Empathy: the Heart of Digital CX

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You don’t know much about the person visiting your website.

With all of the hours we spend on market research — understanding customer needs and preferences and pain points — it’s easy to forget that. But inevitably, we only end up with a portrait of the people we want to engage with — and most of the time, that template rarely fits to the actual, unique individuals that are our customers.

Why does this matter? Because that gap between customer persona and real person can be a big one. Companies that forget there’s a difference can end up selling to the persona and missing the biggest opportunity in digital: making the whole experience feel human

And succeeding there starts with empathy.

Humanizing your CX with empathy

Empathy can bridge the gap between what you know about your customers (their problems your company helps solve) and what you don’t (their mood, their priorities, their sense of urgency).

It’s the key to meeting them where they really are — whether that’s frustrated, tired, excited, curious, or anything in between. 

When you weave empathy into your digital customer experience, you aren’t responding to the unique, complex needs of your customers in a static, flow-chart way. You’re listening instead of presuming. You’re taking part in the customer experience rather than just serving it up. 

Where empathy can shine in the digital experience

Here are some areas of CX where a little above-and-beyond can go a long way:

Unexpected elements

Including thoughtful, unique micro-details across your website or product can give the sense that someone actually cares about the customer experience being enjoyable. That sort of quiet detail can stand out starkly against the backdrop of the generally loud, attention-grabbing, commoditized online experience.

Thoughtful UX 

One of the most appreciated ways to manifest empathy through your CX is delivering a truly thought-out user experience. That usually means minimizing clicks, offering direct paths to information where they’re needed most, and making your website experience as friction-free as possible — even if it means sometimes breaking convention.

Personal customer service

Having a polite chatbot isn’t exactly enough to make people feel truly understood. This is where the magic of human-to-human support (something we’re calling Guided CX) comes in. When a customer is reaching out for help, actually seeing another person and getting practical hands-on guided support can make an immense impact.

Memorable, positive interactions that leave an impact rarely happen by accident.
And it’s almost always worth the push to create them. After all …

Getting it wrong is expensive.

We’ve all had digital experiences that are memorable for all the wrong reasons. Sometimes, it’s 4:50pm on a Friday and you just want to get the freakin’ car insurance canceled — you don’t want to navigate 7 sub-menus. But these days, companies can’t afford missteps in CX.

Back in the day, marketing used to be broadcast-based — you mostly got what companies were giving you and that was that. You had to do it their way.

Now, customers are empowered. They’re able to pick and choose among a sea of options. And they’re quick to judge the brands that give them the best and worst digital experiences. This means there’s absolutely no room for CX that isn’t thoughtfully crafted. 

The companies that do go the extra mile to build with empathy in mind are the ones that are able to deliver those standout, memorable experiences.  Succeeding there means having a massive advantage over the competition — if they’re a step behind on CX, your audience’s buying decisions just got easier to make. 

Parting words

In the scramble for efficiency and cost-savings, empathy has suffered. It’s led organizations to treat people purely as personas, as reactive machines rather than humans.

In the wake of the pandemic, there’s an opportunity to get back to people — to convey a much-needed sense of human-to-human intimacy.

That’s what makes for a truly customer-centric digital experience. (More on what that really means here.)

Curious to see how we kindle human connection through Guided CX? Book a quick demo.

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