Maham Riaz (October 28, 2015)
Empathy is a skill that is likely to bring important changes to your business culture and customer relationships. It lets you understand your customers’ state of mind and enables you to address the issues of a customer in a more congenial manner. For businesses, it is vital to build lasting customer relationships. Without incorporating the element of empathy, you cannot personally connect with customers. Having empathy in your customer service conversations would lead to happier and loyal customers. Most customers shop from brands with which they develop an emotional bond. Therefore, if you want repeat customers due to brand affinity, make empathy an important part of customer communication and experience. Have a look at the reasons for why empathy is essential for creating a worthwhile customer experience!
Empathy involves interactive communication. Active listening and talking to your customers makes them feel you value their emotions and understand their situation. For instance, if a customer walks into your store and does not ask for a particular product but checks out various product racks, a CSR should come forward and initiate a conversation. He/she might be a confused or a wandering walk-in customer. A confused/new customer might want friendly suggestions and advice, talking and listening to his/her needs would make that customer happy. Relating to your customers’ scenarios and talking to them after listening to their concerns would enhance the shopping experience.
Putting yourself in your customers’ shoes lets you understand their buying behavior and needs. You can thus modify a customer experience according to the expectations of your customers. For example, if you are a business that sells furniture, you would have a varying customer base and there will be customers who would want to customize certain furniture items according to their preferences and needs. Relating to the particular needs of different customers would help you stock up your products according to their requirements and tastes, thus empathy can lead to serving your customers in a better way. No matter what kind of a business you run, being empathetic would help you offer your customers their preferred products/service.
Another reason empathy makes a customer experience delightful is that it makes you treat your customers with care and dignity. For instance, if a large segment of your customers are parents, feeling the sentiments of parenthood you would offer a child play area in your store or unlike conventional businesses you won’t write “Eatables Not allowed inside” since a parent with a child would most likely bring an eatable. Respecting your customers’ sentiments and treating them with care would definitely create a memorable experience for them.
Empathy plays a significant role in bonding with customers. It leads to developing strong and lifelong personal customer connections. For instance, if you have a customer who posted a comment on your social media page and expressed the wish to meet your brand ambassador, surprising that customer by arranging that meet up would turn him/her into your brand advocate. Remembering customers’ birthdays, wedding anniversaries or other important days would make them feel special. Personal customer relationships are dependent on how much value you give to your customers, being empathetic lets you think beyond a formal relationship and you go out of the way making them feel privileged and important.
Being empathetic enables you to always put customers first. Personal engagement through empathy leads to a better understanding of the situation of a customer and this helps you gain loyalty. For instance, if a customer comes up to you and demands a refund for a product that he/she purchased ten days ago, (though your exchange/refund policy clearly says that “the product is exchangeable/refundable within a week of purchase”), empathy would lead to giving priority to the customer. Understanding the customer’s reasons for a delayed exchange request would result in accommodating the customer. Hence, for that customer you created a memorable experience and consequently earned his/her loyalty.
Empathy is a great interpersonal skill that can help you rectify a negative customer experience. Handling the most difficult customers and situations gets easier with empathy. For instance, if an angry customer is yelling at a waiter for serving him/her raw meat, understanding the anger and anguish of that customer by empathizing with him/her and offering an instant solution like a drink while the order is prepared again and a complimentary dessert, along with an invite to your food festival with a special discount can turn the situation in your favor. That customer would feel that you actually understood the situation and did everything to make up for your mistake. Empathy will win you customers, it is not difficult to master and it pays a lot!
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