3 Ways to Humanize the Customer Experience

One thing is certain: Digital customers have huge expectations. And more than two billion people around the globe already shop online, according to research. That’s more than a quarter of the world’s population:

Does this mean brands should care about digital technologies instead of the human side of customer experience (CX)? Not at all. Recent research found that 85% of people say a human touch is critical to an exceptional digital experience:

And consider this insight from Rutgers University Center for Innovation Education:

Brands are dazzling customers with virtual and augmented reality, interactive screens and AI-powered everything…[However,] only 20% of consumers say they feel special and recognized by a brand representative.

Rutgers University Center for Innovation Education

What does this mean for brands? You should care about making your customers “special and recognized.” If you do you can win their hearts and minds — and gain long-term loyalty.

Here are three critical things to know to stay focused on the human element of CX.

#1 Know the Value of Multi-Channel Shoppers

Digital shopping is growing rapidly, thanks to the 24/7 convenience and efficiency it offers. But customers aren’t always after a speedy, but anonymous transaction. Many prefer to have human interaction available when they need it.

That’s why some people start their buying journey online, but visit a store to make a purchase. With in-store shopping, people can feel and see items they are consdering — and ask questions or seek support. and

The truth is, almost all customers use more than one channel when engaging with brands. And one-third use seven channels, according to  NICE and BCG:

Also, Accenture annual “Global Consumer Pulse Survey” revealed that some brands have created “human-less” digital service experiences. Often, these encounters frustrate customers. Why? Accenture’s also found that 83% of customers prefer to connect with human when seeking support.

This style of anonymous, hands-off service can work for simple issues, but not for more complex concerns. Instead of leaving customers alone to self-serve, brands need to find the right balance between digital and human experiences. As an Accenture explains:

Having lost sight of the importance of human interaction, companies often make it too difficult for customers to get the service they need.

Accenture

Despite digital’s rise, brands shouldn’t neglect the value of their brick-and mortar presence. According to a study published in the Harvard Business Review, mutli-channel shoppers spend 4% more than single channel shoppers.  And multi-channel shoppers spend 10% more than single-channel shoppers online.

#2 Emphasize Employee Engagement

Visionary leaders recognize that customer service is not the focus of a frontline team alone. Instead, a service mindset should permeate the entire organization:

Fostering engagement doesn’t depend on offering benefits and perks—although those tactics can support the end goal. Instead, employees feel engaged when they understand the mission of an organization and feel that their work is part of something bigger than themselves.

Employees also feel more engaged when they can “connect the dots” between what they do and how it directly affects customers’ lives. When companies recognize the link between employee engagement and CX, they can help employees achieve this understanding—even if they are not on the front lines with customers.

When employees are engaged, organizations see benefits across multiple dimensions. Turnover declines and employees perform at higher levels. As a result, companies experience upticks in customer happiness—and measurable financial performance gains.

#3 Share Customer Insights with All Employees

How can companies help employees make the connection between the work they do and how it affects customers? Communication is key. As CX expert Lynn Hunsaker of Clear Action explains, companies should use every available channel to keep employees focused on customers:

A wide array of sensitizers is necessary to keep the customer’s world front and center for executives and employees. Use every opportunity to provide everyone with consistent and vivid images of your target customers: post customer stories as articles, podcasts, and video on bulletin boards, intranet sites, newsletters, executive messages, and in staff meetings. Make the customer’s world personal to employees by streaming relevant voice-of-the customer data to every corner of your organization. Conduct workshops to help employees identify their jobs’ links to customers’ well-being, and to involve them in ways to act on customer sentiment data streams.

Companies can also regularly share voice of the customer (VoC) feedback at leadership meetings—and directly with front-line team members. By hearing customers’ perspectives on their service interactions, employees can develop empathy for customers experiences and strive to make them better.

Finding the Right Human and Digital Balance in Customer Experience

It’s tempting to intensify the focus on digital channels—but brands should never forget the essential human element in customer experience. In truth, both the digital and human customer experiences are critical—and the best CX programs support seamless transitions between both.

According to CRM Magazinecompanies can adopt these approaches to improve the human and digital experience:

  • Support Easy Channel Switching: allow customers to transition between human and digital interactions with minimal effort. Since multi-channel customers are the most profitable, focusing on this high-value group is important.
  • Listen to Customers’ Wishes for Personal Service: seek out customers opinions on where human interaction makes sense. These perspectives can help guide process to know where automation make sense—and where a human touch is vital.
  • Identify the Customer Pain Points: analyze customer feedback to identify the most difficult and frustrating experiences—across both human and digital channels. Focus on improving these problem areas to win customer good will.

In truth, companies need to realize that human and digital interactions are essential elements of every customer-focused strategy. They must embrace customers’ strong preference for engaging across multiple channels—and make every experience the best it can be.

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