In a world where everything is digital, how do you keep that human touch with your customers? And why does it matter? That’s what we’re looking at today. As our technology has advanced, the interactions between brands and consumers have multiplied. Companies are no longer inaccessible entities with a single contact number listed on a website. We can now contact the companies with buy from whenever we want, and mostly, however we want. This is great for both consumers and businesses alike. By positioning themselves in the same digital locations as their customers, companies never miss an opportunity to engage with their customers or potential customers. For customers, they get a more transparent view of the businesses they use, and they get a near-immediate response to any questions or concerns they have (at least in theory).
However, companies need to understand that the digital experience isn’t the only thing that consumers want. There’s great value in a personal approach, a human touch, and real-world experiences. Even the tech giants who exclusively deal with the digital understand this. Brands like Google, Facebook, Apple, and Amazon understand how important it is to connect with consumers on a personal level. Cultivating a personal touch isn’t just for tech giants or your little local bakery that’s been going for 20 years, it’s for every business in between, no matter the industry or niche.
Why the Human Touch Matters in the Digital Era
Being personal is how you stand out from the crowd and let your customers know what you’re about. There’s no shortage of competition out there in the digital age. The sheer number of digital services available to companies of all sizes has created an explosion in online brand presence across all industries. It wasn’t so long ago that making a website for your business meant hiring an expensive web developer and waiting months for the finished product. Today, it’s cheaper and easier than ever for a small business to create a highly effective and professional-looking website in a matter of hours.
This is great news for small and up and coming businesses, but it’s made the world fiercely competitive. To set yourself apart from your competition, you have to connect with consumers and offer something more. It’s no longer just about who can offer the cheapest prices, but who can offer the best customer experience. There are hundreds of factors that go into creating a high-quality customer experience, but your ability to connect with consumers on a personal level is a crucial one. Let’s take a look at some other reasons why keeping a human touch matters.
- 75% of consumers cite they love a brand because of helpful customer service. A well-functioning customer service team that builds a rapport with customers can have a significant impact on brand loyalty and sales.
- 90% of consumers stay loyal to brands that share their values. Consumers are now more conscious than ever of the social and political practices of brands. Of course, this has the potential to work for you or against you, but most of the time it’s a good thing. According to a study by Accenture Strategy, most people are choosing companies that take a stand on important social, environmental, political, and cultural issues. For example, over 60% of respondents said they gravitate towards companies committed to improving the environment. Don’t be afraid to let your customers know where you stand.
- Your customers are human, they’re real, so you should be too. Humans are hard-wired to want relationships and meaningful interactions with people so if you can deliver on this then you’re more likely to be remembered. You go to a restaurant to eat good food, but the food isn’t the only thing that determines how much you enjoy the experience. You’re more likely to remember the experience as positive if you’re met with a smile, have a friendly waiter, and are well taken care of. The same is true for digital experiences.
Prioritizing The Customer Over The Competition
With competition being so fierce, many business owners become too focused on what their competitors are doing and trying to emulate it, rather than focusing on what their customers want. Your goal should be to create an excellent customer experience for your customers, and by doing that, you’ll be favored over your competition.
Customer experience isn’t like other areas of business where you can make simple changes to beat your competitors. If you want to snag a few consumers from your competitor, you may be able to undercut their prices, and you can do this by changing a few simple lines of code. However, cultivating a high-quality customer experience is an entirely different and more involved endeavor. There are lots of factors that go into it so you really have to put yourself in the customer’s shoes and think about what you would want from a company you’re doing business with.
The importance of customer experience can’t be understated. Brands with a superior customer experience bring in almost 6 times more revenue than their competitors. Additionally, customer-centric companies are 60% more profitable than non-customer centric companies.
The Importance of Customer Loyalty in the Digital World
Even if you can sway consumers away from your competitors and convince them to give you a try, turning them into loyal customers who keep coming back isn’t an easy task. However, just because it isn’t easy doesn’t mean it isn’t worth pursuing. According to research by Brand Keys, a 7% increase in loyalty can boost lifetime profits per customer by as much as 85%.
So, the benefit of increased customer loyalty is increased profits, but what’s the consequence of poor customer loyalty? Of course, less loyalty means less earning potential, but loyalty isn’t a linear process. You can’t increase brand loyalty by following a simple checklist where each point you achieve will make your customers more loyal. Because competition is so high, the choices you make can make or break customer loyalty. This is why meeting customer expectations is so important, and customers have higher expectations in the digital era than ever before. One-third of consumers aged 23 to 28 are quick to drop a brand that doesn’t meet their expectations.
