One of the essential differentiators of great customer service experiences is the human interaction.

Some folks want a chatty interaction with a full narrative on the weather. Others just want quick and friendly contact. But the bottom line is this we all want to have an experience that leads us to feel appreciated. This human interaction is key element to one of the three tenets of our Customer Experience Index: "How enjoyable were they to do business with?"

I considered this recently while at my neighborhood pharmacy. The company offers best-in-class customer service technology. They proactively remind me of prescription refills, they have a sophisticated mobile app, and their store layout is easy to navigate.

But I am invariably invited from the queue to the cash register by a shout of "Next!" and the only words offered to me are the sum I owe. For all their best-in-class retail and mobile strategies, I never walk away feeling that the company is enjoyable to do business with. Instead, I walk away wondering when was "you're welcome" replaced with "uh-huh"?

A great customer service experience is the result of the right technology, processes, and the human factor. To ensure the human factor isn’t marginalized, eBusiness leaders must:

  • Embed the ideal customer experience in your culture. Make it clear what customer service exchange will reflect your brand. Be explicit. Train and reward employees to personify your ideal brand experience.
  • Empower employees. Dump the script. As I noted in "The Metamorphosis To Agile Customer Service," the more Zappos tried to homogenize the telephone experience, the less happy its employees became. Instead, ensure employees have the skills and training to deliver the interactions that will reflect your brand.
  • Empower supervisors. Asking an employee to say "you're welcome" or "goodbye" is not simply a potentially awkward etiquette lesson. Just as a supervisor would have no qualms interceding if an employee is giving incorrect information, he or she should be equally qualm-free about celebrating those employees who treat customers well and course-correcting those who fall short.

Behavioral psychologists generally agree that people remember only a few significant moments in their interactions.  A "How are you?" and "You're welcome" would have gone a long way to swing my significant moments into a positive experience at the pharmacy.