When technology is properly integrated with skilled human intervention, elevating the customer experience becomes a more reachable goal.
At the beginning of this year, I read an article about the top technology trends in 2019 that would reshape customer experience and it immediately made me think about how we could implement some of them in our company. Conversational Bots, Deep Customer Insights Via IoT, and Intelligent Analytics Via Machine Learning were cited to be elements that would improve companies’ customer satisfaction. However, for many businesses, and especially for tech companies, these digital trends can never fully replace the “human touch”.
Gartner stated that by 2020, businesses will manage 85% of their customer relationships without human involvement. Even today, 69% of consumers interact with a virtual assistant or chatbot at least once a month. These technological solutions do have a lot of benefits, such as infinite time to attend to any subject and lower costs for the companies. In spite of this, we need to understand the power of human intelligence as well. Human intelligence combines both cognitive and sensory abilities, something that AI, despite its speed and computational power, still struggles with. As it wouldn’t be smart to halt the implementation of new technologies, the key here is to achieve a balance.
A report from MIT Technology Review notes that 91% of companies they classify as “iconic” (both ranking among the highest scorers in Customer Experience and have built an industry-leading level of brand awareness) aim to increase customer satisfaction by combining human experience and technologies, including virtual assistants, chatbots, and big data analytics.
At its core, customer satisfaction results from establishing good relationships, and relationships start with human interaction.
At Opportunity Network, we are always thinking about technological developments that will increase customer satisfaction, but we also have a growing team of Account Managers who work everyday to build those relationships. They are in charge of supporting members’ needs, reviewing every opportunity, and providing a thorough screening process.
Why Tech Companies Should “Hug” their Customers
In his book “Hug your customers”, Jack Mitchell defines hugging as a strategy for selling, based on getting everyone on your team to serve with passion, so they develop long-term, loyal relationships with your customers.
Thinking on that, I can say that it actually goes further. Hugging your customers goes beyond trying to sell, to actually caring and putting your heart into that relationship. Tech companies should implement digital strategies to streamline customer experience, while also encouraging their team to “hug” customers.
Last year, one of our Account Managers at Opportunity Network decided to do something close to exceptional: A company that specialized in Salami production joined our business platform and was able to get great results for their unique business needs. When their second annual membership ended, they thought that there was nothing else to achieve, nothing else that they wouldn’t have received in the time of being members in spite of the great results they had made by that moment.
Their Account Manager was worried about them missing-out opportunities, so he decided to fly to Venice and personally discuss how Opportunity Network could keep on contributing to achieving their business goals. Before leaving, the AM gave a Barcelona Football jersey to the client followed by: “I remembered from our first call that you mentioned your son is a fan of Barcelona’s football team. Here a little gift from my city”.
That’s something that we could never have known if the human experience wasn’t the core of our customer relationship. This unique and hyper-personalized gesture helped our client to renew the trust in the network and to this day their business is finding valuable results within the platform.
Customized Solutions to Offer
This story is just one example of a uniquely human connection, that computers and artificial intelligence will never be able to replicate. In spite of all the advances made in tech companies, we are still a collective of people working as a team & trying to bring the best solutions and support to each of our customers’ needs.
The needs of your clients are never going to be the same as another’s, and that’s something companies should focus on, in addition to providing fast and reliable service. Personalized service, knowing each customer’s backgrounds, plans, needs, and values, will help the support team to find better solutions and alternatives for them, as well as using the right tools to help the customers accomplish their goals.
This is why a hybrid of human touch and technology is key for any tech company that wants to have high customer satisfaction. No matter how far technology goes, it will never replace the human touch.
Alberto González Troncoso
Vice President and Head of Retention at Opportunity Network.