Death of the Rectangle, Part Three: Human-to-Human

Matt Farrar

Founder of Great Fridays, now an EPAM company
Blog

Prepare yourself because I am going to continue my ongoing rebellion against the ubiquitous and mobile four-sided paradigm. It’s not that I don’t appreciate the huge impact digital, and in particular mobile has had on our world; far from it, I am a huge advocate. I will, however challenge the obsessive way that brands are so single-minded that they neglect vital customer service interactions and channels.

Human-to-human interaction is often the element of service that creates the most negativity. Think about it, what are the worst service experiences you have encountered as a consumer, as a patient, or a fan? I can guarantee that almost all of them will relate to the way a human reacted to your request or your interaction with them.

As humans we are fairly forgiving when it comes to our interaction with objects. Machines, tools or a computer’s ineffectiveness is often met by a tirade of abuse, and the occasional fist-slam on one’s desk, but rarely does it create the same gut boiling sensation that a rude or incompetent human can.

Humans persevere with poor physical experiences, because they often accept that it is just the way it is. They might even question their own intellect as a factor in the frustrating interaction with said object. Status and competition are never far from humans’ mind when interacting with other humans.

Following detailed instructions in an IKEA furniture pack can be one of the most frustrating back-breaking user experiences on the planet, but we accept it, and laugh with our friends about the torture because we accept it as part of the brand deal. Somewhat obtusely, it becomes a rite of passage we embrace.

The one thing all humans are well-educated about is peer-to-peer interaction. Basically how to be treated well. The phrase goes: ‘Treat those, how you expect to be treated yourself’. It’s another form of karma… ‘what goes around, comes around’.

We instinctively know when a person is not treating us well, we know when they are being dishonest, and when they don’t know what they are doing.

We are so well versed in what is right and what is wrong that we will not tolerate poor human interaction in the same way we might with a machine or object equivalent.

Almost all of the poor customer experiences I have encountered to date can be attributed to a human. Train conductors on Virgin First Class carriage who call me ‘mate’ is one such bugbear and fail to deliver the service I expect of the brand.  Call centre staff in a country far from my service-of-origin that treat me as if I have an IQ of 55.

Untrained sales assistants who know less about their own products than I do.  I have a mental black book of all the humans who have frustrated, annoyed, infuriated and lied to me since I was five years old.  It is engraved into my memory. Most importantly, going through these negative human-to-human experiences creates another consequence; I blame the brand as much as I do the human.

The champions of design-led service with obvious examples such as Apple, Target or Starbucks, all know how to create an experience that starts with their people, and is consistent throughout all other customer touch points.

It is very unlikely that you will get a poor Human-to-Human interaction in their retail environments or on a voice call. If that did happen, it would be highly shocking.

Forrester calls the recent customer service design revolution; ‘The Age of the Customer’, and we all know that the customer is always right, don’t we? So why do so many brands neglect this fundamental service component? How do brands marry human-to-human service strategy with human-to-digital, or human-to-product strategy?

We should all embrace the human-to-human challenge. As designers, who specialize and empathise with the emotional connections humans have with brands, we should champion this as the single most important service design challenge.

We should prototype human-to-human interactions and test scenarios in the same way we prototype human-to-machine and product interactions. Iterate these interactions, test scenarios and create methodologies to support a company-wide rollout.

And finally beware that as humans we also get equally frustrated when the human interaction is false: ‘Hi, my name is Wendy and I will be your waitress today’. How about ‘Hi, my name is Matt and I will be your customer today’? That may be true, but it sounds just as insincere.

This isn’t an exercise in creating scripts to deliver human-to-human interaction. This is about empathy, values, ethos and meeting expectations. This is about really believing that customers are right and treating them commensurately.

A brand experience is the sum of all parts and all interactions, human, physical, digital – think of every interaction in your service experience.

Hello. How Can We Help You?


