“Empathy is the ultimate form of customer insight.”
— Don Peppers, pioneer of one-to-one-marketing and marketing futurist
If you want to lead in customer experience (CX), you must be able to think like your customers. By putting yourself in their shoes and understanding what they need and value, you can create meaningful experiences that build trust and loyalty. Delivering empathy-driven experiences—designed based on a company’s deep understanding of customer needs, motivations and behaviors—creates lasting relationships that increase customer lifetime value (CLV).
The Connection Between Brand and Customer Experience
Customer experience is the new brand. CX has become the key competitive differentiator for brands, replacing product and price. More than half of consumers (58%) say customer service is more important than price, and 58% would pay more to receive great customer service.
Gartner defines customer experience as “the customer’s perceptions and related feelings caused by the one-off and cumulative effect of interactions with a supplier’s employees, systems, channels or products.” More than just a transaction, CX is about the whole journey and how customers feel along the way.
Delivering exceptional CX means creating value by providing a great product, helpful service and/or tools that make customers’ lives easier and ultimately positive emotional associations. Companies with great CX humanize their brand so people feel they belong to a community instead of just being an anonymous customer number. If the brand is the promise your company makes to customers, customer experience is how you deliver on that promise. It’s not just saying you’ll do something, but how you do it.
Customer experience should not be something you only think about when there’s a problem. CX should be baked into everything your company does from day one. For example, Nike’s brand promise is “to bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world (*if you have a body, you are an athlete).” How does Nike deliver on that promise? By putting customers first and focusing on building long-lasting emotional connections with them. The brand takes action in helping athletes reach their potential and overcome obstacles with personalized products and services that cater to customers’ specific needs and preferences. The Nike By You program, for example, allows customers to customize their own shoes, while the Nike Run Club app provides personalized training plans and coaching. They make it easier for all consumers to shop for their products whether they’re using a user-friendly website and app, or brick-and-mortar stores around the world. Nike prioritizes investment in their CX programs so they can make an impact in every athlete’s life and help them reach their potential. To tailor experiences to people’s real lives and emotional desires, Nike leaders clearly understand those real experiences. That’s where empathy comes in. How do you more closely link customer experience to the brand experience your company promises? By starting with empathy.
Why Empathy in CX Matters
How can you deliver better customer experiences and meet customer needs if you don’t know your customer? It’s difficult, if not impossible. You need customer empathy: the ability to see things from the customer’s perspective, putting yourself in their shoes to understand their pain points. Customer empathy means understanding what a consumer experiences when they use your products or services. But beyond what they experience, it’s also understanding their deeper needs, motivations and goals that influenced their decision to engage with your brand in the first place.
Many businesses lack customer empathy because they are overly focused on their bottom line—more concerned about making a profit than recognizing customers’ needs and desires. Yet, the two are directly linked. Customer-centric businesses that lead with empathy often see dramatic improvements to the bottom line. Market leaders in customer-centricity and CX achieve greater revenue growth and profitability. According to a survey of 250 individuals at 180 B2B companies, companies with very mature customer-centricity realized 2.5X greater revenue growth compared with those reporting “very immature” customer-centricity.
Related Resource: Voice of Customer and Journey Management Whitepaper
4 Strategies to Help Your Business Lead with Empathy and See Better CX and Business Outcomes
Whether they’re looking for a car or insurance policy, consumers want someone who understands them and what makes them tick. Consumers expect brands to know what matters to them most right now and what they’re trying to accomplish (e.g., open a checking account or return an item).
Greater customer empathy builds trust, loyalty and meaningful relationships that increase CLV. By empathizing with customers, business leaders can tailor experiences to each customer’s individual needs and deliver the best possible service. Empathy also helps businesses anticipate customer needs and provide better, more proactive problem-solving solutions. As a result, customers are more likely to have positive experiences and be loyal to the business.
How can you better understand your customers?
1. Identify what’s important to customers and how they behave
Start by analyzing customer data such as purchase and browsing history, demographics, customer feedback and sentiment. Using this information, you can guide customers toward the right outcome or solution without them feeling like they’re being sold something they don’t want or need. Here, using a “jobs to be done” framework can be incredibly helpful.
2. Think about customer journeys holistically and identify moments that create friction and delight
- Monitor customer feedback and analyze customer journey data to identify patterns (such as stall points, churn and acquisition).
- Track customer interactions across channels to identify and address where they are having difficulty. Examine email open rates, customer service calls, website visits, login problems, shopping cart abandonment and other touchpoints or metrics.
- Conduct Voice of the Customer interviews to gain insight into customer experiences.
- Identify moments where your brand can be the hero. A customer just opened a home loan? Send them a congratulations note. A customer just created a baby registry with your retail brand? Send them a small congratulations gift or discount. Showing up for customers in these moments creates memorable moments and lasting relationships.
3. Personalize customer journeys
- Use customer sentiment and customer journey data to create personalized experiences for customers.
- Implement segmentation and targeting based on customer characteristics, interests and behaviors. This allows you to deliver relevant content, offers and experiences to each customer.
- Give customers many channels to engage with your brand. Offer an omnichannel approach that includes online, in-store and mobile experiences.
- Make sure all touchpoints are consistent with your brand and tailored to individual customers. If a customer selects SMS as their preferred channel of communication, don’t call them. If you do communicate with customers across channels, ensure the message or offer is the same across them.
4. Think long term, not immediate
Leading in CX requires delivering on the promise of your brand’s value proposition. Every company should be actively working to create value for their customers and their brand. Empathy isn’t just about creating positive experiences for individual customers; it’s about creating lasting relationships. The more you understand what matters most to them, the better off both parties will be in the long run.
Related Resource: Xponent Ignite Video
Ready to start creating empathy-driven customer experiences?
CSG’s advisory team can help you better understand your customers and create personalized journeys that meet their needs. They can also spot areas of opportunity for your brand to show up for your customer in meaningful moments. You can also leverage CSG Xponent Ignite, a customer experience solution, that focuses on crucial touchpoints in every customer experience journey. The foundation of Xponent Ignite is CSG Xponent, our industry-leading, award winning platform that includes a feature-rich and fully embedded customer data management/platform layer (CDP), customer journey orchestration and journey analytics to analyze customer behavior, sentiment and preferences to deliver the right personalized messages at the right time.
So we can help you understand your customers, we need to understand your CX goals. Let’s talk today.