Press release – January 16, 2018
By Oisin Lunny for Customer Experience Insight
There’s a lot of buzz about the importance of empathy and why businesses must harness it to improve their customer experience (CX) and build loyalty. Yet what’s largely missing from the equation is what being empathetic means for customer-obsessed brands, and how to embrace and effectively create it.
Oisin Lunny, chief evangelist at OpenMarket, is here to help — with her advice on how to effectively implement an empathy strategy to improve your messaging to customers.
In 2018 consumers have more choice and influence than ever before. This includes thousands of online purchasing options, the power to shop from brands that share common values such as eco-consciousness, and the ability to shun a brand if it makes a wrong move — like serving up an impersonal ad viewed as spam.
In turn, today’s brands must reinvent the CX wheel and accept the challenge of getting to know individual customer preferences, both on the product side and across their preferred engagement channels (SMS, phone, email, etc.). Brands that fail to incorporate an empathetic approach into their marketing tactics risk total irrelevancy.
So, how does one implement an empathetic CX strategy for 2018? Here are three key aspects to keep in mind.
The Message Is in the Medium
If you want to make an impact on your customers, you have to reach them first. While marketers today are dumping money into the latest/greatest marketing technology platform promising to “do it all,” the answer to consumer engagement is right under their noses — and a lot simpler than some would have you believe: text messaging.
While not a new technology, in fact it just celebrated its 25th anniversary, text messaging boasts a 98% open rate. What’s more, 60% of millennials prefer two-way text engagement with businesses because it’s simple, convenient, and in real-time.
Get on My Level
Successful brands know that when it comes to winning and retaining customers, personalization is key. But there’s a massive difference between a brand that personalizes, and one that is personal.
Personal brand interactions are successful because they’re in touch with a customer’s thoughts, emotions and needs, enabling brands to be there when they are most valuable to the customer. If a brand can be a constant problem-solver for customers when it counts, it earns itself priceless loyalty and advocacy in return.
However, this brave new world of omnichannel CX comes with a harsh warning: The tolerance for a bad experience using the wrong communication channels is close to zero. The remedy is to design the CX around key empathetic moments, and to use mobile messaging to communicate with customers in those moments. By adopting this empathetic approach companies can get the CX right first time, every time. And they need to, with zero tolerance for a bad CX, companies do not get a second chance to impress.
The key takeaway here is that brands need to stand in their customers’ shoes and genuinely consider their real needs, by using the lens of empathy. Customers will respond with appreciation and earned respect, while also becoming more loyal to your brand. Empathy is a “soft skill” for businesses that translates to hard cash by providing the customer experience that modern consumers demand.
Timing is Everything
As the age old saying goes, timing really is everything, and when it comes to communicating with your customers, it’s the golden ticket. Understanding the right time to deliver a message is pivotal to ensure it evokes the response you want.
The travel industry is a great example. Just delivering the right information isn’t good enough. It must also be delivered at exactly the right time. Take a flight cancellation alert. Sent five minutes before check-in, you have an angry customer. Sent two hours before, with the option to rebook on another flight, and you have a customer who feels you’re on their side.
Another good example is gathering accurate customer feedback after a hotel stay. Send an email two weeks later and you’re lucky to get a response, but what happens if you send a simple SMS-based survey to members right as their vacation ends? Unequivocal success.
The easiest and most effective way to put this into practice is to think ahead by mapping out the customer journey, and looking hard for pain points which can be solved with “empathetic nudges.” By being one step ahead of your customer’s needs, you can preempt what will make them happy, and eliminate their need to ask. Whether this is a reminder notification of an appointment so they don’t have to check their packed calendar, or a simple confirmation text with which they can reschedule in seconds, it’s the thought that counts. And rest assured, they’ll notice.
Oisin Lunny is chief evangelist at OpenMarket, which helps brands use mobile messaging to connect with customers in the moments when it counts most. With over 25 years of experience in technology and media, Lunny is a recognized mobile expert and thought leader, having hosted, moderated and given keynote presentations at over 200 global conferences, including TEDx and SXSW.