Customers Still Crave The Human Touch From Brands

Customers Still Crave The Human Touch From Brands
B&T Magazine
Edited by B&T Magazine

Consumers across Australia are calling on organisations to bring an improved human touch to their customer experience, according to The Customer Experience Edge: Australia report launched today by Qualtrics and SAP’s Centre for Experience Management.

At a time when organisations are adopting digital, self-serve, and AI-powered technologies, consumers say making it simple to access human-like experiences when needed – such as engaging with a real person – would have the biggest impact on improving their customer experience (44 per cent). This is buoyed by the finding 45 per cent of Australians prefer to have service interactions through a real person, compared to a third (34 per cent) who say their preference depends on the nature of the interaction, and 21 per cent who favour digital platforms.

Other customer experience improvements consumers want to see include being able to perform more service on mobile apps (29 per cent) and receiving a seamless experience across all digital touchpoints (26 per cent). Improving the helpfulness of customer service representatives is also one of the most impactful issues organisations need to address to improve their customer experience, ahead of mobile app ease of use, offering more digital payment options, and speed of delivery and service.

“With many organisations rethinking and redesigning their customer experience programs, these findings are a critical reminder to not forget the importance of bringing human-like experiences to these touchpoints.

“Delivering programs, products, and services with a customer-first mindset is more important than ever, and a key part of this is ensuring customers receive the experiences they desire while frontline employees are enabled with the tools and systems to quickly and easily understand and take action on what matters most to customers,” said Lara Truelove, author of The Customer Experience Edge: Australia and Program Leader for the Centre for Experience Management.

Human engagements make or break the customer experience

The interactions tending to leave a greater impression on Australians, either good or bad, are those involving frontline customer service representatives. Analysis of qualitative feedback shows helpful and courteous services and knowledgeable representatives are the top reasons why consumers recommend a company. In contrast, lack of knowledge and rude staff are the top two reasons someone would complain about the organisation.

Being able to understand and rapidly act on customer feedback is essential to successful CX programs. However, the study found satisfied and unsatisfied customers will share their feedback in different ways. Consumers willing to recommend a company are more likely to respond to a survey, or submit feedback through the website or app. Customers leaving a complaint prefer to give feedback through the website, make a phone call, or send an email.

Will Santry, vice president and head of customer experience, SAP ANZ says, “Customer experience today is all about creating personalised experiences that recognise and even predict what a customer wants, to keep them coming back for more. To deliver these experiences, bring to life a new era of empathy, and deepen customer understanding, organisations need intelligent solutions that enable them to humanise every touchpoint with the customer.”

Three areas to focus on for experience improvement

The Customer Experience Edge: Australia report highlights three areas for organisations to prioritise in improving their customer experience:

Empathy at the frontline – The world needs more frontline heroes, in human to human interactions that make or break the experience. Organisations should focus on selection, onboarding, and skilling to set frontline team members up for success, and when designing experiences identify and focus on the moments and scenarios requiring empathy. Frontline employees must be enabled to clearly articulate the outcomes customers are focused on and empowered to solve issues.

Agency at the frontline – Customers rely upon frontline employees to achieve with them and for them, and this will continue to be the case. Enabling employees to provide accurate advice, solve issues and anticipate needs and issues is imperative. Central to this is ensuring frontline employees can identify and resolve common service and service recovery tasks.

Digital self-serve – Digital edge customers expect interaction convenience – to achieve what they want to, in the channels of their choice, in their digital ecosystem. The leading organisations will look at common service tasks that can be delivered through self-serve, and ensure the customer can be engaged in their desired way.

The study is based on responses from 3,150 consumers in Australia aged 18+, and was carried out in December 2022 and January 2023 using online panels. Respondents were required to have had a recent experience (within the previous 90 days) with specific brands. Most respondents evaluated five brands.

Conducted by Qualtrics and SAP, with the support of Digital Industry Singapore (DISG), this first customer experience benchmark study in Australia establishes a baseline in keystone metrics that indicate performance of brands in delivering customer experiences and measures of loyalty. It is a comprehensive customer experience study, equipping organisations with comparative data to better understand the types of services and engagements people in the country want.


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