Customer empathy appears everywhere these days, not just as a nice-sounding turn of phrase but as a leading component in creating and delivering a fantastic customer experience.
You have a recipe for success if you can draw a customer in by making a product that truly benefits them in their daily lives.
A product, service, or brand must be developed with the customer in mind. The most fundamental method to make sure you give value is to be able to empathize with your target audience, view the world through their eyes, and comprehend how your business fits into their life.
What Is Customer Empathy?
Knowing and prioritizing the wants and emotions of customers is called customer empathy. Customer empathy best practices are all about comprehending their needs, worries, and perceptions while putting yourself in their shoes to resonate with their thought process.
The customer experience has evolved so drastically that the future is impossible to anticipate. CX has always been about fostering relationships, attending to customer demands, and making things simpler. It is, therefore, about establishing human connections.
When you listen to your customers, consider their feedback, and try to alleviate their problems, you show that your business is ready and able to support them in practical ways.
Understanding the underlying wants and emotions of customers is known as customer empathy. Putting things in their perspective goes beyond recognizing and meeting their tactical needs and further contextualizes the situation.
Leaders use customer empathy to design solutions that not only assist customers in completing a task but also integrate with their complete workflow and lifestyle.
Why is Customer Empathy Important in Customer Experience?
Customer empathy is crucial to CX since it helps the business develop a stronger bond with its customers. Thus, you can give better products and experiences when you are close to your consumers and genuinely care about meeting their expectations. This will eventually lead to higher revenue and lower churn.
Businesses try to grasp what is essential to customers, but showing empathy enables them to comprehend the circumstance's implications. What is lost if something takes someone longer to complete? What happens if a task can not be achieved?
Putting yourself in the customer's position requires empathy. It demonstrates how much the CX of your brand affects consumers' daily activities and work. Additionally, it makes you more emotionally aware of them and adds more meaning to our efforts to better their lives.
To see what succeeds, you may generate multiple new features and functionalities. But businesses succeed more often if they understand their customers and what matters to them.
Moreover, you're increasing your efficiency and enhancing revenue and growth when you can consistently produce more hits than misses. Instead of only responding to requests, you can start anticipating needs.
You can break out of our bubble by being empathetic and listening to our customers. Ideas from customers are frequently rejected because businesses don't come up with them themselves. However, when empathy is included, consumer feedback is given greater weight, and you are more likely to find unexpected and surprising feedback.
Customers aren't attempting to boost your revenue or KPIs. Their suggestions are legitimate because they yearn for a better experience.
5-Step Plan to Develop Customer Empathy
You must think of your customers as real people to be empathic.
This entails being aware of who they are, where they are from, why they are needed to complete a task, any potential barriers they may face, and how it might make them feel.
1. Invest Your Time Into the Customer-Facing Workforce
Your customer service team knows what customers require more than anybody else at your company. Use their knowledge to gain insight into the customer's perspective and point of view since they spend their entire day resolving customer issues.
Moreover, have employees from the field share their customer stories – situations where customers are confused or frustrated.
Spend a few hours each month listening to support calls. This will give you a better understanding of how your product or service functions in actual use. By eliminating the intermediaries, you can "feel the agony" of customers with problems and have a deeper understanding of what usually causes them to repel.
Once you listen to support calls, incorporate the following measures to improve CX with the customer service agents:
Use compassionate language when providing customer support, such as:
- "I realize how annoying it may be when this happens."
- "I'm extremely sorry you are having this issue."
This will show your customers that you have a lot of empathy and are sensitive to their needs.
- These statements are most effective when accompanied by assurances that you'll strive relentlessly to find a quick solution. But be careful not to overdo it; genuine empathy that doesn't come across as forced works best.
- It will help your customer feel heard if you replicate the same words they have used. Support them with positive responses and acknowledge their point of view to elicit further details.
- Ask important follow-up questions to your customer regarding what they've already tried. Never presume they didn't try to fix the problem before contacting you.
- Remember whatever the customer says. It shows the customer service team's wish to pay attention the first time. To show that your support staff is listening, ask them to take notes on what is said.
Receiving summaries and statistics from support is an excellent method to draw attention to issue areas throughout the business, even if you aren't actively engaging.
2. Interact With Your Customers
Real interactions with customers are essential. Spend time interacting with customers rather than just reading their words on a screen. Even in informal interactions, we can learn more details that help us understand how upset, irritated, furious, or conflicted they are.
You can employ the following actions to improve and leverage customer interactions:
- Invite key participants to witness contextual observations and consumer interviews. All organizational units should have the chance to receive direct customer input and experience.
- Aim for direct, face-to-face exposure whenever possible during interviews or usability sessions.
- Obtain session recordings as soon as possible if face-to-face exposure is not possible.
If these discussions can take place face-to-face, you will have the added advantage of being able to interpret the customer's body language and facial reactions. These subliminal hints cannot be discerned from an email or a forum topic.
3. Get Real-World Experience
Remember that going shopping in stores is still a habit that is becoming more prevalent. Up from 36% in 2014, 44% of consumers indicated they buy in stores daily or weekly for products other than food. It may be quite eye-opening to visit customers and observe how they use your product in their "natural" surroundings.
Shop with a customer. Listening to customers is the best way to improve customer experience (23%). So, only pay attention and ask inquiries. You can discover a lot.
This also lets you learn what your colleagues think of the product and its effects. This positions the CX into the broader context of the customers' lives and workflows.
