Shutterstock_215447455Empathy – the ability to understand and share the feelings of others – is essential to providing better customer experiences. If you understand your customers, you’ll be well equipped to give them exactly what they need. Here are 5 specific practices that companies can use to engage with customers to build a deeper level of understanding and empathy throughout the CX journey.

1. Share customer insights

Customers share their experiences with companies all over the Internet. It’s likely you’ll need special technology to mine through thousands of social media posts, product reviews, e-mails and so on, but doing so can help you gain insight into what your customers think/feel about your organization. Collect and share this data with everyone in your company and talk about ways you can use it to improve customer experience.

2. Become a customer

Mystery shop yourself and your competitors and track your experiences in a journal. Walking a mile in your customers’ shoes is the fastest way to gain insight into their perspective and how they experience your organization first hand.

3. Conduct ethnographic research

Ask your customers to start a diary that records their thoughts and emotions on a daily basis. Conduct one-on-one interviews and do in-home observations (with permission of course.) Get to know your customers on a personal level by engaging with them in their own environment – where they are likely to be most comfortable and most honest. Analyze the information you collect and use it to create customer personas.

4. Create a life-sized map of the CX journey and walk through it

Make a detailed illustration of your customers as they travel through different parts of your organization. Map out their experiences on a large diagram and lay it across a floor in your building. Have employees walk through the customer journey, describing and discussing what they see from the perspective of a typical customer at any given touch point.

5. Incorporate understanding phrases into your customer service

When customers call customer service, it’s your chance to turn a potentially negative experience into a good one. Incorporating phrases like “I’m so sorry you’re experiencing this problem,” or “I know how frustrating it can be when that happens,” displays empathy and lets customers know that a. you understand what they’re going through and b. you’re going to do everything in your power to fix it. But be careful not to overdo it. Empathy only works when it’s genuine and doesn’t seem forced.

The best way to prevent forced empathy is to learn to be naturally empathetic. Though any company can implement the above practices right away, they will be even more effective if a culture of empathy is already established among everyone involved.

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