From mapping customer journeys to creating customer personas, it is easy to get carried away with the complexity of customer experience design and optimization. Our customers communicate with us via so many channels, they interact with us through so many touch points, that we can easily lose sight of the fact that most customer experiences come down to a single magic number: two.
In the great majority of customer experiences, our customers are interacting with a single individual. The environment, the back stage processes/support, and the product or service itself are all important, but more than anything, what will define the experience is the interaction the customer has with another human.
Sure, not every interaction is one-to-one. The interaction between people is sometimes multi-faceted, for instance when you have multiple salespeople on a call or a store employee and a manager helping a customer together. Or sometimes it doesn’t involve another person at all, the customer solely interfacing with technology as many of us do when we order a book through Amazon.
However, even with technology replacing more and more human interactions, averaged across industries, the majority of touch points are still defined by a one-to-one human interaction. While this fact seems to sometimes get subsumed in the discussion about customer experience, it bears mentioning.
Because it reminds us that the idea of customer service is still as relevant and important as ever.
These one-to-one interactions require team members that are well trained, require team members that have product knowledge, and require team members with interpersonal skills. Service reps need to be able to guide a customer through the individual touch point they are experiencing in a way that enhances the overall customer experience — and in many cases, the skills needed for this are the same customer service skills that have been around since time immemorial.
It is almost axiomatic to say that a helpful human can often compensate for a flawed product or service; however, an excellent product or service can almost never compensate for an unpleasant service rep. That is why the magic number in customer experience is two.
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By Adam Toporek. Adam Toporek is an internationally recognized customer service expert, keynote speaker, and workshop leader. He is the author of Be Your Customer's Hero: Real-World Tips & Techniques for the Service Front Lines (2015), as well as the founder of the popular Customers That Stick® blog and co-host of the Crack the Customer Code podcast.