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Why Customer Experience Is No Longer Enough Businesses should focus on the human experience (HX) to gain and retain their customers.

By Con O'Donnell

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As a consumer, you can do almost anything with your phone– from buying a dress and catching a ride, all the way to adopting a dog or even finding a date. With advancements like this, along with headlines we never expected to witness in our lifetime (like how a robot became a Saudi Arabian citizen), humans just aren't talking to each other as often.

Likewise, businesses are not communicating with their customers often enough anymore. In fact, you could have loyal customers on the other side of the world that you know nothing about. As a result of this extreme change in our communication habits, the rules of customer experience (CX) have changed- it's simply no longer enough. Even more, opting for it exclusively has the potential to take down a perfectly viable idea.

But why is this the case? CX is all about gathering data about your target audience and finding ways to convince them that your product is the best. Isn't that what we were all taught in business school? Yes, but in the words of Bob Dylan: "The times, they are a-changin'…. so you better start swimming or you'll sink like a stone." In a tech-based world, reaching your customer is easy, but reaching their hearts is the challenge. Because of this, CX as a notion has been pushed aside to make way for a better game-changer– something more innovative and relevant in today's fast-paced world: The Human Experience (HX).

While the differences between CX and HX might be minor, their impact on a business could differ greatly. So, how can you use innovative thinking to win over your customers by targeting them as human beings rather than as consumers? Here's how to begin:

First off, talk to them! And I don't mean online. Physically talk to your target customer base face-to-face and watch how they react, what makes them tick, and what puts them off. Surveys and statistics give you data, but face-to-face interviews give you the kind of information you can never get even through the most extensive analytical research. Remember that your customer is a human, not just a hit on your website.

After you've established a human connection, it's time to think outside the box of commercialism. Instead of thinking about how to sell your product everywhere and to convince people to want something that is not necessarily essential for them, think about what they actually need, and fulfill it in a way that is both meaningful and fundamental to today's human being.

But remember- just like you need to remind yourself that your customer is a human being, they need to feel the same way about you. While the old saying tells you not to mix business with pleasure, it's okay (and oftentimes recommended) to incorporate some feelings in. It makes your brand more relatable to your customer, which helps promote brand loyalty. Show your customer that you care about the same causes and values, and position your product in a way that reflects your care about what they may see as important.

Additionally, if you're on your way towards creating the market's latest disruption, remember to keep your customers engaged all throughout. As exciting as it is to emerge from behind the curtains with a perfect, complete business model, it could alienate your customers. Keeping them engaged throughout the design and development phases will help you consistently improve your performance. You'll avoid small (but crucial) mistakes, such as overlooking specific design requirements or using the wrong communication channels.

One thing to keep in mind during the development phase is your online support. While today's customer might be reaching you through an electronic device, they need to hear your voice once in a while– just to make sure they can count on you. Whether it's for people suffering from technical issues or those calling about a complaint, studies show that a whopping 67 percent of customers actually prefer contacting an agent to resolve an issue.

If you've checked all the boxes above and managed to create something truly meaningful to your target audience, be careful not to spend too much time patting yourself on the back. Keep looking, investigating, testing, researching and asking. Create an ecosystem that is both responsive and flexible–while you (hopefully) won't need to completely revamp your initial approach (because you've done the research), you can keep making those little tweaks that will really show your customers how much you care.

HX is simpler than you think, but its potential rewards are tremendous. And while business schools might not necessarily be teaching its fundamentals yet, understanding how to go about it isn't rocket science; you just need to think about how your business would sound like if it were a human being. Think about yourself as a consumer and what truly makes a brand stand out in your opinion. Living in a tech-based world should not create distance- it should remove it.

Catch Con O'Donnell at RiseUp 2017 in Downtown Cairo from the 1st to the 3rd of December, 2017. In its fifth year, #RiseUp17 will focus on three key industry sectors: CREATIVE and its role as a driving force behind innovation and design solutions to improve human experience, CAPITAL and how smart capital boosts, accelerates, and scales innovative solutions, and TECHNOLOGY and how it hacks everyday problems, simplifying and streamlining complex challenges while improving human experience (HX) in the process.

Related: Infographic: Marketers Are Investing In Customer Loyalty And You Should Too!

Con O'Donnell

Founder, Sarmady and co-founder, RiseUp Summit

Entrepreneur Con O’Donnell is an investor in 11 promising Egyptian tech startups. He co-founded Arabic dotcom pioneer Sarmady Communications and was a first-mover in digital advertising for mobile apps. O’Donnell is also the cofounder of RiseUp, one of the MENA region’s top entrepreneurship events. 

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