We live in a world where customer experiences are everything.
Positive customer experiences increase the chance of a loyal customer base. I can also increase customer lifetime value. Positive customer experiences help build brands and conversion rates. That’s why customer engagement that focuses on humanizing the customer experience is incredibly important.
Yet technology has made it easier than ever to scale customer interactions. Many organizations are automating processes to boost efficiency — often at the cost of customer experience. Think again, of the airline call center. You don’t need a human to answer questions about changing your ticket. The experience is much smoother, and the company’s face is much more human, if they are.
Meanwhile, companies are always striving to differentiate their product or service from the competition. Customer experience is an opportunity to do so. It’s not just about making your product or service easier to use, it’s about making your customer’s experience more enjoyable.
When we talk about optimizing customer experiences, we are not simply talking about what a customer needs to do to get the product/service they want.
We’re also talking about how that experience aligns with the customer’s schedule and workflow. How those are impacted by the actions of the organization. How hard or easy it is (from the customer’s perspective) to make the decision to buy or to buy again.
When we think about what it will take to achieve customer-centricity, we have to take a step back. We have to think about humanizing customer engagement.
Because at the end of the day, organization are made up of people. And as humans, we are required to constantly change our behavior to meet an organization’s needs. Particularly when we’re paying them for the privilege. We get frustrated. We do not feel like the organization has our best interests at heart or is focused on the outcome we need. Rather they are focused on the solution they want to build.
That kind of frustration leads to the creation of bad experiences for customers. And that leads to churn.
Instead of thinking about what we can do for our customers, organizations must think of what they can do with their customers. Whether that is in the form of insights, education, empowerment, or resources.
And finally, thanks to the increasing importance of the customer experience, your customer’s ability to voice their opinion about you is higher and more valuable than ever.
Here are some of the guiding principles for delivering a positive customer experience while leveraging the growing power of technology to scale customer interactions:
No human is an island
It is crucial that each employee understand the role they play in delivering the customer experience. That they understand the needs of each and every customer.
This is easier in sales, where one person generally handles the customer from beginning to end, than in customer support and service jobs, where departments are more siloed.
In either situation, it’s important to foster a culture in which all employees are able to communicate freely with one another and learn from one another.
And it’s important to share the customer’s story across departments. Studies have found that employees are much more effective in their jobs when they understand their customers’ needs, wants and desires — and that nobody understands the customer better than the customer.
It’s not enough to simply be responsive.
You must anticipate your customers’ needs and preferences and deliver them before the customer even knows they want them.
That doesn’t mean you should be overly intrusive or pushy, but it does mean you should be thoughtful about what your customer needs, and how to deliver it when they’re ready for it.
Recognise patterns and use data
A lot of the time, data analysis is considered to be a reactive exercise. Something you do after-the-fact to identify patterns and areas for improvement.
But data analysis is a powerful tool in a humanizing customer engagement strategy, because it allows you to predict your customers’ needs and preferences, and deliver them before they even know they want them.
Using data to anticipate and predict your customers’ needs could improve your customer’s experience in a number of ways:
- Provide your customers with the information they need when they need it, reducing the amount of time they have to spend researching the information themselves
- Offer your customers resources or services that they may not have even realised they need, boosting your customer’s satisfaction and increasing your brand loyalty
- Offer your customers products and services that you know they’re about to buy anyway, increasing your revenue
Emphasising simplicity in communications
In an increasingly complex world, it’s important to make the customer experience as simple as possible.
This is especially important when it comes to communications.
Although it may seem counterintuitive, the simpler and easier you make your communications, the more engaged and effective your customers are likely to be.
Studies have found that customers who trust that the organization will deliver a simple experience are more satisfied. They’re also more likely to recommend the company to their friends and colleagues.
And the more you can simplify the customer experience, the more you can deliver it with a human touch.
One of the ways you can do this is by creating a customer communication model that puts the customer at the centre.
Instead of simply using your customer’s name to address them, you can use it to make them feel like you know who they are as a person. You can use it to craft a message that is relevant to them and their experience.
For example, you might say, “Hi, Sarah! I see you’re interested in scheduling a meeting with our team. I’m so happy to hear that, because I’m happy to help you out.”
That makes the customer feel like you have their needs at heart, and like you’re in this together.
And it also makes the customer feel like they are interacting with a person, rather than a faceless, automated system.
And, of course, the more you can personalise your communications, the better.
Encourage customers to send you feedback
If you want to improve your customer experience, you have to know what you’re doing right and what you’re doing wrong.
That means you need to be listening to your customers.
And you need to be listening to your customers in a way that makes them feel heard.
Encourage your customers to share their thoughts with you, and you’ll be able to hear their perspective and understand their needs.
Putting it all together for optimal humanized customer engagement
Humanized customer engagement is about creating positive experiences for your customers by leveraging the technology available to you.
It’s about using data to anticipate and predict your customers’ needs to increase the chances of a positive experience every time.
It’s about being proactive in anticipating your customers’ needs, and giving them what they want, when they want it.
And it’s about creating a model of communication that puts your customer at the centre and allows them to feel heard — and understood.
It’s about opening the lines of communication between your organization and your customers, and fostering an environment of collaboration that gives you a broader view of your customer and allows you to create more humanized and positive customer engagement.
Focusing on humanizing customer engagement will help you create positive experiences for your customers, which will improve your customer experience, your customer engagement, and your bottom line.
Have you considered the human element when it comes to customer engagement?