Don’t Dehumanize the Customer Experience

Did you know the belief exists out there that there is a “right” set of steps to follow that will allow anyone trained and equipped with the right tools for decision making to deliver an exceptional customer experience? Unfortunately, there isn’t a solution to building genuine customer connections through routine tasks. Human systems, like contact center agent-customer interactions, do not conform to a specific set of rules for interacting.

Today’s contact centers are fully integrated with customer relationship management systems, state-of-the-art technology, and have built-in scripting with responses to provide the expected agent behavior for each customer interaction. While agents may use appropriate scripts and even offer a solution, if the customers’ feelings are not acknowledged in a genuine and sincere manner, the interaction becomes routine and the customer feels dismissed. This can have a negative impact on the overall customer experience because the human interaction is stifled. To a customer, feelings are facts and this is what they will remember.

If you try to confuse the customer outcome by controlling the service delivery process too much, the customer outcome you are aiming for may be lost. This can be fixed by allowing agents access not only to the information they need, but also by allowing them to use the approach that suits them best. Give them a chance to deliver more personalized service and that will enhance the customer experience.

In a scenario many can relate to, if a call is placed to a contact center and agent #1 responded to all questions simply and without much emotion, the interaction wouldn’t be remembered in any outstanding sort of way. If the same call occurred and agent #4 responded with enthusiasm and sincerity for being able to assist while providing resolution, it would be remembered as a positive interaction, not because the business need was met, but because the human connection made it authentic.

Each interaction between an employee¬†and customer is an opportunity to build and reinforce the customer’s emotional connection to the company or diminish it. Engaged employees are far more likely to care about whether customers’ needs are met, are more motivated to learn how to apply new techniques and approaches, and are likelier to know how far to stretch business rules if situations arise.

My view? When you meet your customers where they are by providing agents that are armed with useful information, who make an effort to understand their customer while acknowledging that they are capable, and also try to to match the customer’s preferred style of interacting, only then will you begin to offer the kind of experiences that earn loyalty.

While technology drives many business processes, understanding and encouraging the human connection with customers is critical for achieving desired outcomes related to the customer experience, all while allowing you to reach your organizational goals.


Lea Durbin

Lea Durbin

I joined Interactive Intelligence in December 2011. In my current role of customer experience program specialist, I oversee and manage the Interactive Intelligence quality program, customer loss assessment program, as well as the global ambassador program. Prior to joining Interactive Intelligence, I held a variety of roles in industries such as higher education, pharmaceutical, and healthcare. I gained experience in process improvement, developing and implementing corporate standards and best practices in cross functional global environments, leading internal global teams in branding and marketing efforts, as well as administration. I hold a dual associates degree in business administration and visual communications from American Intercontinental University. I am an active member in the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA), Customer Reference Professionals Organization (CRP), International Customer Management Institute (ICMI), and the National Notary Association. I am heavily involved with the Interactive Intelligence Foundation as the committee chair for Gleaners Food Bank of Indiana. I also serve on the development board and speakers bureau for Gleaners Food Bank of Indiana, which resulted in Congressional recognition in 2013. I am passionate about bringing the personal connection to the customer experience and am continuously looking for ways to enhance, improve and strengthen our relationships with our customers.