Whether you are cheering on the footballers or debating #Brexit, it is an innate human desire to communicate. Of course these two timely examples account for just a tiny fraction of the outpouring of the need to talk. And long may it continue for our own good.
I think most observers would accept the proposition that human wellbeing is very much interwoven with the nature and extent of one’s own personal relationships. The connections between human beings and the passing between them of emotions and information is easy to comprehend. The ability to "get something off your chest" is far easier accomplished when talking with a fellow human: that simple act of sharing the experience goes a long way to resetting your body's natural harmony, rather than letting it simmer away in the back of your mind for hours or days on end. Humans are by nature social animals after all. Aren't we?
I'm sure you'll agree that over the past few decades there is a significant shift in the methods we use to maintain and grow our relationships as our lives have become increasingly digitised. The ability to post your current status for all to see, or tweet your titbits or even blog away your brainwaves, suggests that at least in part the desire to communicate can be satisfied by broadcasting either within our social group or publically.
So what does this really have to do with business? Well simply put, people tend to do what they enjoy, or will at least choose to do that first if given the option. So if you desire someone’s attention, then you had better pay some regard to what they may like to do. And therein lies the key to the fast developing Conversational Economy.
If you have never heard of the conversational economy then I recommend you take a look at Sarah Guo's blog post and if I may I will repeat Sarah’s definition:
The Conversational Economy is defined as the collection of companies and products built with or alongside a primarily conversational computing interface. It encompasses the growth of messaging applications, voice-controlled computing, bots and services that sit — or just start — within messaging apps/voice-controlled hardware, and enabling, picks-and-shovels products.
For our own sins, we focus on online dialogue and how it is applied in personally engaging customers in productive sales situations: right at the point of purchase. I have debated on my blog about self service being bad for business how the ‘self-service’ paradigm does not serve businesses that sell complex products where a level of expertise is required to make the correct selection. Similarly the ‘loneliness’, or at least isolation of the digital shopping experience leaves an opportunity for those that can do more than offer the chance to post a review. We know that people like to have something to talk with and listen to their woes. It makes them feel appreciated.
So, where is the future taking us? In my opinion, the next phase of evolution will result in digital channels complementing their marketing with sales. And for that to be delivered through the commercial coming of age of Artificial Intelligence and language understanding … or to put it another way every webstore will be equipped with a ‘sales bot’. That sales bot will spend its days in dialogue to provide personalised and expert product advice, deliver highly customised (user preference driven) sales promotion, and perhaps undertake some routine administration. Most fundamentally it will listen, it will be there, and it will maintain your company's relationship with your customer.