How To Be Human 101

Last week I began to explore the limitations of attempting to create technological solutions to creating customer relationships.

It’s a tough one.

Customer Relationship Marketing (CRM) solutions are a big thing right now. There are tons of software and outsourced ‘solutions,’ and it’s hard to figure out which are doing the best job.

Trouble is, the term ‘solutions’ is a little misleading.

It may give you the impression that these packages somehow look after the entire relationship with your users and customers.

Not so. They are simply tools.

The ‘solutions’ name is just a marketing thing. Not a real thing. So don’t be fooled.

You still need people.

Sure, apply the software. Do the predictive modeling. Make offers based on purchasing patterns and preferences. This can be the tool that builds and manages the backbone of your CRM program.

But here’s a thought.

Throw in a human or two. Employ a few people, part or full-time – to be human.

Here are some of the instructions I’d give them:

1. Depending on the day’s volume (do your own math) write an email to every fiftieth customer who makes a purchase.

“Dear [name], Hi, my name is Nick. By now, you’ll already have received confirmation of your purchase. I’m just following up to make sure that the entire transaction went smoothly for you. If it didn’t – please let me know! You can call me at 1-800# or email me at etc. BTW – below this message you’ll find a $10 Gift Certificate that you can use at any time. Have a great day! Nick.

2. With every hundredth customer, send a free gift.

3. With every twentieth customer, send a real life thank you card, signed by you.

4. With every tenth customer, send out a Polaroid of the guys in the shipping department, with all of them holding a ‘Thank You!’ banner.

5. If you send out emails in HTML, include your photo.

Use real pens with ink, use real stamps, write and talk like a real person.

See the plan?

The web is a place where technology and real people can meet and touch one another. Remember the old days of Usenet, spam-free discussion lists and stuff like that? You really can connect with people online.

Trouble is, we’re all in such a rush and so greedy for success, we tend to go for the technological solution to just about everything.

And when we do that, we lose the human touch.

If you think you can’t afford to use real people, I guess I’m not making my point very well.

You don’t have to use a real human to interact at every purchase. Just from time to time. Because when a customer is surprised and delighted by the fact that they were treated like an individual by a real person – he or she will likely share the good news with a number of other people. Word will travel.

Finally, if you do institute a ‘real human’ element within your CRM program, pick the right people for the job, give them the right tools and all the support they need.

Above all, avoid the following…

A few days back, I was at a site and used its online help/chat function. Great idea. It’s wonderful to be able to reach out and ask someone a question.

A moment to be human, one-on-one.

But each time I asked a question, the reply was wooden and flat. I was puzzled – until I realized that the real, live operator was simply dragging and dropping pre-written replies.

Yes, a real live person was trying hard to impersonate a computer.

Training is good. How to be human 101.

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