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Strategy

The Necessity for People Power in a Technological Era

AI is imperative for parsing through data and enabling marketers to make quick and proficient decisions, but when it comes to customer service, good, old-fashioned human touch cannot be replaced

Matt Duczeminski
September 27 2017

There’s no denying that technology like customer relationship management and marketing automation software have completely revolutionized the way companies do business and interact with their customers.

These tools have made it much easier for marketing and sales teams to quickly get up to speed with where individual customers are within the sales cycle, how they’ve engaged with other team members thus far, and the company’s next steps.

While such technological advancements are certainly useful – and will definitely become more and more refined as time goes on – we shouldn’t completely rely on them as means of engaging with our customers.

As the overall customer experience becomes more and more automated, the more rare – and valued – human-to-human engagement between brand and consumer will become for brands and customers.

We’ll take a look at three reasons a human approach to customer engagement is – and always will be – essential to the success of your company.

The Importance of Forging Human-to-Human Connections with Your Customers

Though each of the following sections are inherently interconnected, it’s important that we discuss separately how humanized service benefits:

  • Your customers
  • Your company
  • Your potential customers

We’ll talk about the overarching ways in which a humanized approach benefits these specific entities and also tie in how these benefits ultimately improve your retention rate and lifetime value.

Let’s start with your existing customers.

Your Customers Crave – and Expect – Authentic Service

A key element of providing a top-notch experience for your customers is to make the experience authentic. By forging a human-to-human connection with your customers – rather than relegating them to automated responses and the like – you show them that you truly care, and truly want to see them succeed.

A 2009 report from Genesys Global titled The Cost of Poor Customer Service focused heavily on the importance of humanized and personalized aspects of customer service, including:

  • Integrating between self-service and assisted services
  • Multi-channel engagement and communication
  • Proactive engagement on the part of the company

Additionally, the report shows that customers crave better human services over other aspects of service (such as web assistants and information databases) – by far.

Most of these customer-facing services deal with more quick-hitting services that many customers would rather receive in automated forms. For example, if a customer is facing a relatively small problem with your products or services, your automated chatbot could point them toward a relevant FAQ page without the need to involve an actual human.

However, when your customers are facing larger problems, they need to be able to reach out to a human member of your team – and receive a response in a timely manner.

Something else to think about is that facilitating human-to-human engagement with your customers allows your company to become increasingly transparent – in turn strengthening your customers’ trust in your brand.

Due to what has been described as the “Edward Snowden Effect,” it’s less difficult for consumers to dive deep into a specific company’s true mission and its motives. In other words, it’s become easier to determine which brands care about their customers – and which care about their customers’ wallets.

66% of consumers say they are likely to switch brands if they are treated like a number instead of an individual.

The Edward Snowden Effect has made consumers more skeptical and more aware of some of the tricks companies use to keep customers “on the hook.” Looking at things through this lens, it’s clear companies that focus on providing humanized services is easier to trust than one that relies on automated responses.

Needless to say, the more your customers trust you, the better your chances of keeping them onboard for the long haul become.

Forging an Authentic, Human Connection Leads to Improved Processes for Your Company

Connecting on a human-to-human level with your customers not only improves their overall experience with your company, but it can also provide valuable insight into your customers’ needs – as well as your ability to provide for these needs.

Sure, there are many ways to generate customer feedback that don’t involve engaging directly with your customers. But many of these hands-off methods – surveys, product reviews, etc. – can fall short in a number of ways:

  • Low response rate
  • Inaccurate/dishonest responses
  • Ambiguous responses

On the other hand, adopting a hands-on approach to gathering customer feedback (e.g., conducting in-person interviews and facilitating candid conversations) increases response rate and allows for more accurate and comprehensive feedback as well.

Facilitating feedback in a personable manner is just another way of providing individualized, humanized service to your customers.

Additionally, communicating with your customers in a more personable manner opens the door for them to point out flaws in your service – enabling you to focus on improving weak spots within your company.

It may seem hard to believe, but the vast majority of unhappy customers don’t take the time to make their complaints known; in fact, most just move on to a competing company without saying a word. Maybe these customers are truly unhappy and don’t want to waste more time on a specific company, but it’s also plausible that the company never made the effort to reach out to these unhappy customers in the first place.

At the very least, reaching out to at-risk customers gives them an opportunity to say their piece before churning. In an ideal situation, personally reaching out to these individuals might cause them to stick around to see if you take their suggestions seriously.

Whether your customers are extremely satisfied or dissatisfied with the services you provide, personally contacting them can increase the probability of retaining them in the future, and provide valuable insight into how strategies for keeping them engaged.

A Humanized Experience Can Lead to More (and Better) Referrals

Simply put:

The more satisfied your customers are, the more likely they are to recommend your services to others in their network.

Considering that offering a more humanized experience improves your customers’ overall opinion of the brand, it stands to reason that doing so will also increase your chances of earning referrals from your customers.

But, as we’ve mentioned in a number of articles here on PostFunnel, even your most satisfied customers aren’t likely to take it upon themselves to make such a referral without being prompted to do so.

Moments where you’ve connected with your customers in a personable way are ideal for bringing up the topic of referrals. Instead of requesting referrals via a boilerplate email template, asking for referrals during engaging one-on-one chats allows you to target specific aspects of your service to discuss, as well as specific individuals within the customer’s network who would benefit from your services.

Furthermore, asking your most satisfied customers to become brand allows them to become a part of the humanized experience your company offers.

Again, contrast this with the automated referral process many companies offer (e.g., providing an email template to be sent to ten friends); if you’ve discussed with your customers how to go about making recommendations to certain individuals within their network, they’ll be able to personalize each referral they make – extending the humanized aspects of your service to their network in the process.

So, not only can a human-to-human approach to customer relations generate more customer referrals, but it will also ensure these referrals are much more effective than those made in a more automated manner.

The Gist of It Is…

No matter what recent technological advancements may lead us to believe, there really is no replacement for good, old-fashioned, human-to-human customer service.

A personal, humanized approach to customer service will, above all else, show your customers that you truly care about their goals, and that you’re willing to put in the necessary time, effort, and human resources to ensure their needs are met.

In turn, they’ll be much more likely to keep coming back to your company whenever they’re in need of your services.

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Matt Duczeminski

Matt is a professional writer specializing in helping entrepreneurs improve relationships with their customers. He lives in Philadelphia with his wife, Sarah, and he'd probably get a lot more work done if his cat would stop bothering him.

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