Customer experience is all about empathy, here’s how to harness it

By Oisin Lunny for Adrian Swinscoe

Let’s face it: Mobile has changed everything. Today, if you can’t reach a personal contact quickly, it’s extremely frustrating. Likewise, when it comes to brands, if you can’t instantly get a hold of an airline, retailer, or bank–it’s infuriating.

While many brands have caught on and adopted a mobile-first approach to customer service, many are still failing to meet customers’ expectations. They may be creating new ways to engage with people on their smartphones, but they’re struggling to be there for customers when they need them.

When it comes to harnessing an effective customer experience (CX) strategy, there are many ways to ensure your brand is engaging with customers in the right way, at the right time, while most importantly garnering the right results. Here are three top strategies to keep in mind.

Ditch the App

Partially responsible for customer disconnect is the mobile app. While apps are often the ‘go to’ channel for many brands, they often aren’t built intuitively and with purpose. They force customers to go to a specific destination and present them with a limited number of features. And if the customer can’t do what they need to do within the app, they have to find another way to reach the business. This results in a clunky customer experience plagued with constant toggling back and forth between multiple interfaces, which is guaranteed to cause frustration.

A bigger problem for brands when it comes to apps, however, is their waning popularity. According to comScore, the average smartphone user downloads zero apps per month. You read that right, zero. On top of this revealing proof point, the top 15 app publishers have seen downloads drop an average of 20 percent between 2015 and 2016.

Does this mean apps are dead? Let’s just say their future isn’t looking too bright. The recent slump has led Gartner to predict that 20 percent of major brands will abandon their mobile apps by 2019.

Text Is Instantaneous

If you want to get customer experience right, you need to be able to react rapidly when something unforeseen happens. For example, as soon as a customer sends you an inquiry, do you have a way of responding automatically? While this may seem like a tall order, you don’t need some elaborate mechanism to get it right. In fact, many brands are already solving this through technology that’s worked perfectly well for quite some time now–text messaging, or SMS.

SMS is the perfect channel for CX for four reasons:

  • It’s ubiquitous: Almost all your customers have a mobile phone
  • It’s easy: Replying to a text is quick and simple
  • It’s responsive: 98 percent of texts are read and 90 percent of them are read within three minutes
  • It’s preferred: Text is the #1 channel consumers prefer for communicating with businesses, over both email and voice

SMS messaging also has the perk of automation–you can be there for all of your customers virtually all of the time by simply adding text to your existing communication channels. Execution is easy: You plan the right message, define the right triggers, create the appropriate tone of voice for your brand, and when a need arises your message gets sent.

RCS Is Texting for the Smartphone Age

SMS is about to get a whole lot smarter as we usher in the next generation of SMS: Rich Communication Services (RCS).

With RCS, customers can enjoy an in-app experience without the hassle of a separate download which eats up precious space on a mobile device. Packed with features like clickable buttons, high res images, video, and read receipts, RCS is literally text messaging 2.0.

One example of how RCS benefits travel companies is the recent Virgin Trains use case. Through enabling RCS, the company made it easier for customers to access and use their boarding passes. When a customer ordered a ticket, they would receive a pass via text that included a scannable QR code and their itinerary details. They were even able to change their seat by simply pressing a button within the message, never having to open a new window on their phone.

This is the mobile experience customers have come to expect. They get the information they need, at exactly the right time and in one place–without having to download anything or dig through their emails. What’s more, they can react to this new information quickly and easily with the tap of a finger.

Empathy Is Powerful

The most effective customer experiences have one underlying trait in common: empathy. It’s the art of predicting your customers’ needs and staying two steps ahead of them. It’s about connecting with your customer in a meaningful way. It’s saying, “hey we’ve got you covered and added some extra cash into your account” versus the more humiliating, “you have exceeded your overdraft limit; penalties will be charged accordingly.” Empathy, in the most important CX-sense, is about showing you care about your customer on an individual level through thoughtful and timely interactions. All of which present a prime opportunity for text to step in.

In the world of technology, text can mistakenly be deemed archaic, but in fact it’s proven to be a timeless engagement tool. Text’s evolution to RCS has created a powerful means for connecting with your customers through genuine and very personal empathetic interactions. It lets you be there for them, when they need you. Texting is also non-synchronous, so users can respond exactly when it suits them, and it’s easy to review the conversation thread, unlike voice interfaces. This is why text will stick around, while consumers and businesses disconnect from apps and spammy traditional communication channels.

To find out more about the Empathetic Interaction download the free ebook courtesy of OpenMarket here.

About Oisin (taken from his LinkedIn bio)

Oisin Lunny

Oisin is part of the Market Development team at OpenMarket, looking at new verticals and strategic business and technology opportunities for the company. OpenMarket helps the biggest brands in the world use mobile messaging to connect with their customers in the moments when it counts. When they need to be there and be responsive in real-time. When customer experience isn’t just a buzzword: it’s an obsession.