Regardless of if your business operates in the B2C or B2B space, being successful comes down to human interactions and getting your clients to say yes to your offering. Personal triggers are the same when it comes to making decisions about which brand you favour as a consumer and which service provider you choose for your business.
Therefore, the sensible approach would be to refine your buyer journey by taking into account the human clients you have, even if the majority of the process is automated. Let’s start by defining the concept of human to human (H2H), why it is essential to have it as a part of your brand DNA and how to implement it, with examples of brands that have done so successfully in the longer term.
“Companies that focus on the human experience are twice as likely to outperform their peers in revenue growth over three years and have 17 times faster store growth than those who do not.” – Deloitte Digital
The H2H concept
No matter if a company offers its products or services to the consumer market or other businesses, these products, services, and businesses don’t feel things. The humans buying them do feel things, and they need emotions to guide their decisions and to eventually convince them to make a purchase. Sure, they more than likely will have a problem that needs to be solved, and sometimes logical criteria as well, but most purchase decisions result from emotional reasons.
Taking this into account is essential when a business crafts their marketing, sales, production, retail, delivery, or people strategy. Creating a customer experience that matters means showing up as a brand that cares from the first to the last interaction throughout everything the business does.
One could argue that things have changed because of automation, and that tactics are not the same anymore. These days as marketers, we can measure everything and see directly how much we need to increase those numbers to result in business growth. But this approach disregards that humans are neither numbers nor transactions, and that the effort put into initiating and cultivating human connection will pay off significantly more.
One example is General Motors, a business committed to making the world a safer place through everything they do. They committed to a vision of ‘zero crashes, zero emissions, zero congestions’, which is not only bold but human, addressing some of the biggest fears people have these days.
Furthermore, by adopting values and a philosophy about caring for your employees and clients as individuals, companies can quickly grow their offerings. In our case, this approach transitioned us from a pure software company to a business that is helping clients solve their burning business needs and making them more relevant in their markets by advising, working together with them, and making sure that their users are at the centre of everything while building the seamless software they need.
“Customers are ready to move on unless they have one thing – an undying relationship with a person or people at your brand who made them feel uniquely special.” – Kramer 2014
Being human as a brand’s DNA
People’s emotional needs mean they care about connection and love, about feeling significant, about being certain when faced with variety and options, and about their ability to contribute and grow. Success for a brand means incorporating these customer needs across the full experience with the business. These needs should be included from the moment a client hears of that brand, across all interaction points until they decide to purchase, and – this is very important! – up until they are no longer a client.
Customers expect that once they trust a brand for all the right reasons, it will embody the human qualities they find so appealing: loyalty, transparency, steadfastness, consistency, and authenticity. And a brand can only live up to this expectation if it values the customer at its core, starting with its employees, and breathes customer-centricity into all internal operations.
In their report, “Exploring and quantifying the human experience”, Deloitte Digital shows how focusing on the items below helps any business activate their human values:
- Be obsessed with everything human: Across your advertising, brand values, and living up to them, to all client interaction points.
- Proactively deliver on human needs: Make your customers feel connected, valued, confident that they are making the right decision as well as contribute and grow.
- Execute with humanity: Even when the process is automated, have the human consumer in mind.
- Be you: While it gets increasingly difficult to be different, being authentic as a brand pays off short- and long-term.
- Change the world: Customers care about a brand that commits to contributing to a better world.
If (and once) you’ve become a genuinely human brand and it’s in your DNA, add this to your strategy and to your storytelling, and show your authenticity via all brand communications online and offline, on social media, and, most of all, with your employees. They are the best brand ambassadors you have to position your business as having the customers at heart and living up to that promise.
Apple’s “be human” value and campaign
After returning to Apple in 1997, Steve Jobs reminded everyone what the Apple brand was all about: simplicity, creativity, and humanity. Once these values were reinstated and applied in their product design, advertising, and internal operations, Apple grew exponentially to become the most valued brand today. Once these values were again evident and applied everywhere within their strategy and tactics, there was no stopping them. Ultimately, they managed to bring humanity and human emotions to the core of everything they do. We all remember this ad, don’t we?
Just think about how walking into an Apple Store makes you feel and what using an Apple product makes you think. That’s all about simplicity, creativity, and humanity.
Successful H2H communication
Human-to-human communication can only happen once your brand commits to putting its customers in the centre of everything. Start by building your customers’ picture, or the buyer journey, and then work out how you will implement humanity across all interaction points:
- Start with defining your customers. Who are they? What are their needs, wants, and desires?
- How does your business/brand fulfil these needs?
- Map the buyer journey from the first points of interaction to the full cycle. How well do you understand this buyer journey?
- What are the critical moments in this journey? Consider those key moments when a customer is prone to deciding to buy from you.
- How can your brand deliver the exact human-centred experiences required at those critical moments?
Understanding this is the next critical step once your brand is fully committed to living with your customers at heart. Communicating this then becomes the third big step to start the ball rolling and growing your business. When thinking communication strategy and tactics, always have the buyer journey’s critical moments in mind. Think about how you can strengthen the communication about humanity, be obsessed with showing up whenever needed, and even more than that, to the point where you start building strong relationships with your clients.
Tactically, human communication is all about knowing your customers’ needs, speaking their language, and addressing their emotions and needs. Be fun if possible, tell your story, and ultimately, care about helping them and about helping the world be a better place.