In this “new” world we are living in, the ability for an organization to treat their customers and employees with empathy has never been more important. I think pretty much everyone agrees on that. But where I see differences and perhaps what needs to be explored more is – “What does showing “empathy” mean and how does a brand deliver it?”

While there are many interpretations of the word empathy, in the context of being of service to your customers and employees, I’d like to offer what I think empathy means. It is not a fluffy concept. I don’t think it’s not about being nice, or even training (I had someone say my name every other word in a customer service call the other day and I’m sure that was part of their training. But didn’t find it to be empathic. It was annoying, partially because it wasn’t sincere. It was clearly part of a script. And it seemed the employee, though wanting to follow what was requested of them, felt it didn’t ring true for them either. I could hear this uncomfortableness in their voice as they tried their best to deliver it with empathy.

Empathy to me is also not just a mindset or even brands being altruistic.

Delivering empathy in action is about a business putting themselves in the “shoes” of their customers and employees and asking what is the “job to be done” as the late Harvard Business Professor, Clayton Christensen and his work in Competing Ask Luck would ask. What is it that a customer wants from a brand, from the customer’s point of view? Often what customers want, the type of interaction or service is antithetical to what brands offer because the company is looking at the experience from their point of view – often from a cost reduction mindset. This is an old paradigm, but one that many brands find hard to move away from.

But what if companies were customer and employee-centric in how they designed and delivered experiences? What if they were able to deliver concrete actions to provide one-to-one, highly personalized customer and employee experiences that were in service to these two essential aspects of a business- customers and employees. It’s something those of us in the #customerexperience industry have talked about doing for years, but to be honest — the technology- at least up until now hasn’t been able to deliver on the promise as we had imagined.

If you think about it, without customers and employees – you can’t run a business. And yet every single day companies deliver experiences that have customers voting with their mouse or the feet and leaving – probably never to return. But most brands won’t even know customers have left— until they start to see a decline in customer lifetime value and market share and then it may be too late.

Employee attrition is easier to spot, especially in the contact center. And it’s one of the most costly aspects of delivering experiences, yet the industry accepts it as “part of how it is.” Employees may show up for the paycheck, but who wants half-engaged employees? And how they show up does affect the customer experience. What if our employee’s experience at work was based on empowering them with work they felt confident about? What employees feel good about what they do, enjoyed their work and we’ve designed the experience of getting that work done with much less employee effort?

Think about how many times have you – not necessarily as someone in the #CX/EX industry – but as a person trying to get an answer, solve an issue– wanted to get something resolved quickly – but you had to tell your story, and often you had to repeat your story. What if a chatbot was smart enough to recognize you’ve signed into the website, knows who you are, sees what you are trying to do, and starts the conversation with all that context? And what if that context was passed onto an employee so they could quickly get to the point and help you? And what if that employee’s experience in serving the customer was designed to optimize their experience vs create a great deal of employee effort and frustration. Poor experiences happen every day in nearly every contact center or customer experience center – why? Because there’s a huge blind spot in how company’s approach #CX/#EX.

Research over the years, and still today shows the more customer/employee-centric the company is, the more they focus on providing one-to-one, highly personalized experiences the more customers and employees feel heard, understood, and acknowledged. This results in their trust and loyalty.

That customer and employee trust and loyalty results in a competitive advantage unlike any other. Why? Think about the places you buy from all the time. Why is that? Because you know they are going to get you what you need, in a timely matter, it meets your expectations and returns are easy. While these are just part of why we buy essentially they’ve designed the experience from your POV. And that’s why better #CX/EX enhances business performance, like increasing customer market share, revenue, and customer lifetime value as well as increasing employee retention, productivity, retaining brain trust, and empowering employee engagement.

The decoder ring for the future of customer and employee experience is to be able to assess the level of maturity of an organization in orchestrating, one-to-one, highly personalized, empathic employee/customer-centric experiences at scale and then figuring out how to evolve that. That is the challenge and solving that is the “Rosetta Stone” or ability to decipher the future of customer and employee experience.

To kick off some brain candy for 2021 Kerry Bodine brought together some of the best minds in the #CX world to share their outlook on the future. I’m honored to be included in the company of Don PeppersAnnette FranzJeanne BlissShep HykenStan Phelps, and Ian Golding. I think you’ll enjoy reading all these points of view and here’s hoping they contribute to shaping the future of your #customerexperience and #employeeexperienes initiatives this year and beyond.

Here’s a copy of the report.

Natalie

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