Business, Entrepreneurship, Technology

Customer empathy – The understated key to win consumers

Customers everywhere!

Everyone in their professional life has their customers. Some have enterprise customers, sales teams have their clientele, some have their bosses and their bosses’ bosses, CEOs have their investors and entrepreneurs have their customers to face up to.

Where it does get interesting is everyone has an opinion about how their customers are wrong, or how they act incomprehensibly, sometimes even a touch ‘madly‘! (Guess I have struck a chord there 🙂 )  But not many think about why their customers behave the way they do. This is precisely what ‘Customer empathy’ is!

Empathy is the experience of understanding another person’s condition from their perspective. You place yourself in their shoes and feel what they are feeling.

Why empathise?

The next logical question in this chain of thought of course is to understand the ‘Why’ of customer empathy. Everyone is great at thinking about their own perspective, targets, benefits, interests etc, at least we presume they are. But, it does take courage and time to get into someone else’s shoes. However doing that definitely puts you at a distinct advantage while dealing with customers. Check up how empathy puts a firm at a distinct advantage with its customers –

Google and customer empathy

A quick example of this is how Google shows its customers search results for the correctly spelled Search term or ‘Did You Mean ________’ when you type an incorrect spelling on Google.

Google customer empathy

How Google shows correctly spelled search term

Google customer empathy

Google’s simple gestures mean a lot for its customers

See what Google did there? Just by a simple (seemingly simple) feature it has saved its customers’ time. This does lead to user retention and delight. No wonder their market share has remained so high all through! So much so that even a decrease of 3% from 78% to 75% becomes news in the US tech circles.

Apple and customer empathy

On that subject, Apple’s products are like live demos of customer empathy! All features on Apple products are goaled to meet one need – solve consumer problems. Look at the finger print sensor on Apple iPhone. They have beautifully solved the consumer need to unlock phone without typing or swiping. The sensor also allows you to download apps, sign in to iTunes and even buy things from iTunes. In the latest iPhone 6, it even enables you to use Apple Pay. Given the massive adoption of Apple products globally, there is no doubt that Apple has won customers by solving their problems elegantly.

Customer empathy starts from you!

Often its easy to shirk off empathy by saying that its an organisational problem and its not my problem. If that is stopping you from being empathetic, then you need to change that as soon as possible! Start understanding your customers, start talking to them. Believe that they behave in the way they do, not to create obstacles for you but since they have no other option. I have tried to bring that change in myself, and so can you! All it needs is a little but conscious effort to understand your people.

PS: Do be empathetic to me as well, and post comments – criticism, praise, whatever! It really does motivate me to write 🙂

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2 thoughts on “Customer empathy – The understated key to win consumers

  1. Very well written article. Empathy is absolutely indispensable when it comes to retaining customers. You need to change and finetune your offerings so as to stay relevant and useful to your customers. Mere relationship maintenance activities make no sense.

  2. admin says:

    I agree Saswata – particularly in the case of consumer internet companies, this is quite important. Can a learning from one customer’s experience solve the problem of 1000+ future consumers? This is a big enough opportunity!

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