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Maximising the human element in an omni-channel environment

This post is sponsored by Epsilon.

With our growing focus on technology, it’s easy to forget that customers don’t think in terms of “omni-channel” or even “digital”.

Success is less about your ability to contact customers in every channel possible; instead, effective omni-channel marketing is about creating seamless experiences between your digital and human channels.

For example, when a customer follows up an email with a phone call, she expects the customer service representative to pick up right where the email left off. Or, if she purchases online and picks up her order in store, she expects a well-informed associate to serve her needs.

So, while brands attempt to dazzle customers with new channels such as virtual and augmented reality, customers just want to feel recognised, special and known. This creates a massive opportunity for brands who want to focus on becoming better engaged with their customers.

The good news is the further along the digital marketing maturity spectrum you get, the more opportunity you have to integrate and empower the human touch. Technology enables smoother channel integrations and reinforces customers’ expectations for immediate access and more predictable experiences.

Why is the human experience important?

According to a study by Google, 72% of customers visit a store to check out a product, with plans to purchase it online. Well-trained in-store and contact centre staff are the key to a great customer experience at this stage in the purchase cycle.

On the flip side, today’s customers are more informed than ever. Many of them have already researched online the product they want to buy, so when they enter a store, they aren’t looking for someone to sell them something.

They want store associates to be there to provide advice, inspiration, empathy and the human element that digital channels lack – and to be as knowledgeable, if not more knowledgeable, than the online sources they’ve already experienced.

Identify which transactions require “human interaction”

The complexity of the customer interaction can play a major role in the need for a human element. When asked how they would interact with service providers for simple requests, many people chose digital channels. As the requests became more complicated, the reliance on human interaction became even greater.

When the stakes are high, human interactions are reassuring. While making a car or mortgage payment may not require a personal touch, buying a car or getting a mortgage often necessitates the peace of mind that only talking to a professional can give.

Overall, organisations need to find the right mix of the human experience and technical interaction. As marketers get more comfortable with AI and other technologies, using the human touch at critical points will create an integrated experience to exceed customers’ expectations.

Understand more about the human experience – download our report The human experience: Optimizing the human channel in the customer journey

Paul Davies is senior vice-president for Epsilon APAC. Epsilon is a leader in interaction management, empowering brands to transform ordinary customer experiences into meaningful, human experiences. Our connected suite of products and services combine leading-edge identity management, industrial strength data and technology expertise with big brand acumen gained over five decades working with the industry’s top brands. For more information, visit www.apac.epsilon.com or contact Paul directly at paul.davies@epsilon.com.