Wiring Humanity into the Customer Experience

Share:
How will companies find a way to successfully blend employee engagement with high-tech to deliver innovative customer experiences?
Employee Engagement

As the world gets more "wired," I often wonder if customers will begin to crave more of the human connections that technology is inadvertently phasing out? And as companies innovate, will they find a way to successfully blend high-touch with high-tech to deliver desired and innovative customer experiences?

Is High Tech Enough?

Do we feel "connected" with just technology? If we don't establish a balance between high-tech and high-touch, will technology become the only criteria on how people define being connected? On the surface, it looks true: Data connects. Software connects. Apps connect. Is it enough?

No, and here's why: As we experience companies both as customers and employees, we feel connected to some and distanced from others. We naturally gravitate to companies and people with whom we connect in a human and sincere manner. We like their stories because they're the ones we strive to live ourselves.

For example, Zappos helps customers find a pair of shoes, even a pair the company doesn't stock. Customer loyalty reps who take customer calls are encouraged to know competitors' websites for one simple purpose: service. If a customer calls Zappos for a shoe it doesn't have, its reps will search the Internet to help the customer find it.

In this single, simple act, Zappos wins over customers' hearts. It's more than the shoes, it's the knowledgeable human interaction built on rapport and emotional connection that makes customers love them. They are loved for being the kind of people who send a customer to the competition because it's the right thing to do.

We can't lose the human in the human (customer) experience. Some people would rather text than talk, we get that. And some times the task you need to complete doesn't require a human. But most of the time, customers are interacting with other people, and human emotions drive behavior and outcome.

Building the Emotional Connection with Customer

All humans want to be appreciated, acknowledged, and remembered. As customers, we become emotionally attached to companies who consider our lives when they make decisions. As employees, we are drawn to companies that allow us opportunities to be successful and appreciated. We are humans, and it's been proven that we naturally want to build rapport and connect with others.

Look to the companies that have created powerful human connections with their customers. These companies have taken the time to maintain and utilize data from multiple sources (and that includes listening to customers). They have built, and continue to maintain, long-term relationships. They are clear about what their unique promise is for their customers' lives, and how to create an emotional bond with their customers. The companies are oriented toward the highest possible outcomes in any customer situation and strive for its actualization.

  • Trader Joe's: The cornerstone of Trader Joe's experience is delivering great food at a good value with some whimsy thrown in. Shopping at Trader Joe's is like going on a treasure hunt for food. "Tasting Huts" throughout the stores offer generous samples of new products and old favorites. Taste rules and customers decide. If a product doesn't find a customer following validated by tastings and sales, it's out.
  • Southwest Airlines: The company builds memories that pull customers back not just because of the flight, but how customers feel throughout the airlines' friendly experience from check-in to baggage pick-up. Southwest has never purported to be all things to all people, but for those customers who gravitate to its brand of experience and humanity-a no-frills airline that will get you where you want to go but won't deliver food beyond peanuts, or attitude beyond warmth and sometimes good-natured sarcasm-the bond is strong. (Check out a customer story from Feb. 2016: "Moment of Magic.")

Now think about experiences where emotions are more negative than positive-fear, worry, and eventually (hopefully) relief--getting the car repaired or visiting the doctor

Understanding customer needs and desires leads to innovative and complete customer experiences that blend both high-tech and high-touch. This includes:

  • Knowing prioritized customer requirements
  • Understanding the emotions in the experience today
  • Establishing a balance of high-tech and high-touch that will deliver a complete experience.
  • Enabling employees to deliver

Blend High Tech and High Touch

There is an opportunity to blend high-tech and high-touch in each of the worrisome experiences.

High tech

High touch

Emotional Levers

Car repair

(Service/ maintenance)

  • Schedule online appointment with ability to choose service rep
  • Provide online maintenance schedules and checklists
  • Provide list of past car repairs/servicing
  • Provide service contact information
  • Enable online updates of service repair in progress (if applicable)
  • Follow up on satisfaction of service repair (Use preferred method of communication)
  • Know the customer when they arrive, greet them by name
  • Be knowledgeable when repair/service
  • Create a comfortable and clean waiting area with WiFi and refreshments
  • Provide estimated costs and completion time
  • Ask for preferred method of communication and utilize it
  • Communicate any problems to customer and provide proof
  • Return a washed, clean car
  • Know the customer when they arrive, greet them by name
  • Be knowledgeable when discussing repair/service
  • Create a comfortable and clean waiting area with WiFi and refreshments
  • Provide estimated costs and completion time
  • Ask for preferred method of communication and utilize it
  • Communicate any problems to customer and provide proof
  • Return a washed, clean car

FROM:

Frustration and anger

TO:

Relief, feeling acknowledged and respected

Doctor Appointment

  • Offer 24/7 virtual care from phone, tablet or computer
  • Enable patient to schedule and manage appointments.
  • Utilize online medical records and notes (physician)
  • Enable patient to access test results online
  • Follow up with patient. (Use preferred method of communication)
  • Let patients know wait times in waiting room and examining room
  • Provide understanding of insurance co-pays and codes (reception)
  • Take a moment to build personal rapport with patient
  • Ensure face to face contact with physician and feedback
  • Ensure patient understands complex issues
  • Ask for preferred method of communication
  • Let patients know wait times in waiting room and examining room
  • Provide understanding of insurance co-pays and codes (reception)
  • Take a moment to build personal rapport with patient
  • Ensure face to face contact with physician and feedback
  • Ensure patient understands complex issues
  • Ask for preferred method of communication

FROM:

Worry and fear about health concerns, worry about waiting times, and frustration about the lack of caring

TO:

Relief, feeling cared for, honoring time and concerns

Companies that understand the emotional pull of connections obsess about getting to know their customers and learning their desires. When you tap into emotions and customer desires, you open up a world of possibilities that can capture the imagination of your business.

This is where you can successfully unite technology + connectivity + customer connection to deliver the differentiated customer experience that customers' crave and want to have again. This is an approach to build your customer-driven growth engine. But you need to start with improving customers' lives with human interactions not with technology.

(Sermon done. Enough said)

Resources:

""10 Customer Service Basics for Doctor's Offices" by Jennie Hitch"cock
"3 Innovative Ways to Improve Your Dealership's Customer Experience"by Larisa Bedgood

EXPERT OPINION
EXPERT OPINION