To create emotionally engaging experiences for customers, companies need to be able to hyper-personalize their offerings. To do this at scale, of course, requires leveraging technologies that can balance automation and personalization.
There is, however, a persistent myth that automated technology will never be able to personalize effectively because it makes transactions impersonal, even robotic.
In this Q&A, we talk to Matt Hughson, Solutions Engineer at Statflo, who roundly dispels this myth and discusses how integrating the right technology can help companies create engaging customer experiences.
And Matt knows what he’s talking about. Before he joined Statflo, he was one of our clients. Matt owned two wireless mobile franchises in Montreal and used Statflo technology every day, for years, to create authentic and personalized digital customer experiences.
Can you shed some light on the concept of emotionally engaging customer experience and what it means in today's remote-first world?
Creating an emotionally engaging customer experience is all about being authentic and being true to your brand. When you strive to create experiences that are not purely transactional, aiming instead to serve and help, it connects to people on a deeper level.
In a remote-first world, you may not be able to leverage in-person moments on the fly, but that doesn’t mean you can’t create a memorable experience. With the right tools, the remote experience can import and even improve on the seamlessness and personalization of the in-person experience.
Let's take a real-world example from financial services, where, as a financial advisor, you see an opportunity for a health check on a client’s portfolio. Instead of setting up an in-person appointment, you send them a quick text message reminding them that it’s been a while since you last spoke. Even with something as simple as this, you’re using digital tools to meet your clients on a channel they prefer and letting them know you have their interests top of mind.
When you do this, a customer will be excited that you proactively reached out to them. Secondly, you’re engaging them directly in a personalized way, helping them solve real-world problems, and meeting their specific needs head-on. At this point, then, countless opportunities to engage them further and nurture the customer experience begin to open up.
So it’s critical to find all those IRL customer touchpoints and then see what tools best replicate them remotely. This is how you leverage technology to create an emotionally engaging experience, even remotely, and continually expanding future dialogues.
And this applies throughout the customer life cycle, whether it's a two-year life cycle or five-year life cycle, you always need to maintain an engaging customer experience – remote or otherwise - to keep that customer for life. If you can’t, you’ll lose your brand loyalty and then maybe eventually lose the customer.
Is there a specific framework that you follow or recommend for creating emotionally engaging customer experiences?
In customer service, I follow a simple but effective framework for creating an emotionally engaging customer experience: Welcome, Acknowledgement, Validation, and Engagement. It’s easy to remember because of the acronym WAVE, and it helps remind me to always approach every interaction as an opportunity to build these engaging experiences.
The idea is to first engage your customer by welcoming them, then to listen to and acknowledge the issue, concern or problem they are coming to you with. Following this, validating these issues is critical because it lets customers know that they’ve been heard and taken seriously. And only after welcoming, acknowledging, and validating them are you ready to re-engage them with solutions.
Knowing that this framework is a great way to retain, grow, and maintain your customer base, not only do we try to do this with our own clients at Statflo, but our messaging platform bakes this approach into its philosophy. With business texting, it’s easy for you to WAVE at customers!
So how does technology fit into this dynamic?
Too often, companies decide to automate because they want to streamline out their inefficiencies and scale up, but they go overboard and automate the human out of their brand.
Remember, technology is only a digital assistant to the one-to-one experience. It is there as a tool to complement the human experience and not replace it entirely.
So to create an emotionally engaging customer experience with technology, you need tools that help you find and streamline inefficiencies which, at the same time, also provide a way to personalize a brand’s content and offerings at scale.
For example, Statflo’s technology can automate and scale one-to-one experiences through text messaging, but still leaves room to personalize messages in an authentic way that creates an emotionally engaging customer experience. So with digital solutions like Statflo, your company gains all the efficiency and scaling benefits of automation, while still providing the human touch.
How can companies balance the automation side of technology with the personalization needed for creating a better customer experience?
The ideal scenario is where communication still feels authentic, and the key is not to over-automate and leave that personalization behind. Everyone is swamped by hyper-automated messages now, where they just read it, immediately recognize a bot sent it out, and forget about it a second later. Instead, you want to have natural conversations that feel real – it is this authenticity that increases engagement and creates a better all-around customer experience.
Going back to my real-world example, a financial advisor can automate portfolio health checks with an email blast to all the clients who recently opened a savings account, detailing all the minutiae in a torrent of numbers. Efficient, yes, but also impersonal and generic, which leaves clients feeling left out of the loop. To deliver a truly authentic and engaging customer experience, you need personalization.
Now if the same advisor writes me a message that says, “Hi Matt, I see you saved up $100 this month - how's that savings activity going for you?”, it’s all those small, personalized touches that will help spark a dialogue, keep me engaged, and deliver an even more personalized customer experience that makes me feel part of – instead of detached from – the conversation.
How does Statflo help organizations personalize the customer experience and better engage their customers?
Statflo, as an API-driven solution tool, helps organizations using our platform to create personalization through templated messages, so they can scale and engage simultaneously.
You can craft templated messages that are, say, 80% to 95% written when an account executive sees them. From here, you can build in personalization directly into the message, based on the individual client’s journey and accounting for the remaining percentage. With Statflo, an organization gets the speed and efficiency of an email blast, but with human intervention, so that you can make sure the message drafted correctly and personalized for engagement, all at minimal effort.
This empowers an account team to have a real, human dialogue afterward. If a customer responds to a business text, team members can have a freeform conversation within the Statflo tool, continuing to personalize the customer experience. And to ensure that all brand guidelines are being followed, our compliance filters can flag conversations before they get to customers, even in a freeform dialogue.
Not just this, but Statflo also has an array of other hyper-personalized content-based solutions, like sendables and widgets. With sendables, companies can provide secure links directly within text messages on the apps customers already use, making for a more seamless customer experience. And with our personalized widgets, you have a full 360 view of your customer’s profile at the push of a button, so when you reach out to them, you know exactly where and how to personalize.
To summarize, how do you respond to the claim that automated technology fails to provide personalization?
All told, technology is not a threat to personalization. If leveraged correctly, it can actually be the best possible way to scale personalization and create emotionally engaging experiences for a very wide and diverse customer base.