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Automating “warm fuzzies”

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I saw this post on CustomerThink – Automation Overkill – in which Ginny Wiedower correctly points out that automation of customer treatment can result in an impersonal feel and that customers appreciate the “warm fuzzies” that come from personal interactions. While I don’t disagree with her, there are two things worth considering. Firstly, as I said in this post, you want loyalty to be to the company not to the individual representative so a hand-written note carries risk as well as benefit. Secondly, for companies with lower price points, something this personalized may be impossible.

All that said, the thoughtful automation of decisions can improve the “warm fuzzy” count for your customers. For instance:

  • Exposing some of the rules to allow customers to make decisions about how you treat them can make them feel empowered
  • Making sure that each person they deal with treats them like they know them, by presenting information effectively to representatives and using analytics to predict what’s important to them will make them feel like the company cares about the relationship
  • Making sure that all channels react to them appropriately and remember the preferences they stated on other channels will, if nothing else, pleasantly surprise them.
  • Using all the data you have to really personalize your interactions with them, not just plug in names and addresses, can make it seem like even your automated systems “know” the customer.

Sure, none of these things are quite as warm and fuzzy as a handwritten note, but they focus loyalty on the company not the staff and are practical even for products with high volume and low margins. I blogged last week about customer experience and this one on “extreme personalization” seems relevant to this discussion.

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  • Ginny Wiedower January 31, 2008, 8:50 am

    Thank you for reading my post on CustomerThink. I appreciate your thoughtful response and blog post. Sometimes I am overwhelmed by the measure at which businesses will take to automate processes, which, if executed poorly, leaves consumers feeling like consumers, not customers. A quote that I love (from a poster that hung in my 5th grade classroom) says that “The only difference between ordinary and extraordinary is that little extra.” I think it’s important to take the time to be extraordinary in today’s overly-automated environment.

    Ginny Wiedower