In a world of B2C or B2B, the time has come again to talk about H2H: Human to Human

Regardless if you’re in the business to consumers (B2C) or business to business (B2B) worlds, most of it comes down to human interaction and to get the client to say yes to your offering. Personal triggers are the same when it comes to making decisions. Therefore the sensible approach would be to tailor your buyer journey taking into account the human clients you have, even if most or parts of the whole process are automated. In the lines below, we’ll talk about what human to human (H2H) means as a concept, how and why it is essential to have this as a part of your brand DNA, and we’ll talk about some brands that did this and were successful long term.

“Companies that focus on the human experience are twice as likely to outperform their peers in revenue growth over three years and have 17 times faster store growth than those who do not.” – Deloitte Digital

H2H concept

Regardless if a company offers its products to the broad market or other businesses, these products, services, and businesses don’t feel things. The humans buying them do feel things, and they need emotion to decide and to buy. Sure, it needs to be a problem to solve and sometimes a logical argument, but most purchase decisions everywhere happen because of emotional reasons. It includes status-seeking, recommendations from peers, wanting to make a statement, etc.  

Taking this into account is essential when a business crafts its marketing, sales, production, retail, delivery, or people strategy. Creating a customer experience that matters means showing up as a brand that cares from the first to last interaction. Throughout everything the business does.

Some could argue that things have changed because of automation, and tactics are not the same anymore. We can now measure everything and see how much we need to increase those numbers to make businesses grow. But we forget that humans are not numbers nor transactions and that the effort put into initiating and cultivating human connection will pay off significantly more.

One example is General Motors, a business committed to making the world a safer place through everything they do. They decided that though zero crashes, zero emissions, and zero congestions, they are not only bold but human, speaking to some of the biggest fears people have these days.

Another example is a fast-growing IT software delivery company, Endava, whose philosophy and values are all about caring for its employees and clients as individuals. It is no wonder they quickly grew their offerings from a pure software making company to helping clients solve their burning business needs and market relevancy by advising, working together with them, and making all things beautiful while building the seamless software they need.

“Customers are ready to move on unless they have one thing – an undying relationship with a person or people at your brand who made them feel uniquely special.” – Kramer 2014

Being human as a brand DNA

People’s emotional needs mean they care about connection and love, feeling significant, being certain when faced with variety and options, and knowing they can contribute and grow. Success for a brand means incorporating these customer needs across the full experience with the business. From the moment a client hears of that brand, across all interaction points until they decide to purchase, and (very important!) up until the client is no longer a client.

Customers expect that once they trusted a brand for all the right reasons, it will embody the human qualities they find so appealing: loyalty, transparency, steadfastness, consistency, and authenticity. And a brand can only live up to this expectation if they value the customer at its core, starting with its employees, and breathing customer-centricity in all internal operations.

In its report, “Exploring and quantifying the human experience,” Deloitte Digital shows how focusing on the below six points helps any business activate its human values:

  1. Be obsessed with everything human: across your advertising, brand values, and living up to them, to all client interaction points.
  2. Proactively deliver on human needs: make your customer feel connected, valued, confident that he/she is making the right decision, and contribute and grow.
  3. Execute with humanity: even when the process is automated, have the human consumer in mind.
  4. Be you: while it’s getting harder and harder to be different, being authentic as a brand pays off short and long term.
  5. Change the world: customers care about a brand that commits to contributing somehow to a better world.

If (and once) you’re a genuine human brand and it’s all in your DNA, add this to your strategy, to your storytelling, show your authenticity via all brand communications online, offline, social media, and most of all, with your employees. They are the best brand ambassadors you can start with to position your business as having its customers at heart and live up to that promise.

Apple “be human” value and campaign

After returning to Apple in 1997, Steve Jobs reminded everyone what the Apple brand was all about: simplicity, creativity, and humanity. Once these values were re-instated and applied in its product design, advertising, and internal operations, Apple grew exponentially to become the most valued brand today. Once these values were again evident and applied everywhere within their strategy and tactics, there was no stopping for the brand. And they managed to bring humanity and human emotions to the core of everything they do. We all remember this ad, don’t we?

Just think about how does the idea of going into an Apple Store makes you feel? And how does using an Apple product makes you think? That’s all about simplicity, creativity, and humanity.

Successful H2H communication

Human to human communication can only happen once your brand commits to putting its customers in the center of everything. Start by building your customers picture, or the buyer journey, then work how you will execute on humanity across all interaction points:

  1. Start with defining (if you don’t have it set already) your customers. Who are they? What are their needs, wants, and desires?
  2. How does your business/brand fulfil these needs?
  3. Map the buyer journey from the first possible points of interactions to full cycle. How well do you understand this buyer journey?
  4. What are the critical moments in this journey? By critical think those key moments when a customer is prone to deciding to buy from you.
  5. How can your brand deliver the exact human centered experiences required at those critical moments?

Understanding this is the next critical step once your brand is fully committed to living with its customers at heart. Communicating this becomes then the third big step to start the ball rolling and grow your business. When thinking communication strategy and tactics, always have in mind the critical moments in the buyer journey. Think how can you strengthen the communication about humanity, be obsessed with showing up whenever needed and even more than that, to the point where you start building strong relationships with your clients.

Tactic wise, human communication is all about knowing your customer needs, speaking their language, addressing their emotions and needs, be fun if possible, tell your story, and ultimately, care about helping them and helping the world be a better place.

Further reading