Once more with feeling: why empathy is more than a tick-box exercise

Personalised letters, tick. Approved list of empathetic phrases (including ‘I’d love to help you with that today’), tick. Think you’ve got this emotional connection malarkey nailed?

Not quite.

There’s more to connecting with people emotionally than mail merging their first name into things. And empathy isn’t sounding friendly, or just repeating back what somebody’s already told you.

Still, there’s been a lot of that going on lately, which means customers have got savvy and expect more. So, if your approach to personalisation is collecting data and regurgitating it back to customers at key touchpoints, you’re probably not going to build lasting connections.

Empathy is talking to customers about the things they care about

Not what’s important to you. And it’s about doing it consistently, even when you’re delivering bad news and dealing with complaints.

For example, we helped BT change their approach to handling complaints. We encouraged their agents to step away from templated scripts and stock responses, and think about how they’d feel in the customer’s shoes. And repeat complaints dropped from 28% to less than 20%.

It’s not just a nice to have. It can make and save you money

We helped a big energy company sound the same in their debt letters as they did in their everyday messages. So people didn’t feel like they were suddenly being treated like criminals for falling behind on their payments. And they were less scared to get in touch to sort it out. The result? Ten percent more people got out of debt.

All this from putting the customer first and using words that make them feel you understand them (and are human beings too).

We’ve learnt a few things about empathy over the years

We’ve spent 15 years helping clients make their words more efficient, empathetic, distinctive and consistent. So we’ve seen the good, the bad and the downright strange along the way. Check out our blog on the Ten ways you absolutely, definitely shouldn’t do CX to find out more.

Plus, come and see us at Technova Connected Customer 2018, Tuesday 3rd and Wednesday 4th July. We’ll be on the CX Leaders stage at 2.40pm on Tuesday 3rd, talking about why your language is your customer experience. Or you can pop by our stand for a chat any time.

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