The Critical Role of Empathy in a CX-Driven World
To say the impact of the pandemic has been challenging for businesses would be an understatement. One quote from last year comes to mind, Janey Whiteside, CMO of Walmart, stated that the brand had undergone “five years of digital transformation in five weeks”, and Walmart was not alone.
While customers needed to quickly adapt their day-to-day habits, brands had to rethink every customer touchpoint and rebuild their customer journeys at record speed. Now, more than a year into such massive business disruptions, the customer experience gap — the distance between what customers expect from their experiences and what brands can deliver — remains a challenge for nearly every industry.
A McKinsey survey of executives found that these recent events sped up digital transformation initiatives by as many as four years. Businesses have had to activate new ways to reach customers, manage customer care, and meet new and evolving customer expectations.
The driving force behind these digital transformation efforts? Empathy.
The trend to adopt more empathetic practices began well before the pandemic. However, these recent events aggressively accelerated the need for businesses to show more understanding towards their customers.
With customer experience statistics and trends continually showing the growing business impact of each experience, in today’s CX-driven world, a brand’s ability to take on this challenge hinges on its ability to close the customer experience gap through more empathetic business practices.
The Role of Empathy in Closing the CX Gap
Empathy can’t be faked — it’s a mindset, a culture. It must be a driving force that envelops all activities inside an organization, customer-facing or not.
Even before 2020, the need for empathetic business practices was clear. A Gartner survey of more than 6,000 customers revealed that proactive customer service programs have typically been met with boosts in customer satisfaction and Net Promoter Scores.
But how exactly does a business deliver an “empathetic” experience? It all starts with anticipating what customers need, expect, and prefer at specific moments in their journey. Then, it is about putting the measures in place to deliver on these to ensure frictionless, positive experiences.
As the adoption of digital channels continues to skyrocket, the businesses able to thrive are the ones that understand and are sensitive to their customers’ needs and the struggles they face.
Organizations experiencing a disconnect between their brand and customers are seeing this intensify for several reasons.
For one, the customer journey is becoming more complex. Looking at the growing Gen Z population, this digital-native demographic does not connect with a brand through a single channel during their journeys –they use several. They are visiting a brand’s social media accounts and engaging with brands directly. They are comparing products on online marketplaces like Lazada and Shopee, reading and writing user reviews. Many of their experiences take place on channels beyond the brand’s control.
During the pandemic, more consumers flocked to social media for customer care issues. At the same time, the introduction and growing use of in-app purchasing capabilities on sites like Facebook and Instagram helped ensure the full customer journey could now happen all in one place. Again, on platforms not directly controlled or owned by the brand.
This further forces brands to devise new strategies to identify, acquire and retain customers outside of their owned digital properties, all while ensuring seamless marketing, commerce, and care experiences to prevent the CX gap from growing wider.
Instilling Empathy Throughout The Organization
To put empathy at the core of your customer experience, you must have someone who stands for it internally — to determine what’s best for the customer and ensure their voice is being heard when decisions are made at the highest level.
Adding a chief experience officer (CXO) to the C-suite, for example, can ensure brands can look beyond simple dollars and cents to focus on the entire customer journey. Most importantly, to ensure each touchpoint is tailored to customers’ needs.
Another key step toward building an empathetic brand: Making sure every employee understands just how their work impacts the CX. In a truly empathetic brand, each employee is a key stakeholder in how each customer experiences a brand and must be empowered to gain these insights and truly understand how they can elevate these experiences.
Whether it’s to help them pinpoint exactly what customers need and expect at key moments in their journeys, know exactly what social posts need their immediate attention, or become more efficient by leveraging the power of automation and AI, having a strong technical infrastructure to support employees is now table stakes for any customer-centric, empathetic brand.
For a brand to be truly empathetic, it must have empathy at its core and use this to drive company culture and the organization’s customer experience strategy. A brand that can fully adopt empathetic practices at every level is more likely to build loyalty among its customer base, closing the CX gap and delivering revenue gains for the years to come.
In Emplifi’s next article on Tech Wire Asia, we’ll take a deeper look into what a successful customer experience journey can look like. In the meantime, if you want to know more about Emplifi, you can visit the websit here at Emplifi.io
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