Artificial intelligence (AI) is changing the nature of how we communicate. With the increasing developments of Open AI, and Google initiatives set for 2024, we can only expect AI in business to grow. However, without careful consideration, AI can have a negative impact on relationships between business partners and clients.

As businesses continue to embrace AI-driven technologies, it’s essential to recognize the significance of authentic human customer service in cultivating long-lasting client relationships. By attentively listening to customer needs and addressing concerns with care, companies can ensure a memorable and positive experience.

While AI chatbots and virtual assistants expedite initial interactions, they may not possess the emotional intelligence necessary to navigate complex situations. They also may be unable to provide empathetic support like a human representative can. Similarly, sales teams can leverage personal connections to better understand and cater to individual client preferences. They can offer tailored solutions that resonate on an emotional level.

father and son smiling at a tablet

While AI integration is revolutionizing how companies operate, it can’t take over every process — especially those that delve into human connection. By striking the right balance between AI-driven efficiency and genuine human connection, businesses can maintain solid and enduring customer relationships.

In this article, I will cover the benefits of building strong connections through human customer service, and provide actionable tips on how to implement this. Additionally, I will explore the advantages and disadvantages of using AI within customer service. 

The benefits of building human connections with customers

Learning how to humanize your brand and build customer trust is essential to gaining customer loyalty. 86% of consumers prefer to interact with live customer support when making decisions. Businesses must consider opting for human interaction as they integrate AI. With the right blend of technology and humanity, companies can effectively build and benefit from relationships with their customers.

Some of the key benefits include:

  • Strengthening brand loyalty: Human customer service can boost customer trust through meaningful conversations that help customers better empathize and understand a company’s products and services.
  • Enhancing customer experience: Live customer conversations enable businesses to accurately assess customer needs and develop personalized solutions tailored specifically to those needs. 
  • Building an emotional connection: Human interactions build emotional connections with customers. Keep them engaged to increase the likelihood they’ll come back and refer friends and family.
  • Providing accurate information: Engaging one-on-one with customers allows for more accurate diagnoses of problems, resulting in faster resolutions and better overall accuracy.

While this isn’t an exclusive list of benefits, it’s clear that businesses should not overlook them.

How to build human connections with customers

Human interactions with customers can have positive benefits, but not all of them are guaranteed to lead to a successful relationship. After all, a wide range of businesses struggled with acquisition years before AI was developed. The problem isn’t necessarily with the technology, or the right ratio, but rather with how you build relationships with customers. 

Personalize outreach

What does it mean to personalize your outreach? It means creating tailored communication that demonstrates an understanding of customers’ needs, preferences, and concerns. 

So how do you do that? Address customers by name, reference past interactions, and recommend products or services based on their interests.

For instance, a personalized email campaign can target different customer segments, showcasing content relevant to each group. This not only increases the likelihood of engagement, but it fosters a sense of connection.

young woman working on her laptop

Utilize social media

There’s a reason social media is such an integral tool for many industries — it’s an easy way to build human connections with customers. It allows you to engage with users through comments, shares, and direct messages. More importantly, it cultivates a sense of community and open dialogue.

For example, hosting live Q&A sessions on platforms like Instagram or Tiktok allows customers to interact directly with your brand and gain valuable insights.

Show interest in customers as individuals

Taking the time to learn about customers as individuals can profoundly impact connections. Ask questions about their preferences, experiences, or challenges and use this information to tailor future interactions. 

A retail store, for instance, can train its staff to talk with customers and gather personal anecdotes. Using that information, you can offer personalized shopping suggestions or follow-up communications that demonstrate genuine interest.

Respond promptly to customer concerns

Quickly responding to customer inquiries and concerns is crucial for building trust and maintaining satisfaction. Businesses can use various tools and strategies to improve response times, such as:

These solutions ensure customers receive assistance even outside regular business hours — providing a sense of reliability and commitment.

