From shopping to selling software to social media and media consumption, there is no denying that the business world is undergoing the most dramatic digital transformation we have seen in decades.
While digital experiences are largely set in the future for businesses of all types – the growing need for exhilarating and immersive customer experiences (CX) continues to require the human touch to conquer the needs and desires of today’s increasingly demanding consumer.
While 88% of customer experience professionals believe relying on more digital channels has had a positive impact on their business performance during the pandemic, nearly three-quarters (72%) still say they invest in offering more human interactions, according to HubSpot’s Mixed customer experience in a post-pandemic world: Where do we stand from the human touch? Research.
So, if the human touch is driving the appeal of customer experience for some of the UK’s biggest brands, how can companies strike the right balance for this new hybrid approach?
The Drum met with Susan Runqvist Ahmadi, Vice President of International Marketing at HubSpot, to explore the findings in more detail and discuss why and how, in this new age of the consumer, implementing mixed customer experience strategies will be critical to finding sweets. Spot the digital experiences that hit the target and dazzle customers with the human touch they crave.
“Many companies’ response to Covid-19 has been to rapidly implement technology to support remote teams and the new ‘all-digital’ customer model,” says Runqvist Ahmadi. “It was a survival mindset, but of course, doing something fast can have its downsides. For some companies, this has meant that their technology stack has become a jumble of ingredients from different technology providers and this path threatens to hold companies back. Not giving them The whole customer supply and trying to connect all of these components will cause friction points for your customers.”
Watch the full interview with HubSpot’s Susan Runqvist Ahmadi above.
As a result, many companies are now planning to invest in new CRM platforms over the next twelve months, having realized that providing a great customer experience has become the biggest difference from a product/service. But beyond these investments in technology, ironically, the disruption caused by the pandemic has also demonstrated the extraordinary value that human interactions play in customer experience. While 22% of consumers would prefer to continue to buy and interact with brands online, 52% would prefer to deal directly with someone, with 58% of those who have human interaction likely to shop with the brand again in the future.
“The winners are those who can find the right balance between human and digital,” says Runqvist Ahmadi. “This will of course be different from company to company and industry to industry, but it will be really helpful for those who can identify what that balance is. We are not only in a new era of hybrid working but also in a new age of mixed customer experiences.”
In the video interview, we also explore the biggest differences in the role that human touch plays in different parts of the customer journey – for both B2C and B2B brands – and see why Tesco ranks first for brand appeal CX works with the customer teams most helpful during the pandemic, along with other customer experience considered companies including Amazon, M&S, Asda and Argos.
“The pandemic is just accelerating trends we’ve seen before, and in industry after industry, we’re seeing companies disrupt existing companies with better expertise, both in B2C and B2B environments,” says Runqvist Ahmadi. “For consumers today, feeling happy is not an added value to their experience as a customer anymore, but rather the inner foundation upon which your relationship is built. Only those companies that put the customer at the center of everything you do will thrive in this highly competitive landscape.”
She points out that having the right CRM platform in place can make a huge difference in delighting customers throughout the journey and making sure they come back again and again.
“To scale, uncomplicated in 2021 and beyond, businesses today need to invest in robust, easy-to-use CRM platforms that enable them to create a single point of what we refer to as customer reality, which customer-facing teams can feed into or — and most importantly — opt out of them to help them deliver an exhilarating customer experience.”