Human ExperienceAt the Heartof Digital
Building relationships is critical to success
Covid-19 has transformed our relationship with technology. As lockdowns enforced physical separation, millions of people looked to digital channels to maintain human connections. It’s been a hugely successful transformation that brings obvious benefits – but it’s also one that can bring unforeseen costs.
As the need for digital technologies rockets – from work solutions to e-commerce to social media – many in the industry are adopting platforms that use increasing levels of automation and artificial intelligence to satisfy demand. It’s ironic that as people turn to digital technologies to maintain human connections, digital technologies turn away from human insights and experiences.
We believe that this is unsustainable: it’s bad for people, who feel increasingly isolated from digital solutions; and it’s bad for business, as digital products and services become disconnected from real customer needs.
It’s a situation that’s spawning a new form of engagement – known as Business to Human (B2H) – that places people back at the heart of digital strategies.
The importance of people in digital
Today’s digital technologies have evolved to meet a very different world to that of early 2020 – accelerating what would likely have been a decade’s worth of development into just two years. The increasing use of automation and AI has, to a large degree, allowed this lightning fast progress, but the speed of change is in danger of removing humans from the loop.
Technology’s ability to scale, respond rapidly and deliver messaging more effectively are all plus points, but we shouldn’t forget the primary reason for digital engagement: human response. Machines – even intelligent machines – can help us to make sense of what we see but they can’t tell us how we feel. While technologies might deliver messaging more effectively, this doesn’t mean that they deliver more effective messaging.
Only the human touch can bring empathy to a human’s digital journey. Without it, we reduce experiences to mere metrics. Technology can tell you how many customers bounce off a webpage, for example, but it can’t tell you why or, as importantly, how to overcome the frustrations that kill engagement. To understand our customers and their motivations – alongside the messages that inspire emotional human outputs – digital technologies need to encompass emotional human inputs.
People – not platforms
For some, the race to digitization means a headlong dash to deploy more digital platforms. While this might help to tick off short-term tasks, it won’t deliver on long-term objectives.
Insight from McKinsey finds that digitization is critical to business success, but that in turn, customer-centricity is critical to successful digitization. It states that, “…competing pressures and priorities mean that the customer can often be side-lined. Top companies that sustain a comprehensive focus on the customer (in addition to operational and IT improvements) can generate economic gains ranging from 20 to 50 percent of the cost base.”
The brands that understand and act to reflect human experiences will always deliver the most successful digital engagement. It builds trust – and trust can’t be replicated by an algorithm.
The human dividend
As more aspects of our lives move into the digital world, products become inextricably linked to our relationship with the brand. This relationship can even trump previously dominant factors such as price. Many of us will have bought a product from Brand A, despite the fact that something of a similar quality was available at a lower price from Brand B, purely because Brand A’s experience is ‘more human’.
We attach real value to humanity as it’s reflected through, for example, more intuitive purchasing journeys, truly supportive customer care and an empathetic understanding of what motivates us to buy. This ‘human dividend’ will only ever become more pronounced as business digitization progresses.
B2H is a statement of intent from forward thinking companies: that digitization is a means to an end, but not an end in itself. The objective must always be happier, more engaged and loyal customers and we will only achieve it if people – not platforms – are at the heart of our digital strategies. Using human insight from the beginning of any project means that it will be embedded at the end, ensuring critical factors such as accessibility, simplicity and usability are baked in – rather than bolted on.
B2H builds trusted, mutually beneficial and lasting relationships between a business and its customers.
Turning B2H theory into B2H practice
As any business will know, understanding the theory is one thing, but implementing it can be quite another. CMG has worked with some of the most recognised and trusted brands on the planet on over 50,000 projects across more than 100 markets. Our belief in people – not platforms – underpins everything we do.
We have worked, for example, with major pharmaceutical brands, including Panadol as it launched a totally new visual brand image. The challenge was to align the global master website with a cluster of five locally relevant microsites – reflecting the real experience of real people as they used the brand’s pain relief products.
Following our people – not platforms – engagement principle, CMG delivered a truly collaborative project that saw the mobilization of our SEO, Analytics, UX/UI, Graphic Design, Translation and Development teams. It resulted in the successful coordination of visual and content elements that encompassed a new global identity with the subtle socio-cultural nuances of each of the local properties.
To find out more about our B2H practices, read more in our case study here.