The Power of Empathy in Customer Experience Journeys

The Power of Empathy in Customer Experience Journeys

‘Communication is key’ – advice often serves to maintain the essence of human interpersonal relationships. While this certainly holds in personal life, it also holds to ensure positive and long-lasting relationships in the professional sphere. Even though effective communication is crucial to carrying out customer service/experience duties, it is not enough to seal the deal. A touch of human empathy in CX is essential to make sure the customer feels valued and understood throughout all touchpoints.

Empathy is the Key to a Customer’s State of Mind

Customers are ultimately humans, just like us. They crave to be heard and understood. They want their issues to be addressed at the right time by the right people. Beyond the product or service, itself, it’s how the brand’s representative, in this case, a customer service or contact center agent, treats the customer that truly builds value. For a customer who is facing an issue, or has doubts/queries, being on the same page with the agent is one of the most satisfactory feelings on the path to seeking solutions.

Imagine a customer fuming over a faulty product or a disappointing service. A customer service agent using an approach rooted in empathy in CX acknowledges their frustration, patiently listens to their concerns, and then offers tailored solutions to directly address the problem. This approach is far more likely to build trust and loyalty than one where the agent passive-aggressively pushes multiple-choice solutions, and simply tries to rush the conversation.

How Does Empathy Help in the Long Run?

Long-lasting relationships, whether between colleagues, businesses, or a company and its customers, aren’t built in a day. Forging the feeling of trust and loyalty takes time and more importantly patience.

But is it worth the effort? According to the author of Marketing Metrics, Patrick Hull, businesses have a 60% to 70% chance of selling to an existing customer, while for a new prospect, it’s just 5% to 20%.

If the above rings true, it’s safe to conclude that customer acquisition is far more difficult than customer retention. Customer acquisition is a series of methodical steps and the guide to customer retention may or may not consist of some of these steps. It mostly differs from brand to brand. However, one key ingredient that is commonly used by all brands to retain their customers is –  ‘Empathy’.

Empathy is such a primal feeling. For most, it comes naturally but there is a good percentage of people who knowingly and almost favorably resort to a mechanical approach for dealing with customers. But not all CX journeys are about efficiency; some of them are about building a sense of connection and reliability.

According to Harvard Business School professor Gerald Zaltman, 95 % of our purchase decision-making takes place in the subconscious mind. The subconscious mind is a complex place. It doesn’t prioritize factual details or trivial information. Instead, memories or connections that trigger strong emotions tend to leave a lasting impression and influence our subconscious decisions.

So even if an agent was successful in solving the customer’s issue in a short span but wasn’t polite and empathetic towards the customer’s problem, there is a very high chance the customer might forget the promptness of the solution and resort to better deals from a competitor’s brand in the future.

Empathy Guides Brands in Meeting Customer Demands

Empathy goes beyond polite but impersonal responses like “Yes,” “No,” and “I understand.” It involves actively engaging with customers to understand their perspective on the product or service in its entirety. This practice allows companies to not only grasp current customer needs but also identify potential future trends. By anticipating these trends, companies can innovate and stay ahead of the competition, ultimately delighting both existing and new customers.

Learn about the importance of understanding the customer hierarchy of needs.

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