Lucy Tittle, community manager at easyCar Club, explains why digital brands need to maintain some form of human interaction with their customers.
Everything is suddenly going digital, we have online shopping, banking and now even your fridge can be connected to the internet. In fact, according to recent research from IBM, we now produce a whopping 2.5 quintillion bytes of data every day, which means 90% of the world’s data has been created in the last two years alone.
Many digital platforms and gadgets have effectively replaced the need for direct human interaction – automated customer service calls, self-service check outs. While this is great for improving efficiency and productivity, it does not always mean the customer experience is improved.
We live in a world where completely replacing human interaction on every level is not always seen as a good thing – our own research showed two-fifths (41%) of people are scared of artificial intelligence. After all, how can people trust your brand if it doesn’t have a face?
Humanising your brand
Humanisation is the key to creating the level of interaction needed by a digital brand to build a connection with a consumer. As a digital brand, it is vital you remember that if you’re going to take interaction away in one sense, you need to reintroduce it in another. That can mean directly adding a face to your brand, or indirectly ensuring that customers are connecting with one another – preferably both.
The idea is to create a relationship between you and your consumer. Nothing can be more frustrating than feeling like you are unable to reach another human being when needed.
The relationship between the brand and the consumer is the most important thing. Building that rapport means that your brand has a better chance of succeeding. For example, easyCar Club is a platform that facilitates transactions between car owners who aren’t always using their car and prospective renters. However, particularly as a part of the sharing economy, we also need to be a community, where like-minded individuals can come together and feel confident that they can trust each other.
Other great examples include John Lewis, which has driven the ‘click & collect’ movement. Even digital giant Amazon is planning to launch physical stores.
Brands should make sure that when people look to use their platform or gadgets they should set up a personal relationship with them right from the offset. It takes time, but the investment means consumers are more likely to have a positive experience.
Don’t discount face-to-face interaction
There is certainly no denying the fact technology has helped make life that little bit easier and more convenient. However, there still seems to be a limit to how digitally interactive we can make our environment. For instance, this year Waterstones completely moved away from the e-book market and digital detox retreats have become more popular than ever as today’s consumers look to reconnect with the real world and become less reliant on digital devices. It shows a level of cautiousness about the time we spend in the digital world.
People buy into brands based on the rapport they build with it – a product or platform cannot succeed unless it can forge a meaningful relationship with the consumer; having a face and brand personality for people to connect with will help you do this.
Ultimately, without a form of face-to-face interaction, digital brands risk missing out on valuable loyalty and retention, so remember not to streamline and digitise so much to the extent that you alienate the very people you want to reach.