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Certainly, workaday customer service has been going toward automation and self-service. But the new luxury in customer service is human delivery. As Milton Pedraza, CEO of the Luxury Institute, recently told the New York Times, “What we are seeing now is the luxurification of human engagement.”
The human touch, in other words, has become the Midas touch.
Yes, customers appreciate the speed and convenience that automation can provide. Yes, with many routine needs they like the ability to self-serve. But when they want to feel like a million bucks, they want the human touch.
Why? Because it’s comforting. Because it’s is engaging. Because it’s one-size-fits-one. Because customers are human themselves.
But can your business afford to provide the human touch? As a customer service consultant, I’m more prone to ask the converse: can you afford not to?
Whenever and wherever this subject has been studied, the value of the human touch has been shown. A quick example: in one careful study, hotels across all gradations/price points, from economy to luxury, were rated best by consumers when they had multiple people touching the customer. The very highest-rated, in fact, were properties where five or more employees interacted with the guest in addition to the one(s) at the front desk.
Don’t get me wrong: the underpinnings of how you deliver service are more and more likely to be electronic, automated, algorithmic. Yet this in no way precludes having the client-facing interface, the final touch, the icing on the cake be human. As Yaniv Masjedi, CMO of Nextiva, a fast-growing business communications company based in Scottsdale, Arizona, puts it, “we both serve customers directly [Nextiva’s customers range from solo entrepreneurs to marquee names] and provide the cloudware, which we call NextOS, that’s used by other companies to empower their agents to serve their customers as well. In both contexts a technological backbone is key, but it’s the quality of the human interface, backed up behind the scenesby that technology, that keeps customers happy and coming back for more.”
It’s not that provide this kind of wonderful, human-delivered experience is a snap or a breeze. You can’t deliver–or at least won’t be able to sustain–the luxury of the human touch by scattering warm bodies indiscriminately about your enterprise (or on your phone lines). The kind of successful human touch I’m talking about can only be reliably delivered by properly selected (hired) employees (here’s more from me on hiring for customer-facing positions), who are onboarded correctly (here’s more from me on onboarding), trained to the nines (read my thoughts on customer service training here), and supported/sustained in their efforts daily. Believe me, your customers–and, ultimately, your bottom line–will appreciate the effort.
As Digvijay Singh, Area Director for Taj Hotels UK (and GM for two luxury properties, Taj St. James’ Court and Taj 51 Buckingham Gate) explains, “We strive to be as efficient and up-to-date as we can with technology, because it speeds and enhances our service delivery. Yet we like to keep that technology below eye level. Luxury service is all about eye-level contact between our service professionals and the guests they serve, whether at the front desk, the corridors of our property, or the F&B [food and beverage] venues we provide on-property. Invariably, when I or one of my colleagues receives a thank-you note from a guest, it will focus on a connection or small kindness one of my employees made. And it’s a key indicator of whether guests will return, as well as recommend us to their friends.”
June 9, 2019 at 06:30PM
Forbes – Entrepreneurs