Humans made technology, so technology should feel as real and responsive as the person who created it. If using your online services feels like interacting with an alien, we’ve got five suggestions for you.

1. Virtual Customer Assistants, even if you give them a name, are not normally real people. Real people don’t waste your time by telling you to ask a question when they have no ability or intention of answering it. Real people don’t have a section of their brain called Frequently Asked (but not at all relevant to you) Questions.

Suggestion: Kill your virtual assistant until the technology gets better or actually have a human that can respond to your customers or potential customer’s requests in a live chat.

If you are not available 24/7, then let your visitors know and give them the option to post a question that you can reply to when you are open.

Have an FAQ section and a clearly displayed, front page phone number for people who still know how to use a dial pad. For younger generations, include a link to your Facebook or Twitter account – but only if you have an intention of servicing them at these destinations (and you’re okay with the world seeing the problem.)

 

2. Staff who manage and have input into the design and user experience of your company’s website have probably never been in frontline sales or service. They’ve chosen this job because they prefer to be very far removed from the real customer with real needs and real concerns.

Suggestion: Make the people who manage the company website spend a week in a real world frontline position so they develop empathy for the side that counts – the side of the customer. It will improve how they design and manage your digital activity.

 

3. Not seeing the customer’s facial expression or tone of voice doesn’t mean it isn’t there. In a real world situation where a customer is frustrated, it’s the look on their face and the tone in the voice that alerts us to a problem. Websites don’t react to facial expressions, so it’s pretty difficult to stop a problem escalating.

Suggestion: Test your website with a number of respondents while you film and record their facial expressions against a clock. Review their actions and expressions simultaneously to see where your site potholes are. Learn and adjust. There are also many, many other measures you can use to see if you’re site is helping or hindering your customers, like cart abandons for example.

 

4. New things, like this brave new digital world, sometimes make us forget everything tried and tested, like manners. Don’t send an email to someone far too often, just because you can. If you knew someone was home, would you knock on their front door for hours or days until they eventually opened it? (Because you can – at least until you get arrested.)  Surely, with fan dangled data management technology (LinkedIn, InfusionSoft, Hubspot) you can figure out what frequency is effective and adjust your ‘service’ in turn.

Suggestion: Real world manners are the same as digital manners. Say please and thank you. Don’t turn up (too often) uninvited. If you do, bring cake or wine.

 

5. The automotive industry have really nailed after-care service. And, in the digital world, Amazon is doing a pretty good job of it too. The simple idea that a customer in the hand is worth two in the bush means every digital strategy should be thinking about how to get that customer back again, in a way that adds value to their life.

Suggestion: Visit Amazon. Buy a book. Be amazed in a few weeks when they suggest suitable titles for you next book purchase and offer you relevant offers.

Technology can make service cheaper for your company, but it shouldn’t cheapen the service experience for your customer. Take a look at your staff in design and user experience, the way you deal with customer enquiries, and your manners.Make sure the service principles you have for your business exist in the digital as well as the real world.

Image credit: Jeffrey Betts, http://www.sitebuilderreport.com/stock-up/1931/