Balancing Digitization and Human Interaction: Can You Get It Right?
In 1993, Nobel Prize-winning Israeli psychologist Daniel Kahneman and American social psychologist Barbara Frederickson, along with two other noted psychologists, authored a paper providing evidence of what is known as the “peak-end rule.” Initially theorized by Kahneman and Frederickson, the peak-end rule proposes that “an event is not judged by the entirety of an experience, but by prototypical moments (or snapshots). The remembered value of snapshots dominates the actual value of an experience. These snapshots are actually the average of the most affectively intense moment of an experience and the feeling experienced at the end.”
We all have countless stories where an experience was off to an amazing start, only to end in disappointment. In fact, my colleague’s recent grocery shopping experience is the epitome of the peak-end theory.
She went grocery shopping at a store that allows shoppers to do their own scanning of individual items as they walk through the store. She loved the concept! It was going to save significant time waiting in the checkout line (and she admittedly has limited patience for waiting in line). As she walked up and down aisles, she found the experience efficient and intuitive. All was going exceedingly well (that’s the peak) until she was in the checkout stage.
Having never been through this process before, she had a question and waved the store employee over for assistance. The employee who had been tasked to oversee this section approached my colleague with a look of irritation and voiced frustration about the store being understaffed and how she was being asked to cover too much. More importantly, the employee groused about why this part of her job required her to manage the last step of the shop and scan experience. Valid concerns, no doubt. But did my colleague need to be on the receiving end? Absolutely not.
In fact, the “end” of her experience – during which she interacted with an obviously unhappy and dissatisfied employee – left her with an overall feeling of disappointment in the store. This is surely not the outcome the store was hoping for, and it’s a feeling every organization should actively try to avoid. Yet, this is just one example of the unintended disconnect organizations are experiencing as mobility and digitization decrease the humanized experience, while simultaneously making each of the fewer human interactions dramatically more important to CX.
Tips to Ensure Employee Experiences Aren’t Hurting Your Customers’ Experiences
As organizations rush and at times over-rotate to leverage technology innovations that meet the needs of a post-pandemic society, we can’t let our focus on employees lessen. Yes, mobility and digitization should be critical, centerpiece elements to every business strategy now and moving forward, but that doesn’t decrease the importance of the employee experience. In fact, it amplifies it.
To ensure your people aren’t overshadowed by the latest mind-blowing tool you’re launching, it’s time to revisit some core employee experience strategies that have been proven to improve employee engagement and satisfaction, both of which will also do wonders for your CX.
1. Foster relationships between employees. Your culture is more important than ever. You might have decreased the number of your workforce because you now have an intelligent bot that can answer a large percentage of your incoming calls and really amazing self-serve options for customers, but this doesn’t mean you can cut the effort spent cultivating your culture. In fact, you need to invest MORE time ensuring that your people connected to their leaders, their peers, and other areas of the business. Effort put behind connecting people is more critical in today’s world, where many people opt to work remotely or on a hybrid schedule.
The BBC article “Why Your In-Office Friendships Still Matter” discusses this exact topic and reports that there is “a direct link between productivity and social connection” and that “a sense of belonging among your colleagues makes you better at your job.” Whether your organization has adopted remote, hybrid, or in-person work, the end point is the same – people who feel allegiance to their peers work harder and more cohesively. And you need this from your human employees more than ever.
2. Connect people to your strategy and your purpose. Every employee must feel connected to the strategy and purpose of your business. They need to understand – from a big picture perspective – why new technologies are being put into play, and they must be reminded that they still play a critical role in helping their organization achieve success. They need to understand that they are part of a bigger journey, and it’s only together that the goal can be achieved. When people see the whole organization working together to reach an important milestone or end goal, and they feel connected to the whole, they will work harder to ensure they play their part and don’t let anyone down.
3. Put new focus into knowledge and development. Human employees need knowledge, support, and recognition to feel fulfilled. If you aren’t investing the time and dollars into helping your humans grow to their full potential, the money you’re investing in technology won’t achieve its entire value either. As technology becomes more prevalent, and there are fewer human employees interacting with customers, the remaining human experiences are heightened in importance. This means your people need more upskilling and knowledge, as they have more pressure on them too. And if people need extra training and development on how to better serve customers in a post-pandemic world, then you’d better be figuring out a plan to deliver this to them.
Humans Will Never Be Entirely Removed from the CX Equation
No matter how amazing your self-service tools are, how accurate your AI bots are, or how user-friendly your website is, your humans are invaluable. They’re the differentiator that no competitor can emulate. In the end, humans are needed to appease the most unhappy of customers, fix tech glitches, and give that extra bit of real-time, personalized empathy and attention that no machine can emulate.
Ensuring your mobility and digital offerings are intuitive and user-friendly is imperative, but so is arming your human employees with the confidence, knowledge, and support to deliver the person-to-person interactions that have every customer recounting their “end” as a good one. Without this, your peak-end experience will be flawed, which is an opening for your competitors to get the equation right.