In a survey about improving business processes, the improvement that customers requested most from businesses was better human service. Even in the digital age, consumers prefer human interaction and personal experiences.
A key challenge for brands moving forward is finding ways to offer personalized human service in the broader context of an omnichannel engagement strategy. To learn more about this ongoing development, our Marketing Coordinator, Rob Glenn, sat down with Veriday CEO, Marc Lamoureux, to pick his brain about the importance of human interactions in business. Marc has years of experience helping financial services firms improve their customer engagement by implementing more humanized, personal digital marketing programs.
Rob Glenn: When should human interactions be incorporated as part of the overall digital experience?
Marc Lamoureux: I think an intrinsic part of the digital experience is trying to create human interaction. The world is completely digital now. Everyone has access to some sort of device that connects digitally. People still want human connections. Whenever you can integrate a personal connection, whether in the form of content or by associating an individual with that content, it’s a great way to engage. You should do that 100% of the time if you can manage that.
Rob Glenn: What does human interaction bring to a great digital experience?
Marc Lamoureux: It brings that personal touch, which develops trust and loyalty with the customer. Take Facebook as an example. It works so well because it’s a trusted area where you’re connecting only with your friends. You have let them into your world, and that functions as a protected, lively, social engagement system. For business, the process can work the same way. You should be trying to establish those personal relationships with your customers. And if you do it well, you’re going to develop a trusted ecosystem and have a long future with your customer.
Rob Glenn: How would you plan human touch points in a broader digital engagement strategy?
Marc Lamoureux: There are two main activities that need to be completed when planning human touch points.
1. Don’t limit your segments
Think about the maximum amount of engagement you can get with customers, which is one-to-one. You’re reducing your dependence on a broadcast connection model, giving you the ability accurately target your campaigns.
2. People mapping
The second thing you’ll want to ask is: “who can make the best connection with our customers?” Is it someone in sales? A product expert? Is it someone on the service team who the customers have an affinity with? Try to identify those mappings the same way you map content; you can map your people.
Rob Glenn: How can you use data and other by-products from digital marketing to improve human interactions in a meaningful way?
Marc Lamoureux: Marketing departments today spend a lot of time analyzing data and how content and campaigns perform with customers. You can take the same data, and once you associate people with that content and those customers, you can start to identify data trends with your human interactions. You can experiment with the matching of people with customers just the same as you can experiment with matching your content or campaigns with certain customer segments.
Rob Glenn: What are transactional relationships without a personal connection lacking from a customer’s perspective?
Marc Lamoureux: There are some transactions where personal interactions aren’t necessarily important. In banking, for example, making a payment is not a big, important transaction. But a larger transaction, such as getting a mortgage or making a remittance overseas, may require personal interactions. With high-value transactions, where the customer needs support or help, human interactions are very important. You will want to know who you can contact when help is needed.
Content is another situation where human relationships are important. When people are looking for advice or information, they like to know that there is a person behind the content. They want to know who the author is, and what their perspectives are. Associating content with individuals is a great opportunity for businesses to build trust and loyalty with their customers.
Rob Glenn: How can the financial services industry improve the quality of human interactions in the context of their overall omnichannel experience?
Marc Lamoureux: I think if you map out a traditional customer journey and identify how customers go through the process of engaging and buying with you, but also where your own people come in during journey, you will see where your people are engaged with customers in various parts of the journey. That’s going to help you create a better strategy for mapping and planning your human interactions.
The other thing you can do is an audit of your current engagement processes. For example, a lot of organizations have “find us” pages on their websites. When a client wants to engage and arrange a meeting, oftentimes it’s a black box. They don’t know who they will speak with or who will call them back. In our experience, if a financial services organization can associate people with the purchase process or engagement model, they will get better results with customers.
Rob Glenn: How can technology facilitate human interaction?
Marc Lamoureux: Technology, in some way, provides every person with a broadcast medium. Platforms such as Facebook and Youtube have created these one-to-one, or one-to-ten, or one-to-one-hundred type relationships. Technology has created these micro-broadcast relationships all over the internet through digital mediums. I think that same technology principle can be applied to financial services. Instead of a mass media broadcasted marketing campaign, you can start to think about creating more focused messaging, creating one-to-one-thousand, one-to-one-hundred and ultimately one-to-one marketing relationships.
When I think about how technology can be applied to creating better customer connections and more personal experiences, I think of the typical email process for a large financial services organization. If you send an email to a customer from only the brand, with no people attached to it, a lot of people won’t open it, even if there is high-value content in it. If you take the same content and associate it with somebody they know, they are way more likely to open the email. This will give you a second chance to get them to engage with your content. That’s a really good example of a successful strategy of applying technology to create more human connections in your business.
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