Our Offices

  • Canada

    • Ottawa

      343 Preston Street,
      ON K1S 1N4, Ottawa
      Canada

      Map
    • Toronto

      5 Park Home Avenue,
      Suite 400,
      ON M2N 6L4, North York,
      Toronto
      Canada

      Map
      P: +1-416-591-4004
      F: +1-416-595-1551
    Learn more
  • Mexico

    • Guadalajara

      Periférico Sur #8110,
      Col. El Mante
      45609 Tlaquepaque, Jalisco
      Mexico

      Map
      P: +52-33-462-400-98
    Learn more
  • United States

    • Newtown, PA

      41 University Drive,
      Suite 202,
      Newtown, PA 18940
      USA

      Map
      P: +1-267-759-9000
      F: +1-267-759-8989
    • Bellevue, WA

      110 110th Ave. NE,
      Suite 310
      Bellevue, WA 98004
      USA

      Map
    • Cambridge, MA

      One Mifflin Place,
      Cambridge, MA 02138
      USA

      Map
      P: +1-267-759-9000
      F: +1-267-759-8989
    • Conshohocken, PA

      101 East 8th Ave,
      Suite 201,
      Conshohocken, PA 19428
      USA

      Map
      P: +1-484-382-1300
    • Los Angeles, CA

      11601 Wilshire Blvd,
      Suite 350,
      Los Angeles, CA 90025
      USA

      Map
    • Mountain View, CA

      465 Fairchild Dr,
      Building B,
      Suite 221,
      Mountain View, CA 94043
      USA

      Map
    • New York, NY

      24 West 25th Street,
      5th Floor,
      New York, NY 10010
      USA

      Map
      P: +1-267-759-9000
      F: +1-267-759-8989
    • San Francisco, CA

      222 Kearny Street,
      Suite 308,
      San Francisco, CA 94108
      USA

      Map
    • Washington D.C.

      7901 Jones Branch Drive,
      Suite 400,
      McLean, VA 22102
      USA

      Map
    Learn more
  • Austria

    • Vienna

      Nottendorfer Gasse 11,
      1030 Wien
      Austria 

      Map
    Learn more
  • Bulgaria

    • Sofia

      69 Bulgaria Blvd.,
      Infinity Tower,
      1404 Sofia
      Bulgaria

      Map
      P: +359-700-20-273
    Learn more
  • Czech Republic

    • Prague

      City Tower building,
      Hvezdova 2b,
      Prague 4
      Czech Republic

       

      Map
      P: +420 22 888 28 23
    Learn more
  • Germany

    • Frankfurt am Main

      Franklinstrasse 56, 
      60486 Frankfurt am Main,
      Germany

      Map
      P: +49-69-31019090
    Learn more
  • Hungary

    • Budapest

      Corvin Offices I.
      Futó street 47-53,
      Budapest, H-1082
      Hungary

      Map
      P: +36-1-327-7400
    • Debrecen

      Bethlen Street 3-9,
      Debrecen, 4026
      Hungary

      Map
      P: +36-52-999-485 / 45050
    • Szeged

      Felső Tisza-Part 25,
      Szeged, 6723
      Hungary

      Map
      P: +36-62-808-013
      F: +36-62-550-655
    Learn more
  • Ireland

    • Dublin

      Alexandra House,
      The Sweepstakes,
      Ballsbridge, Dublin 4,
      D04 C7H2
      Ireland

      Map
      P: +353-(0)-1-631-9280
    Learn more
  • Netherlands

    • Delft

      Delftechpark 37j
      2628 XJ Delft
      Netherlands

      Map
      P: +31 20 241 6134
    • Schiphol

      The Base B
      Evert van de Beekstraat 104
      1118CN Schiphol
      Netherlands

      Map
      P: +31 20 241 6134
    Learn more
  • Poland

    • Gdańsk

      Grunwaldzka 472D,
      Olivia Six,
      80-309 Gdańsk
      Poland

      Map
    • Katowice

      Chorzowska Str. 148
      40-101 Katowice
      Poland

      Map
      P: +48-12-222-02-02
    • Krakow

      Opolska Str. 114
      31-323 Kraków
      Poland

      Map
      P: +48-12-222-02-02
    • Warsaw

      Al. Jana Pawła II 23,
      Atrium International,
      00-854 Warszawa
      Poland

