How to enable more human interactions with customers

The last few years have made it abundantly clear: having intuitive and easy to navigate digital experiences that take a human-centric approach is business-critical, no matter what industry you are in. Too many businesses think simply adding a chatbot to their site means they've adopted a human-centric strategy and approach to digital experiences, and they are done.

This assumption puts them at a grave disadvantage as we see consumerization becoming the default expectation for both B2B buyers and customers. In our consumer lives, we are provided with self-service environments, product pages filled with rich content and descriptions, easy check-out, etc. Consumer businesses know they must stand out and be the best to buy from or their competitors will be seeing a surge in sales and new loyal customers. And, if you think about it, why shouldn't buying for business be as easy as buying for yourself?

Enabling human interactions with customers is about facilitating discovery experiences that feel human and empathetic, speaks your language, removes complexity, and ensures the customer finds what they're looking for. It focuses on enriched product content and improved navigation, not outdated, overly complicated experiences where the customer must do all the work of finding and understanding a product or service by themselves.

Imagine how unsuccessful a physical store would be if the sales associates offered no guidance to shoppers or just repeated a long-winded product description. Yet, B2B buyers and workers are expected to endure that every time they go to purchase products (or services) on digital channels or when they're supporting customers.

The next evolution of digital transformation, the omnipresent buzzword in B2B, is centered on understanding B2B businesses need to be mimicking the B2C approach. For years now, B2C businesses have taken a human-centric strategy to digital experiences; the time has come for B2B manufacturers, channel partners, and vendors to do the same.

For B2B businesses, improving content discovery is enormously beneficial across their business as they adapt to hybrid or full remote workforces who are digital-first. In its simplest form, content discovery is about helping customers discover products through rich content, improved navigation, and intuitive digital experiences that make purchasing decisions easier and faster to make.

Workers benefit from having access to tools and solutions focused on driving operational efficiency so they can be more effective with their job, no matter where they are located. Using automation to replace time-consuming manual tasks and processes enables them to focus on the bigger picture and tackle more strategic initiatives.

When it comes to enabling more human interactions with customers, consider these four important tactics:

Put yourself in your customers' journey:

What terms would they use to describe your products or services? Too many businesses, regardless of if they sell to consumers or professionals, rely on technical information and specifications to describe their products, when that is not what customers use. A classic example of this is the experience of buying a computer – how many people will see product information about processing speed or storage capacity and be able to relate it to their needs? The onus shouldn't be on the customer or buyer to decipher, the businesses need to take continuous steps to enrich their product information and content to be closer to the voice of their customers.

Don't be robotic:

The assumption that "mimicking human interaction online means an AI chat bot that says, 'How can I help you today?'" and proceeds to have a standardized dialogue until they reach an inevitable limit to their pre-defined parameters is not a human like experience. The best buying experience is often with someone who is empathetic and understanding to the customers' needs, providing an approachable and knowledgeable interaction. When enabling more human interactions with customers, it's critical to provide them with interactive guidance that feeds from human-friendly information. Content discovery experiences do just that while simultaneously enabling businesses to interject their business's voice and brand into them without sacrificing the effectiveness of the experiences.

Channel the approach of the best sales associate:

If you were in a store and spoke to a sales associate about what you're looking for, they listen, identify the need and preferences, use their expertise to recommend a product. But they also go further than that, depending on the product at hand, they begin to get a full picture of the customer to further support them in their buying experience. If a customer is purchasing safety goggles for their warehouse employees, a salesperson would be remiss to not suggest complementary products to ensure safety and compliance for those workers. Having the ability to look beyond a singular transaction and add continued value is vital to enabling a more human interaction.

Never stop learning about your customers and using insights and data to further enrich interactions with them:

When it comes to product content and digital buying experiences, they should be seen as constantly evolving — adapting new terms used to describe products, improving the effectiveness of experiences by analyzing and optimizing. If you want to enable more human interactions, your approach to how you engage with, and guide customers' needs cannot be stagnant.

The best businesses look at their customers and make strides to understand their pain points beyond just the product or service they are selling. They take the customer journey as an opportunity to empathize, improve, and optimize to facilitate the best experience possible where customers are provided with 24/7 help and guidance to the right products. At the core of enabling more human interactions with customers is remembering we are all humans and we should expect to be engaged as such.