5 Ways to Keep the Human Touch in the Digital Era
Create Memorable Experiences, That Actually Lasts
According to a study published in France’s ‘Influencia’ magazine consumers remain attached to experiences that are engaging, rewarding, unique, and memorable. You want consumers to remember their experience with your company and for you to be the first company they think of when they need a product you offer. To create that instant connection between a product and your brand within a customer’s mind, you need to be remembered. There are plenty of ways you can do this. You can offer surprise gifts for being a customer, you can offer a personal and effective customer service experience, maintain a unique presence on social media, and so on.
Keep Your Social Media Communications Personal and Human
Consumers understand that they’re increasingly talking to bots or at least having their data processed through AI, but they don’t want to always feel like they’re dealing with a robot. Companies are increasingly turning away from the old way of managing their brand presence. This old way revolved around a professional, to the point, and almost clinical style of communication. You still see this sometimes, where a company’s Twitter account seems to lack any evidence of the human behind the tweet. This isn’t what consumers want. They want to know who you are and get to know you.
Some companies choose to have a humorous presence on social media. American fast-food chain Wendy’s is famous for ‘roasting’ people on Twitter. Even some official police Twitter accounts aren’t afraid to have a joke with their followers. If edgy humor isn’t your thing or doesn’t suit the industry you’re in, that’s fine too. Humor isn’t the only way to create a personal touch. Some companies are now encouraging their marketing employees to sign their tweets with the name of the person who wrote it. This allows customers to get a feel for the real people on the ground in your business. Even something simple like asking your followers what they’re up to can go a long way.
Use Customer Service As a Way to Get to Know Your Customers
Your customer service team is on the frontline of your business. They’re talking to your customers all day, every day. This puts them in a great position to get to know your customers on a more personal level. Traditionally, customer service has been very focused on often hard to reach targets. Agents can only be on a call for X amount of minutes, they have to follow a script, and so on. This inflexibility isn’t good for agents or customers.
Don’t be afraid to give agents more freedom to vary their communication style and see what works. Building a rapport with a customer can leave them with a positive impression of your company – a company that helped them in a time of need and did it with a friendly approach. Customers want to be listened to and above all, they want to be treated like a real person with legitimate wants and needs when it comes to their questions or queries. They don’t want to be rushed through a call with an agent who can’t tell them apart from the last caller.
Start a Company Blog and Keep it Fresh Regularly
A blog is a great way of letting your customers know more about your company and what you represent. Most companies have brand values, missions, goals, and visions that they discuss in their ‘About Us’ page. Don’t let this be the only area you discuss your values and goals, but instead share how you’re working towards these with your customers. Doing this will make you accountable to your customers and build their confidence in your brand through your authority and transparency. It’s also a great idea to have first-person blog posts from employees within your organizations since this allows customers a valuable insight into the people who make up your business. There are some other great reasons to have a company blog:
- Most visitors now expect you to have a blog. A 2018 report found that 80% of B2B companies and 70% of B2C companies had a blog.
- Blogs increase traffic to your site.
- A blog makes you appear more trustworthy to customers.
- It’s a way to demonstrate that you are an authority within your industry.
Let Customers In
In the digital age, customers expect to be able to contact your company whenever they want and according to their communication preferences. You can meet this expectation easily with modern tech tools, and it goes a long way to making you more accessible to your customers and potential customers.
However, it’s not just about being accessible and available, it’s also about making consumers want to engage with you. How do you make customers want to engage? By letting them in. You make them feel like they’re a part of your brand family. If you go to a work social event, post about it on social media. If one of your employees has done something impressive outside of work and you’re proud of them, share it on social media. Show your customers who you are, who your employees are, and why they should like you and trust you with their money.
In the digital era and the age of Big Data, it’s easy to get caught up in trends and statistics and forget about the human element of business. Consumers in the digital age want a great customer experience, and this means they want a ‘real’ and human experience that they’re sure to remember. Customers want to feel like they’re an important part of your business and that they’ve made a good choice in picking you over your competitors. Customer experience has now overtaken other business goals and is a number one priority for the world’s major businesses. And you can’t have a great customer experience without a human touch.