      Map
    • Wroclaw

      Ul. Piotra Skargi 1,
      Budynek A,
      50-082 Wrocław
      Poland

      Map
    Learn more
  • Sweden

    • Göteborg

      Lilla Nygatan 2,
      411-09 Göteborg
      Sweden

      Map
      P: +46-31-146-550
    • Stockholm

      Kungsgatan 50,
      111 35, Stockholm
      Sweden

      Map
    Learn more
  • Switzerland

    • Glattpark

      Boulevard Lilienthal 2,
      8152 Glattpark (Opfikon)
      Switzerland

      Map
      P: +41-43-500-21-49
    Learn more
  • United Kingdom

    • London

      114 Middlesex Street,
      London, E1 7HY
      United Kingdom

      Map
      P: +44-203-514-0027
    • Manchester

      Tower 12,
      18-22 Bridge Street,
      Manchester, M3 3BZ
      United Kingdom

      Map
      P: +44-203-514-0027
    Learn more
  • Australia

    • Sydney

      Suite 2.14
      Level 2
      Zhen Building
      33 Lexington Drive
      Bella Vista NSW 2153

      Map
      P: +61-2-8310-8272
    Learn more
  • China

    • Guangzhou

      Unit B01, 23/F,
      Yuexiuxinduhui Building,
      No. 236, 6th Zhongshan Road,
      Yuexiu District, Guangzhou,
      China 510180

      Map
    • 广州

      中国广州市越秀区
      中山六路236号
      越秀新都会大厦中座 23楼 B01室
      邮编510180

      地图
    • Shanghai

      Room A11, 6th Floor, Block C,
      666 East Beijing Road,
      Huangpu District, Shanghai,
      China 200001

      Map
      P: +86-21-53080606 +86-21-53085450
    • 上海

      中国上海市黄浦区
      北京东路 666号
      科技京城C区 6楼 A11室
      邮编200001

      地图
      P: +86-21-53080606 +86-21-53085450
    • Shenzhen

      3/F, Block 5, Vision Shenzhen Business Park,
      9th Gaoxin South Road, 
      Shenzhen Hi-tech Industrial Park,
      Nanshan District, Shenzhen,
      Guangdong, China 518057

      Map
      P: +86-755-36899008
    • 深圳

      中国广东省深圳市
      南山区高新南九道
      威新软件园5号楼3楼
      邮编518057

      地图
      P: +86-755-36899008
    • Suzhou

      Building 12, Creative Industrial Park,
      328 Xinghu Street,
      Suzhou Industrial Park,
      Suzhou, China 215123

      Map
    • 苏州

      中国江苏省苏州市
      苏州工业园区星湖街328号
      创意产业园内12号楼
      邮编215123

      地图
    Learn more
  • Hong Kong

    • Hong Kong

      198 Wellington Street,
      17F, Central
      Hong Kong

      Map
      P: +852-5808-6018
    Learn more
  • India

    • Hyderabad

      10, 11 & 12th Floors,
      Salarpuria Sattva Knowledge City,
      Plot No. 2, Phase - 1,
      Survey No. 83/1,
      Raidurgam Village,
      Serilingampally Mandal,
      Hyderabad, Telangana - 500081
      India

      Map
      P: +91-40-47979900
    • Pune

      SmartWork Business Center Pvt Ltd,
      Suite 8, Level 1,
      West Wing, Nyati Unitree,
      Samrat Ashok Road,
      Yerwada, Pune - 411006,
      Maharashtra
      India

      Map
      P: +91-20-4913-6025
    Learn more
  • Singapore

    • Singapore

      5 Shenton Way
      UIC Building, #10-01,
      Singapore (068808)

      Map
      P: +65-6911-6888
    Learn more
  • United Arab Emirates

    • Dubai

      EPAM Systems FZ-LLC
      Dubai Branch,
      Building 16, Office 241,
      Dubai Internet City,
      PO Box 501929, Dubai
      United Arab Emirates

