Digital gives us opportunities to see our customers and to be more responsive to their wants. – Bernadette Jiwa
That’s the promise, but it isn’t always the practice.
We get excited about digital technologies like chatbots, the Internet of Things, marketing automation, artificial intelligence or virtual reality, but often miss the most important business opportunity.
Understanding how the technology works is not as important as understanding how and why you use it.
The most important opportunity is not in scaling your business or making it run more efficiently – although that is important. But most important is how you use digital to understand your customers, connect with them, and respond to them.
It comes down to using technology to make your customer’s life better versus merely making your life easier.
It may be easier to hide behind a wall of automated responses to customer contacts. But it can alienate the frustrated customer who just wants to talk to a real person.
And the alienation can touch both sides of the human equation.
For the customer, digital interactions can satisfy up to a point. It can be reassuring to get an immediate acknowledgement of a transaction or inquiry. But over time, automated responsiveness starts to ring hollow. People can begin to feel a lack of empathy and connection.
A recent study found that virtual experiences don’t provide the true sense of belonging and connection human beings long for. People have many ways to connect and engage with virtual communities, but can still feel lonely, isolated and depressed from a lack of real human interaction.
There are pitfalls for the marketer too.
Relying too heavily on digital technology to interact with customers can cause a marketer to be detached from the real person on the other side of the virtual room. It can begin to dehumanize the relationship. Empathy and context can become casualties in the quest to understand what matters to the customer.
Digital is a great enabler of reaching and responding to people. But they still want and need to be understood and appreciated. They still want the human touch.
In the end, it’s not the technology that matters. It’s how you use it to make people happy.