Customer Focus: Reinserting Empathy into Web (ECM) Design

  • May 10, 2019
NTT DATA Services Empathy Blog

Do you believe the customer is always right? As a dedicated marketing professional for the past 12 years, I do. In fact, I believe this concept is the cornerstone of Customer Experience (CX). However, throughout the past decade, I’ve seen that companies are opting for automated processes and low-cost software, and in the process have taken the customer out of CX. Efficiency is essential of course, but in the process, are we losing what matters most? The customer? Are we causing more frustration by not listening to our customer’s needs? YES. Much of the frustration that I experienced in the buying process (and shared in my previous blog post) could have been avoided if empathy were central to the customer experience mapping.

Empathy, which is not the same as sympathy, is when you truly understand the way a person acts and feels, and how and why they react to specific experiences. Empathy mapping, the process of gathering the information that depicts your ideal customer, is a simple way to reinsert empathy back into your CX practice, and more specifically in web design and development. Many elements of the latter are so highly automated that companies often risk losing that humane touch altogether.

If you think you may have lost an empathic connection with your customers, let’s examine a few areas where you can easily reinsert it back into your digital CX approach:

  • Understand your customer. This is the most important phase of empathy mapping. Companies often miss the mark by creating an experience (via web, mobile or social) that doesn’t accurately and effectively meet the customer’s wants and needs. However, understanding the customer by studying data will help companies give their customers what they truly want and need, rather than what they want to give them. Customer insight can come from analytics, Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems, call center notes, chat, social media, mobile interactions and any other customer touchpoints. By gathering this data, companies can better understand what motivates each customer and then map out purchase behaviors. For example, a single 25-year-old man searching for insurance will have different needs now than he will at age 45, when he’s married with two school-aged children, and then at 65, when he’s ready to retire. Each stage of the customer’s life will require a different insurance policy and service expectations. Including flexible components in web design practices can allow for the necessary customization.
  • Think. Hear. Feel. See. Do. This is where companies can design the experience for their customers: Think like them. Hear what they hear. Feel what they may feel. See what they see on a webpage or app. Do as they do. React to content the way their customer would. In the example above, our single 25-year-old insurance shopper right now prefers to sign up for insurance through an app on his smartphone. This behavior could be the same at age 45. But at 65, he may prefer to call a broker to review his options. Understanding the customer will help companies design the right experience for each person.
  • Ask, listen and respond. In the end, a company will only know if their CX is truly designed for their customers based on customer feedback. It’s important to remember that, although technology may be changing the way we interact with each other, the basic foundation of human behavior has not changed. That said, analysts can look at page drops, bounce rates and ad clicks, but the best insight will always come directly from the customer. It’s important to ask for customer feedback for the following reasons:
  • The customer will feel cared for
  • If a company offers a resolution to an issue, their customers are less likely to make the issue viral
  • If a company positively changes the customer experience based on customer feedback, it will be noticed

Empathy for the win

The good news is companies now possess the tools to change their customers’ experience for the better. And when they apply these tools and design a web experience for the customer, they will be less likely to have complaints or lose customers. In fact, they will most likely create loyal customers — or even brand ambassadors — and make more revenue. Herb Keller, co-founder and CEO of Southwest Airlines, understood this concept well when he said, “(when) a customer is happy … they’ll keep coming back, which pleases the shareholder.” And added, “It’s not one of the enduring mysteries of all time … it’s just the way it works.”

Putting empathy back into CX should be the focus for all of us. Empathy moves people to make decisions and allows companies to react to changing markets and evolving customers. This is why NTT DATA’s customer engagement starts and ends by understanding for whom we are designing an interactive experience.

Find out how you can win hearts, minds and market share with every interaction.

Read our research: Clearing the Customer Service Hurdle in an Automated World

Watch: WAKE UP to Customer Experience

Watch: Redesign the Customer Experience

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