The human touch in a digital world

I recently traveled on American Airlines (@American Air) and had an incredible Customer Experience that got me thinking. In this increasingly digital world, where we can manufacture the experience through complex technology, is there still a need for a human touch? After all, we are looking to serve millions of customers through indirect channels — where will the human touch come in?

On my recent flight, as my aircraft settled into its altitude, Rachael (the flight attendant) walked over to me and called me by name. My first surprise! She seamlessly integrated the very nice handheld device that maps your name to your seat with her personal touch! She then offered a snack and, given my extensive travel with AA, recommended one based on my prior choices. She knew all this from the handheld device, but her manner of delivery was incredible, especially given that I was sitting in economy and used to the “no service,” robotic treatment.

This experience so moved me that I decided to tweet about it.

customer service travel and transportation

In a matter of minutes, AA approached me online and asked if they could forward my tweet to their forum for Flight Services to reinforce their customer service training. The company reacted swiftly to institutionalize the feedback I provided!

The contrast to financial services doesn’t escape me here. Financial services is a business that works overtime to shift customers to indirect channels when they already have a direct, face-to-face relationship.

The American Airlines social media team deftly handles customer service requests via Twitter.

The American Airlines social media team deftly handles customer service via Twitter.

As a consequence, companies lose the ability to integrate human touch. In fact, most enterprises work overtime to alienate the customer, only to try and learn all about them through technological means. That doesn’t mean that all interactions need the human touch, but it’s essential to create the right balance and drive that emotional connection.


In that 5-hour flight, I interacted Rachael for all of maybe 2 minutes. But it made a difference. Instead of being just another flight, it became something that I would share with my social channels and write about here. The simple yet elegant integration of intelligence plus human yielded an enhanced customer experience.

Isn’t that what customer experience should be about in this hybrid world?


Oscillating between’ Know Your Customer’ and ‘Know Your Bank

Do ‘Know Your Customer’ programs really work?

Why banks now need customer-focused finance



  1. Thanks for sharing this.

    Often people write long post for negative experiences and seldomly talk about what delighting interaction one may have experienced.

    As we provide self servicing tools to customers, at the same time we need to enable our employees with right skills & technology to be able to serve our customers better. Reinforcing positive feedback indeed result in positive outcomes at even bigger scale.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for your insight, Jaiveer. I really liked your thought process around creating positive outcomes at bigger scale and appreciate your sharing it.


  3. Good one Bala…enjoyed reading….


  4. Title says a lot on this topic. After all whatever the device we use, it’s useless without a human touch. This human touch is not just the fingers, it’s full 360-degree experience. The example you have shared is the part of it.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: