Open Up the Aperture to Go From Customer Experience to Human Experience

How well are you really seeing your customer? Is it time to open the lens, let in more light and look again?

Until recently, many companies have taken a very shallow perspective, focusing on the moment of transaction and delivering a customer experience that’s targeted, fleeting, and often forgettable.

Today, surprisingly through the use of digital technology, companies recognize the need to connect with customers on a deeper level to earn their trust and loyalty. Adding greater depth of field to their view of the customer reveals a simple truth: We are humans, first and foremost. We are busy, caring, generous, unpredictable and we have needs, expectations and desires that influence our behavior.

This realization should spark organizations to shift their focus from customer experience to human experience.

Customer experience starts with the premise that an organization’s actions matter. Human experience starts with the premise that an individual is even more important outside of their interactions with your brand. Their beliefs, values, feelings and ambitions form the foundation of who they are and what they want from the organizations they choose to engage with. Human experience encompasses an organization’s workforce and its partners as well.

In the past, digital interactions took place on our devices; companies typically lost sight of the human experiences that were happening around it. But pulling back reveals that customers are raising families, building careers, starting businesses, expanding their horizons. They want to be healthier, better parents, good managers and well-informed citizens.

Understanding how your brand relates to that holistic picture is critical to developing lasting relationships. Whether developing products, designing applications, planning user interfaces or delivering services, you need to remember that there’s so much more to people than meets the eye.

Zoom out 

Looking at your customers with a wider-angle lens can help you understand where you fit in. If you see them only as buyers of your product or users of your digital tools—instead of humans with aspirations and complex emotions—you’re missing out on opportunities to make genuine, sustaining connections.

How can your organization begin to relate to these larger needs and values? Embrace your customers as people and work to provide experiences that create meaningful connections, foster loyalty and generate value. Here are six ways to deliver a more human experience:

Appreciate their values. Consider the values that attract a customer to you and how the experience you offer supports their needs. For a banking customer who craves financial security, it could mean thinking beyond traditional products or card features. For a patient who values health and well-being, it could mean providing behavioral nudges, acknowledging small wins and offering nutritional coaching or fitness classes.

Be genuine at every step. Delivering a human experience goes far beyond a single transaction. Brands must involve the entire organization from product design to marketing to customer service to deliver experiences that are consistent, authentic and reliable.

Tailor to their needs. Somewhat paradoxically, artificial intelligence and automation provides insights  that enable brands to be more human and relevant. Predictive analytics guide human agents to make relevant suggestions based on previous buying history or preferences. AI delivers security alerts to banking customers when usual activity occurs.

Deliver meaningful personal touches. Keep in mind that digital doesn’t have to be impersonal; delivering the right message to the right customer at the right time strengthens your brand. Cut down on noise by winnowing down and personalizing content so that it is relevant to the user and send it to their preferred device. Sometimes a truly compelling experience actually contains fewer, more resonant moments. We have recently worked on a few projects where we decreased the number of touches but amplified the personalization in a few key moments.

Combine the human touch with digital platforms. Brands are finding innovative ways to combine digital applications and cognitive technologies with human interactions, successfully developing relationships and trust in the process.

Reexamine your customer engagement metrics. One of the first ways to start looking at customers beyond users and transactions is to reevaluate current measurement tools. Designing a more human experience is difficult if success relies only on KPIs comprised of resolution time, churns and number of pages visited.

Opening the aperture to take a deeper view of your customer enables a better understanding of who they are and how you can transform a customer experience into a human experience. You’ll have insights to help you craft stories and experiences that will connect. Seeing those who use your product as human beings and understanding what drives and motivates them helps you engage in a meaningful way. And that’s a human experience that will help build loyalty, trust and lasting value.