How to Put Empathy First: 4 Tips to Improve the Customer Experience

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By Leah Ladipoh

Why is empathy important to the customer experience? The answer is simple - but brands will find the journey difficult to navigate. Empathy diffuses frustration, creates brand loyalty and creates a positive feeling of both customer and brand representatives.
Leading with empathy will lead to the representative feeling a high sense of job satisfaction and motivation to resolve customer problems. The customer will remember the positive interaction and be happy to continue to patronize the brand, safe in the knowledge that any future issues will be resolved quickly and efficiently.

Understand the Customer Case

Brands that identify and are aligned with their customer base quickly understand the problems they face. It’s easy to think customers are overreacting to a problem and to dismiss their concerns. Understanding customers and their social, economic and educational backgrounds will bridge the knowledge gap and cultivate empathy.

Create a Customer-centric Plan

Achieving customer loyalty starts with the senior leadership team who must develop ways of measuring and comparing interactions with customers. If senior leaders develop a customer experience strategy that will map out how customers think, feel, see and hear the brand, then the knowledge gap between brand and customer closes and a significant milestone is realized.


How Should a Brand Express Empathy?

Teaching employees how to display empathetic techniques are important customer service skills. Brands need to listen, be respectful and work with the customer to resolve a problem. As part of their customer experience strategy, successful brands encourage employees to be empathetic with the customer and to admit when something goes wrong, and fix it.


Creating Objectivity Within the Customer Experience

In day-to-day interactions, it is easy to lose objectivity towards a certain category of client, based on age, gender or other variables. These prejudices will be difficult to mask, even via email and phone.

Customer service agents need to recognize, understand and mirror their interactions with frustrated customers. Body language, tone of voice and other small social signals will, with the right training, ensure that customer problems and frustrations are dealt with appropriately. Creating an unbiased and empathetic customer experience starts from the very top and will influence the overall customer experience strategy of the entire organization moving forward. What is working well? What is causing frustration?

Brands must regularly review and adapt their strategy based on knowledge and data about customer interactions and ensure agents are armed with robust empathetic customer service skills.