Why empathy is core to closing the customer experience gap

The final 12 months have been a crash course in customer experience for enterprise leaders. All through 2020 and into 2021, enterprise organizations have been compelled to rethink each customer contact level and rebuild their customer journeys at report pace. In accordance to a McKinsey survey of C-level executives and senior enterprise leads, digital transformation initiatives for U.S. companies have been accelerated by three to 4 years as firms have been compelled to activate new methods to attain prospects and handle customer care.

The driving power behind these digital transformation efforts? Empathy. As the adoption of digital channels skyrocketed, the companies in a position to thrive have been the ones that understood—and have been delicate to—their prospects’ wants and the struggles they confronted. Enterprise leaders prioritized digital transformation initiatives, not solely to handle buy transactions however to anticipate customer expectations. A Gartner survey of greater than 6,000 prospects underscored the want for empathetic enterprise practices, revealing that proactive customer service packages (those who anticipate customer wants) elevated internet promoter scores and customer satisfaction scores by a full proportion level.

Now, greater than a 12 months into such large enterprise disruptions, the customer experience gap continues to stay a problem for almost each business. Companies have had to play catch-up as the variety of prospects logging on to interact with companies jumped considerably, with many customers transferring throughout the digital panorama, looking model web sites, utilizing apps, and switching between social platforms frequently. After the roller-coaster experience of the previous 12 months, enterprise leaders are going through a number of questions: How can we retain prospects? How can we enhance customer lifetime worth? And, extra necessary, how can we develop our income?

The important thing to these challenges hinges on a model’s capability to shut the customer experience gap by constructing extra empathetic enterprise practices.

What is the Customer Experience Gap?

The customer experience gap is centered on a customer’s expectations and the model’s incapability to meet these expectations: Manufacturers consider they’re delivering a top-notch customer service, whereas customers report a lower than passable model experience. The idea is not new. Greater than 5 years in the past, analysis confirmed that 85% of manufacturers believed they have been delivering exemplary customer experiences, whereas lower than 65% of shoppers have been pleased with model experiences.

The disconnect between manufacturers and prospects has solely intensified throughout the previous 12 months due to a variety of causes. For one, the Gen Z inhabitants is rising sooner than every other demographic. These younger adults are digital natives—they’ve grown up on screens, navigating their grownup life via their cellular units. This client phase is not connecting with a model by way of a single channel. They’re leaping out and in of the customer journey, visiting a model’s social account, messaging the model by way of Snapchat, and evaluating merchandise on Amazon, all channels exterior of the model’s management. The cross-channel proliferation of Gen Z is changing into an increasing number of vital to the customer journey whereas concurrently widening the customer experience gap.


Associated: Magic occurs when firms shut the customer experience gap


And it’s not only a particular demographic impacting the customer experience gap. Social media adoption for customer care points boomed throughout the pandemic, with many customers turning to a enterprise’s social web page, not solely to analysis a services or products however to buy a product or interact with the model over a product query or customer service concern. 

With the introduction of in-app buying capabilities on websites like Fb and Instagram, the full customer journey can now occur inside one go to on a model’s social media web page—once more, on platforms in a roundabout way managed or owned by the model. This social commerce development means manufacturers should devise new methods to determine, purchase, and retain prospects exterior of their owned digital properties.

How empathy can shut the customer experience gap

In case your main KPI (key efficiency technique) is income progress, then your focus ought to be on boosting retention charges and rising the lifetime worth of your prospects. These aims go hand-in-hand with customer experiences constructed on empathy. Clients need to do enterprise with manufacturers that care about them and reveal the identical values that they apply. (Final 12 months, a survey of greater than 1,000 U.S. customers found that 60% need firms to take a place on social points.)

Manufacturers aiming to develop their customer base, retention charges, and income should reveal that they care not solely about the customer however about social points and the world at giant. Organizations that fail to align their values with their prospects’ values aren’t solely ignoring the customer experience gap, they danger shedding thousands and thousands of {dollars} in income. In truth, three years in the past Forbes reported that poor customer experiences have been costing companies $75 billion a 12 months, with many customers ceasing to do enterprise with a model as a result of they didn’t really feel appreciated. 

Whereas the development to undertake extra empathetic practices started nicely earlier than the pandemic, COVID-19 has aggressively accelerated the want for companies to present extra empathy towards their prospects. It’s not sufficient merely to present a constructive customer service experience. Manufacturers should care about the communities they serve. In return, empathetic practices will construct customer loyalty and enhance retention charges, leading to greater income features and measurable enterprise outcomes. 

Tactical steps to put empathy at the core of your small business

If you’d like to put empathy at the core of your customer experience, it’s essential to have somebody who stands for it internally—who wakes up each morning targeted solely in your prospects and their experience with the model. Including a chief experience officer (CXO) to the C-suite makes positive you could have a top-ranking government advocating to your prospects when enterprise choices are made at the highest degree.

As a result of a lot of the C-suite is targeted on monetary outcomes, enterprise organizations profit from having somebody not tied to income numbers be a part of the dialog when constructing customer methods. A CXO seems to be past whether or not transactions are taking place at an environment friendly charge or if advert campaigns are successfully upselling the customer on new merchandise. As a substitute, the CXO seems to be at the total customer journey, ensuring every contact level is tailor-made to the customer’s wants. In the identical method {that a} chief income officer manages particular income KPIs and a chief product officer oversees product initiatives, the CXO determines what’s greatest for the customer.

One other key step towards constructing an empathetic model: ensuring each worker understands their “line of sight” to the customer. This implies each group member, even those that is probably not customer-facing, is aware of how their work impacts the customer.

For instance, you will have somebody in your finance division who isn’t instantly concerned with customer points. As a substitute they’re targeted on constructing transactional processes and guaranteeing these processes profit the group. This particular person is probably not fascinated by the customer, however the transactional processes they design might instantly influence how a customer interacts with, and subsequently feels about, the model. Their line of sight to the customer allows them to perceive how their work influences the customer experience, and enhance it.

When workers make choices primarily based on their line of sight to the customer, they assist construct a extra empathetic framework.

In the finish, to be a really empathetic model, an enterprise group should make empathy core to its DNA. It should be the driving power behind the group’s customer experience technique in addition to an important part of the firm tradition. A model that is in a position to totally undertake empathetic practices at each degree of the enterprise is extra seemingly to construct loyalty amongst its customer base and create lasting outcomes that diminish the customer experience gap, delivering main income features for years to come.


Mark Zablan is the CEO of Astute, a number one customer engagement platform.