When surveyed 81% of buyers say they want to establish real connections with brands. But they also don’t want to be overwhelmed by brand communications. So is there any way to satisfy their desires? Yes; you put the customers’ needs first.
I connected with Surbhi Gupta, a digital product manager based in Silicon Valley, who suggests that the key to putting your customer’s needs first is to start from a user-centric position.
Gupta, who has 18 years of experience in shaping and predicting major industry trends for growing industry professionals, has helped many companies succeed in delivering a top-tier product to their end users.
She recently spoke at the 2023 Product-Led Summit in Las Vegas, where she shared some discoveries made while working on a messaging product for a large brand. Nearly three-quarters of the product’s users said they wanted real-time notifications as one way to connect with the brand. Yet when they got notifications, they started leaving the product out of frustration. It was an obvious (and confusing) case of disconnect.
After approaching the problem from a user-centered viewpoint, Gupta and her colleagues found the underlying problem. Essentially, “real-time” meant something different to users than it did for the company. Users only wanted truly urgent messages right away, not every notification right away. After uncovering this issue, the company began using contextual signals to determine whether to send or delay a notification. The outcome was a far more valuable system built around the needs of users.
If your brand is struggling to put your customer’s needs first, try the following strategies. Each is aimed at fostering more of a give-and-take with your users.
1. Give consumers control over what they see.
Putting consumers in charge of their notification cadence can be a game-changer. Consider Meta’s revamped notification system that Gupta helped overhaul in 2022, for instance. Consumers were given smart defaults and power to opt-out or opt-in. They could also choose how often they were contacted.
This change helped keep conversations flowing between brands and buyers. And what made the premise work was that it was controlled completely by users.
Users will only opt-in if they feel the messages they’re receiving have inherent value and importance.
With this in mind, explore your historic notifications data. Which of your messages get the most responses? Why do users appreciate them over other messages? Are there ways to replicate their success with the verbiage of your future notifications? Be sure to conduct plenty of tests so you can figure out how to please your target audience, so they don’t tune out.
2. Automate without losing authenticity or risking violations.
It’s easier than ever to set your systems on autopilot. Plenty of AI-powered systems promise out-of-the-box automation services. The only issue is that you don’t want your messages to sound too robotic or generalized. Remember, 70% of consumers expect personalization.
It can be hard to know where personalization begins and privacy ends, though. A full 95% of respondents in one recent survey said privacy mattered to them. Consequently, it’s essential for brands like yours to figure out how to lean into technology without violating ethical customer obligations.
This is an area to experiment and be hands-on in your approach. Make certain you’re following privacy regulations and best practices. Case in point: Evaluate how you’re collecting, storing, and using data. You want to foster sustainable, long-term, trusting relationships with customers. To do that, you’ll need to make sure your automated systems are authentic without losing sight of customers’ rights and needs.
3. Adopt a philosophy of continuous improvement.
The systems that work well for you this year might not work as well next year. Resist getting too comfortable or you won’t be able to pivot quickly. The last thing you want is to lose ground to disruptive, future-forward competitors with better setups.
Speaking with Gupta about the importance of continuous improvement, she said, “During my time at Tesla, I was able to revolutionize automotive sales with a zero-touch experience. That groundbreaking innovation embraced a direct-to-consumer model and empowered customers with the information they need, minimizing the need for sales interaction.”
Because Gupta focused on the needs of customers, her projects were industry-changing. In fact, the Tesla web-based application helped generate more than a billion dollars in revenue and saved hundreds of thousands man-hours each quarter. And other product leaders have been inspired to use this model of direct sales.
By looking over reports consistently and listening to consumer feedback, you can spot and remove friction points as soon as they arise. Less friction means fewer user cancellations and a better user-brand connection. It also creates new opportunities for innovation.
As part of this continuous improvement process, solicit customer feedback to inform your ever-changing system roadmap. Allowing users to add their input shows you care about their needs and wants. It also gives you one more touchpoint with your user base.
Getting notifications right can be challenging whether you’re a startup or legacy corporation. Regardless, it’s worth the investment to give your notifications an overhaul. Just be sure your efforts start from a user-centric place for the most impact. If it works for well-respected product innovators such as Gupta, it can work for your brand.