Human connection in digital era: Crucial element in customer experience

Sandeep Trehan, co-founder and president, THINK Gas, recently spoke to Dataquest about the evolving customer experience domain

Supriya Rai
New Update
Sandeep Trehan

In the rapidly evolving digital era, characterized by technological advancements and automated interactions, the importance of human connection remains a pivotal element in shaping the customer experience. Despite the prevalence of cutting-edge technologies and artificial intelligence, customers still seek and value authentic, human interactions. This emphasis on human connection becomes a crucial aspect in fostering trust, understanding customer needs, and creating a meaningful rapport. In essence, as companies leverage technology to streamline processes, the intrinsic value of genuine human connections remains paramount, serving as a linchpin for building lasting relationships and ensuring a positive and memorable customer experience in the digital landscape. Along the same lines, Sandeep Trehan, co-founder and president, THINK Gas, recently spoke to Dataquest.


DQ: How has the digital revolution influenced and elevated customer expectations? What are some of the things you have been witnessing across verticals?

Sandeep Trehan: The pace of change in the world is rapid, especially evident when we observe individuals equipped with computers from a very young age. Their expectations differ significantly from those of past generations. Each generation navigates the world's and society's events, shaping their unique perspective and ecosystem for living. Consequently, their expectations evolve based on diverse experiences across various segments. It becomes crucial for individuals to continually enrich their knowledge base, receiving continuous coaching on technologies and equipment before incorporating them into their daily lives.

Notably, a fundamental shift is noticeable in both organizational and customer ecosystems. Organizations have distinct roles within their systems, forming an ecosystem to develop and offer products to the market. Similarly, customers create their ecosystem, gathering data about companies, products, success stories, and integrating them to address their needs. Recognizing the existence of these two ecosystems is vital, emphasizing the need to strike a balance between the company's desire to sell products and the customer's expectations of receiving quality services or products.


The core function revolves around how products are sold, and companies must define their strategies early on. Whether focused solely on selling products or establishing a strategic relationship, building long-term bonds with customers becomes crucial. The modern marketing landscape introduces the fifth P — what a company promises. Beyond product specifications, functionality, and benefits, attention is drawn to how companies handle complaints, educate customers, and fulfill promises, shaping the customer's perception of value.

While the traditional four Ps (product, place, price, promotion) played a significant role in marketing, the new emphasis is on the fifth P: promises. This shift is particularly evident in the realm of technology and digitalization. Education, once paramount, is no longer a prerequisite. Operating apps, navigating computers, and following instructions have become the new educational norms for a digitally driven world.

However, challenges arise, as seen in personal experiences like dealing with a missing app on a TV. Adequate coaching and support become essential for customers to navigate and resolve issues efficiently. The role of the salesman extends beyond traditional selling tactics, requiring an in-depth understanding of the product's uniqueness and its potential benefits to the customer's well-being. It's not just about selling a product; it's about selling a different and improved experience that enhances the customer's quality of life and status.


In conclusion, the changing dynamics of the market underscore the need for effective and nuanced selling strategies. Today, it's not just about the product's features; it's about delivering on promises and ensuring that the customer perceives tangible improvements in their life. This shift in focus requires continuous coaching, particularly in the realm of technology, to enable customers to adapt seamlessly to the evolving digital landscape.

DQ: What are some of the most significant barriers or roadblocks organizations encounter while delivering enhanced customer experiences? How can organisations overcome these challenges? 

