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How Good is YOUR Business's "Human Touch"?...

Customers are People - first and always; just as we are all customers.

 And how do we choose products? ...We look for the best products for ourselves at the right prices. And how do we choose from whom to buy? ... When faced with a choice between companies with similar products and prices, we choose the one who treats us the best.  In competitive markets 70% of customer decision making is based on how we are treated with only 30% being determined by the product itself, yet surprisingly only 10% of company resources are invested in how "humanly" they interact with customers.  Instead, businesses are occupied with the merry-go-round of manipulating easily copied product features and prices.

Over 80% of customer initiatives are focused on how to “sell the customer better” through matching products to customers rather then investing more resources in “treating customers better”. The resources applied to "selling the customer better" for specific customer initiatives have little impact on a customer's future decision to buy during subsequent campaigns whereas resources applied to "treating the customer better" have a strong annuity affect on successive campaigns.

Even so, businesses make little effort to truly differentiate their treatment of customers as people. This perpetuates the natural response of customers to ride their own merry-go-round - choosing then leaving companies in their search for treatment differentiation.

Part of the confusion is that businesses believe they are addressing the "treatment" of customers as people with customer "relationship" initiatives. They have been sold the fallacy that if they develop customer "relationships", they'll sell more. The truth is that customers don't want, and have never wanted, what the word "relationship" implies, i.e. closeness, intimacy, sharing their privacy. Customers simply want to buy the product that suits them best and be treated as a human being in the process. For customers, being treated with the "human touch" means three primary human buying needs are met: 1) Acknowledgement, 2) Respect, and 3) Trust; Two way Trust - the customer being treated with trust by the company and the customer having trust in the company's product quality, delivery and in its business and human integrity.

When examining business's pursuit of the "relationship" illusion, it becomes clear that the majority of expenditures center on matching individual customers and products with relatively little effort dedicated to how "human" they treat customers. While the knowledge of customers as individuals is important, it only addresses 30% of their decision to buy because it focuses on "what customer will buy what product", and doesn't address "what company the customer will buy the product from". While expenditures of this type create a short-term improvement to the profits, the initial returns quickly diminish because product demand is created for both the company and its competitors.

The diminishing returns of this approach coupled with the rising level of customer expectations has prompted a growing number of early "human touch" practitioners to usher in a new era of customer fulfillment. It is the natural evolution of business's understanding of customer needs and behavior.

Era                 Mantra                  Approach                          Type
Pre-1980's    Consumers           Customers as a Group      Product based
1980's            Customer Focus  Customers as Important    Product based
1990's            CRM                      Customers as Individuals  Product based
2000 +            People Focused  Customers as People       Interaction based

 The irony is that the art of the "human touch" has always been second nature to top sales, marketing, and service individuals. This book captures the most effective approaches for implementing this intuitive art as a consistent, company-wide science by the world's best "human touch" practitioners. It then provides a pragmatic guide to enable any business to start implementing these common sense approaches at the speed and sophistication that best suits them, ranging from simply communicating more humanly to more rigorous process and technology oriented approaches.

Chapters are:
Customers as People
Leading the Human Firm
Acknowledging Customers
Treating Customers with Respect
Building Trust with Customers
Communicating Humanly with Customers
Human Touch as a Series of Interactions
Human Touch as a Process
Implementing Technology to Humanize (not dehumanize)
Conclusion - Releasing your Business's Humanity