The Human Touch in the time of Covid the Barbarian

The Human Touch in the time of Covid the Barbarian

This blog and podcast was originally published with the title, “Love For Sale,” highlighting the fact that in times where the literal human touch is restricted, the psychological human aspect of the customer experience becomes paramount.  The idea is that people buy ‘love’ as much as products or services.

After a well-received LinkedIn article on Sensory Marketing, I’ve been thinking more about the customer experience. I’ve discovered an ACE up my sleeve that I’d like to share with you.

My purpose is to inspire us all to deliver a powerfully positive customer experience in the changing world we have inherited. I’ve certainly got to up my own game!

A.C.E. = Affective Customer Experience

“Affective” is an adjective that relates to moods, feelings, and attitudes – surely aspects of each customer’s experience we’d relish an opportunity to influence for good.

  • Good mood +
  • Good feeling +
  • Good attitude +
  • All adds up to = a Great Brand Ambassador (or at least a repeat customer!)

I’ll give the punchline at the beginning of this post rather than make you work too hard for it.

It is my favourite and oft-used quote from Maya Angelou (and quoted in the earlier article too).

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

What if our number 1 goal in any Customer encounter – a moment of truth – was to leave them feeling amazing? (or appreciated, or cherished, or valued?)

That’s the main point. I’m going to illustrate it with four case studies that have happened to me personally over the last three weeks. One was positive. One was neutral. Two were fascinating. None were deliberately poor.

Case Study One: Maycottage Goats Milk Soaps – “No Thanks!”

Check them out:

I am an active advocate and evangelist for this brand. It’s a cottage industry. It’s artisan soap. It’s amazing.

The soaps are great and the brand story is engaging. Even the packaging is on message and adorable.

I will jump through hoops to make sure I don’t run out of these artisan soaps.

And yet I caught myself yesterday thinking, “Shall I try somebody else’s soap?”

I was shocked at myself. After all, I’ve ‘found’ ‘my soap’! This is my “Signature Soap”!

Why could I consider such a ‘sin’?

Simply because they never say, “Thank You!” in a simple note in the package. Now I can’t buy these in person, I have to order them online and pay the blooming postage – something I dislike.

“Lex, you tyrant!” you may well be thinking! Am I really? This is what I’d call a “Love-Brand” and I am (was?) a raving fan. How difficult is it to put a sticky-note on the soap before wrapping up to say, “Thank You!”? It’s good Customer Etiquette.

  • Idea One: add a low-cost, high-impact hand-written “Thank You!” note to anything you send out – and thus deliver your A.C.E. – your Affective Customer Experience

And a quick SHOUT out for ScentAir here – heroes of the last article on Customer Experience. They are ACE at putting personal touches into what they send out. It’s so easy! (When you think how.)

Case Study Two: Black Octopus Sound – “You Can Cuddle Me Any Day!”

Fancy being cuddled by an octopus? Didn’t think so. But you may change your mind when you experience the excellence of service delivered by small company, Black Octopuss Sound.

If I wasn’t already a raving fan of this Sample Library company, I am now.

Check them out:

Something went wrong in my customer experience.

It was sorted within moments of my email being sent – positive action taken that was to my advantage. I am in awe of this company.

  • Idea Two: Companies that ‘fix’ perceived problems quickly and gracefully generate more loyalty than if there hadn’t been a problem in the first place.

Seriously, I was no trouble to them and they made me feel like a prince. In any organisation, ‘stuff’ happens that customers don’t like. If we can fix those issues rapidly, a ‘bad’ experience can become a catalyst to passionate brand commitment. I am an advocate and an evangelist for this amazing company.


Case Study Three: Tesco Express vs Co-op – “What Are You Shopping For?”

Over the years, I’ve raved about the outstandingly brilliant quality of service I get from the Tesco Express team in Lytchett Matravers. They are consistently sparky. Clearly, it’s a great place to work when it comes to camaraderie, though I can’t imagine the work is riveting!

Fact is, the Co-op (this time in the neighbouring village, Sturminster Marshall, has a load of products I prefer. For this reason, I’ll pop in there when it’s en route to some other commitment. Fascinatingly, they are a pretty awesome team too – the local village shop experience.

Except the other day, they weren’t. It felt merely like a transaction. The new girl didn’t have that wonderful customer interface that I’d come to (unrealistically perhaps?) expect. With the current crisis, we need to up the personal ‘touch’ aspect of any customer experience. Whilst we have more barriers between us, these don’t stop eye-contact or kind words.

My point is simply that giving a feel-good great customer experience is really the most important thing I shop for when I shop locally. I don’t expect it in a big supermarket (though very often get it!) but I do expect it ‘in the village’!

  • Idea Three: Many Local Shoppers shop for more than the items they transact for – they want an affirming Affective Customer Experience. This means that training the team to make eye-contact, exchange salutations, and say, “Thank You!” may be as important or more so than any bargains or price savings or stock levels.

Of course, it may just mean that Lytchett Matravers is a better place to live and work than Sturminster Marshall! Game on!


Case Study Four: Feiyu Tech – “Send Us A Video!”

Truth? Truth is I’m feeling rather ambiguous towards buying Chinese products at the moment. That’s a morally dubious position and I recognise that… but the sorrow caused by this pandemic really has triggered a desire to ‘shop locally’ and certainly to allow point-of-origin to influence my future buying decisions.

I recognise this is nothing short of fear-based prejudice and I don’t like it in myself…

…but it is the elephant in the room.

Sometimes we can become observers of our own behaviours and wise-up.

I bought a gimbal from Feiyu Tech, a Chinese company, that was supposed to be a solution to a problem I had. It’s been utter rubbish, and I finally gave up on it, seeking to send it back (bought in May, and I contacted them within this three week period I’m talking about).

Oh no, you don’t get to send things back to them that easily!

“Send us a video of the problem…”

I was so shocked by this request that I almost laughed out loud. [And I did smile when I set up the video equipment to record the issue and the ******* thing won’t repeat the error that it’s done every single time I’ve depended on it on location!!! Could it be that I’m the problem? Perhaps I should send them a video of me!]

If Feiyu Tech had been Black Octopus Sound, they would have made it easy to solve the issue even if it was the fault of a ‘stupid’ customer like me.

  • Idea Four: Make it easy for customers to do business with you – even if they are muppets. Even if they are in the wrong. Don’t put barriers in the way – we’ve got more than enough barriers in the way at the moment. My time is worth more than the product. Taking the time out to do a video would have devalued the product still further.

The result? I have a gimbal I don’t trust and that I don’t like… and a company that may be amazing but that I will never recommend or buy from again. Don’t make your customers look or feel stupid – don’t make them jump through hoops (or over barriers) – that’s not the right kind of Affective Customer Experience.

Conclusion: Don’t Keep Your A.C.E. Up Your Sleeve

Maya Angelou’s quote is a tattoo that I should have on my heart – at least psychologically if not physically. How we leave our customers feeling transcends the importance of quality of product and delivery. It’s what they remember, and thus it should be our number one priority.

I think the current climate demands, “Love For Sale,” way beyond the value of any product or service we provide. Make those customers feel great. Make those customers feel loved.