"If you remember one thing I say today, let it be this" people talk to people, not brands." Alex Hunter, points out a key principle of how companies (the people who work for them, actually) should think about their customers.
The brain is hard-wired to focus it's primary resources on relationships with other people. Assuming basic survival needs are met--food, shelter, personal safety--the brain spends the majority of its cognitive resources on interactions with other people. It is a simple neurological fact that an interaction with another person is the most engaging experience that a human being can have (with the possible exception of a cobra wrapping itself around your leg). As such, engaging with another person will activate far more cognitive and emotional processing areas of your brain than engaging with an object, even if the object embodies a human interaction, such as an email.
Alex told a story of how a friend of his tweeted about his upcoming visit to the Four Seasons Hotel in Palo Alto, California (let's call this friend "Fiona"). Fiona got a tweet reply, and then a hand-written note, and several tweets back and forth ensued creating a real dialogue with the brand, as represented by an actual human. What made the experience truly memorable in Fiona's mind was that the woman behind the tweets, an employee of Four Seasons (let's call her "Amy"), introduced herself to Fiona and thanked her for staying at the hotel.
There are two ways to express this in the Four Season's next marketing team meeting:
"Fiona is now a loyal customer of the Four Seasons because she had a positive experience with the brand and outstanding customer service was delivered in real time by the social media team and coordinated with the onsite staff."
Or..."Fiona is now a loyal customer of the Four Seasons because Amy responded to her tweets in real time and took the effort to personally introduce herself and thank her for her stay."
Humans engage the brain more than any other object. Make human interactions the center of your brand strategy.