The Importance of Human Touch – Why B2B Businesses Must Prioritise Relationship Building in the Digital Age

12th June 2023

The Importance of Human Touch - Why B2B Businesses Must Prioritise Relationship Building in the Digital Age

Times have changed. We now join meetings virtually from home instead of travelling to offices, we converse with chatbots about our queries instead of spending hours on hold, and we hand over repetitive and inundated tasks to automation tools to do them for us. All so we can work more efficiently, but at what cost? In an age where we are leaning more and more towards technology and AI, have we lost the essential human touch needed for business relationships and what can we do to maintain them?


It’s well known that strong customer relationships have always been essential for success in B2B businesses. In order for businesses to gain new customers and maintain existing ones, businesses need to ensure customer satisfaction and continuously deliver value to the customer. Customer relationships are built on foundations of trust, transparency and integrity and when successful can lead to loyalty, retention and referrals, whilst also accelerating revenue and reducing costs. Sounds like a win-win situation right?

Knowledgeable CSMs & CRMs

Customers expect their designated Customer Success Manager or CRM system to know what they are talking about. They look for CSMs that can easily answer their questions and help solve their problems as experts in their field.

Statistics show that 84% of B2B buyers surveyed will likely choose a vendor who clearly understands their business objectives.


Customers want to be heard, they choose businesses that can understand their unique needs, wants and challenges.

According to a study by HubSpot, sales reps who actively listen and understand the buyer’s needs are 21% more likely to close a deal.

Timely Responses

Customers look for speed of light responses, or at least not ones three to five working days later. The quicker they can get help the better.

According to a study by InsideSales, the odds of qualifying a lead in five minutes versus 30 minutes drops 21 times, emphasising the importance of timely responses.


Customers want businesses to be genuine and authentic in their interactions with them, and transparent in their communications. This helps strengthen brand image and personalised and humanised content helps builds trust and create a sense of community.

According to a study by Edelman, 67% of customers say that they buy from brands they share values with.


Technological advancements and the explosion of AI is disrupting and transforming the modern landscape rapidly, making it hard to ignore. The effect of advancing technology has been significant across all businesses, including the B2B companies. New technologies have given rise to innovative tools and platforms, resulting in a massive shift in the way B2B companies engage with their customers. Businesses not exploiting advancements in technology run the risk of being left far behind.

AI and Automation
  • AI tools can analyse large amounts of data and recognise patterns and trends to improve understanding of customer behaviour, preferences, and priorities and help decision making.
  • AI tools can be used to help write informational content based on user behaviours in marketing communications with customers.
  • AI can be used in customer relationship systems using machine learning, natural language processing capability, and predictive analytics features to help increase lead generation capabilities.
  • AI can help automate repetitive tasks and streamline processes to improve efficiency and productivity, saving businesses time and money.
Cloud Computing
  • The cloud allows businesses to store data that can be accessed anywhere in the world making accessing data quick, easy and convenient.
  • Cloud services include encryption and authentication meaning customers can rely on businesses to keep their data safe.
Digital Communication Tools
  • Video conferencing allows businesses to communicate with customers and prospects from anywhere in the world, making it time and cost effective and convenient.
  • Self-service chatbots allow customers to get real time information and advice increasing efficiency.
  • The COVID-19 pandemic also helped to shift B2B communication online, with video and live chat usage increasing by 41% and 23% respectively since the pandemic.
  • Indeed, McKinsey reported 3/4s of buyers and sellers now prefer remote human engagement and digital self-serve options over in-person interactions.
CRM Systems
  • CRM systems provide businesses with a central database of customer information, including contact details, purchasing history, and interactions and help create a better understanding of the customer lifecycle journey.
  • CRM systems can automate and streamline the sales process by providing sales teams with a clear overview of the sales pipeline, allowing them to prioritise and focus on high-value opportunities.
ChatGPT and Natural Language Processing Tools

If you haven’t heard about it, ChatGPT was THE most ground-breaking development in technology in 2022, which was then followed by many other natural language processing AI tools. In essence, ChatGPT is designed to generate human-like responses to natural language input and learn from its encounters, making it a powerful tool for communication and interaction.

ChatGPT and other similar generative AI tools have the potential to revolutionise customer service, sales and marketing. Customer queries can be answered and tailored to in seconds through responses generated automatically from a simple prompt. Sales and marketing activities can also be enhanced though ChatGPT’s ability to write customised content catered to your specific needs – whether you need an email drafted or a blog written quickly. Just a short brief is all you need for the generative AI to formulate a personalised article. ChatGPT can also be used for other business activities such as data analysis and language translation, helping your business boost its efficiency and productivity.


All this technology seems to have everything covered right? Although shifting to technology and AI to help manage customer relationships can create a more efficient, productive and cost-effective way of working, the question needs to be asked – what is the limit to our reliance on technology in relationship management?

Businesses collect large amounts of data on their customers, in order to gain insights and decipher trends and patterns. However, with this plethora of access to sensitive customer data, there are a number of concerns businesses must be aware of.

1. Ensuring Data Privacy

Maintaing data privacy is primary. Businesses must ensure that they maintain structured privacy rules while gathering, storing, and processing business data. An overreliance on technology can leave businesses more vulnerable to cybercrime. Cyber-attacks can lead to breaches of data, which can in turn lead to financial losses or damages to a business’ reputation. If customers do not believe their data is safe with businesses, this can harm the relationship between businesses.

