Putting the heart into digital

23rd October 2018

During ‘Get Online Week’, we launched a series of short films showcasing the people behind our digital services – showing that even though they’re communicating with customers online, we’re still 100% human and there’s not a robot in sight!  

It got me thinking about what really gives organisations the edge with digital services. Sure, keeping up with the latest technology and trying new things is extremely important, however I don’t put our success in terms of increasing customer interactions online (an average of 70% of all interactions are made digitally a month) down to the latest CRM system, data analytics tool or exploring artificial intelligence and smart homes.  

For me, it’s that we’ve kept it human. Here’s three ways we’ve done it:  

The face behind the click 

Before we introduced our fully-digital service RHPi we looked carefully at what customers said they liked about our other services, such as the phone. Common words to pop up would be ‘friendly’, ‘helpful’ and ‘understanding', with lots of praise for our fabulous customer advisors. We hire based on behaviours which has led to us to having a workforce full of warm, empathetic people who are passionate about customer service. The challenge was not to lose these qualities when a screen was essentially being put between the customer and employee.  

One important thing we did was to provide extensive training on our tone of voice and how to translate that across different channels. This was a successful way of helping employees to bring out the RHP personality however they communicate; meaning that whatever channel a customer chooses they get a consistent experience, with the heart they valued over the phone and face to face remaining.  

Another small but important change we made was to include the Advisor’s name in any digital contact. An example of this is through our online discussion forum ‘My RHP’ (operated through a closed Facebook group). We started off by responding to messages from the RHP corporate account – essentially customers were interacting with a logo, making us feel like a faceless organisation. When we changed to individual advisors responding with their name and photo – the shift in tone in the group was quite remarkable. Interactions became a lot more positive and constructive and the simple change created a more adult to adult conversation.  

Sell the social 

When we started running our Digital Champion sessions back in 2012, we quickly learnt that the way to engage customers with getting online wasn’t by talking about our digital services. Instead, it was tapping into the social and economic benefits of the internet and most importantly finding a personal hook for them as an individual. This could be building on their love of gardening by showing them how to look up different plants, getting them set up on social media so they can keep in touch with their family in Australia or the benefits of keeping track of finances through online banking. We also made our computer clubs a social affair – a chance for a cuppa and a chat with others from their local community whilst learning something new.  

Start with employees  

You can have the best technology in the world but if you don’t have a digital first culture embedded in your organisation then you won’t get very far. The thing that truly sets RHP apart is our people, their e-first mindset and their talent and passion for delivering excellent service through technology.

One of the ways we’ve been able to embed this culture is by mirroring the services we provide to our customers for our employees. We started by getting all our employee systems right with digital services that they can use any time, any place and on any device (just like we do for our customers) and made sure they had all the training and support they need to operate brilliantly in a digital space. Afterall, it’s your employees that are going to be working to nudge customers online and sell the benefits and to do this authentically they need to believe in it themselves.

So yes, we will continue to look to use the latest technology to help make our customers’ lives easier, including things such as ‘chat bots’ for a quick self-serve and smart home technology that’ll anticipate and fix a problem before a customer even knows there is one. However, there are still things that artificial intelligence can’t replicate, and in my opinion never will do better than humans. This includes displaying real empathy, the ability to use critical thinking to solve complex problems, being creative and drawing on (often very powerful) gut instincts.

Therefore, our plan is to continue to bring in the robots for any low-level transactional services that are going to make a customer’s life easier.

And for everything else? We’ll keep it digital…but we’ll keep it human too.

You can check out our #NotABot series of films by following us on Twitter @rhp_uk.


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