In our high-powered, win-at-all-costs business environment, the term “empathy” often causes ridicule and humiliation. Who has the time for a sarcastic, poignant-touching wave flowing with sympathy? We are all kicking off deals and butt!
Kicking, closing, etc. is great and all – but the real business value of empathy. Don’t forget that the “relationship” between CRM is fine. Relationships are what keep customers, and keeping customers is the path to profitability. And you can’t build great customer relationships without a degree of empathy.
Go through inspiration
For the Lexographically Challenged or Sociopathic among us, empathy is defined as “psychological identity with or with a bizarre experience of another’s feelings, thoughts, or attitudes”.
This is not some business that is particularly good. We all lean our thoughts towards our business concerns for obvious reasons. However, as customers wake up to the growing power in their possession, we need to get out of our introspection mindset and see ourselves – and our processes – as others see us (words from the great Scottish CRM expert Robert Burns To say).
Even if you can’t take care of your customers, you should at least emulate sympathy – there’s money in it, especially in the era of the membership economy. You should apply it liberally to everything about your business, especially if you claim to be a “customer-centric company”.
To understand how your own processes affect customers, start at a basic level. The way you do business was probably designed to maximize efficiency and profit, which is understandable. However, it may well be that what is good for you makes life difficult for your customers.
For example, in B2B sales, the customer wants to complete the transaction in a timely, accurate manner. If part of your process slows down the customer, it has to change. It does not matter if it is disturbing accounting or operations that they are being forced to change the way they work.
From the point of view of your customers, the hiccups encountered in your processes are the speed between them and satisfaction. If you are not ready to empathize with them, then you are saying that you are ready to jump them to a contestant.
See this their way
We have recently heard a lot about the subscriber moments of truth (as in Dennis Pombrient’s recent book). Understanding and then understanding them from a customer’s point of view is not just a useful practice – it is an important way to focus on the areas where empathy is most important.
What moments do they like for customers? Are you making them happy and strengthening the relationship? Or are you challenging them to your customers and then blaming those challenges in your process? It does not work; Your customers understand the processes, but they believe that the processes are going to help them, not obstruct them.
Customers have plenty of ways to voice their frustration these days. Seeing complaints or outright attacks on a public website or community can make you bleed and lead you to snoring. Turn it over and understand where those complaints are coming from before you responded.
You should know something about the history (CRM, remember?) Of the customer who would put those comments in context. From there you can help, apologize, offer additional help, or respond in some other way that is appropriate and it can help you save the relationship.
Even if you cannot, it shows other customers and potential customers that you are trying to make the complaint think about the problems raised by their point of view.
Before things get to that level, try to understand your internal business decisions with empathy. It is a good idea to have a process that considers the customer’s point of view before deciding on the product, process and pricing. Designate someone on your team to play that role and overcome objections that may come up.
This approach can help you avoid decisions that create customer dissatisfaction and cause customer defects. This can help you modify decisions that are more appropriate for customers. Remember: Your customers should not have your poor-judgment warning system, and if you take the time to check your plans from their point of view, they should not.
Find the text
Sometimes, customers will leave. It is just a fact of life. Do not let your relationships cool down – stay engaged and try to learn from them. This will inform your point of view about other customers and help you understand what you should do to prevent them from leaving.
You cannot do this until you see the reasons customers are leaving in their contexts.