“And in the naked light I saw
Ten thousand people, maybe more
People talking without speaking
People hearing without listening
People writing songs that voices never share
And no one dared
Disturb the sound of silence”
The Sound of Silence
Paul Simon (Simon & Garfunkel, 1964)
Do the lyrics to this popular song describe your brand’s online presence and its relationship with your customers? Is your brand talking to thousands without speaking? Is it hearing without listening? If it is, the focus of your brand’s communications needs to shift from “you” to “them” because, in an online world where transparency and engagement are increasingly relevant, all customer relationships are personal.
There is nothing new or magic to building mutually satisfying, long-term customer relationships. Think about the personal relationships you have with others. The relationships that continue to thrive over many years are built on trust and intimacy. Where talking implies a one-way conversation about you, speaking implies an exchange of views. Where hearing implies an awareness of what was said, listening implies an understanding.
If the goal of your brand’s online communications is simply to sell your brand or your products, then all you’re really doing is talking. While your customers may hear you, over time they will stop listening to what you have to say. They will stop buying from you and, more importantly, they will end their relationship with your brand.
Start speaking with your customers. Look for ways to engage them – over the phone, on social media or face-to-face. Being in front of customers isn’t just for sales, it’s a requirement for anyone in marketing who truly wants to understand their customers. Start listening to your customers and what they have to say about your brand and its products. Develop a deeper understanding of what people are saying about your brand and why, along with a sense of who your strongest advocates are.
Because when it comes to people, all relationships are personal.