Importance of Human Touch in Customer Service

“A lot of people have fancy things to say about customer service, but it’s just a day-in, day-out, on-going, never-ending, persevering, compassionate kind of activity.” – Christopher McCormick

Yes the quote above lucidly and powerfully explains the need of the human touch in customer service. It is all about the customer and the people that serve them. Customers as we know, have become smarter than before and know exactly what they want and how they want it. This translates to them having a clear understanding that their needs and expectations must be met by the company (s) that they invest in. They expect that when they reach out to a company through any of the channels, they will be met with respect, courtesy and empathy – the human touch in customer service. If not, they would waste no time in switching to a company that does understand and value their business and will continually provide the human touch in customer service. The service provided must be seamless and of high standards, the products of top quality and prices extremely competitive. So really, apart from getting personalized service, customers really want and expect that every aspect of doing business is covered.

There is no doubt that digitization has taken over business and personal worlds. Many jobs have been mechanized and pre-set – like the IVR systems, however there is no denying that customers still connect with companies that can satisfy the emotional reasons that make them conduct business and shop. It is for this reason that the need for the human touch in customer service has become even more pronounced – people would much rather speak to a person than wade through a sea of choices from a robotic IVR system. They would much rather walk into a store that has smiling and attentive customer service people and would be happy to return. The human touch in customer service is what differentiates one company’s service from the next since pricing and products have almost come at par across a particular industry.

Companies seem to be so focused on beating competition, upgrading technology and making strategic changes to become or remain market leaders that the whole crucial aspect of the human touch in customer service seems to have been relegated to the background. Studies reveal that even in the mechanized age, at least 2 out of every 3 customers still value and place extreme importance on personalized service and products. In fact, there is no customer who believes that the human touch in customer service is of little or no importance. Further, the study revealed that at least 73% of customers still want to be served by real people and would rather speak to a live person than into an automated system, even if the system worked flawlessly. This data should come as no surprise – the human touch in customer service and in doing business is not going anywhere.

We have discussed several times that machines can do some tasks, there are some critical things that they would not be able to achieve. Most importantly machines would not be able to feel or express emotions – the very basis on which most customers do business with and continue their relationship with companies. Machines can only do what they are programmed to do by people – and putting in emotions like empathy and care seem highly far-fetched as of now. Companies must display and use these emotions prudently in order to attract and retain customers. The human touch in customer service and in all aspects of business still makes for successful, profitable and long term relationships with customers, while using technology and mechanized ‘help’. It is a fine balance and those companies that can find, use and maintain this balance would continue to stay ahead of the other players in the market.

The fact is that when customers receive great service, or shoppers have a good and relaxed time in a store or a great dining experience – they tend to associate a company and place with happiness – a strong emotional reason to return. Emotions therefore are closely connected with business. Whether customer feel a sense of happiness and comfort or displeasure will determine their future business decisions with the company. It is hard to imagine a customer feeling happy because the voice in the IVR system ‘spoke politely’ but when they are serviced by an actual person (through any channel), they can and will attach emotions to those interactions. The need for the human touch in customer service cannot be overemphasized and must not be undermined. This also then means that in business, emotions translate to financial terms – a customer will be more than happy to provide repeat and large amounts of business and also get their associates to do business with a company that has been able to satisfy their emotional needs. Adding the human touch in customer service and all aspects of business has a clear and positive effect on the profitability of a company and also greatly enhances the company’s reputation. Employees and other stakeholders too remain loyal and committed to a company that is successful and takes care of their needs as well as those of their customers.

The other reason why the human touch in customer service and other realms of business is so vital is because while machines and computers can produce things as programmed, they cannot innovate or be creative. This is the sole domain of humans and as per statistics all of the innovation ever done has been by humans and none by machines or computers. Other emotions too like passion, care, affection, happiness and others cannot be expressed by machines and these form the core of customer service. When customers can feel that a company truly cares for them and is passionate about their success and happiness, they tend to become loyal and more profitable.

Companies that are able to proactively manage emotions and consistently provide the human touch in customer service will be more successful than others. While products, services and pricing can easily be matched, it is tough for any competitor to beat a company whose customers are with them because they have consistently had the human touch in customer service. Relationships based on trust and honesty, are hard to beat and in these competitive times, prove to be the difference between success and failure.

The fact is that companies that have a culture of passion, care, empathy and trust will also have a more committed workforce. Such a workforce will stand by their company, go above and beyond the call of their duty and also share positive comments about their company over the highly visible social media sites. Such positive expressions from the internal customers find favour with those outside – namely prospective customers, existing ones and also investors. With so much positivity and support, there is no question that a company would be successful. Since employees receive respect and empathy, they are more than willing to share these with the customers of the company and then the human touch in customer service that resounds with positive qualities will be there for every external customer. Each person within the company would be driven and motivated and would genuinely be happy in serving customers.

It is vital for any company to consistently find ways to transfer positive effects to the customers and these happy emotions can be displayed only through the human touch in customer service and all other business aspects. Customers love to be able to share, feel valued and even complain to another ‘person’ because they know that their emotions will be reciprocated instantly. The human touch in customer service therefore is and will remain an indispensable part of any company-customer relationship and will create more value for customers and profitability for companies. Do you believe that your company amply displays the human touch in customer service?

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