It also enables real-time problem-solving and allows customers to receive instant help. That minimizes frustration and fosters positive experiences.

Follow up on concerns

Be sure to follow up with customers after addressing their inquiries to demonstrate empathy. Provide personalized updates on the progress of their issue or check in to ensure they’re satisfied with the outcome.

For instance, companies can offer call forwarding services to allow customers to reach the same representative they spoke to earlier. That provides continuity and convenience. Small-business answering services also enable companies to respond faster and more effectively to customer inquiries after hours.

Conduct surveys

Gathering customer feedback through surveys is a great way to measure their satisfaction and identify areas for improvement. Send out short questionnaires or conduct user interviews to gain valuable insights into customer experiences.

Surveys are also an effective way to encourage two-way dialogue, allowing customers to provide honest feedback without feeling judged or criticized. This helps businesses better understand customer needs and expectations while providing customers with a sense of being heard and valued.

woman in a relaxed business setting in the middle of talking

How can AI create hurdles for human connection?

While AI can enhance efficiency and streamline operations, it can inadvertently create hurdles. It’s crucial to understand the following potential obstacles:

  • AI-driven customer service tools lack the emotional intelligence to handle complex or sensitive customer concerns.
  • Relying too heavily on AI-driven processes can make customers feel like they’re interacting with a faceless entity, diminishing trust and loyalty.
  • AI systems may struggle to understand the nuances of human language and context, leading to customer miscommunication or frustration. Studies have found that even the most developed AI chatbots struggle with the way humans process language.
  • AI algorithms may not always adapt to unforeseen circumstances, unique customer needs, or new trends. That, in turn, limits your ability to provide personalized and relevant solutions.
  • Increased reliance on AI and data-driven insights can raise concerns about data privacy and security. And that can potentially erode customer trust if not addressed proactively.
  • AI-driven marketing campaigns can lead to overwhelming content, causing customers to feel bombarded and disconnected from the brand.
  • Reducing human customer service can reduce opportunities for empathetic communication and genuine relationship-building.

Despite these flaws, more and more businesses are using AI to their advantage. However, if you decide to integrate AI into your customer service strategy, proceed with caution.

How can AI help support human connection? 

Artificial intelligence, when thoughtfully implemented, has the potential to support and enhance human customer service and connection in the following ways:

  • AI can analyze vast data to identify customer preferences and habits, enabling businesses to deliver personalized content, recommendations, and offers.
  • AI can handle repetitive tasks such as answering frequently asked questions or booking appointments. This allows human staff to focus on more complex and personal customer interactions.
  • AI-powered data analysis can identify trends in customer behavior, enabling businesses to better understand and address individual needs and preferences.
  • AI can predict potential customer issues and provide timely support, enabling businesses to address concerns before they escalate, thus enhancing customer satisfaction.
  • Natural language processing (NLP) technologies can help businesses engage with customers in their preferred language, facilitating clearer and more effective communication.
  • AI can analyze customer feedback and gauge sentiment, enabling businesses to identify and address areas where the human customer service may be lacking or needs improvement.

With the right strategies, companies can create a unique balance of automation and personalized service while ensuring customers feel valued.

Key takeaways

  • Having a human handle your customer service creates stronger customer relationships, installed by trust.
  • To build human connections with customers you should; personalize outreach, utilize social media, show interest in customers as individuals, respond promptly to customer concerns, follow up on concerns, and conduct surveys. 
  • AI has many flaws when it comes to creating connections with customers. Including but  not limited to; lack of emotional connection, struggle to understand nuances of human language and the inability to adapt to unforeseen circumstances.
  • AI can also help to support human connection. Including but not limited to; analyzing data, identifying trends and handling repetitive tasks.

Want to learn more about how to keep your business human in the age of AI? Check out our Pledge People Not Bots campaign. 

If you’re interested in adding human customer service to the front-line of your business, book a consultation with our team below.