how’ people are talking is equally important as well. With many businesses transitioning to a Direct-to-Consumer model since the pandemic, social communication has become more than just a sideshow. It’s about gaining insights, analyzing patterns and trends, and understanding the community at large.
Customers today want to be heard. The onus is on the businesses to create mechanisms to listen without making them work for it. That’s the challenge we are out to solve. We are excited to be the link between corporates and consumers, giving authentic insights about the country, and beyond.
The author is Sumit Saxena, Co-Founder & CEO, Merren
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