Role of conversation intelligence for brands post COVID-19

Thought Leadership Article by Talkwalker CEO, Robert Glaesener.

With many brands looking for insights into what the ‘new normal’ will be post COVID-19, technology and digital transformation will play a huge role in enabling survival of individuals and businesses. Never before has a customer-centric strategy been so important for brands.

By putting the customer first, at the heart of the business means businesses are aware of the importance of listening to their customers and activate it in real life to drive decisions in the organisation. By listening to consumers and anticipating what they need, brand loyalty is won.

In the past twelve months we have seen an unprecedented shift in the importance of consumer and customer intelligence within organisations: according to our recent global survey of 1000+ industry professionals over 80% of respondents believe that the COVID-19 pandemic has changed their understanding of consumer conversation.

While social media is still a must-have for brands in today’s environment, there are many other channels where the voice of the customer can now be heard: product reviews, location reviews, online communities, surveys, call centre transcripts, chatbots, etc. All of these channels have become even more important as socially distanced customers look for a more human and personalized touch in their digital interactions with brands.

Becoming a customer-centric brand takes time and effort - but without a customer-centric culture, businesses will fail to meet goals and objectives. In 2020, when the world stayed at home, brands that were able to adapt, accelerate their digital transformation and anticipate the new needs of its customers were able to not only survive the global pandemic – but also saw an increase in profits.

Throughout 2020, the automotive & mobility industry went through important changes at a global level, to become a more sustainable industry. Not only was COVID-19 a huge factor in transportation decisions, but the growing issues of climate change and green mobility was very much at the forefront of peoples’ minds.

One of the factors that led to the acceleration of green mobility was the temporary reduction of CO2 emissions due to COVID-19, which reminded brands and consumers alike of the looming climate crisis. A second factor came about due to social distancing measures, people began looking for alternatives to public transportation, making way for bicycles and electric scooters. Additionally, the sales of hybrid and electric vehicles rose in places like Europe last year, with governments tightening emissions regulations.

The physical barriers imposed by the pandemic accelerated the transformation of the financial services industry through innovation and decentralization. Innovation was permeating the industry through AI, greater adoption of digital banking and a surge in FinTech startups. The online banking market also saw a huge growth whilst traditional banks created new apps or improving the customer experience of existing apps, and neo-banks leading the charge for digital transformation.

It’s no surprise that one of the most discussed topics of 2020 was COVID-19, and as a result, conversations around the pharma & healthcare industry grew exponentially. Healthcare has seen rapid digital transformation whilst the pharma industry, with people constantly tracking and commenting on

the latest medical updates and vaccine developments around the virus has seen the growth of misinformation around the industry, especially related to COVID-19. For months now, the pandemic and the vaccine have been at the top of the list of anti-vaxxers and conspiracy theorists.

Superior consumer and customer intelligence is now a matter of survival for brands in each and every industry: they must become even more customer-centric. Or accept to fall behind. As a result, the role of enterprise listening platforms such as Talkwalker lies in helping these brands connect the dots between social conversations and the voice of the customer.

It is no longer enough for companies to independently practice social listening, market research or customer experience. Brands need to break down their internal data silos, and activate the voice of the customer in real-time by combining all three in one unified platform. Thanks to advances in artificial intelligence, from sentiment, speech and visual analytics to conversation clustering, all of this information can be analysed at scale in the same place to boost marketing ROI, improve customer experience from start to finish, and create new and enhanced products.

Innovative businesses need to be able to quickly analyse this mass of consumer and customer conversations and obtain a 360-degree view of the latters’ changing preferences and behaviours. This is how brands will accelerate their business and remain relevant in today’s marketplace: with conversational intelligence that goes beyond social listening, beyond media insights, beyond traditional market research. It is time for them to activate the voice of the customer in real-time.

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