Building empathy with your customers
Industries across the board are using personalization to express compassion
Published June 25, 2020
Last modified June 25, 2020
As people began working remotely during this global pandemic, organizations everywhere needed to quickly deploy new solutions for supporting the higher ticket volumes coming in from a flood of customer inquiries. Demand spiked for customer service across the spectrum of financial services, retail/manufacturing, healthcare, media/entertainment, and tech sectors, leading to powerful changes as organizations needed to rapidly scale personalized responses at the enterprise level.
Employing empathy for new and existing customers has become essential to customer service as the need for thoughtful and efficient responses has increased. And messaging channels have morphed into important means of personalization as brands have become more mindful of preferred communication styles in new, digital-only environments. Digital support software has shown that transformation can happen in just hours and days, not months and years, with its flexibility and adaptability being key to empathetic responses at scale.
Perhaps more than any other industry, healthcare companies understand how important it is to be sensitive to the emotions and experiences of patients, customers, and practitioners. During the pandemic, healthcare providers (HCPs) have had to rapidly enable clear communication and empathy at scale to meet the incredible surge of patients reaching out for the information they rely on. From help centers with regularly updated information on the spread of the virus to chatbots guiding patients through self-diagnosis and sending patient information to agents for quickly scheduling appointments, HCPs were able to use these tools to scale their support operations so staff could focus on the immediate needs of those most affected. To do this effectively, providers need to be conscious of patients’ preferred communication channels, and many started using third-party apps like WhatsApp to facilitate patient triaging for screenings and communicating results. That helps patients feel more comfortable because they’re able to communicate in a channel they already trust and also makes it possible for HCPs to send proactive messages as new services become available.
Many people faced uneasiness about their financial situations as the economy slowed, and clients turned to their financial institutions for support for everything from guidance on how to adjust to fluctuating markets, deferring credit card and loan payments, to canceling travel booked with credit card points. Expressing empathy and understanding in these interactions can make a big difference for customers as they are facing new challenges. Easy access to customer information, such as which clients are shifting to online banking for the first time or when someone’s account balance is low, can help agents adjust their communication style to better serve their customers. Meanwhile, financial firms are leveraging the power of AI and chatbots. By using the context of client data, bots serve relevant resources to clients when they reach out for support.
Gaming and online entertainment
Knowing what causes customer frustration and getting ahead of dissatisfaction is key to providing empathetic customer service. A powerful way for businesses to show they care about their users is by proactively reaching out about known issues before users experience glitchy video streaming from overloaded servers or before game updates so they can prepare for changes. By reaching out in advance, digital entertainment brands can display empathy and prevent inquiries before they become an issue.
In-app messaging is one way the gaming industry can scale support with empathy in mind. Delivering thoughtful communication to customers while they’re still in the brand experience is an effective way that companies can deliver quick solutions while also giving users the sense that help is already on the way. An added benefit is that users are staying in the entertainment experience instead of leaving to seek support.
Retail and manufacturing
Consumers are prioritizing purchases, and retailers should know that compassion and empathy drive many customer decisions. By leveraging their understanding of customer preferences and frustrations, retailers can shape both 1:1 interactions and mass communications. Customer context can positively affect product targeting and guide content creation, while allowing AI chatbots to respond with the most relevant offers or information. As sentiment analysis becomes more integral to the retail experience, IDC expects two-thirds of leading consumer brands will employ emotion detection and management technologies to influence customer engagement and purchasing within five years.
During times of uncertainty, many tech companies are uniquely positioned to be helpful in their communities and to the broader society. Many tech companies have been crucial to keeping the world connected and businesses running during this critical time. They can utilize the power of help centers to drive awareness of free resources and special offers and share information about their social impact efforts with customers. Many tech organizations extend free service and discounts that agents are empowered to automatically apply, further displaying compassion, removing barriers, and driving process efficiency.
Employing empathy in your customer support can position your business for success in both the short- and long-term. By offering easy-to-use messaging platforms and a personalized experience on preferred communication channels, brands can show that they are listening to and appreciating their customers. Personalization can initially seem like a daunting process for organizations, but it doesn’t have to be.
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