Customer Experience Cannot be Automated

I’m a bit disturbed by the fact that most customer experience (CX) discussions I’ve had lately with marketers have been about marketing automation and technology. Software firms pitching clients at trade shows, on webinars or at conferences all seem to be leading with the promise that their technology will generate a greater customer experience through automated engagements tracked back to the individual user profile.

I hope the clients of these software firms understand the phrase: Caveat Emptor / Buyer Beware. Customer experience is not downloadable, it does not come out of a box and it’s not about automation. In fact, great customer experience is not a technology-driven principle at all.

So what is Customer Experience?

It’s a business discipline; customer experience is something you do, not something you install.
It’s corporate culture; customer experience is something you inherently think and believe, not something you schedule.

Customers are more informed, sophisticated and social, which only serves to increase the pressure on businesses to better engage and satisfy. Customers have gained a lot of control over the success of the brands they love and hate and so they’re able to demand an improved customer experience. More automation is the opposite of what is being demanded.

A Deloitte and Forbes survey of 192 U.S. executives proves that this phenomena has become a major risk for the corporation. “Social media wasn’t even on the radar a few years ago, and we’re now seeing it ranked among the top sources of risk, on the same level as financial risk,” Henry Ristuccia, a partner in Deloitte & Touche LLP. The power of the consumer voice, as amplified via social streams is forcing businesses to improve the customer experience or risk alienating current and prospective customers who are actively seeking each other out in these channels.

More High Touch, Less High Tech

Is your customer experiencing your brand solely through technologically-based communications such as social media, email, or automated answering machines? Are campaign decisions being directed by marketing software automation? There is definitely a role for software in the Customer Experience Management (CXM) process, but it must be a supporting player, not the director. CXM software must be chosen to augment real customer experience strategies, not have it dictated by the software’s pre-configured workflow.

When architecting the experience, the only universal “best practice” in customer experience design is to consider the customer’s satisfaction with the product or engagement as THE top priority and benchmark.  And since every business and customer base is different – not to mention different customer segments within that base – there is no one technology that can effectively create the customer experience for your brand. In fact, there are an infinite number of outside influences on your customers including social channels, technologies, competition and other market forces, which add greater importance to human intuition and human touch.

It’s time your business stop looking to social media managers to bolster the engagement you have with customers and look to customer experience professionals that will infuse the discipline and culture across all customer touch points with your brand.

Has customer experience become overly automated? Are we building relationships on thin and technology-based connections today? Join the debate below!

Sam Fiorella
Feed Your Community, Not Your Ego

 

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