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The role human
touch plays in the
digital customer
experience

Author: Gordon Littley

When it comes to customer experience (CX), digital transformation has changed everything. In fact, it’s hard to envision any customer experience improvement that doesn’t rely on leveraging some sort of emerging digital technology.

Cloud computing, automation, and artificial intelligence—and the data they exchange—all enable today’s enterprises to know more about their customers than ever before. They promise a better digital CX by offering multiple entry channels, along with better predictions about the next best action to provide. However, it can be all too easy to start looking at data points as data points, not as what they represent: a customer making a choice.

The power of people helping people

In the rush to implement an optimal digital customer experience, it’s key to remember that sometimes the best way to help a human is with another human. You need to carefully balance your automated touchpoints with the human touch by using technology to augment, not just replace, the personal experience in a way that will build relationships and inspire brand loyalty.

The reason is that transactions are rarely purely transactions. There’s an emotional component to every purchase, however slight, that a customer creates with almost every product, company and brand. Depending on the product, people invest an incredible amount of time and effort researching, shopping for and purchasing things they think will solve a problem, make them happy, show their love, 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 a customer experience failure. Whether it causes a minor inconvenience or completely ruins someone’s day, the bond of trust between the brand and customer has suffered a breach. And while you can perhaps create a fully automated digital customer experience, a chatbot or AI-powered support page can only do so much to restore trust. The customer should always have the opportunity to work with another person who can provide empathy during the make-or-break part of the customer journey.

How to make digital customer experience more human

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

Provide choices to enhance your digital CX

Provide choices: Let your customer decide how they want to interact with you. Nearly 80% of people surveyed say that convenience is the most important element to a positive experience; because different people have different definitions for what is convenient for them, you need to provide a range of options. Sometimes an automated Tweet is the best way to solve a problem; other times it takes a call or even an in-person interaction. Let the customer tell you how they want to solve the problem, not the other way around.

Learn by listening carefully to your customers

Listen carefully: People have never been more willing to share what they think about their brand experiences on social media. But they also expect you to be a part of the conversation. In fact, 31% of Americans expect a brand to respond to complaints or questions posed to brands on social media within 24 hours. Monitor social media and reviews to see what customers are saying while ensuring you respond quickly when customers reach out to you on those channels.

Use digital technology thoughtfully

With the continued growth in the use of chatbots, brands will be relying on data and automation to significantly improve the digital CX. Overdo it, though, a digital customer experience can feel fake or sterile. Use technology to augment the human touch through personalization and convenience, rather than replace human interaction. With one in three people saying that customer service already feels too impersonal, when others take automation too far, you’ll be able to stand apart as the brand that truly cares about its customers. All because you have people to provide that care in the first place.

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 digital CX than either can do alone.

Learn how Verizon can help you improve your human and digital customer experience thanks to our deep industry expertise and fresh perspective.

Gordon Littley is Managing Director, Domain and Vertical Business Development for Verizon.