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Digital First vs Human First

The pros and cons of digital first vs human first interactions fuel many discussions in the marketing industry.

During the pandemic, digital interactions came to the fore and human interactions took a back seat through necessity. Post COVID, we are spending more time than ever online. Research shows that the “typical” global internet user now spends almost 7 hours per day using the internet across all devices.


With this potential access to new audiences and increased brand awareness, it is no wonder that ‘digital first’ and ‘digital by default’ are the latest buzzwords.

What about the ‘experience’?

Irrespective of channels, however, the thing which customers value most is their overall experience with a brand; 84% of customers say the experience a company provides is as important as its products or services. In terms of the channels we employ therefore, the priority has to be the experience delivered, rather than channel choice alone.

The starting point for any brand looking to deliver the best possible customer experience must be the customer’s needs and preferences, rather than the channel that is most cost-efficient for their business.

First and foremost, customers need to get the information, products and services they need in a timely and efficient manner. A potential buyer may prefer to get their information via a virtual person rather than speak to a real human. However, if a chat bot isn’t able to answer their question and they wait three days for a response to their email, that buyer will look elsewhere. Similarly, if you advertise an enquiry phone number on your site but no one picks up or you sit in a queue for half a day, the same is true.

Customer First

Whilst many businesses may aspire to a digital first or digital by default approach, how many of us aspire to live in a ‘digital only’ world? In designing the customer journey, brands must be experience-led rather than digitally-driven with a mix of channels that integrate to deliver the best possible experience.

Beyond meeting their clients’ basic needs in terms of prompt service and information access, most brands aspire to achieve ‘wow’ moments and touchpoints that deliver an exceptional experience, anticipating needs and exceeding customer expectations. To reach this goal, they must adopt a ‘customer-first’ or ‘experience-first’ approach.

Digital first interactions and digital touchpoints in the customer journey can really add value to the customer experience in terms of speed of response, information access, convenience and choice for the buyer. For the business too, digital brings many potential benefits including cost efficiency, engagement and digital insights.

But, whilst digital channels offer ease, convenience, and data analytics, human interaction is hard to beat in terms of creating the emotional connections that elevate a brand. Not only can human interaction build rapport and trust, it differentiates amidst the abundance of digital interactions and provides deep insight so you truly ‘know your customer’. It brings many benefits that digital can’t offer, from empathy and warmth, rapport and trust, to reassurance and clarity amidst complexity and confusion.

We are of course biased because at the heart of what we do is building personal connections and using human interaction to distinguish brands and deliver the best possible experience for the customer.

To help you therefore in optimising your customer journey to get the best of both, view our infographic for the key benefits of a digital and human interaction.

Digital + Human

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