Face it, consumers want human-driven customer service.

This should come as a surprise to absolutely no one. After a decade or so of having to navigate with auto-attendant menus and more recent “zombie-chat-bot” operators when calling into customer service, it’s no wonder that prospects are throwing up their collective arms and finally demanding to have a human being on the other end of their phones. Are you listening?

Yes actually, your audience has always felt that way… they just accepted computer-generated customer no-service as a fact of life that couldn’t be changed. But the news is indicative of a larger trend that’s shaping building products marketing and business in general. A trend that many people are fearing, but that presents an opportunity for forward-thinking marketers.

That trend is summed up by three A’s: Analytics, algorithms, automation.

In our increasingly digital, data-driven world, more and more business operations are being affected by at least one — and sometimes all three — of these As. More and more low-level jobs are being taken over by automation. Key business decisions are being heavily influenced by data analytics.

And, of course, algorithms are determining how advertising is to be delivered. And to whom.

This has led to an efficiency revolution in marketing. Instead of pouring millions into shotgun approaches like broadcast media… brands could target very specific prospects based on their age, location, interests, attitudes, hobbies, previous purchase patterns and, of course, their online activity. Nevertheless, many brands still wasted millions on broadcast media. But that’s another story.

In a race to the bottom — brands devalued their equity — as marketers clamored for commoditized eyeballs, clicks and conversions. Something’s being lost in the equation, and that could present an opportunity for marketers who wish to take it.

How will you zag?

In a recent article, self-made billionaire Jack Ma was quoted as saying there’s one thing that humans have (that machines never will).

And it’s the one thing that people and businesses will need to succeed in this digital world.


“A machine does not have a heart, [a] machine does not have soul, and [a] machine does not have a belief,” Ma said. Human beings — he continued — have souls, beliefs, values, and creativity. And those are the things marketers can use to compete in the age of machines.

Love your customers. Love your products. Love the difference you make in their lives.

This love in fact,  can manifest itself in many ways… including customer service, sales and marketing. It shows in how you add a human touch to your customer service and how you focus your sales efforts on helping people and solving problems.

And it can be shown in your marketing, social media engagement and advertising. By having your marketing team ride along on sales calls, or sit in by auditing with customer service representatives. By getting to know your customers, what’s important to them, what makes them happy, and what challenges they face.

Then relying on the craft of developing messages. Telling stories. And connecting with people on a human level.

With all of the digital tools available to specifically target people through their online activity, to predict their wants and needs using algorithms, and to automatically put products and offers in front of them… there’s still something to be said for a human touch.

There’s an old saying that goes, “When everyone else zigs, you zag.” In today’s digital marketing world — where the barrier to entry is so low, and there is a constant buzz of noise and static — the brands who exhibit love through their marketing have a significantly better chance of standing out.

Everyone, it seems, is zigging in the direction of marketing automation and algorithms.

How will you zag?