      Map
      P: +971-4-568-3569
    Learn more
  • Armenia

    • Yerevan

      15 Khorenatsi Street,
      Elite Plaza Business Center,
      0010 Yerevan
      Armenia

      Map
      P: +374-10-60-00-65
    Learn more
  • Belarus

    • Brest

      6A Masherov Avenue,
      224030 Brest
      Belarus

      Map
      P: +375-162-52-5268
      F: +375-162-50-9888
    • Gomel

      80 Rechitsky Avenue,
      246012 Gomel
      Belarus

      Map
      P: +375-17-389-0100, ext. 54079
      F: +375-232-70-50-31
    • Grodno

      87B Gorkogo Street,
      230005 Grodno
      Belarus

      Map
      P: +375-17-389-0100, ext. 69011
    • Minsk

      1/1 Academician Kuprevich Street,
      Suite 110,
      220141 Minsk
      Belarus

      Map
      P: +375-17-389-0100
      F: +375-17-268-6699
    • Mogilev

      19 Cosmonaut Street,
      Suite 510,
      212009 Mogilev
      Belarus

      Map
      P: +375-17-389-0100, ext. 1001
    • Vitebsk

      11-a Stroitelei Avenue,
      Suite 311,
      210032 Vitebsk
      Belarus

      Map
      P: +375-17-389-0100, ext. 54433
    Learn more
  • Kazakhstan

    • Astana

      8 Auezova Street,
      Office B,
      010000 Astana
      Kazakhstan

      Map
      P: +7-7172-475-970
      F: +7-7172-688-774
    • Karaganda

      58/3 Ermekova Street,
      100009 Karaganda
      Kazakhstan

      Map
      P: +7-7212-93-01-01 +7-7212-93-01-00
    Learn more
  • Russia

    • Moscow

      9th Radialnaya Street,
      Building 2,
      115404 Moscow
      Russia

      Map
      P: +7-495-730-6362
      F: +7-495-730-6361
    • Izhevsk

      150 V. Sivkova Street,
      426000 Izhevsk
      Russia

      Map
      P: +7-3412-271882 +7-3412-271337
    • Nizhny Novgorod

      30 Poltavskaya Street
      603089 Nizhny Novgorod
      Russia

      Map
    • Ryazan

      16 Gogolya Street,
      390035 Ryazan
      Russia

      Map
      P: +7-4912-93-57-33
    • Saint Petersburg

      22/2 Zastavskaya Street,
      MegaPark,
      196084 Saint Petersburg
      Russia

      Map
      P: +7-812-611-1094
      F: +7-812-611-1094
    • Samara

      21 Michurina Street,
      443110 Samara
      Russia

      Map
      P: +7-846-200-0970
    • Saratov

      37 Tankistov Street,
      410019 Saratov
      Russia

      Map
      P: +7-8452-692-981
    • Sergiev Posad

      7 Akademika Silina Street,
      141313 Sergiev Posad
      Russia

      Map
      P: +7-496-547-11-39
      F: +7-496-547-11-39
    • Togliatti

      31E Yubileynaya Street,
      445037 Togliatti
      Russia

      Map
      P: +7-495-730-6360, ext. 47650
    • Tver

      8 Kolodkina Street,
      170002 Tver
      Russia

      Map
      P: +7-4822-630-070 +7-4822-630-071 +7-4822-630-072
      F: +7-4822-630-073
    Learn more
  • Ukraine

    • Dnipro

      17A Volodymyra Monomaha Street,
      49000 Dnipro
      Ukraine

      Map
      P: +380-56-790-5651
    • Kharkiv

      33G 23 Serpnya Street,
      61072 Kharkiv
      Ukraine

      Map
      P: +380-57-728-06-22
    • Kyiv: Registered office

      28 Fizkultury Street,
      03150 Kyiv
      Ukraine

      Map
      P: +380-44-390-5457
      F: +380-44-390-0861
    • Kyiv: Visitors office

      14B Kudryashova Street
      03035 Kyiv, Ukraine

      Map
      P: +380-44-390-5457
      F: +380-44-390-0861
    • Lviv

      45 O.Stepanivny Street,
      79018 Lviv
      Ukraine

      Map
      P: +380-32-242-4642
      F: +380-44-390-5458
    • Vinnytsia

      51 Ovodova Street,
      21000 Vinnytsia
      Ukraine

      Map
      P: +380-432-551-294 +380-432-551-275
      F: +380-432-551-293
    Learn more