How tech can help your business feel more human
No, the irony of that headline isn’t lost on us.
But it’s true.
Technology has at times been accused of taking the human touch out of customer experiences. Some industry leaders have claimed “impersonal” self-service supermarket tills are driving a boom in traditional market stalls, for example.
But overall it feels like we’ve reached something of a tipping point in recent years, where technology now has the power to make customer experiences feel more personal.
By helping you listen to what people want and respond to their needs in an individual, empathetic way – everything a real-life human interaction should be.
And one thing in particular holds the key to making that happen: the cloud.
Understanding your customers
Every great customer experience begins with knowing who your customers are. What they want. What they don’t want.
In fact, more than half of consumers have come to expect at least some degree of personalisation across advertising, commerce and customer support, according to a recent survey by marketing agency Zenith.
And you only have to look as far as the current pandemic to see why understanding your customers is so important.
A joint study by Pure360 and email expert found that UK consumers generally want more emails from brands during Covid-19. But that figure differs dramatically when you break it down by age, gender or location.
In this case, not tailoring your comms could alienate a massive chunk of your customers. Or cause you to miss out on an opportunity to engage with them in a way that resonates.
But to achieve that level of personalisation you have to be able to collect and manage customer data in a way that’s effective and manageable for your employees.
Traditional communication tools can make that extremely difficult. You’re often dealing with multiple applications and systems that don’t necessarily talk to each other, so making sense of your data requires a lot of manual work.
When all your communication tools are based in the cloud, however, and controlled through a single platform, you can see customer insight from every channel and touch point in real time – all in one place.
In short: you can get to know your customers in seconds.
Responding the right way, at the right time
Of course, getting to know your customers is only the first step towards creating a more human and consistently satisfying customer experience.
You also need the ability to act on those insights fast. Not just reacting to new demand but proactively responding to customers’ needs.
Doing so can have a massive impact on your overall customer experience.
First Direct, the UK’s most recommended banking service for three years running and the brand that knocked Amazon off the top of the UK Customer Satisfaction Index last year, is the perfect example of this.
To go back to our headline, it is a virtual bank with no physical customer sites or in-person interactions. But by understanding what customers want before they get in touch, First Direct can (evidently) provide a more satisfying experience.
And there are wider business benefits to proactive customer engagement.
A study by Sabio and the Customer Contact Association found that 25-40% of all calls to UK contact centres are either unnecessary or avoidable.
Two of the biggest causes?
- Customers chasing information about deliveries or updates on what was due to happen next in the purchase cycle.
- Customers having to re-call the contact centre again as the contact centre had failed to address their problem first time around.
Both the above issues can be solved through a more intelligent, automated communication platform based on real-time customer data.
Again, to make that happen you need to move away from traditional tools and infrastructure to a cloud-based approach to communication.
Don’t just take our word for it. With First Direct’s parent company HSBC announcing a cloud-first policy three years ago, clearly the leading brands on customer engagement are already cottoning on to the above.
Joining it all together
“If there's one thing Amazon.com is about, it's obsessive attention to the customer experience, end-to-end.”
Those were the words of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos at the tail end of the 20th century, when his business was barely five years old and unknown to most of the world.
Fast forward 20 years and his words ring truer than ever. Not only that, but the sentiment behind them is now within reach for even the largest, most complex and established organisations.
When all your communication tools are connected through the cloud and managed through a single, central platform, you can see that customer experience for what it is across every touch point, which means you can make sure every element is joined up and working as it should be.
And you don’t have to overhaul all your infrastructure at once to make that happen. You can transition to the cloud gradually, meaning less disruption for your people and customers along the way.
So next time you think of meaningful customer interactions, think of the cloud.
It’s the best chance you’ve got of talking your customers’ language.