Perspectives

The Human in the Customer

John Keats wrote, “Nothing ever becomes real, until it is experienced”.

And it was actually a particular experience which led to this article. An ordeal of going through at least four extreme emotions in a span of three hours. It all started simply with dropping my mobile phone. That incident gave me the opportunity to experience the level of engagement and support that a brand can extend to its customers.

You would think that the mobile phone was the focal point of this whole incident. It was not! I was! From the moment I walked into the concept store, the team was focused on making me feeling better, lighter even. By then, my phone was in the hands of the tech experts, whilst the agent’s focus was on reassuring me all throughout. The routine stuff was all there somehow, like signing off on indemnity clauses and de-activating a feature in my phone. But it was not made to seem as the focus of my interaction, although necessary.

Thinking back, this experience was what got me to decide, that no matter what, I will make this my brand of choice for certain devices. Even with a relatively high price-tag, the experience I had led to an emotional connection to this brand and justifies the price-tag. And given my ‘trained eye’ and background, I analysed every touchpoint and how the communication flowed. Just to be clear, it was not just the emotional soothing effect that made me decide for this brand – but the ease of how it was all resolved. My problem was two-fold. The phone, and my emotional state. The resolution of my emotional state, is however what resounds the loudest.

The ease with which every touchpoint of my journey seemed to connect with me, rather than the opposite, truly depicts the level of research and effort put in designing the touchpoints. Beyond the touchpoint design, is the fact that the employees are a crucial part in the experience-delivery process. They are trained to recognise critical emotions, and very aptly turn them around. Actually transforming them into a happy moment.  So simply put, I will latch the ‘happy’ emotion to this brand, and who doesn’t want to be happy?

In fact, this concept of ‘experience’ is reinforced by various research endeavours, which show how strongly emotional connections drive customer lifecycle value. Away from the term ‘customer experience’, the coined term for the future is ‘human experience’. When you think about it, this is not just a new term which will replace the older ones, but rather a more refined one which delivers the point that what brands and companies hope to deliver is an ‘elevated human experience’. It means that companies and brands ‘have to connect on a much deeper level with their customers’.1

Delivering and handling the elevated human experience is complex. Humans are complex beings which means that creating the correct ecosystem through which customers interact with a company, involves a ‘critical strategical element. According to Deloitte Digital, this human experience, which also extends to employees, redefines tools, technology and skillsets previously adopted. For employees to deliver a cut-above-the-rest service, for example, the hospitality mindset along with tech fluency is a must. This means that in order for service professionals to do their jobs, tools like intelligent knowledge management and sentiment analysis come in to play.

 

Deloitte cite AI as being a core business requirement with the ‘cloud continuing to be a major force in how things are connected and scaled’. In this way the focus is solely on the customer and not on the product or service.2 Customer-centric means exactly this. Looking outward to inward – from the customer perspective looking into the business.

It is clear to many that the traditional customer service model is way outdated and customers value their individualism. The fact that customers can communicate and connect with companies via a multitude of platforms, places an even bigger onus on companies to optimise and ensure that their customers are ‘known and served on demand’.3  

So essentially, companies that manage to harness and deliver the human experience, are those which will inadvertently forge the strongest connections that will in turn ‘foster loyalty and drive growth’. Bottom line is that we are all human and want to be valued and made to feel meaningful. The disruptive digital age amplifies even more the importance of being made to feel more like a human, and less like a statistic.4

 

References

1, 2. Andy Haas - Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited Consulting. (2019, May 02). The Future of Service: Elevating the Human Experience. US.

3. Forbes.com, Shep Hyken . (2018, July 15). Customer Experience is the new Brand. USA. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/shephyken/2018/07/15/customer-experience-is-the-new-brand/#2595f10e7f52

4. Anthony Stephan for Deloitte Consulting LLP. (2019, April 7). Human Experience is greater than Customer Experience. Wall Street Journal.

Deloitte Digital - Tim Greulich, Angel Vaccaro, Jennifer Buchanan, Sarah Logman. (2019, May). Exploring the Value of Emotion-driven Engagement. Deloitte Consulting LLP.

Richardson, A. (2010, November 15). Using Customer Journey Maps to Improve Customer Experience. Harvard Business Review. United States of America. Retrieved 2019, from https://hbr.org/2010/11/using-customer-journey-maps-to?referral=03758&cm_vc=rr_item_page.top_right  

Warren Hatton-Jones & Patrick Laurent - Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited. (2019, April 01). The future of wealth management. What will the financial ecosystem look like in 2030? Warsaw, Poland.

 

About the author

Greta Rapinett is a Manager with Deloitte Consulting – Strategy & Operations.

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