I’ve been writing lately about the future of business and marketing: being more HUMAN. I’ve talked about the trend towards ‘humanistic marketing’, bringing your company values into your business in a meaningful way, developing a team culture that supports a human brand, and translating this in your online communications.
In this final article, I want to reflect on the all-important customer experience, and the necessity to make this experience HUMAN – because that’s the kind of interaction we want as consumers of services and products.
Recently I sent out some email enquiries to a handful of car hire companies. I wanted to book something special for my dad’s 60th birthday, but I don’t know the first thing about cars, and he is not a huge car fanatic – so I figured a ride in any cool car would be a great treat.
The lack of a good enquiry and sales process evident in the companies I contacted – in fact, the complete lack of a ‘human touch’ – left me feeling luke-warm about the car idea (and I still haven’t booked anything weeks later).
With Car Company 1, I asked for a particular car I liked the look of. I received a terse email response a few days later, saying that car was unavailable for the date I’d requested. I wondered at the lack of any further information – if only they knew I didn’t really care which car I got, as long as it looked good and I felt sure my dad would receive a great experience? Car Company 1 was scratched off the list.
Car Company 2 impressed me when I first opened their email – it was a detailed response outlining their values in the kind of service they provide and included links to additional information. Since it too arrived a few days after my enquiry, I didn’t catch on right away that this was an automated response. But when I looked closer, there was no mention of the car I’d asked about or other details of my enquiry. Why hadn’t they answered my specific questions? I half expected a phone call following this general introduction, but none came.
Car Company 3 never replied to my online enquiry. Maybe their website contact form doesn’t work. I’m not giving them the benefit of the doubt.
As I often find myself asking of service providers I come across – Don’t they want my business? These 3 experiences left me feeling that 1) I wasn’t valued as a potential customer, and 2) car hire companies aren’t very professional. Ouch.
It’s incredible to me how little businesses seem to care about acquiring a new client and making them a loyal one who refers others and comes back – let alone how many just don’t even seem to want my money.
All they had to do was get a real human to write a brief but attentive email addressing my questions in a way that felt like they wanted to help. Or better yet, get someone to phone me for a chat – sure, I would’ve been taken aback at first (how often do you get a phone call these days?), but if it had been a pleasant and helpful conversation relevant to my enquiry, I’d have booked on the spot.
Whether you sell birthday experiences, tax returns or sandwiches, I want to feel like I’m listened to and cared for by your company – even if the whole process from enquiry to final transaction takes two minutes. I want to talk to a human with manners. To my mind, this is basic ABCs sort of stuff.
P.S. One more important thing – whether I’m buying your entry-level product or your top-tier service, I want to feel valued. You should value me: after all, you don’t know me, or who else I might know.