We live in a time when human interaction is being scaled back by brand after brand.
Human interaction is being replaced by technology in the name of efficiency, scale and – the often unspoken corporate benefit – payroll savings.
Self-serve checkouts into which we willingly get herded to scan and pay for our stuff.
Self-order kiosks to coffee and avoid making eye contact.
Bots that fool us to think we are dealing with a person and not an app.
ATMs the ground zero of the shift to non-human customer service.
“Always, make sure the people at your bank know who you are.”
A few years back, my father-in-law, an astute, passionate and successful entrepreneur, gave me a piece of advice about dealing with business bankers. “Always, he said, make sure the people at your bank know who you are.”
Despite the accessible 24/7, non-human access that we all have to our banks these days through our phones, tablets and computers, it’s a piece of advice I’ve followed. For the most part, it’s been a good thing to be known by our bankers.
Over the past couple of years though, it’s been tougher to become known at our bank as the staff seemed to turn over faster than a patty at a neighbourhood burger joint.
As the pace of staff turnover increased, the level of service dropped, the greetings became less genuine, new processes mounted, and I began to question my father-in-law’s sage advice. I began to question my brand loyalty.
Then, Neville arrived on the scene, cheerfully occupying one of the few teller stations that remain open for the shrinking numbers of customers who enjoy or have time for the human to human service.
On our first meeting, Neville greeted me with a big warm smile and said, when I handed him a cheque for deposit, “well then, let’s get this bad boy in your chequing account right away.” We both laughed.
Every time I deal with Neville, it’s been almost the same — warm, friendly, personal and efficient. On my second visit, he greeted me by name. He’s delighted my business partner in equal measure. He is a key part of the dwindling brand experience our bank delivers.
Brands Are Built on Human Interaction
These days, consumers want more human interaction, not less. They welcome technology that helps people do their jobs more efficiently. I hope they don’t welcome technology that is gradually removing the opportunities for us all to connect.
When looking at ways to build a brand through human experiences, perhaps brands don’t need more and more technology.