Why the Human Touch is Still so Important

Excellent-Service“In the coming years, everything that can be digitized will be digitized. But there’s one thing that can’t be digitized and that’s the customer!”

I came across the Accenture Digital Disconnect in Customer Engagement report, which was published recently, and found some very interesting trends in customer behaviour as well as the above quote.

While a lot of retailers and other businesses, are pursuing a path of digital connection with their customers, to make shopping even easier, Accenture discovered that this obsession may be going too far. Accenture found out that 88% of customers use digital channels at some point in their shopping journey. 41% of customers want even more digital interactions. The signs therefore, should look very promising to increase digital channels at the expense of human beings – or do they?

However, the research also found out that only 36% of customers believe that digital channels are better than non-digital channels. Digital has also done little to boost customer loyalty – in 2014, only 25% of consumers were willing to recommend their providers to others and a staggering 65% took all or all of their business elsewhere. Unfortunately retail was named as one of the worst offenders when it came to loyalty, mainly due to poor service.

Wow, customers are using digital channels a lot but this is often leading to customers being bombarded with too many offers leading to customers not feeling unique and valued – the result a loss of sales. Customers are feeling that companies are using digital not to tailor their experience but to commoditise them.

Accenture uncovered that customers access three factors when determining an offer’s relevance – product, venue and experience. Of the three, experience influences loyalty the most. As I have always said, we have to provide the customer with an experience and not just transact them. The experience they receive, either online or in store will definitely determine if they will buy and come back. This is also backed up with the research finding 48% of customers are willing to pay a higher prices for goods and services if it ensures a better level of service.

The good news is, if a retailer can get the digital and in store experience right, there is a massive upside. These multi-channel customers are responsible for 3.2 times the sales and 2.6 times the margin of store-only customers. Customers are more than twice as likely to be upsold (45% v 18%) through a human interaction as a digital one. What an opportunity!!

In summary, the Accenture report highlights the value in getting the multi-channel offering spot on for the customer. Retailers have to focus on an effective way to communicate via online, but cannot forget about the in-store experience. Staff need to have the skills to engage with customers, find out their needs and provide solutions. These basic skills, it seems, are never going to change!

Roger SimpsonRoger Simpson – CEO, The Retail Solution and Author of “The Retail Solution” With over 35 years’ industry experience, Roger Simpson is recognized as Australia’s #1 Authority on customer ROI in the retail industry and as a global expert on staff coaching, customer service and selling skills.