There’s no doubt that living in a digital world has dramatically changed our business and personal experiences. We can keep up with social contacts, interact with chatbots and program our homes to turn lights on and off. Intriguing to be sure, but have we lost something in our digital pursuits? Have we sacrificed our humanness for expediency? And, if so, is it worth it?
Ironically, the very digital experiences that bring companies closer to their customers also create a wall of disconnection. Visiting a brick and mortar store is no longer necessary to get what you want and there really isn’t a face to any business anymore. By increasing speed and targeted, personalized messaging, companies are creating autonomous interactions devoid of real depth or connection.
Businesses strive for authentic connections with customers but are such things possible with virtually invisible connections?
Theunis J van Rensburg, Head of Commercial Analytics at Wonga states, “As digital transformation becomes increasingly pervasive in all businesses – whether in large, traditional or smaller businesses, and more nimble tech start-ups – the ease and convenience of the digital experience should not be traded off against connecting with your customer on a human level.”
Start with a Customer Appreciation Strategy
Humanizing the digital experience begins with creating a Customer Appreciation Strategy designed to validate and reward customers. When customers feel valued by a business, they are more inclined to make repeat purchases with that business. Being “seen” by a company in the digital world is comparable to the days when shoppers created relationships with storekeepers with whom they interacted on a regular basis.
Nothing works better than gratitude in strengthening customer relationships and there are a few tactics that will put you ahead of your competition when it comes to creating customer loyalty.
- Develop regular customer contact. Customer loyalty can—and should—be cultivated long after the first sale. The key is becoming a partner and not simply a vendor with customers whose business you value.
- Promote customers. When you promote customers in your marketing tactics, they will appreciate it and will not only remain loyal, but will refer other businesses to you. B2B buyers especially will appreciate mention of their companies in case studies, white papers, success stories, etc.
- Create loyalty programs. Everyone likes to feel important and that’s why loyalty programs have gained such popularity. Personalized emails, invitations to conferences, exclusive pricing, etc. go a long way in cementing customer loyalty.
Smart data creates irresistible interactions
When customer data is visible to multiple touchpoints across the enterprise, it dramatically increases the opportunities for personalized customer interactions. This, in turn, solidifies that customer’s relationship with you which will extend throughout the customer journey on a repeat basis. When touchpoints are personalized, it shows that the business has a genuine interest in a customer and that type of interest is hard to resist.
Real-time shows real interest
Having a digital “conversation” with prospects and customers is even better if communications occur in as close to real time as possible. Customers will appreciate the human touch that a prompt response or follow-up creates after a sale or inquiry into the company’s solutions. Integrating artificial intelligence capabilities into your communications will enable automated replies that can not only encompass personalized messaging but can be delivered expediently.
Be everywhere your customers are
Being present across all channels in your customer’s journey will create a sense of attentiveness. If you are available to engage with customers at any time, they’ll know that they can rely on you to be responsive and meet whatever needs they have at that moment. Multi-device, multi-channel experiences grow deeper with time, further creating a human touch with customers who will appreciate your expanding knowledge of their preferences. It’s at these points of familiarity that customers may transition from a simple relationship with you to one of influence and advocacy.
Let customers have some control
In the digital world, customers tell us what information they want, when they want it and how they want to receive it. Doesn’t this take some of the fun out of interactions? Not really, especially when you remember that the goal is to please customers. Be available and show interest but don’t try to jackhammer sales messages or opt-ins just to seem like you’re being proactive. A big part of humanizing digital experiences is to act like you would face-to-face, never invasive and always respectful.
Humanizing digital customer experiences calls for ingenuity and creativity. If you have a great sense of humor, throw that in the mix too. Most people long for some personal touches and communications online and if you can do that professionally while you meet prospect and customer needs, you’re more than halfway there.