No matter where tech takes us, customers still need a human touch
By Ted Rubin / January 2017Insights
*this article originally appeared on tedrubin.com
If you’re aiming for omni-channel excellence, or simply looking to thrive on your channels of choice, don’t forget about the human side. In fact, it should be your first priority. With every new trend and communication channel comes new opportunities to connect, so it’s natural for marketers to seek out the most promising tools for the job. The challenge is that every trend has an expiration date, and it’s too easy to sacrifice the fundamentals in favor of the hot, new tool with an unknown shelf-life.
The process of building a seamless, positive consumer experience starts from within, and should affect your business at every level. If you’re not on the same page internally, it’s impossible to provide the type of experience that transcends channels.
Consumers care less about channel than you think
The experience of the consumer is not defined by the channel that they use to engage, because for most people a channel is a means to an end. They want to contact customer service, learn more about a special offer, air their grievances, or maybe even make sure that an especially helpful employee receives full credit for a job well done. Whether they do this through Facebook, Twitter, your mobile app or a fax machine, their goal is to complete a task – even if that task simply happens to be exploring what your brand has to offer in an open-ended way.
Appearing in the right places is important, but it’s only a step on the path to the larger goal of forging real relationships with your customers. Just as importantly, consumers expect a seamless experience regardless of the channel they use to establish contact. That’s where the internal cohesiveness of your organization is really put under the spotlight. A customer’s question or concern doesn’t always fit into a predetermined box. They just want help from someone, regardless of title or channel.
If sales, marketing, and customer service aren’t working from the same basic foundation, an omni-channel experience remains out of reach. This includes sharing key data. But even then, the goal of sharing data is to provide a personalized, human experience no matter what technology the consumer uses to initiate contact. It’s also important that everyone works from the same set of values whether we’re talking about pure customer service, dispute resolution or targeted, personalized marketing.
Being human boosts your appeal in any channel
It all comes back to one of my favorite topics, and it’s something that is within grasp no matter the size of your business. Just be human. Every interaction with a customer is a chance to build brand loyalty, make a positive impression, and over time turn that customer into an enthusiastic advocate for your brand. The little moments where you go above and beyond are often the most memorable for your customers, such as:
- A near-immediate response to a pressing question on your social page
- A few extra minutes on the phone to make sure an issue is resolved thoroughly
- Remembering the names, faces, and preferences of people who visit your small business regularly
You may use new and evolving tools to make those things happen, but the tool is secondary to the moment it helps create. There’s also much to be gained by preaching customer service across the board, because the customer’s channel of choice won’t always lead to the point of contact they’re “supposed” to reach. With digital channels, everyone who represents your company publicly may become the face of your brand for a customer in need. Prioritize customer service, be human, and put the focus on people first, channel second.
Ted Rubin is a leading Social Marketing Strategist, Keynote Speaker, Brand Evangelist, and Acting CMO of Brand Innovators. In March 2009 he started using and evangelizing the term ROR, Return on Relationship, hashtag #RonR. Ted left his position as Chief Social Marketing Officer of Collective Bias on August 31, 2013. He remains a shareholder.