Sandeep Trehan: It is absolutely essential for organizations to establish a robust infrastructure that directly caters to the needs of the customer. While the concept of organizing various verticals to attend to customer inquiries seems straightforward, the critical factor lies in the mindset. The way we perceive and value our customers, and how we seamlessly integrate them into our organizational ecosystem, holds paramount importance. Every employee within our company, irrespective of their role, must align their activities with the overarching purpose of serving the customer. If any organizational activity deviates from addressing customer needs, it warrants careful consideration. It's not just about the speed of delivering products; the swiftness in providing services, managing complaints, and overall customer interaction has gained immense significance. Recognizing that customers have their own evolving ecosystems, it becomes imperative to meet their requirements rapidly and effectively. Failure to do so may result in shifts in their needs and preferences, potentially leading them to seek additional features not initially present in your product line. Thus, a swift and uncomplicated approach is key—educating and coaching the customer, followed by immediate product delivery tailored to their specific application. Overcoming challenges in this customer-centric paradigm requires organizations to adopt a proactive mindset, swiftly addressing barriers to build an organizational culture deeply focused on customer needs.


DQ: How does the integration of data analytics and AI-driven insights contribute to improving CX? What potential benefits and opportunities do you see in this area? 

Sandeep Trehan: Data holds immense importance as it offers insights into product usage and customer behavior. Organizations collect data from customers regarding how they handle products in their daily lives and the benefits they derive. Simultaneously, customers gather information about the supplying company, the technology employed, and its potential longevity. The concept of lifetime guarantees in the market raises questions for customers—will the company outlast the product, or will the product endure beyond the company's lifespan? In a landscape marked by changing ownerships, mergers and acquisitions, and the rise of startups, uncertainties abound. The lifespan of startups, the frequency of ownership changes, and the adopted value systems in establishing long-term customer relationships remain uncertain. Establishing a parallel with personal relationships, committing to a product is akin to a marriage with uncertainties about its duration. As product lifespans extend to 10, 15, or even 20 years, customers seek assurance from companies regarding the maintenance of their relationship amid technological advancements and potential obsolescence. Communicating this information to customers becomes crucial, addressing concerns and fostering a sense of security in the evolving landscape of product longevity and technological progress.

DQ: How do you balance the need for personalization and customization with data privacy concerns and regulations? What strategies must be implemented to ensure a secure and trustworthy digital customer experience? 


Sandeep Trehan: Data privacy is a crucial and prevalent topic of discussion today. Ensuring the protection of data is paramount, considering that customers entrust information to unknown entities and companies in good faith. The handling of data should be executed with utmost care, confined to the specific purpose for which it was collected. The implementation of laws to safeguard data is a welcome step, and customers should leverage the benefits it offers. Such legislation is poised to enhance sales through digital platforms, instilling greater trust in organizations as customers share more information about their product experiences. This, however, requires organizations to overcome certain challenges in establishing robust systems. Nevertheless, prioritizing data privacy is as essential as the daily operations and product development within a company. Embracing government initiatives in this regard is not only a positive move but also holds the potential to revolutionize product sales and bring a new dimension to marketing strategies.

DQ: Looking ahead, what emerging trends or technologies do you believe will have the greatest impact on the future of digital customer experience? How can organisations stay ahead of these trends and continuously improve their CX strategy?

Sandeep Trehan: In my personal perspective, maintaining human connection remains a focal point. While technology can expedite processes and enhance efficiency, the human touch in marketing retains its paramount significance. In our operational domain, which involves tasks such as transporting CNG, providing household connections, and constructing pipelines, we leverage various technologies like GIS, apps, SCADA, SAP, to streamline and expedite processes. However, the human element is intrinsic, as it's the interactions and relationships that sustain these systems. Regardless of having advanced technologies, the key lies in using them effectively to fulfill promises. Having smart or expensive watches is analogous; their value is only realized if punctuality is maintained. It's essential to be honest with customers, comprehending their needs and delivering solutions intelligently, creating a well-being ecosystem using any available technology or method. Ultimately, the customer's experience and satisfaction hinge on how comfortable and happy they feel about the product. It's not the technology itself but how it is applied that determines customer happiness. Companies that prioritize measuring and enhancing customer well-being will likely surpass those incorporating numerous technologies but failing to deliver on promises. This focus on customer satisfaction is poised to be a critical differentiator in the market.