• June 1, 2021
  • By Leonard Klie, Editor, CRM magazine and SmartCustomerService.com

The Latest CRM Innovations Prove That Words Truly Matter

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I FEED MY DOG a mix of dry and canned dog food twice a day. I noticed recently that the canned dog food I’ve been buying for a long time changed its labels to say that there is now more gravy in the can. That’s good, I thought. Then I started to catch on to what the company was really saying: To cut costs, we’re putting less meat in the can, replacing it with less-expensive gravy.

This just brings home the point that the key to effectively marketing change is how you say things. Instead of saying “Now with Less Meat,” the company went with “Now with More Gravy,” turning a clear negative into a positive.

This isn’t the only example of just how much words matter. In the late 1980s, the National Pork Board rolled out its “Pork…the Other White Meat” ad slogan. Those words essentially deceived American consumers who were looking to stay clear of red meat as a way to preserve their heart health. Even though the medical community and the U.S. Department of Agriculture technically classify pork as a red meat, advertisers used tricked-up words to associate pork with more health-conscious meats like chicken, turkey, and fish. And it worked: Pork consumption in the United States spiked in the late 1980s and early 1990s while beef consumption declined precipitously.

Corporate branding and advertising rely almost entirely on the right words to pique consumers’ interest, manage their perceptions of the world, and position products in front of them at their time of need. Words are how you persuade, how you compete, how you win. Words are what help you communicate ideas, and when used correctly, the right words communicate only the ideas you want to convey and draw attention away from the ideas you don’t want people to know.

Politicians know this all too well. That’s why Republicans and Democrats continue to argue over the definition of “infrastructure” as they try to iron out the next multitrillion-dollar spending plan, the definition of “assault rifle” in the latest gun control debate, and the definition of “defunding” in the criminal justice reform debate.

Corporate communications, though, is now a two-way process. Companies want to and need to hear from their customers, and words are just as important in that area of CRM.

While early CRM and contact center systems required customers to speak in very specific and limited terms in response to carefully scripted voice prompts, systems today allow customers to speak conversationally while natural language technology understands and processes their words.

This month’s cover story, “Natural Language Works with More Than IVRs,” sheds light on all that the technology can do today. And it’s not just over voice channels, as natural language processing technology works equally well on text channels.

With natural language processing, customers can express themselves in their own words, and the technology can understand what they are saying, analyze the topics of the conversations and the emotions expressed during them, and act on all that information.

While natural language technology has been on the rise for the past few years, COVID-19 caused an explosion in self-service, and this form of artificial intelligence proved critical in helping companies handle the surge, explains Daniel Ziv, vice president of speech and text analytics and global product strategy at Verint, in the story. “You need solutions that can understand intent and drive automated responses,” he says. “To figure out what those questions are, you need solutions like speech and text analytics that have NLU embedded in them to mine the incoming conversations in unstructured voice or text.”

In CRM, we are keenly aware that words truly matter. The words CEO speak reflect their corporate values. Words determine whether companies can be trusted. Words are what will be sending profitable customers your way, and words are what will keep customers spending money with you.

Winston Churchill said it best: Words are the only things that last forever. They might not be perfect all the time, but we need to choose them carefully, now more than ever.

Leonard Klie is the editor of CRM magazine. He can be reached at lklie@infotoday.com.

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