There’s no dispute that the word “authenticity” is a marketing buzzword right now. Any brand (or person for that matter) on social faces the challenge of getting the attention of people who crave honesty, transparency, and “real” interaction on platforms that are anything but.
Real authenticity creates connections; inauthentic behaviour turns people away. Social media is crowded with filtered versions of life and app features that are specifically constructed to take advantage of your time. For Generation Z folks who have lived their entire life alongside social media, they can detect fake emotion or brands trying too hard better than anyone else. In a world where everyone has the power to curate everything about their presence, the desire for raw and unfiltered content is more valuable than it ever has been.
I voted in the US General Election yesterday and have been thinking a lot about why people don’t vote, especially young people. This article goes some way to explaining why and got some traction and even though it is very upsetting, there are some major takeaways that should be applied to not only politicians and the entire US voting system, but also to brands looking to create a connection:
- Make it simple to contact you and be where your customers are. Don’t expect people to behave differently. One person interviewed in the article mentioned that she thinks there are people her age who have never been to a post office. A large proportion of millennials and Gen Z folks resent even talking on the phone unless they absolutely have to. Agile (multi-platform), fast, reliable customer service is not the future – it’s now. If you make the experience complicated or difficult, people won’t return.
- Make your promise count. If you ask your customers to contact you, make sure you can deliver on your promise to help them. If you don’t, they’ll leave disillusioned and unlikely to come back.
- Make the experience authentic. Having an inauthentic experience or perceived / real dishonesty is a sure path to inaction or missed opportunity in the future. If a chatbot or a call center can solve an easy question quickly, sure, that works. If either option can’t handle a more difficult query or problem, you have inadvertently created a situation where your customer believes that your brand simply does not care enough about them.
Personal customer service done right is authenticity at its best – the beauty of social media for brands is the ability to actually communicate with your customers individually, to create the intimacy that is impossible through above the line channels. Any opportunity to do this (even if it starts out negative) is a chance at creating a positive customer experience that can create brand loyalty forever.
Authenticity in message or in customer service is not a trend, it should already be standard practice.