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Digital Customer Experiences: Can Machines Make An Emotional Connection?

Posted By Inga Ryan,, 12 February 2016

Customer experience includes those experienced through a digital interface. Researching a product online, using a mobile app to find a store’s nearest location, searching for tech support information on a smartphone—are all digital customer experiences. 

Irish people the world over excel in making emotional connections. However, bringing consistent humanisation to digital interactions appears to be a major challenge for Irish business. This doesn’t have to be the case. 

Achieving a personalised interface is critical to making an emotional connection and can be done in a similar way to face to face interactions. It involves building relationships. Like with any relationship this takes time. 

The first step is to give an impressively reliable and intuitive digital experience and so win customer confidence. Gaining this confidence is important so we can then ask questions and the information garnered allows us to segment and personalise each future interaction. research found that people expect seamless online experiences. They are reassured when they receive confirmation of order emails and further notification when goods are dispatched and an estimated time of arrival. We discovered that the reverse is also true, if you fail to take these steps customers are not only likely to complain but also to advocate against your brand.

Irish business generally considers digital as a stand alone business channel with its own objectives, which are dealt with separately and not as part of the overall picture. It asks “how can the use of technology save us money and increase efficiencies?” This results in siloed thinking whereas a holistic approach is needed. In the USA the approach is different and business asks itself “What can we do to give the customer what s/he wants and delight them, on all channels?” This leads to a cohesive, relevant omni-channel experience, resulting in ease of use and happy customers.

Retail is an obvious area in need of better online platforms. Over 75% of Irish online purchases are spent abroad which emphasizes the importance of optimal online engagement. Most supermarkets and retailers have a fairly basic online proposition and we have a lot to learn in this area. recommends we learn from those who do it brilliantly. For starters we must engage with customers via social media and respond to customer queries and complaints quickly.  Online CX experts use photographs and video or live TV to make the experience feel real. Their interface is streamlined, intuitive and easy to use. They develop a tone of voice that reflects who they are and what they stand for. They collect customer data and segment it to make suggested offerings relevant to each individual. 

Before all this we need to get the basic offering right. 


With one click on their website you know that they can give you what you are looking for. There are visual windows to every department. Their Community section with live cookery and cosmetics demonstrations offer advice which feels like a cosy chat with a friend. They also offer a deferred payment option which is very tempting when you see that special something!


Rabo Direct has a consistently friendly conversational tone of voice over all of their platforms, and it works. This is especially effective in the banking industry, where technospeak is the norm. Irish consumers consider the Rabo Direct website “Quick and easy to use”, “very straight forward” and they are “Reassured by immediate email confirmations when they make a transaction”. It doesn’t take much to stand out in this way and yet it makes a big difference. It’s interesting that even though their platforms are telephone or online, they are considered to be a “great bunch”. No queues mean that customers feel looked after. 


Amazon leverages their “machine experience” predictions brilliantly. They seem to know more about customer needs than the customer herself does (!) and their digital communications feel human. Consumer are relieved to have Amazon taking the onus of thinking ahead to what they need and want and they know the suggestions are relevant because, after all, predictions are based on their own preferences. But these predictions are the result of much research and data analysis.


With family membership each individual has a login under their own name and TV shows are recommended to each individual.  Not only is this a comfort to a parent but also gives a sense of ownership to younger family members. 

The above is a snapshot of tools that will help create an emotional connection with your customer. It is critical that Irish business exploit this facet of digital engagement in a world where consumers demand more and more instant gratification.


Inga Ryan runs is a community of likeminded professionals tasked with achieving CX excellence within their organisations. We provide services including consumer research (resulting in the CX Ireland 2015 Report), customised CX debriefs, the annual CX festival, networking opportunities and a resource library.


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