Empathy has never been a more important topic.
Societally, in recent years, many questions have been raised about why and how we can better empathise with one another in an increasingly digital realm.
The global coronavirus pandemic has placed a renewed emphasis on the role of empathy in business and prompted questions about whether organisations can be truly empathetic towards their customers.
Peter Dorrington, the co-founder of Anthrolytics, a company that specialises in helping businesses to deliver ‘digital empathy’, believes that the importance of being an empathy-driven business is set to supersede that of being a customer experience-driven business.
“Over the last decade or so, customer experience (CX) has been the chosen battleground of business, especially as online purchasing and increased global competition made it more difficult to compete in areas like product features or price.
“But to remain a competitive advantage for the future, CX needs to do more than listen to customers or design efficient journeys. It needs to add significant extra value. One way to do this is to understand and meet the emotional needs of your customers, as well as their rational and functional ones.
“Being an ‘empathetic business’ may well be the next competitive battleground. However, it requires more than just clever technology or process optimisation, it also requires a transformation in the way that businesses motivate and enable their employees.”
Indeed, in the recent MyCustomer research study Empathy in customer service, it was found that the empathetic responses of customer service and contact centre employees has a direct impact on brand perception, and whether or not a customer has a positive experience with the brand.
Despite this, there is a clear empathy gap existing in many brands. 70% of consumers believe empathy is vital in a customer service interaction and yet 39% feel their emotional state is not well understood by brands in those interactions.
With this in mind, MyCustomer and IP Integration have pulled together a new insight report to assess the importance of customer empathy, analysing the link between employee experience (EX), customer experience and customer empathy and why organisations may need to reassess their EX programmes.
This latter point has become even more crucial in recent times, thanks to the ‘dash to digital’ caused by the coronavirus pandemic and the large droves that have been working remotely and from home for over 18 months.
As Craig Farley, head of consulting at IP Integration aptly explains in the report:
“It is imperative that brands are able to understand the importance of being empathetic with customers at the right time, on the right channels, whilst ensuring the ‘human touch’ remains.
“With so many of our interactions with companies being made ‘transactional’ – through self-serve and automation or simplified by the use of improved technologies for customer service advisors when customers do speak to someone, the ‘easier’ processes are increasingly being removed from the field of play.
“That makes it harder for companies to differentiate on service except for the areas that are left – the bigger/more complex/more important/higher value processes and contact types. Here, the stakes are higher and it’s harder to automate.
“Things will go wrong sometimes and when this happens the leading CX companies are the ones that are proactive, take ownership, and empower their employees with the tools and processes to put things right. Happy employees = happy customers – it’s an old cliché but there’s a plethora of research to back this up.”
As the insight report argues, this equation is increasingly becoming ‘happy employees = empathetic employees = happy customers’.
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