Croud

Getting Personal- Why We Should Ask Thoughtfully And Listen Carefully

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At the beginning of the year, a New York Times ‘Modern Love’ column that claimed that the key to falling in love with anyone, at any time, could be found in two people asking each other 36 questions designed to foster intimacy and vulnerability. The article referenced an academic study titled (rather verbosely, as most academic studies, unfortunately are) ‘The Experimental Generation in Interpersonal Closeness: A procedure and some preliminary findings’.

Now, I’m not about to suggest anything quite as obnoxious as that there are 36 magic questions to make you fall in love with your digital marketing agency, although we do think we’re pretty loveable (at least some of us). However, when it comes to client experience and relationships, asking some considered questions and genuinely listening to those answers is essential to cutting through the ‘marketing-speak’ noise and getting to the core of things. And though we may live in a hands-free, contactless and very soon, driverless world, the human element remains more important than ever in the digital marketing industry.

The 2015 Digital Trends Report revealed that when asked to pick the single most exciting area of opportunity in the coming year, customer experience came top of the list in a poll of over 2,500 industry players. Additionally, more than ¾ of respondents said the number 1 way in which they sought to differentiate their agency was through customer experience. This is a good thing, because increasingly businesses are expecting their agencies to provide not just service and strategy, but creation and execution – and this requires clear and constant conversation.

Now, it may seem searingly obvious to basically say: talk to each other a bit more. But it’s surprising how often core values and aims are forgotten or allowed to become peripheral during the day-to-day management of accounts.

A well-studied phenomenon in human psychology is that of mirroring, where people subconsciously and intuitively will mirror each other’s speech patterns, body language and nonverbal cues. It builds rapport and allows for a more seamless flow of communication. Mirroring isn’t just mimicking though – it’s a sophisticated process that involves the interpretation of these signals and replicating them in a way that’s mutually intelligible. The principles of mirroring can be helpful when thinking about client experience – look to understand their ‘language’ and be able to communicate in it:  not just in the produced work, but in how to share, deliver and report it.

When I first tried to write this, I wanted to produce a punchy, “cool”  article – filled with superlative enthusiasm and topical keywords. Pretty quickly I realised that that wasn’t my natural tone – and it was going to sound inauthentic. When ‘mirroring’ is done properly the client should feel like their natural tone is being refined, improved and amplified – not distorted. And Croud has several advantages that make this whole process just a bit more intuitive: an extensive Croudie network that encompasses countless nationalities, countries and languages, which means subtle cultural nuances can be picked up on,  a diverse talent pool from different backgrounds, and something that I’m particularly proud of – an almost equal gender balance in an industry that on average has a 70:30 male to female ratio.

So aside from asking what your KPI’s and position on brand name bidding are – some of the things that your digital marketing agency should be asking you (and really, you them too) might include:

HOW DO YOU MEASURE SUCCESS?

So we can know what you value, are likely to prioritise, and in what framework you measure success.

WHAT HAVE YOU BEEN IMPRESSED WITH LATELY?

We want to know what wows you, what that little extra thing is that you find exciting, so we can know where you’re curious and questioning.

WHAT MAKES YOUR CULTURE DISTINCTIVE?

So we can understand what it is you’re especially proud of, what you want your business to feel like, and how you like to work –  we see ourselves as part of your internal team.

It’s this depth of understanding and engagement which makes the difference between providing a service, and creating a true partnership – although you might still want to save Question 24 (How do you feel about your relationship with your mother?) for someone else.

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