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Featured article: Modern Law Magazine issue

Simplify’s CEO, David Grossman answers the question…To what extent should you look to maintain human customer experience with a digital one? How do you strike that balance between using technology and human interaction?

It’s no surprise that our experience of shopping online has become second nature. How many times a week do we pick up our phones, scroll and click ‘buy now’? Thanks to digital algorithms, the global power of Amazon Prime and ‘Next Day’ deliveries, we, as consumers, buy quickly and often.

However, it’s fair to say that our instinct to take a chance on a purchase correlates to the value we place on it. For a £10 item we may glance at the star rating before clicking ‘buy’, but rarely do we want a chat with the manufacturer first. But, when it comes to a purchase of significance, financially or emotionally, then our rules change – and rightly so.

As consumers we go on a journey and nevermore so when buying or selling a home. This is one of life’s most emotionally charged experiences; the significance of which can change our world forever. There are always aspects of that journey which we’re happy for technology to facilitate – where once we relied on the postman, we’re now happy for technology to deliver our messages via email, uploaded attachments or SMS; but we need our journey to be punctuated by human interaction, for experts to guide us and explain the intricacies of the transaction to us. Ultimately, we as consumers want to feel supported, to have trust in the company/service being provided and reassured we’re doing it right. We want to feel cared for.

Market leaders need to understand this journey, to know when to engage the technology to aid someone’s day and manage the admin, and when to pick up the phone and offer human reassurance. This understanding adds value and is essential.

But when this balance isn’t met it can be catastrophic – consumers venting via social media spring to mind. Very quickly a frustration of not knowing escalates into worry, panic and anger. Businesses must remember to put themselves in their customers’ shoes. By pre-empting these moments and developing ways to keep the client informed, means the worry and stress disappear. Just think how happy you feel knowing a train is only 2 minutes away thanks to the information board, compared to when the board is broken, and you’re left waiting in limbo.

That said, companies mustn’t rely so heavily on technology that they fail to engage with their customers; otherwise the stereotype of online providers being nothing more than interfaces and systems comes true. Finding the balance in big business is crucial.

Placing equal weight on professional training as well as customer service must be a given. Practitioners need to be rewarded for demonstrating customer care, while technology must work to create time in a professional’s day, so when a phone call is needed it can be a quality conversation, leaving the client feeling happy and satisfied.

Listening to customer feedback provides the key to creating the balance – adapting, blending and tweaking as required. Moving home is an emotional experience but when the balance is right between using technology and human interaction, it can be a great one.