Customer empathy

Building empathy-centric customer service

With the coronavirus pandemic dialling up the levels of anxiety and stress for customers, it has never been more important for your organisation to show empathy in every customer interaction. 

But how challenging is it to deliver on the empathy expectations of the modern customer, and are brands meeting the challenge?

This content hub guides you through the insights, research, advice and interviews that can help you understand the critical role that empathy plays in the customer experience, and learn how to build empathy-centric customer service. 

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Service and CX professionals get it: 89% believe it is 'very important' that there is empathy during their organisation’s customer service interactions. But do executive leaders get it too? 

MyCustomer and Genesys commissioned a study of 200+ customer service and CX leaders in July 2021, to establish their opinions on customer empathy. Nearly all understand the importance of building empathy-centric customer service. The overwhelming majority of respondents (85%) believe that their organisation has got better at delivering empathy in service interactions in the past 2+ years. 

However, when we asked customers their view of how well their emotions were acknowledged and understood in our 2020 consumer survey on empathy, well over a third (40%) said ‘not well’ or ‘not at all’.

MyCustomer and Genesys conducted a survey of 500 consumers who had recently contacted customer service while in a heightened emotional state, to gauge how well organisations are understanding and responding to their customers' emotional needs.

Key findings

  • 70% of those surveyed felt it was important that empathy was demonstrated by customer service staff during an interaction with a brand, yet 39% felt their emotional state was not understood during those interactions. 
  • 73% of those surveyed felt more positive about a brand when their emotions were well understood and acknowledged.
  • A direct correlation was found between customer satisfaction with a brand and a brand's successful acknowledgement of customer emotions.

Download the full report here.

Customer empathy: The long read

A 2020 article ‘How does empathy influence customer service?’ highlighted that there has been a significant increase in the number of businesses talking about becoming ‘empathetic’ over recent years, sharing some of the positive reasons why this trend has emerged. However, in the same article it was also briefly mentioned that some of those businesses are attempting to use empathy in "a cynical attempt to find ways to manipulate customer behaviour and sell more ‘stuff’".

Darker aspects of corporate empathy are emerging - and how the unscrupulous hope to use it to further their own commercial interests at the expense of their customers and society at large is having wider repurcussions on those that are authentically building empathy-centric businesses. 

How are organisations improving empathy in customer service?

Featured authors

Neil Davey
Editor, MyCustomer
Peter Dorrington
Founder, XMplify
Natalie Petouhoff
Dr. Natalie Petouhoff
CX lead, Genesys
Alex Allwood
Principal Consultant, All Work Together
John Aves
Chief Executive, CP2 Experience