Whether you’re dealing with individual clients or businesses you still need to find a decision maker who is sitting on the other side of the screen. It doesn’t matter whether the person is there in their own name or behind a corporate identity, your job is to shine amongst all the other messages they get bombarded with every day. I believe the answer here is to treat them not as customers or clients but humans.
You’ve probably heard Bryan Kramer’s theory which states that “b2b or b2c no longer exists, there’s only human to human” (or h2h). At cloud development, we recognised that before it started being trendy and we created a company where we put humans and their experience in the centre of everything we do.
Having observed the market over the past few years I realised that whether you offer your services to other companies or individuals, you still need to reach out to human beings. Companies nowadays need to shine through piles of content their customers see every day. What they often don’t realise is that a positive brand experience can be a more important than the product itself.
What do I mean by human experience?
When I was working in market research, analysing dozens of studies for large companies, I realised that it’s impossible to get to know your clients by analysing their behaviour just on a single touchpoint. You have to think bigger.
We all wear different hats what impacts our perception of the world. To get a better view of their customers, companies need to broaden their view and realise that they’re not dealing with “users” or “customers”. We need to recognise them as humans, with their emotions, free will and individual behaviours.
For some this approach can go against their attitude about running a business. To have real human to human interactions we have to value authenticity and be honest with our customers. You may struggle to create a meaningful connection if your number one priority is raising profit margins. Could this be the reason why treating customers as humans is not that popular?
A useful tool which helps in understanding our customers is creating personas. Visualising a “real” customer in this way can help get to know them better. Including specific information about their preferences, how they’d like to be treated and what their needs are can help you develop ways to connect.
What does the world say?
Although many have now recognised human experience, we’re still not calling it by name. When I was a student we often spoke about ways to bridge the disparity between a corporate view of the world and that of a customer. A customer will be inclined to associate themselves with values of a brand, often without realising it. For example I drive a Volvo and work on a Mac because I believe in great design, safety, comfort and reliability.
More and more companies recognise the need to build a community around their brands as a way to create a positive customer experience. We all want to belong and connect with people (and brands!) who have similar values, interests or needs. Content marketing is another way to attract people to brands; telling stories through content is a powerful tool but that’s a topic for another post.
Humans of cloud development
At cloud development we also recognise each other as humans and that’s what our job titles are too. Partly because we don’t see the point of having heads or chiefs if there’s nobody to manage but we also want to stress the fact that we wear many hats. Every member of our (small) team can, and is encouraged to, contribute in as many areas of the business as they wish.
Secondly, we believe that being a “simple” human helps develop connections with others. At one networking event I attended everyone introduced themselves as a big fish – directors, heads, etc – and everyone wanted to attract new clients. Only one said his name was John and that he was a web developer. Guess who all the clients wanted to speak to?
I believe that recognising each other as humans within the company can help us project that message outside, to our clients. We are humans. We work for humans.
To wrap up
Human nature steers us towards other human beings. Although we try to automate, simplify and dehumanise many things, we still strive to have relationships with actual people (not only the bots as the newest trends show). We may become segments in some marketer’s spreadsheet but authenticity and empathy, also from a business perspective, will never go out of style.
Also published on Medium.