The Personal Touch

Another day, another story about how robots and AI are taking over the world and we’re all going to be out of a job in 20 years’ time. But luckily, this isn’t another. A number of projects that we’ve done in the last 12 months shows me that there is some hope; the human rebellion is strong.

For a number of our clients last year, we ran analysis of individual factors or touchpoints customers have with their brands to see how much influence these have on someone’s overall experience. This gives us a better understanding of which areas brands should focus on in order to have the greatest impact on improving customer experience. Interestingly, where there is interaction with a human; most likely through an enquiry, phone call or physical conversation, these had a stronger influence on experience. A positive encounter with a support technician meant a more positive overall experience score, similarly a poor in-store experience leads to a more negative overall experience.

It’s a shift that we’re not the first to identify. Think CommBank and their recent staff focused brand campaigns; local call centres hiring your mate from school and employees stumping up funds for the branch Christmas party. My experience of this phenomenon came via a recent flight I took with Delta. Prior to take off while the last of the passengers came on board I heard a voice from the front asking for everyone’s attention. To my surprise, the captain (it was the moustache that gave it away), had ventured down to cattle class to welcome us all on board, to thank us for flying his airline and to tell us how it was going to be his pleasure to whisk us over the Pacific. I’d never encountered this kind of personal greeting before and the more I thought about it, the more I was thoroughly impressed by such a small personal gesture. He could have easily have given the same message over the intercom from the comfort of his seat. It was certainly something that improved my overall experience with the airline.

Despite the prevalence of ‘bots’ now answering our live chat questions on websites to spare the number of humans required to answer our mundane and boring questions, the rebels are shifting their focus to real people, with real lives to help you out. They’ve identified the importance of what we’ve found, in that having a personal connection is going to strengthen the overall customer relationship with their brand. The battle is ensuring that their staff are delivering this experience. It’s a big gamble that can prove both expensive in labour costs but also to their brand satisfaction and recommendation scores should customer’s issues not be resolved satisfactorily.


By Chris Binney

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