In the world of customer experience, “customer empathy” is not just a buzzword, it’s a game-changer. Put simply, it means genuinely caring about the experience your customers have with your brand. And when you master this skill, you can create an emotional bond that sets you apart from the competition.
Let me give you a real-life scenario of how it works in general.
Customer empathy is at the heart of Lush’s approach to building trust with its customers. By understanding that their customers care deeply about the products they buy and how they are created, Lush has taken steps to address these concerns.
The release of the “How It’s Made” videos is a perfect example of this. The videos provide customers with a behind-the-scenes look at the sourcing and manufacturing process of Lush’s products, giving them a sense of transparency and openness that is rare in the beauty industry.
This level of transparency shows that Lush is willing to go the extra mile to demonstrate to their customers that they care about what they care about. Lush’s approach is a great way to build customer trust through authenticity and empathy.
By understanding their customers’ needs and concerns, Lush is able to connect with them on a deeper level and create a loyal customer base that values the company’s commitment to ethical and sustainable practices.
Moreover, through its “How It’s Made” videos, Lush is able to showcase their commitment to transparency and ethical practices, making it clear to their customers that they are a company that values customer empathy.
So, how exactly does customer empathy impact the customer experience?
Empathy is a common term to hear in customer success, but it’s not always incredibly clear what empathy exactly is. According to Merriam-Webster’s dictionary:
“Empathy is the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another of either the past or present without having the feelings, thoughts, and experience fully communicated in an objectively explicit manner”
If you think back on your best experiences as a customer they probably all have one thing in common: you felt in synch with the rep, or agent, you were working with. They understood your needs and you didn’t have to expend extra energy trying to explain the issue.
The main way to be in synch with someone, and by extension provide a great customer experience, is through customer empathy. When you’re able to get to the core of what someone needs, you’re able to provide the best customer experience possible.
Did you know the Apple Genius Training Manual includes a basic guide to empathy? In some ways, that should come as no surprise. Apple’s customer experience is highly regarded and their focus on the details, like taking empathy into account, is a big reason for that.
Since empathy is a soft skill, there are those quick to write off its importance. And, in fairness, it’s easy to do that. There’s no objective measure of empathy. Though that may be true, that doesn’t mean that empathy’s impact can’t be felt in other ways.
Stronger customer bonds
Customer empathy creates stronger customer bonds because it encourages deep and meaningful connections between customers and businesses. By taking the time to genuinely listen, understand, and empathize with customers’ needs and concerns, businesses can create an emotional bond that goes beyond just a transaction.
This way, customers feel heard, valued, and appreciated—all of which are key elements in creating trust and loyalty with customers. For example, talking about that experience gives your customer the idea that you get their pain points and you’re the person they can rely on.
Studies have revealed that we tend to gravitate toward individuals who share similar qualities as ourselves. This is where highlighting your similarities with your customers can be advantageous in creating a stronger bond and enhancing their overall experience. Furthermore, when a customer develops a liking for you, they are more inclined to perceive you positively. This can prove to be a powerful asset in shaping the customer experience.
Additionally, studies have shown that customers who believe their needs are being understood and responded to in a timely manner are more likely to make repeat purchases from a business.
Customer empathy has also been linked to increased sales, customer engagement levels, customer satisfaction scores, positive brand recognition, employee motivation, improved customer service response times, and reduced costs associated with customer complaints. All of these benefits demonstrate why investing the time to practice customer empathy can produce long-term success for any business.
Wouldn’t it be great to have the ability to read customers’ minds? Things would go quicker and long back-and-forths could be eliminated. It would drastically improve the experience for everyone involved.
Though having empathy doesn’t imbue you with the power to read minds, it does get you on the right path. When you have empathy, you’re more able to understand where a customer is coming from, which should help you understand their problem quicker.
Let’s take a look at Buffer, a social media management company as an example. Buffer prioritizes customer empathy in their approach to customer service. They understand that managing social media can be stressful and time-consuming, and they aim to make the process as easy and enjoyable as possible for their customers.
Buffer sets the bar high when it comes to customer service – they don’t just sit back and wait for questions and issues, but instead demonstrate their empathy by proactively checking in on customers. They’re always ready with a friendly greeting around the clock, while clear communication allows customers to stay up-to-date on account developments or potential problems.
What’s more, is that this focus isn’t one-sided; through building strong relationships with their clients, an uplifting atmosphere of mutual support is created. And I believe that’s what’s called a win-win!
Did you know the better someone gets along with their doctor, the better health outcomes they have? On the surface, how well someone gets along with their doctor may seem trivial but if you think about it more, the more it makes sense.
The real reason it improves health outcomes is that, the more someone likes and trusts their physician, the more likely they are to be open about any health issues they’re facing. Though most of us aren’t dealing with life-and-death situations, there’s still a lot of benefit to getting deeper insights from customers.
When you employ customer empathy, just like with physicians, you’re showing you’re trustworthy. It doesn’t take a grand gesture either. Asking specific questions about their life and relating your own experiences back to them is a great way to start.
Gaining more specific customer feedback means we can build better features and solve more of the issues that customers have. Both of which improve the overall customer experience.
We all want to feel understood. Though that’s true, when you’re in the day-to-day trenches of helping out customers, it can be easy to forget. When we show customers empathy it not only benefits them, but us as well.
Empathy allows us to solve problems faster, build stronger bonds, and get better insights from customers. All of those add up to us being able to provide an overall better customer experience, which positively impacts us and our companies in many ways.