In partnership with Accenture the CMO Club recently explored the idea of humanizing digital on the CMO Club’s very own Clubcast. We’re  excited to offer our readers this Clubcast recording featuring the CMO Club’s Jon Suarez-Davis, along with Rob Harles of Accenture Interactive and Grad Conn, CMO of Sprinklr. 

Humanizing Digital

Unlocking value to deliver exceptional experiences that matter

Marketers and their brands are at a crossroads: Before 2020, everyone hustled to tap into the unprecedented power of data and analytics. It became all too easy to lose a pivotal component of customer interactions—the human dimension—in the digital scrum. Just when we thought we were on a roll, the pandemic jolted us back what feels like a century. There’s no denying now that people are looking for the human touch, possibly more than ever.

A new differentiator emerges
Customers have come to expect a personalized experience, one built on real-time contextualization of their preferences. Meeting this need can ultimately determine the growth and sustainability of an organization. Price is no longer the reliable game-changer it used to be, as 64% of people think that customer experience is more important. Humanizing digital for better interactions can lower the risk of attrition, too: 89% of customers say they’ll stop doing business with a brand following a poor customer experience.

Yet too many marketers are staying hyper-focused on traditional measures of success – CPM efficiency and market reach, engagement etc… Only 5% of brands claim to have a seamless customer experience. Harnessing analytics to run targeted campaigns, measure reach and engagement, and get insights into the ever-mercurial sales lift has probably never been more feasible. These metrics can show how a business is doing. But they don’t necessarily reveal how to amplify the human touch.

Not all data is created equal
About 65% of companies say improving their data analysis is important for the consumer experience. But data needs context. At the moment, recommendations and predictions often do not provide enough context to deliver an understanding—not just an identification—of customers; needs, motivations and frustrations. In fact, data without context can create dissonance.

For example, a customer who frequents your marketplace during the business day may usually want to purchase basic staple items or products that keep them alert and attentive. But what if they visit at night? That different context could mean they they have an emergency, they’re not feeling well or ran out of diapers for their child. Slamming them with generic digital offers for discounts on oat milk and coffee won’t feel relevant or helpful.

Of course, you can’t anticipate every customer’s every need or issue, but e. Even getting 60% of the picture can be good enough to give you a competitive edge. What’s a good benchmark? Finding out three things about your customers that your competitors don’t know.

Aim to use data to rethink the way you engage in a more contextual way. When looking at metrics, don’t get too fixated on reach or growing the base. Instead, structure the approach to engagement around having conversations that matter in the moment.

Empathetic Design: a framework for delivering the human touch
Hesitancy to engage with folks we can’t trust is a human survival instinct, so work on gaining customer confidence. Marketers can reinvent, reimagine and create new experiences infused with authenticity and transparency by looking at the potential pitfalls and opportunities that come before us every day, using empathetic design to leverage reputational mechanisms to strengthen customer relationships. Humans do many things better than machines and for the most part, it can be hard to ascertain how we do it. Our talent lies in our capabilities for unstructured problem solving and processing randomness and uniqueness. An algorithm can suggest songs that we might like based on what we tend to listen to, but an experienced music producer like Quincy Jones can probably better predict whether a newly created melody will be a global hit. Computers are getting better at diagnosing diseases, but it still takes a doctor to identify a new one. And, of course, humans can express and better understand emotions as well as more adeptly identify contextual ways of making people feel better (or differently).

Empathetic design doesn’t take high-quality data out of the mix, however. More targeted data data helps us balance the threat of cognitive bias when we apply scientific rigor to looking at human intuition. As we look to employ a personal touch, data can show us how many interactions it might take for customers to get a resolution from your customer service team, for instance, and more importantly, whether interactions solved the core problem or increased attrition. This approach applies the lens of the “moments that matter” and aligns the experience to them.

Get your game plan ready
Think about ways to reduce pressure on channels. It’s as much about figuring out what data, campaigns and activities you don’t need to create meaningful experiences. Consider integrating functions around customer needs to focus on a personal touch. Ultimately, you’ll want to break silos and see every player–not just the marketing team– as a stakeholder in your organization's growth and marketing strategy. Look to increase collaboration between marketing, sales and dealers. Look at ways to bring customer service and tech support into the loop. If a customer reaches out on a social platform, for example, is your social media manager empowered to help drive a quick solution? After all, unaddressed complaints and misunderstandings can go viral.

With modern channels – social media and other self-publishing forums, customers have more opportunities than ever to take in and share information about themselves, your organization and their interactions with your team. That doesn’t mean the message is balanced. As a result, customers may not accurately gauge the trustworthiness of information, and companies have much less time to manage public relations risks and opportunities. Even well-meaning but mistaken players can muddle facts.

That’s why you’ll also need a robust damage control plan, informed by empathetic design, that can be activated in minutes instead of days or weeks. Assemble your team—legal, communications, marketing, etc.—and decide who can instantly take on the quarterback role well in advance to game play senarios and outcomes.

To learn more about empathetic design please listen to the CMO Clubcast with Jon Suarez-Davis, Rob Harles of Accenture, and Grad Conn of Sprinklr.