True, there are channels, content and technology to reach out to your existing customers or potential prospects, but making an authentic and emotional connection with them has never been harder. In a booming marketplace, understanding what makes your customers tick is essential to the success of your business. According to research, 80% of companies believe they deliver superior customer experience but only 8% of their customers agree. By understanding the customer, not only are you building meaningful connections with them, but also building brand equity. Empathy now seems to be one of the prerequisites for ‘brand credibility’, along with authenticity, quality and reliability.
So, empathy can mean different things to different people depending on context but we view it as the ability to understand what moves a customer. To gain customers’ loyalty and trust, it’s time that we understand their thoughts, hopes and dreams, fears and worries, feelings, circumstances and personality to provide them with the best possible experience. Empathy is the capacity to understand what your customer is experiencing from within their frame of reference. In simpler words, it’s the effort a brand takes to go that extra mile to establish a strong connection with the customer through generosity, understanding, kindness or problem solving. This has never been more relevant in a COVID-19 economy.
Here are some benefits of brand empathy:
- Understanding what drives loyalty towards your brand
- Learning how to turn negative feedback into an opportunity
- Increasing customer referrals and brand advocacy
- Leading to better customer experience which further reduces churn
Most people can relate to motherhood, whether that’s a personal experience or reminiscing about the memories with your mother. Procter and Gamble tapped into it and turned this relatability into empathy in its ‘Thank You Mom’ campaign by portraying the struggles that come along with motherhood. On another occasion, when hundreds of Delta Air Lines flights got cancelled or delayed due to bad weather conditions in Atlanta and passengers were stranded, Delta showed brand empathy and managed to further its reputation as a caring brand by ordering hundreds of pizzas on planes and in surrounding airports. Large companies like Adobe and Nike have pushed full-scale ‘empathy first’ programs into the market, with free or discounted service offerings to help meet their customers’ needs.
It’s very important for brands and manufacturers to be keenly aware of what your most valuable customers are saying, doing, and feeling.
Here are a few great ways to do that the right way:
- Read customer feedback and reviews
- Read blog, social media, and forum comments
- Have conversations in-person and/or over email
- Conduct surveys
- Observe the actions customer are taking
As you think through the importance of empathy and your overall customer experience, please consider the following:
- How do your customers perceive your brand? What is missing and what could get better? The more you understand their values, what resonates with them and their world, the stronger a connection you can build with them.
- How can you make your customers’ lives easier? What are their daily habits and rituals? Through these insights, you can take proactive measures to improve their lives for the better. Between social media, product reviews, and customer service emails, you’ll get a wealth of data that you can leverage. Now you can compile, analyze and share it with your team to find ways to improve the customer experience.
- What are the hopes, dreams, fears, and concerns of your customers? Do whatever it takes to better anticipate customer wants and needs and make sure your customers realize the benefits.
- How does your product make your customers feel? How do they express their feelings? When it comes to making a purchase, customers focus a lot on how the product makes them feel. Assess that and make your critical business decisions.
What are the Dos and Don’ts of using empathy to retain your most valuable customers?
- Have a goal.
- Empower and educate your audience.
- Understand the concerns, needs and wants of your customer.
- Use emotions like compassion, relationships, nostalgia, warmth, etc. for engaging customers.
- Be obvious about your selling intentions and/or be preachy in your communication.
- Have multiple goals.
- Have an obvious call to action. Present your information in such a way so that it incites the audience to make his/her own informed decision.
To drive customer trust and loyalty, it’s important to engage your customers through an emotional connection that you can achieve by walking in their shoes. Empathy, when used right, is a powerful customer engagement tool that sets you apart and helps you thrive in the most difficult economic times.