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Customer Service: Humanize Your Company in the Digital Age

Customers are humans — they want to get emails, advice and services from other humans. Need some proof? Marketing software company HubSpot experimented with including an employee’s name in the “from” field on marketing emails. The ones with an employee’s name prompted not only a higher open rate — 7.1 percent compared to 6.57 percent — than the emails that only listed the company’s name as the sender, but the emails sent from an actual person stimulated higher click-through rates, too.

Although advancements in technology have made it easy to automate much of the business of doing business, they’ve also served to take the human face out of businesses. Customers don’t get that warm, fuzzy feeling when they’re dealing with an auto-response message or a computerized voice. Thankfully for consumers and businesses, some innovating pioneers have recognized the need for companies to become human again. LivePerson customer support software, for example, has found a way to use the advanced technology that was formerly working against customer relations by creating application programming interfaces that facilitate live person chat, marketing and voice to initiate engagement and improve support and business in general. Customers are much more satisfied and reassured when dealing with a live person than with an automated responder. In addition to such live person solutions, businesses can take other steps to humanize their companies to customers.

Look Human

Having an “About Us” page with actual pictures of your team accompanied by mini-bios is a strategy many businesses have already employed, and it’s a step in the right direction. But take it even further. On the HubSpot blog, Corey Eridon recommends companies publish photos of its team members being themselves, whether it’s candid shots of goofiness going on in the office or a collection of pics from the Habitat for Humanity project the staff recently participated in. It reveals your company’s human side to the customers, fans and followers by showing the humans working there being, well, human. Social media posting for these types of images is gold, but spread the wealth around: post them on your website, or follow HubSpot’s lead, and take advantage of typically dull space such as log-in screens to display a picture that puts a human face on your company.

Admit You’re Human

What’s more human than making mistakes? Practically nothing, but how you handle it will either put you in the human camp or that of the faceless conglomerates. In the past, refusing to address blunders has seriously harmed big name companies, writes Jen Barry on Inbound Marketing Agents. Ignoring the issue won’t make it go away, but it could drive away customers. Be upfront and address the problem before you start getting questioned about it. Own up to it. Apologize for it. Look for a positive angle, and share that along with your regret. Sure, it’s embarrassing, but when you shine a light on it, your customers will identify out of personal experience, and you can all move on.

Turn a Human Ear

With so much communication taking place outside of the actual speaking realm, businesses have forgotten how to listen to customers. It can’t all be blamed on emails, Tweeting, chatting and blogging. The fast pace of business today has a hand in it, too. Businesses have fallen into a trap of focusing on what the response is going to be to what the customer is saying, instead of focusing on what they’re saying, writes Matt Shaw in an article for the Council of Public Relations Firms. “Just listen” is Shaw’s advice. Learn to really hear what is being said, and then you can effectively deal with the issue being raised. When your customers feel your attention is focused on them and that you really hear and understand, they become devoted, long-term clients.

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