“At the end of the day, the person you’re selling to, the people that you’re serving are humans.” -Joey Coleman

Too many brands are quick to eliminate the human element before customers have acclimated to their business. Raising the barrier to exit and making it difficult for customers to find the information they need will only create bad experiences. Instead, brands should take a proactive approach by guiding customers along the way to help them achieve their goals. Doing so is essential to your business and its success.

Joey Coleman, professional speaker and author of Never Lose a Customer Again joined the Banking on Digital Growth Podcast to discuss the importance of a human-to-human approach withJoey is committed to improving customer experiences and helping companies keep their customers with his first 100 days methodology.

Customers Want to Feel Like They Matter

Studies show that 32% of new bank customers who open a bank account will close that account within a year. Furthermore, half of those people that leave will do so within the first 100 days.

Businesses are hemorrhaging customers, and they don’t even realize it. As quickly as their customers are coming in the front door, they are turning right around and running out the back.

Why is that? And what can be done to stop it?

As someone who set out to help companies drive new business, Joey sought to answer these questions in his book. He found that companies were focusing too much on the B2B and B2C side of business to achieve growth and were losing sight of their customers. Brands must transform their thinking beyond B2B and B2C and instead think H2H or human to human.

People don’t connect with tools or systems; they connect with people.

It is the natural human condition for people to desire a connection with others that look and act as they do.

Across all cultures, genders, races, and socioeconomic statuses, customers desire to feel seen and heard—it is the human condition to desire a connection with other humans.

The more businesses can tap into this notion, the greater success they will have.

The Difference Between Customer Experience and Customer Service

Banks are spending thousands of dollars acquiring new business and new customers, only to lose them just as fast, if not faster, than they came in. To understand why this is happening, brands must take a closer look at the service and experiences they are providing. However, it’s also important to distinguish between the two to identify where the problem lies.

People tend to use the phrases customer service and customer experience interchangeably. But they aren't. 

Customer service is the assistance and advice that a company provides to people who buy or use its products or services. 

Customer experience,, is how a customer perceives all of their interactions with the company.

In short, customer service is a reactive behavior, and customer experience is a proactive behavior.

For example, if something happens and a customer needs help, a business reacts by providing a solution. That’s customer service. When a business thinks proactively about how they want a customer to feel, how they are going to design communications and interactions, and how they will deliver these elements in a way that maximizes impact—that’s customer experience.

Providing a service to customers is one thing; providing an experience is another.

There is this belief that digitizing or automating everything is best because it allows for better, more efficient service. However, focusing solely on the service leaves out the human element that allows for better customer experiences.

Today, technology has enabled banks to provide better apps, tools, and systems, but these are still just a part of the service. Banks need to be careful about over-indexing on automation and digitization because it removes the human element.

Customers don’t stay because of the high-tech systems; they stay because of the experiences that make them feel like they matter.

Instead of only focusing on the automation of the customer service, companies should use automation to handle the predictable so they can provide exceptional, humanized experiences in other ways.

Technology took away the transaction, but that can empower brands to prioritize the transformation of people over the transaction of dollars.

Eight Phases of the Human-to-Human Approach

In Joey’s book, Never Lose a Customer Again, he uses eight phases to teach brands how to provide better service and experiences to retain their customers.

Phase one is the assessment phase. In this phase, prospective customers are looking into various companies to decide which one they want to do business with. This means brands need to take a closer look at their website, marketing materials, social profiles, and reviews to get an idea of how things look from the customer’s perspective.

Often, many brands think they are standing out, but in reality, they are saying the same things as all of the other banks. It's the laundry list of lookalike product features.

Phase two is when customers admit they have a problem or a need, and they choose the brand that they think can best help them. They open an account, make an initial deposit, sign up for a credit card, etc. Whatever their first act is, this is the transition from prospect to customer, and the first 100 days of the relationship begins.

Phase three is the affirm phase and is the phase that gets overlooked the most. This is when customers start potentially having “buyer’s remorse.” They are questioning whether they made the right decision to work with this company. The problem is that brands assume they have won in this phase because they have met their quota and acquired a new customer.

However, they would do well to remember that while they are celebrating, their new customers are potentially in a state of doubt. So instead of patting themselves on the back, they should be taking action to reaffirm the customer’s decision. They should be showing the customer how they are going to be taken care of to assure them that they made the right choice.

Phase four is the activate phase. This is when brands offer customers a safe place by starting to deliver on the experience. In this phase, the customer is checking to see that the company is going to deliver on everything that was promised. They are using their credit card for the first time or doing a wire transfer, and they are waiting to see if the results align with what was promised.

Phase five is the acclimation phase. The basics of this phase are quite simple—brands should hold their customer’s hands until they don’t need them held anymore. Companies should not be the ones to decide when the hand holding should stop. The customer’s behaviors and emotional state dictate when they have acclimated. In this phase, brands need to make sure they are doing everything they can to meet all of the customer’s needs.

Phase six is the accomplish phase. This is when the customer achieves the goal they set out to accomplish when they were just a prospect assessing who to do business with. This phase could happen within 30 days or take ten years. To help customers reach this phase, there needs to be continuous conversations with the client about what they want to achieve to help them stay on track.

However, it’s also important to keep in mind that goals change. Customers are going to potentially change their minds, and that’s okay. Life happens, and brands need to show their support and acknowledge that things change rather than dig their heels in and put up a fight. Ask customers how they are doing. Ask them about their new goals or what roadblock they are facing. Ask them what your brand can do better to help them reach their goals and continue to grow.

Phase seven is the adopt phase. This is when the customer becomes loyal to a brand. They have clearly stated what they like and what they don’t like, and the company has delivered. Customers at this phase are committed, and they are not going to seek what they need elsewhere.

Phase eight is the advocate phase. At this stage, loyal customers become raving fans who sing your praises. If companies get all of the other phases right, they get the chance to rinse and repeat. The important thing for brands to keep in mind at this phase is that with any new product or service they offer to existing customers, no matter where they are in the eight phases, they go back to phase one.

Anytime something new comes into play, customers go back to assess if it’s right for them. They will then potentially go through buyer’s remorse again and need reaffirming. They will want to be activated to show that the brand is delivering on its promise. They will need to be acclimated again. Brands have to do the same thing over and over again to establish a flywheel of customers that stay and grow in their relationship with the brand.

Take Action: Show Your Customers You Care

In an increasingly digital world, customers are dying for analog proof that they matter. So make a list of your ten best customers and write each of them a handwritten note, thanking them for their business. It doesn’t have to be long—just four or five sentences explaining two or three things you love about the relationship and how you’re excited and thankful for the opportunity to work with them. Then send them off in the mail.

Just those ten people and those ten little notes will result in a measurable increase in revenue. In this day and age, people are dying for proof that they matter, that they have meaningful relationships, and that other people find value in what they have to offer. By sitting down and writing notes to your customers, you can make the intangible tangible in this digital world.

This is how brands can rise above the noise, the commoditization, the hype and get back to what matters. This is how you can help guide people beyond their financial worries towards a bigger, better, and brighter future.