What do innovative digital companies have in common with beloved musicians?
If we look at each song as a tapestry of musical elements — lyrics, melody, tempo — each piece is carefully woven together to create something that is more than just a “product.” Great music elicits emotion and builds a connection with listeners.
For companies, customer experience has become more crucial than ever before. Gartner considers it as the premier competitive battlefield, and companies who are not using digital to simplify the customer experience risk being dropped from the playlist (so to speak).
With advancements in technology, manufacturing, and artificial intelligence (AI) becoming more accessible — the way consumers relate to tech is changing. I propose that customer interactions with technology can be understood in the contexts of relationships, and not only experiences.
So to answer the question, both brands and rock stars are responsible for developing the relationship with their audience. If we look to The Greats to shed light on this aspiration — who better than the Beatles?
Masters of music and lyrics, the Beatles were able to capture an aspect of relationships in few words and godly tunes. Although The Beatles’ reign preceded the advent of machine learning and automation, these “snapshots” easily apply to the relationships between people and smart machines.
I’ll share some examples.
“But now these days are gone and I’m not so self-assured”
Technology fills a central role in most people’s lives. We have come to rely on it heavily for many daily tasks. As a result, today’s consumers are comfortable turning to technology for help. In fact, 67% of consumers use web self-service.
“Won’t you please, please help me?”
This increasingly strong relationship between humans and machines means brands can reduce support costs and improve customer experience in one fell swoop. Help your customer to find the answers they need by implementing an online FAQ knowledge-base and aids like a Virtual Agent or Live Chat.
Your customers will soon be singing, “And I do appreciate you being ’round.”
Don’t let me down
“Don’t let me down, hey don’t let me down”
While trust in technology has risen, so have expectations. There is very little room for disappointment. To put it simply, “if technology lets us down, we take it down.”
Brands today must be masters of their digital strategy, in order to earn customer trust. This entails solving customers’ problems before they realize they exist. Being proactive allows you to remain in control of the user’s experience at all times.
All you need is love
“Nothing you can know that isn’t known Nothing you can see that isn’t shown Nowhere you can be that isn’t where you’re meant to be”
Some of the biggest brands in the world are software providers and they lust after their customers’ love. Facebook, Salesforce, Microsoft, SAP, and Google all create very potent software. Software that is powerful enough to let their customers customize and personalize it. But there are two sides to that potency.
How can customers really use that advanced tech, when they don’t know how to operate it to the best of its potential?
The leading brands understand that and dedicate tremendous amount of resources to what they refer to as being “customer obsessed.” I suggest leaving obsession out of it, and think of it in terms of relationships.
“It’s that easy.”
We can work it out
“Try to see it my way Do I have to keep on talking till I can’t go on? While you see it your way Run the risk of knowing that our love may soon be gone.”
Just like relationships, you and your customers are not always going to see eye to eye. Paul McCartney and John Lennon are a prime example. No matter how great your product is, there will be complaints. With big data analytics, you can better understand the needs of your customer and how they are trying to use your product or service. With this knowledge, you will be able to proactively provide solutions to problems they have not yet encountered.
Can’t buy me love
“I’ll give you all I’ve got to give If you say you love me too”
Love is a very big challenge for AI. How will software get a person to love it? And what happens when it does — we might not want to know.
When Temkin Group asked consumers to rate their experiences with nearly 400 companies across 20 industries, a positive emotional response was the strongest driver of loyalty.
As with any relationship, there are no shortcuts to earning customer love. According to Forbes, customer experience hinges on 3 things: whether the customer is able to achieve their goals, how easy the process was, and how it made them feel.
Consistent and reliable value is the only way to truly win your customers’ hearts. Those experiences and the stories your customers tell others will have a long-lasting impact on who does business with your company in the future.
I want to hold your hand
“I think you’ll understand When I say that something I wanna hold your hand”
Even the best company has weak points — places in the customer journey where trust is low. Brands committed to finding and strengthening these moments will strengthen the overall relationship. Sometimes a little hand-holding can go a long way when it comes to building trust.
Delta Air Lines, for example, launched a mobile tracking app to provide flyers with real-time updates about their baggage. It informs customers that a bag is successfully loaded on a plane and were in baggage claim they can retrieve it. This innovative move highlights Delta’s dedication to its customers and understanding about the unease that often accompanies traveling, and helps to build that trusting relationship we all strive for.
Only when people trust technology will they let technology hold their hand and lead them.
With a little help from my friends
“Mm gonna try with a little help from my friends”
Not all competition is disruptive competition. Companies can look across industries to find inspiration for resolving common customer pain points. This is possible because of the way customers today are looking at brand experiences.
“(Would you believe in a love at first sight?) Yes I’m certain that it happens all the time”
The relationship between a human and technology is not necessarily a one-on-one relationship. Often, it is easier to understand the role technology plays in our life by viewing consumer-facing solutions as an ecosystem rather than isolated cases.
For example, an individual using a cumbersome banking application will compare the experience not only to other banks, but also to the convenience of digital healthcare or online retail experiences.
The long and winding road
“But still they lead me back to the long winding road”
Companies that focus too heavily on product features may miss out on opportunities to simplify customers’ lives in other meaningful ways. While it is easy to get caught up on perfecting your product, it is important to invest energy in solving customer pain points rather than fine-tuning the offering.
Investing in a relationship means putting the other person’s needs before your own. On the long and winding road of product development, a customer-centric approach is critical for success. Top performing companies understand that perfecting the customer experience is a process. It requires designing, redesigning and testing improvements on real customers.
When technology fails to meet expectations, customers are left feeling disappointed.
“I don’t know why you say goodbye, I say hello”
Unlike humans, technology has all the patience in the world. It continues to come back time and time again. As AI becomes more integrated into the customer experience strategy, a new consumer-technology paradigm is born.
This relationship has been imagined in detail over the past century by science fiction authors such as my personal favorite, Isaac Asimov. He wrote about a future with heightened artificial intelligence, where he treated the interactions between people and robots software and hardware, as we treat human relationships. His work might be a glimpse of the reality we are heading toward.
“You say stop and I say go go go (Till it’s time to go), oh”
When people are required to adjust themselves to technology, the customer experience suffers, due to frustration and a loss of productivity. WalkMe was founded on the premise that technology should adapt to the people, keeping the focus on the end user.
Looking at customer experience and technology through the lens of relationships gives brands the freedom to refine the role of technology.
Head of Corporate and Marketing Communications at WalkMe and Contributing Author to WalkMe Blog