Aside from this, there is no quicker method to develop consumer empathy if you are not attempting to utilize your product. If you have issues or become stuck as you know how it functions and what it should do, consider the customer's perspective.
4. Leverage CX Insights
"Getting brands to gain a share of mind is a challenge. People want to feel connected to brands. Customer data is key to understanding who you are and what they need," says Norie Verwijst, Associate Category Manager-Frozen, Topco Associates LLC, in this Clootrack CX report.
Many customer contacts happen face-to-face in the physical world, which makes consuming and acting on data far more natural than in digital environments.
However, in the digital age, consumer contacts generate abundant data through voice or digital interactions, AI and behavioral data, or CRM data from integrated systems.
Clootrack's 102-CX Experts report shows that 12.4% of all CX issues are caused by not utilizing deep customer insights. But you need the ability to use the data to deliver empathic experiences.
Here's where the data can show important tendencies that can help prospective empathizers. Tools for CX analytics can shed light on the routes customers take when utilizing your product.
Spotting certain CX journey and experience patterns can uncover why customers get frustrated, or certain features are not getting discovered and used as often as you'd predicted.
5. Create and Share User Personas and Journey Maps
"Everything about your customer experiences starts with a good foundation of insights. Hire somebody to segment and figure out how the brand fits within a persona and into a customer journey map. We need to have a lot of empathy for the customer. Not everybody is close to the customer. The consumer insights need to create that empathy. We can do storytelling and analyze personas to develop empathy," says Jorge Calvachi, Director of Insights, La-Z-Boy Incorporated, in Clootrack's customer experience report.
User personas are more than simply the cardboard cutouts of men and women on a whiteboard; they may develop and grow due to your discussions with consumers.
- Real people are your customers. Create personas for people that have more to them than just a career or lifestyle choice.
- Moreover, map your customer journey. Journey maps are fantastic tools for understanding your customers' experiences deeper.
- After that, make personas and journey maps available to all employees by posting them in conference rooms and work locations.
- Then, exhort everyone to use them in discussions, meetings, and daily work.
The 3 Focus Areas of Customer Empathy
Many businesses know that to exercise their customer empathy capabilities, they first need to develop them. Using the knowledge gathered from the phases mentioned above, they could choose to concentrate on the following three areas.
Many businesses make the same error: they focus on an activity, such as a commercial designed to emotionally connect with viewers and "display customer centricity," without first considering how to instill customer-centric principles throughout the organization.
Every marketing executive should ask themselves this fundamental query: Do we truly understand our customers' needs and pain points?
This kind of culture must be intentionally created; it does not just happen. For example:
- Every meeting can include a time for participants to ask questions and hear from actual customers.
- Discuss the main points that you learned.
- Describe what you're doing and what you could improve on.
- Encourage a mentality where each team member sees themselves as more than just an employee but as a voice for the customers' viewpoint.
An organization can engage in a persistent effort to ensure that the quality of every customer interaction is viewed from the customer's point of view with the correct culture, moving beyond simple tactical considerations.
A business should investigate ways to incorporate consumer empathy into repeatable procedures and incorporate it into its culture. These techniques aid in incorporating customer empathy into routine business processes.
This encourages everyone to consider the question, "What do their customers think at all times?"
- Make customer empathy a priority before attempting to incorporate anything into an existing process or create a new one.
- Set yearly objectives and benchmarks.
- Plan "empathy hours" weekly or monthly with internal stakeholders to see how customers interact with the business online.
- Create empathy maps as opposed to mere personas.
- Bring consumer feedback to monthly all-hands meetings and give it a top priority in companywide marketing updates.
- Before reaching a final decision, inquire about the client's viewpoint with the decision-makers.
- Share customer insights via various communication channels.
Even when the correct culture and procedures are in place, brands must check whether the results are resonant goods, services, and marketing messages.
Ask yourself: "What do you think about this and why?" Or, better yet, ask a real consumer.
This entails creating a constant feedback loop that involves current and prospective customers. To demonstrate empathy for customers, one must always be aware of their issues, motives, and sensitivities.
Customer Empathy Examples
Customer empathy is a wonderful thing if done the right way!
Example #1 - When Delta Airlines Had Pizzas on its Mind
Delta Airlines customers were stranded in Georgia, Tennessee, Louisiana, Ohio, and Kentucky due to bad weather conditions. While the norm would be to wait it out, Delta had pizzas on its mind - for real!
The airlines ordered hundreds of pizzas and distributed them among the troubled passengers to ease things for them. This brilliant gesture falls under customer empathy - where the brand could acknowledge and act immediately based on real-time customer emotions.
Example #2 - When DOVE Spread Love for Self-Love
In a classic video campaign, DOVE connected beautifully with its customers and audience by tapping on the issue of lack of self-esteem. It touched base with a blissful reality many people generally miss out on.
The Key Takeaways
Remember that these actions must be a part of a continuous effort to develop and update your business's understanding of the customer.
Employees are exposed to various customer interactions through routine empathy exercises, which help them see the big picture and spot important trends and patterns.
Identifying customer empathy as a value to support is a good place to start. However, tenacity and deliberate effort are required to incorporate empathy into everything the business does to strengthen customer relationships.
Businesses can ensure that customer empathy is not merely aspirational but also the basis of successful brand building by focusing on the culture, procedure, and validation.