How Do You Approach Customer Experience: Tech-First or Human-First?

Written by Stacy Jackson

May 23, 2019

Today I was reading an article on Adobe’s CMO.com site about 15 Mind-Blowing Stats About Customer Experience Management. The CX stats were all interesting, but two points really stood out to me:

First: by the year 2020, customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator. (Source: Walker)

Second: Customers with an emotional connection to a brand have a 306% higher lifetime value, stay with a brand for an average of 5.1 years vs. 3.4 years, and will recommend brands at a much higher rate (71% vs. 45%). (Source: Motista)

Pretty big deal, huh? Deliver a positive customer experience — and that is from the beginning of the buyer’s journey through post-purchase — and you can see some fantastic results.

However, there’s something sort of funny about all of the customer experience buzz these days, to me, because so much of it is centered on “how can technology help me create a better customer experience?”

The problem is that we often put way too much faith in technology to deliver experiences to human beings. I’m not saying technology can’t facilitate incredible speed to lead follow up or help a frustrated customer get to support more quickly. I LOVE TECH, and I love how it can make us more agile. We can respond more rapidly to our prospects and customers.

The big problem with taking a tech-centric rather than customer-centric approach is that if you’re not responding in a human way or in a way that makes customers feel like you “get them,” who cares if you’re faster or using personalization? Without a well-conceived customer experience strategy, all you are doing is quickly delivering personalized crappy experiences.

Over the past several weeks, Alanna and I have had the chance to talk with different marketing leaders on a variety of subjects for our podcast, The B2B Mix Show. The common thread I’m spotting is how important buyer and customer experience is to these organizations. These leaders are using empathy, authenticity, and helpfulness to deliver those exceptional experiences and mold customer perception. They do not rely on technology alone.

For example, in episode 13, VanillaSoft CMO Darryl Praill shared how executive and employee visibility can drive brand awareness and leads. Why? Because people like and trust other people — people who are authentic and helpful.

Darryl has worked tirelessly to create different educational and informational experiences for potential and current customers, and he most certainly uses technology to do it. However, the focus isn’t on the technology as much as it is on 1) the value of the content and 2) the impact the technology has on the way a prospect or customer interacts and engages with the content. Whether you’re reading an eBook, watching a webinar, or listening to one of his podcasts, you walk away with relevant information and actionable insights that will help you and your inside sales team or SDRs become more effective and productive. Moreover, if you use VanillaSoft to implement these ideas, you see results even faster.

In episode 14 of The B2B Mix Show, we spoke with Jennifer Schiffman and Caitlin Orosz from Blacksmith Applications about their thought leadership magazine, Smoke Jumpers, for CPG trade management professionals.

Maybe you’re thinking, “Print??? But Stacy, there’s no fancy personalizations or cookies to track a customer’s every movement.” True, but Jennifer and Caitlin and the entire Blacksmith Applications crew understand customer needs and what matters most to their buyers and users.

Having worked in this niche on the foodservice side of trade promotion, I can tell you that Jennifer is absolutely right when she said, “The individuals making business decisions about trade promotion management software…If you can’t speak the same language they do, quickly you become a non-contender. You are not going to be part of that conversation.” These marketers understand that trade management acumen trumps cute and slick martech tricks. Their customer experience focus is on building trust through brand journalism, and the right vehicle for them just happens to be considered “old school.”

How are you thinking about customer experience in your business? Are you looking to technology first to address CX issues, or are you focused on the human experience?

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