The role human touch plays in the digital customer experience.

Published: May 02, 2018
Author: Gordon Littley

Digital transformation has changed everything when it comes to the customer experience. In fact, it is hard to escape the seemingly endless drumbeat of emerging digital technology offerings presented to businesses as ‘the latest best solution’ to delivering a better customer experience.  Cloud computing, automation, and artificial intelligence – and the data they exchange – have enabled today’s enterprises to know more about their customers than ever before. 

They promise a better experience by offering multiple entry channels and better predictions about ‘the next best action,’ but often overlook the most important part of that experience:  the customer.  There is certainly immense value in bringing tools and technology to simplifying every interaction with your brand, but businesses cannot overlook the fact that on the other side of each transaction is a human being.  And for some interactions, the best way to help a human being is with another human being.

As much as these digital tools will change the way you provide customer experience, it will be key to carefully balance automated touchpoints with the human touch. Instead of replacing human interaction, technology should be used to augment the human experience in a way that inspires loyalty to your brand.

The key thing to keep in mind when it comes to customer experience is that transactions are rarely transactional. There’s an emotional connection, however slight, that a customer creates with almost every product, company and brand. People invest an incredible amount of time and effort researching, shopping and purchasing things they think will solve a problem, make them happy, show their love with a gift, and increase their status or any number of other emotional reasons.

When a product doesn’t live up to its promise, it’s not just a product failure. It’s something that can cause a minor inconvenience, something that can ruin someone’s day, or in some cases something that can feel like a complete betrayal. While you could perhaps fully automate the customer experience, a Chabot or AI-powered support page can only do so much. The customer should always have the opportunity to work with another human who can provide empathy during the make-or-break part of the customer journey. Even with the best automated processes, in certain circumstances, humans still like to talk to humans. And, the human touch can always lead to more and unexpected sales opportunities.

For example, I recently ordered several items from an outdoor clothing company. The shopping experience was completely digital and satisfactory. However, after I received the goods I purchase, I received a call from a “human” checking on my purchases and if I wanted to exchange any of the items. This hadn’t happened before, and I liked it.  Not only did I turn into a brand advocate and loyal customer, but I ordered more merchandise right away.

As you work through your customer experience digital strategy, don’t forget to keep the human touch a part of your foundation. Here are the four key things you need to do to let your customers know they matter:

  • Provide choices : Let your customer decide how they want to interact with you versus you dictating how they interact. Sometimes an automated Tweet is the best way to solve a problem; other times it takes a call or even a face to face interaction.
  • Listen carefully : People have never been more willing to share what they think about their brand experiences.
  • Act intently : Every customer experience is the chance to forge a lifelong fan or lose a customer for life.
  • Use technology thoughtfully : The use of data and automation can greatly improve the customer experience. Overdo it, though, and the customer experience can be disingenuous.

As today’s innovative technology becomes tomorrow’s table stakes, the human touch will be what separates a great customer experience from a poor one. The ability to tie technology and the human touch together will help deliver a better customer experience than either can do alone.

For more information on how to provide better customer experiences, click here.    

Gordon Littley leads the specialized sales organization for Verizon’s industry leading applications services group.