Where the Digital Ends and the Human Interaction Begins
Businesses are eager to use technology to improve the customer experience, whether we talk about B2C or B2B products and services. The business world has come to realize that in such a dense competition, how you make your customer feel is the ace up your sleeve for gaining market share.
Technology is now more available than ever, designed to ease people’s lives and deliver instant gratification. Businesses learned to use it in their attempt to win customers on their side. Which is really great, who wouldn’t want a pleasant purchasing experience and some added value on top of it?
But is it really? We, too, at ThinkOut, employ technology to simplify processes, to make the user journey smooth, to get back to as many customers as we can. But we can’t help to wonder whether this is really the kind of experience our customers look for? Or people in general, when using a service or a product. Not so long before, services involved real interactions with real people. Nowadays, such interactions are almost inexistent. We are “served” by algorithms, chat bots answer our questions, and search engines deliver the most accurate results. Again, this is great. Still, something is missing. It’s the human side that becomes almost invisible, leaving room for technology to lead the conversation.
B2B needs more humanity.
Why’s that? Well, it’s because in B2B interactions there is so much at stake (an entire business on which other people depend), so trust and log term relationships are crucial. One doesn’t build them on technology solely. The human factor needs to be present in every aspect.
While video tutorials and AI are designed to give instructions and walk through the user, a personal conversation, a customized piece of advice are the salt and pepper of any B2B service.
Take our own example: a cash flow management platform. A product that automates tiresome operations, meant to support managers. Complex technology to make things simple. So why need more? It should be convincing enough for users to stick around. Well, no matter how useful the product, it’s not enough. We became aware of it once we started to actually talk to customers, listen, assist them and offer our insights. It was their reaction and enthusiasm that made it clear to us how important is a real, empathic, personal conversation.
Just a spoon full of sugar
The human touch can take many forms. When we talk about B2B products and services, it can take different shapes: counseling sessions, personal emails, live webinars, events, meetings.
Technology can be very helpful to deliver this human touch; Skype or WhatsApp calls, for instance, make it possible to talk to customers or investors across the ocean. It is known that a direct explanation is better understood and accepted than a written one, not to mention that the risk of misinterpretation is so high in the latter. Online platforms allow live streaming, so you can deliver precious knowledge in a webinar from your very own office and connect to hundreds of clients, even engage in online conversations.
It is also important that the people you are selling something to know who is behind the service or product. It is about the trust we mentioned earlier. By knowing who is behind we mean not only have some basic, CV information but to get connected to the people creating that product or service. This can happen through blog articles or social media presence, where founders and their teams can make their voices heard and their personalities revealed. Also, the guidance offered to a client (or even just a prospect) over a call (phone, or Skype, or whatever platform) instead of a cold, online message or guidebook makes a real difference. That person feels important, listened to; although the information itself may be the same as in your online guide, the fact that you took the time to personally talk to a customer means the world to him.
To sum up, technology is great. It really eases life and helps us all develop. The human touch, however, remains essential. It is the glue that bonds relationships, builds trust and creates memorable experiences. Any business means, first of all, its people; and people need to connect to people. So let’s start talking more to our clients, while still relying on technology to gain more time and ease to be humans.