Modern businesses utilize cutting-edge technology at every step, from product development and marketing to customer onboarding and support. The rise of sophisticated software applications—such as CRM systems, email marketing platforms, and chatbots—has helped simplify the sales pipeline.
Automation has made it easier for sales reps and marketers to work on providing more value to customers. Whether you want to provide round-the-clock support or onboard new customers, you’ll find a tool to automate each process. The COVID-19 pandemic has further compelled sales managers and entrepreneurs to embrace digital technology.
This has also resulted in businesses solely relying on automation to drive conversions and retain customers. As more businesses switch to ecommerce storefronts and virtual operations, the scope of face-to-face interaction becomes limited. While this might help you boost the sales process's efficiency and speed, it comes with a few limitations.
The Downside of Automation
Here’s the thing: even if you use the most cutting-edge technology, your target consumers still want to purchase from living, breathing humans. Even if they use search engines, social media, and other digital tools to research your product, they need a human touch point.
According to McKinsey, roughly 66% of buyers who prefer digital interaction with businesses still want a human touch point. While some consumers choose to speak with sales reps early on in the pipeline, others wait until they’ve thoroughly researched your brand.
This is even more critical for online businesses. In the absence of a physical storefront or office, human interaction is crucial for reinforcing customer trust. It’s just as essential for providing personalized support to your existing customers to boost retention and loyalty. Thus, you should use automation to facilitate and not replace human touch points from the sales pipeline.
So far, we’ve established that a personal touch is crucial for closing sales and retaining customers. But how can we strike a fine balance between using automation and human interaction for sales?
Integrating Human Touch Points in Sales
First things first: human interaction and AI-driven tools aren’t mutually exclusive. Instead, you need to identify the right stages of the sales funnel that demand a personal touch. AI should be used to ease the workload of sales reps and customer service executives.
Here are a few techniques to add a human touch to different steps of your sales pipeline:
1. Lead Generation
Generating high-quality leads is one of the primary goals of every marketing campaign. This involves driving your target audience to your website and compelling them to share their contact details. But as a new visitor navigates your website, they might want to ask a few questions before they share their personal information with you.
Using chatbots to offer generic answers to their queries isn’t enough. While chatbots, FAQs, blog posts, case studies, etc., can resolve simple queries, they should redirect complicated questions to humans. Provide website visitors with multiple channels, such as phone, videoconferencing, email, etc., to directly reach out to you.
2. Lead Nurturing
Building an endless pool of leads isn’t enough. You need to handhold active leads through the buyer’s journey while they evaluate multiple options to resolve their problem. Most businesses make the mistake of sending standard automated emails for lead nurturing. Typically, these emails include useful resources, such as product comparison guides, case studies, and explainer videos.
Chances are your lead is receiving similar emails from your competitors as well. If you want to make a lasting impression on them, you should add a personal touch to your email and make them stand out.
Something as simple as including a sales rep’s name and signature at the end of an email could work wonders. Monitor their replies and respond to their queries with personalized answers and references.
Likewise, if a buyer submits a query on your website, don’t send them an automated “we’ve received your query” reply. Instead, draft the email in such a way that it looks like it’s coming from a real person. Ask whether they’d like to schedule a live demo or have questions about a specific product.
Apart from links to valuable resources, you could give them the option to schedule a phone or video call with one of your reps. Even if they don’t schedule the call right away, it’ll position your business as one that values consumers.
If you abandon your customers after closing a sale, you’ll fail to retain them. Instead, you should outline a human interaction-based onboarding strategy to welcome new customers and coach them through the use your products or services.
As with lead nurturing, you need to stay connected with them via tailor-made and interactive emails. Thank them for choosing your business and provide them with options to reach out to you if they face any issues. Instead of using it as an opportunity for cross-sells and up sells, work towards maximizing customer success.
4. Customer Support
Providing timely and helpful customer support across the right channels is the key to improving retention and loyalty. You can’t rely on chatbots to resolve all your customers’ queries. In fact, chatbots have a whopping 70% failure rate.
Your website, social media profiles, and emails should include accurate contact details to help customers connect with support executives. Also, this information should be easily accessible and visible.
Additionally, you should watch out for customer complaints and feedback on social media platforms. You can use social listening and review management tools to monitor reviews and complaints. But when it comes to issuing an appropriate response, you need to provide a personal touch.
Make sure your customer service reps publicly acknowledge complaints and negative reviews on social media. After the initial response, they should send a DM to the customer and offer to schedule a call with the appropriate department. Ask the rep to include their official email address and contact number in the message.
Artificial intelligence can never be a replacement for the human touch in businesses, especially in sales. Instead, you should know when and how to utilize automation tools in the sales pipeline to help your sales and customer support reps. Make sure you offer plenty of human touch points across the sales funnel to woo potential customers, drive conversions, and improve loyalty.
Are you ready to kickstart the digital transformation of your business? Get in touch with Zobrist right away to transition into a conversion-focused e-commerce storefront.