A vvast improvement to customer experience – harnessing data with a human touch

By Ryan Munns

The Human Side of Customer Service

With the proliferation of new channels, we have opened a veritable Pandora’s Box of customer communication and many brands are simply not set up to service every touchpoint in a considered way. They key is to focus on what we are saying and most importantly to actively listen to what and how our customers want to engage with us.

When was the last time you experienced great customer service? We all have different definitions of what this is, but in a post COVID world, the customer experiences we have that are memorable are those that have been given the human touch. The experiences that have come out of the blue and surprised you when all you were expecting was a run of the mill reply.

The power of technology

By harnessing data, we can automate the everyday needs and deploy machine learning to continuously improve handling of the rudimentary aspects – making them fall into the background ambiently and seamlessly. Freeing us up to focus on the personal touches that add true value.

I recently contacted the world’s biggest tech company to try and resolve a problem with some headphones that weren’t working correctly. I got through to someone with no issues, but when I spoke to them, it was obvious that they were reading from a script and couldn’t speak outside of those parameters. The issue wasn’t resolved, and I was told to take my complaint to the original point of purchase. For a company currently valued at $2 Trillion, it was a clear message – as customers, we are just a number.

The humans are coming

More than ever, great customer experience depends on the human factor.

When some baby clothes were missing from a recent order I had placed with a well-known brand, I got it all…a laugh, some empathy and someone who took charge of the situation. I spoke to someone who went above and beyond, in the process, making me a customer for life. We shared a very human experience. It gave me the lasting impression that the company had made a real effort to find someone on their team who really cared about me.

For me, a key marker of excellence when interacting with a company about an order, or service that hasn’t quite gone to plan, is when I know I’m talking to a human. Someone who is living and breathing what they do. Someone that brings the solution to you before you have even realised it was what you wanted. A no quarrel, no fuss interaction. It’s worth considering, how would you wish to be treated? Is a dispute worth loosing a customer over – and all the possible negative PR that can follow.

Word of mouth can be your best friend but if it goes wrong, people are more likely to complain – it’s in our nature. In a recent survey carried out by ultimate.ai, they discovered 84% of those that responded said they would spend more with companies who provided a personalised customer service experience. This combined with 60% of respondents who said they cared more now than ever about the CX journey; the message is clear – companies must provide a human customer experience.

Baked in customer care

When I first started my journey in ecommerce customer service, I was, like most people fresh out of university – desperate for a job. I found a role at a relatively new action sports company who were scaling fast. I loved the product, and I loved the people. They trusted me to answer their phones and fix their customer’s problems. What has really stayed with me, from that very first job, was how much everyone cared. We would talk about the different cases we were handling; we would share experiences and work through problems together; and the customer service manager always had an open-door policy to fresh ideas of how we could improve.

Understanding that each customer interaction isn’t simply another call or email. Every touchpoint is a chance to improve the customer journey. It could be as simple as fixing a trigger in Zendesk; giving a carrier some feedback on their deliveries; or even just getting a barcode fixed.

I think that technology is not just an enabler, but it becomes a way for us to turn a routine interaction into something magical and special. 

Be human and act human

This attitude is something I held onto and is what I keep front of mind when dealing with the everyday. Brands too often instil policy or process into their customer teams that are so often anti-customer. Received a faulty product? Send it back and once it’s back, we will send you a new one. In the meantime, the customer has to wait even longer.

Brexit posed an interesting discussion point within the customer service industry. No matter what your politics are, if you were expecting an order from inside the EU to be delivered into the UK, you were going to be affected. As the retailer it’s your responsibility to get the parcel to the customer. Do you wait out the delays or do you get the customer their order via an alternative route? Yes, you’ve lost some product, but you’ve gained loyalty and credibility.

Here in the vvast Customer Service team, we pride ourselves in being the digital Sherpas for our customers. We understand that the brands we represent want what is best for their customers and we help deliver what is truly a human.