Are we losing sight of the human behind our digital data?

In a world where brand-to-customer contact is increasingly through digital touch points, are we losing sight of the human at the heart of the experience?

Back in the 60s and 70s when shopping malls were becoming all the rage, no-one expected that customers would ever find a different way to shop and interact with brands. Since the introduction of e-commerce in the late 90s, these once thriving malls are becoming ever-more challenging environments for retailers.

Keeping up with competitors in this ever-changing landscape is already a tough enough ask, but we also need to consider the potential for a similar evolution over the next 10 years. As my colleague and CMO, Geoff Galat, said on a recent webinar with CX Network:

“Are the things that we're doing today – the 2018 digital strategies that we have in place – as bulletproof as we think they are? Or will they soon become just another dusty mall down the road?”

Are we losing sight of the human?

Geoff was joined by a panel of industry peers to talk about the challenges they’re facing on digital channels, and whether the industry as a whole has lost sight of what validates e-commerce: the customer, no, the human behind the data.

There are people typing on the keyboard; there are people moving the mouse; there are people using that mobile device. When someone's rotating the screen and pinching and zooming, that's a human being – with all the associated feelings and emotions. So, it’s key to ensure that those people are having the best, and most human, experiences possible.

What does it really mean to put experience first?

Corby Fine, VP Digital Commerce at CIBC, had a really interesting interpretation of the meaning of being experience-first: time is the real currency defining the digital experience. Customers want a service that is available when they want it, that it’s simple, and that it works. The more friction points we can remove to possible to reduce the customer’s time commitment, the better their experience will be.

Hui Wu-Curtis, GM Customer Service at Arizona Public services agreed: “I look at our policies, procedures and workflows and consider; do they contribute to the effortless, seamless experience that people expect? We want to empower our employees to be able to personalise the experience, and yet call centres have traditionally stuck with scripting and a very rigid QA process.”

How are brands tackling these frictions?

With an ever-increasing number or brands using AI and chatbots in customer services, and as part of their wider customer experience, it’s becoming all the more important to ensure that every customer has an option that offers them the experiences they have come expect.

Petra Wise, Director of Customer Service at ezCater explained that some people don’t want to go to a computer and only have one option of contacting a brand – via a chatbot or automated system, for example. We need to give people the choice to improve their experience, so we have to make informed decisions about what technology to implement.”

Corby agreed: “While it’s important not to close off any channels, we have to balance the combination of customer preference with the value and cost of that touchpoint. So we’re experimenting with personalized support pages based on past behaviors on the website and how customers have historically contacted us.”

Taking inspiration from other industries

It’s initiatives like this, especially in financial services, that act as inspiration for the future of customer experience, now that we are firmly in the experience era. But this is only the tip of the iceberg – I hear, and see, so many innovative and forward-thinking CX strategies from brands that are revolutionizing their industries

We talk a lot the pressures that retailers are under to evolve to modern consumer needs. But in this webinar, we heard from someone in financial services, an energy and utilities provider, and America’s only nationwide marketplace for business catering. To be truly innovative in our own sectors, there’s so much we can learn from our peers in other industries. 

Watch the webinar in full to hear a whole load more from Corby, Hui and Petra, including:

  • What they are doing to improve their customer experience
  • The metrics they are using to measure digital experience
  • The data sets they are using to gain a greater understanding of their digital customers
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