2. Risk of Errors and Biases

AI tools are often trained on large amounts of data and use this data to answer questions, explain topics and complete tasks such as writing customer facing emails or producing brand content like blogs. Any biases in the data can be reflected in the AI’s output, including biases around sexual orientation, gender, identity, ethnicity, and religion. Although the data can be quality checked for bias by humans before being given to the AI, with large datasets these biases can be still overlooked. We can’t forget that there is still a long way to go before AI is free from bias and sharing a piece of content unknowingly containing biases can have significant damage to business reputation if we become too reliant on the abilities of AI.

AI tools can often have errors as well, developers have warned that AI can produce completely inaccurate facts or believe made up answers. These are called AI hallucinations, when AI creates answers or explanations that do not match any data that they have been trained on.

Moreover, in ChatGPT’s instance, the programme is only knowledgable of data up until the end of the year 2021, painting an inaccurate representation of real-time facts.

A prime example of hallucinations is when the Guardian reported that AI chatbots had made up articles that didn’t exist and had never been published. No customer would benefit from a chatbot that simply makes up an incorrect answer to a query, or shows elements or bias, in the same way that we wouldn’t want this from a human.

Although AI chatbots, such as ChatGPT can allow users to find solutions or answers at high speeds at any time they are needed, these errors can lead to customers to mislead or provide information that contains harmful information. Developers of AI still have a long way to go before issues such as biases and hallucinations are fixed and relying on Chatbots at this stage of their advancements may damage business relationship with customers who are looking for quick and accurate communication. Do you think it’s worth the risk?

3. Risk of Social Distance

An over reliance on technology can also lead to a barrier in communication for customers. Whilst AI can quickly create content and use data analysis to spot trends and patterns to understand individual customers, it lacks true personalisation and human connection. AI tools are unable to fully understand human emotion preventing them from resonating with customers the same way a human can. As many customers look to be understood by businesses, relying on AI communications may leave customers unsatisfied. Customers also look for content for that is authentic, original and personally engaging, however, many have argued that AI technology is just rewriting content that has been written before.

Brand content needs to maintain a relatable and trusting tone of voice in order to continue to build a strong relationship with customers. AI also solely relies on text-based communication, which could lead to an impersonal feel to the relationship.

Many customers want to be able to discuss their needs and want, which is much more difficult to convey over text and can create a sense of distance between businesses and their customers. At the end of the day, modern customers are looking for someone that can relate to their situation and that is something a chatbot just cannot do. Authentic content that comes from the people of the business will foster a healthier and interactive customer culture, and with the over population of robots it is important you stand out in the busy crowd of AI generated content!

Virtual meetings also have this issue of creating distance between a business and its customers. We all have faced the difficulties of video calls, whether it’s bad internet connection or a mic that just won’t turn on. Truly connecting with people over a video call is hard. The fact is that some deals are easier to make over a pint rather than a phone call. Additionally, in person networking also brought benefits that technology can’t, you will never get the random business opportunities you find at a conference if you are stuck behind a screen. 

Zippia found 68% of individuals prefer networking in person rather than virtually, and 95% of professionals agree that face-to-face connections are key for successful long-term business relationships.


We’ve all been eagerly watching as technology has transformed the business landscape and provided numerous options for businesses to streamline their processes and increase their efficiency. As communication become increasingly digital, it’s important to remember the value of face-to-face interactions and personalised B2B relationships. It takes time and effort to build strong relationships between customers and businesses and it can be difficult to do so solely through digital channels. While technology can help to automate some aspects of the relationship-building process, it can’t replace the personal touch that comes from real human interaction. After all people love people, and in B2B relationships over reliance on a robot just isn’t the same.

  • Chatbots should be used to start a conversation and should lead to a human if necessary.
  • It’s important to meet face to face when you have the chance as it can help build trust, but video conferencing can still make this convenient.
  • CRMs can help provide tools to track client interactions and personalise communication, but mitigating the risks for data breaches or technology blackouts must be considered.
  • AI should be used to create an outline and ideas for content but businesses should personalise it for more authenticity.

Brand Loyalty

If customers feel connected to a business beyond surface level and feel the business promotes transparency and accountability, they will be more likely to remain loyal.

Customer Retention

A good business relationship adds value to the customer, if they can have their problems understood and solved in a timely manner, this may increase the Customer Lifetime Value.

Customer Referrals

If customers are satisfied with both your product and the level of customer service you provide, this could lead to prospects being told about your business. Harvard Business review found that it was estimated that 84% of B2B relations started with a referral.

Great Customer Service

According to research from Hubspot, 93% of customers are likely to make repeat purchases with companies that offer excellent customer service.

Ultimately, for relationship building in the digital age to be a success, businesses need to find the right balance between technology and human interaction. By using technological tools to support and enhance the relationship-building process, businesses can work more efficiently while still maintaining the personal touch that is essential for building strong and lasting client relationships. B2B businesses should seek to utilise technological advancements as a facilitator to relationship management not as a replacement, to ensure they foster a collaborative, personal, yet streamlined relationship with customers.

This article was published by:

Article author:

Charley Fryers

Charley Fryers is a Marketing Assistant at REG Technologies who seeks to drive REG’s digital presence and serve customers in an innovative way.

020 3946 2880

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