As the customer experience evolves, experts have been humming about the need for companies to take a more “human” approach to their business. After all, half of U.S. consumers say friendly, welcoming service is the uniquely defining factor of business success, according to PwC research. Yet, as companies introduce more technology into the mix, they risk losing the human connection.
In fact, that’s what seems to be happening at the majority of businesses. PwC found that eight in ten U.S. consumers want more human interaction from businesses, yet 64% believe companies have lost touch with the human element of customer experience.
So, what’s the secret to humanizing a business? As it turns out, it’s your employees. Many experts agree that the key to creating a stellar customer experience is to improve the employee experience first. Happy, engaged employees tend to create happy, engaged customers.
Creating a human experience means striking the right balance between using technology to resolve an issue and getting not just a real person on the phone, but a happy and helpful one. Thus, to create a more human experience, companies must focus on the full employee life cycle, integrating technology where it makes sense and strengthens human interaction.
This approach requires close attention to every aspect of the employee experience: from onboarding and training to workplace culture and tools.
How to humanize the customer experience
Create an engaged workforce. Too often employees find themselves mired in mundane, repetitive tasks. Not surprisingly, as they get bored, they become less engaged. This has a two-pronged effect on customer experience. Not only are employees less happy, they’re also more likely to treat customers poorly. One way to resolve this issue is to invest in more self-serve and automation options for customer service. By using chatbots, for example, to answer routine questions, customers resolve issues on their own more quickly. Employees are then free to spend their day on more interesting – and higher value – tasks.
Empower your workforce. Frontline employees are both closest to your customers and intimately familiar with your organization’s processes. They know first-hand what irks your customers. Yet, many companies fail to tap this vital source of company intelligence. One way to fix this problem is to empower employees to suggest process improvements. As they become more invested in making customers happy, they’ll become more engaged and enthused. According to Fast Company, employees value the opportunity to contribute their ideas: “When someone is intellectually engaged, their personality is activated, not only as an employee, but as a human being using their skills and creativity to solve problems and stretch further.”
Provide tools that help employees succeed. Contact center staff usually bear the brunt of customer ire. And they get hit with a double whammy: Agents who can’t solve a customer issue on the first call find themselves on the wrong foot with the customer and their supervisor.
By not providing the right tools, businesses can inadvertently set up their employees for failure in this regard—and the end result is a poor customer experience. The right tools change this outcome dramatically. For example, an agent can deliver a more personalized and human interaction when CRM data is integrated with the communications solution.
Make collaboration easy. Companies should focus on creating a culture of belonging, says Fast Company. Set up the workplace to enable employees to collaborate easily. They’ll not only be more productive, but they’ll have the tools they need to build stronger internal working relationships. This is especially important as more employees work remotely. Tools like web chat or video conferencing make the distance between home and headquarters disappear.
Invest in training. Employees don’t stop learning when the onboarding period ends. That’s why experts advise treating the employee experience as you would the customer experience. Incorporate tools such as personalization and self-service into internal portals and dashboards. Making it easy to access knowledge bases and subject matter experts will foster a collaborative learning environment and improve employees’ interactions with clients.
Customer experience drives revenue growth, which is why companies need to get every aspect right. But keep in mind: Your employees are the key to making every customer interaction human. When your employees are happy and engaged, they bring that outlook to every client conversation. That’s why companies need to focus on employee experience first. It’s the key to delivering a stellar customer experience every time.