By Jenni Baker, Senior Editor

December 8, 2021 | 5 min read

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From shopping to selling software to socializing and consuming media, there’s no denying that the business world is undergoing the most dramatic digital transformation seen for decades.

The secret to brand CX appeal is the human touch

Redefining CRM for the new age of digital and human customer experience

And while digital experiences are set to feature heavily in the future for businesses of all kinds – the heightened need for end-to-end delightful customer experiences (CX) still requires the human touch to conquer the needs and wants of today’s increasingly demanding consumer.

While 88% of CX professionals think that leaning on more digital channels has had a positive impact on their business performance during the pandemic, still almost three-quarters (72%) say they are investing in delivering more human interactions, according to HubSpot’s Hybrid Customer Experience in a Post Pandemic World: Where do we stand on the Human Touch? research.

So, if the human touch is driving CX appeal for some of the UK’s biggest brands, how can businesses strike the right balance to achieve this new hybrid approach?

The Drum caught up with Susanne Rönnqvist Ahmadi, vice-president of international marketing at HubSpot, to explore the findings in more detail and discuss why and how, in this new era of the consumer, implementing hybrid CX strategies will be paramount to finding the sweet spot between digital experiences that hit the mark and wowing customers with the human touch they crave.

“Many companies’ reaction to Covid-19 was quick implementation of technology to support remote teams and the new ‘all-digital’ customer paradigm,” says Rönnqvist Ahmadi. “It’s been a survival mindset but, naturally, doing something quickly can have its downsides. For some businesses, it meant that their tech stack has become a patchwork of components from different tech providers and this route risks holding companies back. It’s not giving them the complete customer view and trying to connect all of these components will cause friction points for your customers.”

Watch the full interview with HubSpot’s Susanne Rönnqvist Ahmadi above.

As a result, many businesses are now planning to invest in new customer relationship management (CRM) platforms over the next 12 months, upon the realization that providing a great customer experience has become a bigger differentiator than product/service. But alongside these investments in technology, ironically, the disruption caused by the pandemic has also shown the extraordinary value that human interactions play in CX. While 22% of consumers would rather keep making purchases and interacting with brands online, 52% would prefer to deal directly with a person, with 58% of those who had a human interaction more likely to shop with the brand again in the future.

“The winners will be those who can find that right balance between digital and human,” says Rönnqvist Ahmadi. “This will of course be different from company to company, industry to industry, but it will be really rewarding for those who can identify what that balance is. We’re not only in a new era of hybrid working but also in the new age of hybrid customer experiences.”

In the video interview, we also explore the biggest differences in the role that the human touch plays at different parts of the customer journey – both for business-to-consumer (B2C) and business-to-business (B2B) brands – and look at why Tesco has been ranked top for brand CX appeal with the most helpful customer teams during the pandemic, along with other companies regarded for their CX including Amazon, M&S, Asda and Argos.

“The pandemic is only accelerating trends we’ve seen before and in industry after industry we’re seeing businesses disrupting incumbents with better experiences, both in B2C and B2B environments,” says Rönnqvist Ahmadi. “For today’s consumers, being delighted isn’t an added value to their experience as a customer any more, it’s the inner foundation your relationship is built on. Only those companies that put the customer at the center of everything they do will thrive in this highly demanding and competitive landscape.”

She notes that having the right CRM platform in place can make all the difference in delighting customers at all steps of the journey and making sure they come back time and time again.

“To scale, without complexity in 2021 and beyond, today’s businesses need to invest in powerful and easy-to-use CRM platforms that enable them to create a single point of what we refer to as customer truth, which customer-facing teams can feed into or – more crucially – pull from to help them deliver a delightful customer experience.”

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