Powered by Humans…

17 Apr 2019

  • Customer Experience

I discovered Slow Journalism a few years back. The concept is simple. Instead of reporting the things that are happening right now, you sit back, let the dust settle and report a more fact-based and outcome-led story. Sounds wonderful doesn’t it.

But it’s rare. The more common scenario is the click bait rabbit hole journalism spawning reports on matters ranging from the decay of bricks and mortar retail to the declining value of advertising or the death of vinyl.

Typically, these reports talk about the way technology, ‘always on’ culture and our smartphones are all consuming and, for the most part, guilty of making these once reliable experiences obsolete.

But can we just hold our proverbial horses for one moment. Right now, I feel there is a natural tendency to think we are moving into a world where technology dominates and, rather enticingly, is the answer to our problems. Um, well, maybe.

Customer Experience (CX) often feels like an obvious target for this ‘technological revolution’ because of the gains it can offer to make things happen more quickly, more efficiently and quite often, more cheaply.

And few would argue that it’s an area that doesn’t need our constant attention. Customer Experience has been the stalwart on many a trend and foresight agency’s ‘hitlist’, typically seen as the weapon the best companies are using right now to engage existing and prospective customers.

And while a recent KPMG study showed Australia to have upped its CX game in the past few years, it suggested that, on the whole, we lack differentiation across many of the 6 composite measures: Personalisation, minimising time and effort, resolution, integrity, meeting expectation and empathy.

But I would argue that, by far, the best customer experiences are powered by humans. Where tech is optimised to help businesses automate repetitive tasks (reducing friction, increasing efficiency etc.) leaving us with more time to focus on truly human endeavours.

Indeed, global consulting giant PwC tells us that less than a third of consumers foresee a world where technologies become so advanced we won’t need humans for great customer experiences. Furthermore, 71% of respondents think company employees have a significant impact on their experiences.

This chimes heavily with our research at realestate.com.au where, regardless of how much property research our consumers do behind the scenes, at crunch time, the agent and all of their human qualities remains an absolute requirement to help fulfil their journey.

This is certainly the case for the Y Generation (where 2019 sees them taking the populous topspot in a number of global markets) but things might start to change in years to come as Gen Z’s – the first truly digital generation start to emerge en masse.

Of course, we’re not living in the future, we’re living now and so we need to respond to what customers want today while continuing to do the ‘future maths’ around what they will want in the years to come. Thinking about it, it’s almost tempting to wish Slow Journalism would hurry itself up.

By Greg Braun, 

Senior Market Research Manager, REA Group

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