Date Published: January 16, 2024 - Last Updated 43 Days, 4 Hours, 4 Minutes ago
Customer expectations may be evolving at a record pace, but some core ideas never change. Empathy and a strong human connection rank as top priorities for customers. People want to be seen, heard and understood. If they have a problem, they want it solved.
Empathy is more than problem-solving with feelings; it involves connecting with customers on a deeper level, recognizing their emotions, and responding with understanding and care. In customer service, companies that prioritize empathy foster stronger connections, build more trust, and encourage lasting customer loyalty.
Why Build an Empathy Strategy?
Empathy is more than a soft skill; it's a strategic asset. Customers who have a positive emotional experience with a brand are much more likely to become repeat customers.
There’s also a tangible impact on the bottom line. As studies have shown, companies that excel in delivering empathetic customer experiences grow faster than their less empathetic counterparts, often by significant margins. According to research published in the Harvard Business Review, the top 10 companies in the Global Empathy Index in 2015 increased in value more than twice as much as the bottom 10 and generated 50% more in earnings. Another recent study found that companies that excel in customer experience (CX) outgrow their competitors in revenue by a factor of 2.
Technology Can Facilitate Empathy
Technology is often associated with automation and efficiency, but it can help call center agents arm themselves with a deeper understanding of any given customer's emotions and needs. It helps them focus on the person behind the problem.
From AI-powered sentiment analysis to advanced communication channels, there are technologies that help agents better understand and connect with customers on a human level.
Empathy Tool #1: Informed CRM Systems
Every customer has a history. But nobody likes rehashing the past and customers get frustrated when a company’s memory comes up short. Customers need you to understand where they’ve been to help them get where they want to go.
Advanced analytics and customer relationship management (CRM) systems allow businesses to gather and understand vast amounts of customer data. CRM systems compile data from chat transcriptions, phone interactions, direct mail, and social networks, which provides customer-facing staff with detailed information on purchase history and previous service concerns. By leveraging this information, customer service agents can approach customer queries armed with valuable insights into customers' preferences and pain points.
Empathy Tool # 2: NLP and Sentiment Analysis
What if your agents knew going into a service call not only what the issue was, but how the customer was potentially feeling? Reading emotional tone is crucial to providing solid CX. Natural Language Processing (NLP) and sentiment analysis technologies enable organizations to assess the emotional tone and sentiment behind previous customer interactions.
NLP is an adaptive AI technology that gives computers the ability to interpret, comprehend, and respond with more natural human language. Sentiment analysis is an NLP function that can analyze customer feedback as positive, negative, or neutral, and by understanding the customer's emotional response and not simply their purchase history.
Empathy Tool #3: Omnichannel Communication
Today's customers expect seamless and consistent experiences across multiple channel options. The advent of advanced communication channels such as live chat, social media, and chatbots allows for real-time and continuous engagement. An omnichannel approach allows customers to connect with you through their preferred channel, be it via phone, email, chat, or social media.
By leveraging technology that integrates and synchronizes customer interactions, agents can access a customer's complete history, enabling them to provide a personalized and empathetic service experience. Having a centralized database enables a living history for each customer, ensuring that agents aren't making customers repeat themselves in search of solutions.
Empathy Tool #4: Multimodal Generative AI and Augmented Reality
Augmented Reality (AR) technologies and emerging multimodal generative AI offer exciting possibilities for empowering agents to provide immersive customer experiences and make the unspoken spoken.
Multimodal AI can digest multiple data inputs—including text, video, speech, images—to create a more holistic (and human) understanding of the customer and their needs, as mined from varied sources. AR technology is also capable of providing real-time troubleshooting guidance through visualizations, thereby showing the customer how to address a problem rather than simply telling—effectively reducing miscommunication and even bridging language barriers.