Empathy - the one word that will transform your Customer Experience

Empathy - the one word that will transform your Customer Experience

By Jodie Roberts on 28 May 2019

If you want the key to winning your customers over every time, empathy is your answer.

Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. We use it amongst our friends, family and our work colleagues. And it’s just as important when you’re delivering exceptional customer experiences.

If you put yourself into the shoes of your customer, the way you approach them will be completely different; it will be a lot more rewarding and ultimately will increase your sales.

Hugh Mackay refers to the concept of personal ‘cages’ that include our knowledge, attitudes, beliefs and values. If, as Customer Experience experts, we step outside of our own cage and into the cage of our customers, then the way we approach them will be completely different and delivering on empathy is much more likely.

For example, you’re a clothing retailer… a customer has walked in, looking for a dress. A response lacking empathy would be along the lines of ‘What colour are you looking for?’ The customer is overwhelmed as there are so many colours to choose from and they’re not sure what is on-trend.

However, a more empathetic response might be ‘Is it for a particular occasion?’ All of a sudden, the customer is opening up to you about a very special occasion; it’s their Dad’s 70th and it’s a tricky time of year because she doesn’t know if it’s hot or cold, it’s particularly special because she missed her Dad’s 60th while they were living overseas, and so on.

It’s a completely different response, the retail assistant has immediately got the customer talking, the customer is engaged with the retailer because they’ve shared some personal information. The retail assistant can more effectively tailor the options they present to the customer based on everything they’ve discussed.

To build empathy into your customer experience, remember the following:

1. Ask the right questions
- Think about questions that are likely to get your customer talking
- Use an appropriate tone, mindful of the adage that the way you say something is as important as what you say
- Smile as you engage with your customers

2. Listen
- Really listen - practice mindful listening, show that you’re fully present in the moment and genuinely care about what they’re saying
- Ensure your body language indicates that you’re listening to what they’re saying

3. Respond
- Respond appropriately
- Demonstrate you understand their needs, using empathetic phrases such as ‘I can appreciate how you’re feeling…’
- Present options that are likely to satisfy their needs

Have you already built empathy into your customer experience? Want to understand more about your customers and what they’re feeling? Ask us about our Customer Experience packages now.

Jodie Roberts is the Client Communications and Development Director for Potentiate. She works closely with clients, embedding voice of customer programs in to their businesses, and is dedicated to providing consultancy on how to continually improve their customer experience. Contact us for a live demonstration of Potentiate's Voice of Customer programs or contact Jodie at jodie.roberts@potentiate.com  

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