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5 Ways to Craft Easy Experiences Using Empathy 

Creating an unforgettable customer experience (CX) has long been the goal for many organizations. But leaders striving to deliver game-changing CX are beginning with the wrong endgame in mind. What brands should be aiming for is CX that’s smooth enough to forget.

When 64% of customers value speed as much as price, you don’t need to overcomplicate the objective. To today’s consumers, quick and easy CX beats a “never before seen” one. According to Gartner, “Wowing customers requires high investment and relies on subjective tastes … customer loyalty depends on how easy you make it for your customers to do business with you.”

This simple dictum is a tall order. Being successful at it requires a nuanced understanding of your customers—from what goals they’re pursuing to what roadblocks are preventing them from getting there.

How can you achieve CX that’s so easy it’s forgettable? Lead with empathy.

Here are five ways to start applying empathy toward crafting effortless customer experiences:

1. Understand the current customer experience before you reimagine it

In your rush to reimagine CX, don’t lose sight of the goal: serving the individual needs of each individual customer. Improve your CX most effectively by first knowing your customers’ lived experiences inside and out.

It may be surprising, then, that according to Forrester, 38% of senior executives say they can’t put themselves in their customers’ shoes. If you don’t understand the existing customer experience, how can you know what it does best and where it needs work?

Consider the following inputs as you assess your current CX:

  • Customer: Measure metrics that matter to your customers, not just your company. Seek out Customer Performance Indicators by asking what jobs customers most want to get done, the benefits they expect to gain and what obstacles are preventing them from completing those jobs.
  • Process: Evaluate how well a process meets customer needs by capturing what happens during each step in the buyer’s journey. This is where journey analytics come into play—by gathering data about customer behavior across channels, you can determine where the process falls apart and correct those issues to reduce attrition.
  • Business: Capture the needs, wants and expectations of business stakeholders to tie the customer experience to the organization’s long-term success. Studying financial performance via accounting reports and profitability can reveal high-growth areas to target or areas of improvement where CX is falling short and costing your business.

Keep your feet on the ground as you look ahead to a better CX. Observe the path customers take as they interact with your brand. Find out what friction points they encounter, and what’s already working seamlessly. Understanding the existing customer experience helps you predict intent and communicate at critical touchpoints—enabling you to not only optimize your CX upgrades, but also roll them out proactively.

2. Bring frontline employees into the conversation

You already have market researchers on the ground every day: customer-facing employees. Collect and analyze Voice of Employee (VoE) feedback to tap into the wealth of knowledge frontline employees pick up from listening to customers each day. What trends are they seeing? Are they picking up on customer sentiment? By inviting employees into the conversation, you gain insider perspective and engage your team in driving business success.

Two important places to look for customer-facing employees’ feedback:

Call center agents

  • What are the most common reasons customers are calling in?
  • What information do agents wish they had when customers called in?
  • What calls take the longest?
  • Are there events that prompt a surge in calls?

In-store/counter-service representatives

  • What information do representatives wish they had to better facilitate interactions with customers?
  • Do they want the freedom to offer discounts? Special offers? Upgrades?
  • How do customers navigate the store?
  • Do customers provide any feedback on how to improve?

3. Use empathy to make sense of the customer journey

Shaping a better CX proactively rather than reactively requires empathy. Meet customers where they are. Identify their goals and react during the customer journey—even as it’s unfolding.

Look from your customers’ perspective to grasp the nuances that make up an intuitive journey. Are they forced to take repetitive actions to move forward? Processes that require customers to complete many small steps at a time quickly lead to fatigue or frustration. Instead, lead with empathy to guide customers toward their desired outcomes, no matter which path they take to get there. How can you make your CX more proactive, predictive and personalized?

Leveraging real-time notifications is one such strategy. Bring in context-driven messaging to break up a demanding customer journey. By connecting notifications to journey orchestration, you can use real-time behavior signals to send relevant, timely communications. Prompting the next best action for customers means they will more readily achieve their goals on a personalized pathway.

4. Promote empathy from the top down

Extraordinary customer experiences aren’t always planned. Some are inspired by impromptu moments of empathy. Many start with friction. But to foster gestures that make customers feel heard and valued, leaders must set the tone across the organization. How can you go beyond buzzwords to instill top-down empathy?

Encourage team members from every level of the organization to seek out opportunities to elevate the customer experience—especially frontline workers. See friction as an opportunity for closer customer relationships. Empower employees to pull out the corporate pocketbook to fund spontaneous empathetic gestures, such as:

  • Surprise discounts: Give customers free gifts to acknowledge a birthday, anniversary or other special occasion.
  • Freeupgradesor add-ons: Offer qualifying customers the chance to upgrade free of charge as a reward for loyalty or on-time payments.
  • Customized recommendations: Tailor credit card offers to fit individual customers’ shopping habits. For instance, present frequent travelers with a card that would help them maximize airline points.
  • Free product replacements or upgrades: Proactively upgrade outdated Wi-Fi routers or cable boxes to avoid any downstream CX issues.

5. Prioritize mastering easy payments

Not sure where to begin? Start with the bottom line: Get the payments customer experience right.

Remember, confused people don’t buy anything. That means easy navigation is critical. If a company’s online shopping experience isn’t as easy as it is in person, 51% of consumers are less likely to be loyal to a brand. If you build a genius platform but it’s so complicated it drives away customers, it won’t help your CX. Simplifying the payments experience makes the customer and the organization happy.

Giving customers the power to pay when they want, how they want, is one reliable way to use empathy to create an easier payments CX. “In order to meet consumer expectations and create positive payment experiences, organizations need to … give them the ability to pay in whatever ways they prefer,” said Daniel Keyes, Senior Analyst at Javelin Strategy & Research. “Organizations that can offer a variety of payment methods across multiple channels while minimizing friction for consumers no matter how they’re paying will be able to complete more payments and drive customer satisfaction.”

Help customers through the payments journey with the approaches to enhance quick self-service:

  • Accept multiple payment forms.
  • Provide recurring billing options.
  • Offer multiple payment channels.
  • Let customers buy now and pay later.

Empathy Leads to Easy

Remember that empathy leads to effortless customer experiences. To achieve CX that makes customers say, “That was easy!” you need to first stand in their shoes. It can be challenging to understand your audience on an individual human level, but it’s ultimately better for both sides.

Exceptional CX is more than fluid brand interactions. Getting the customer experience right takes a strategy that goes beyond buzzwords by enacting tangible positive outcomes. Find more actionable insights in CSG’s 2024 State of the Customer Experience report. It’s full of practical guiderails to help as you explore the art of the possible.

2024 State of the Customer Experience

Go beyond the buzzwords and learn about the new CX era. Learn what it is and what it’s not to understand how to craft the best strategy for your business.

Get the report
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Jordan Alcon

Senior Product Marketing Specialist